UK Sports Minister Resigns over FOBM Delay
by Glenn Baird - November 2, 2018
Yesterday, Tracy Crouch, former Minister for Sport in the UK resigned from her post over delays on the reduction to the maximum bets allowed on Fixed Odds Betting Machines.
On Monday, Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the plan to reduce the maximum wager from £100 to £2 on FOBM, originally meant to come into force in April 2019, would be pushed back to October 2019.
Crouch stated that pushing the date back 6 months was “unjustifiable” and that “Politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever.”
Crouch has been forthright in her criticism of the government stating in her formal letter of resignation that:
“Unfortunately, implementation of these changes are now being delayed until October 2019 due to commitments made by others to those with registered interests.
“From the time of the announcement to reduce stakes and its implementation, over £1.6bn will be lost on these machines.
“In addition, two people will tragically take their lives every day due to gambling-related problems and, for that reason as much as any other, I believe this delay is unjustifiable.”
“It is a fact of government that ministers must adhere to collective responsibility and cannot disagree with policy, let alone when it is policy made against your wishes relating to your own portfolio.”
In response to her resignation, the Prime Minister, Theresa May has affirmed that the government actually moved the date back from April 2020 and “had agreed that the changes should be in place within the year – by October 2019”.
Support for Crouch’s resignation has been forthcoming, with Labour Deputy, Tom Watson writing on Twitter :
“Tracey Crouch has taken a courageous and principled decision to resign from the government over Jeremy Wright’s decision to delay cutting the maximum stake on FOBTs.
“She poured her heart and soul into a significant review of these destructive machines, faced down a systematic lobbying attempt by the gambling industry and took the right decision for those suffering from problem gambling, their families and communities.
“The new secretary of state has threatened all of this good work. He has prioritised corporate interests over victims, profits over public health and greed over good. He should be thoroughly ashamed.”
Crouch’s resignation is will not change the plans that the Government have put in place for FOBM but what it has done is highlight just how controversial they are.