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Government announces u-turn on gambling machines following Tracey Crouch's resignation

The Government has announced a humiliating u-turn on regulations to fixed odds gambling machines less than a fortnight after a minister resigned on the issue.

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch quit as sports minister earlier this month after going to head-to-head with the Chancellor after his Budget.

He announced that a £2 cap on betting terminals would not be brought in until October next year, six months later than Ms Crouch had hoped.

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Tracey Crouch resigned as a minister over delays to introducing tougher regulations on fixed odds betting terminals
Tracey Crouch resigned as a minister over delays to introducing tougher regulations on fixed odds betting terminals

She resigned over the issue but the culture secretary issued a written statement today confirming the government will bring forward the introduction of the cap to April.

More than 70 MPs tabled amendments to a finance bill to force the Government to bring forward the reduction from the current £100.

They were led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith - who quizzed the Prime Minister about it in the Commons.

Theresa May said: "Our priority is making sure this change delivers the results we all want to see.

"We are listening to the concerns being raised by colleagues."

"Our priority is making sure this change delivers the results we all want to see..." - Theresa May

Punters can place bets of £100 every two seconds on the machines, described as the "crack cocaine of gambling".

This afternoon Ms Crouch welcomed the news, and spoke to Kent Online saying she was "pleased that common sense has prevailed."

"I've lost my job but people lose their lives over these machines," she said.

"I'm just pleased that if there's any positive outcome from my resignation it's that we had the collective voice of parliamentarians, faith leaders and charities - many other people affected by these machines - come forward and explain to the government why it was important to bring in this reduction as soon as possible, and I think today it is quite clear that the government has listened to that and has made the right decision."

In a statement issued earlier today she added: "The harm from these addictive machines is well publicised and I felt humbled to have met many brave people who over the 3-year review process came forward and told me their stories or those of their loved ones who had sadly taken their lives.

"It was right for the Government to take the decision to act and the impact assessment published alongside the Gambling Review made it clear that there was an expectation to implement the reduction in FOBT stakes within 9 to 12 months, with April 2019 being the most appropriate to tie in with fiscal changes elsewhere.

"I've lost my job but people lose their lives over these machines..." Tracey Crouch

"The initial decision to delay that implementation until October 2019, nearly 18 months after the review was published, based on a KPMG report for the industry that was given a disclaimer by its own authors, discredited by some in the bookmaking industry and in fact did not get mentioned in the Gambling Review, was not a policy I was able to defend, hence my resignation.

"I am sorry that my views as the Minister in charge of the policy were not heard, but I am delighted that the collective voice of Parliamentarians, faith leaders, victims of gambling addiction and their families, press and media commentators and many members of the public have been.

"This is right and sensible on FOBTs and will, without doubt, reduce harm from these machines on our high streets. There is however much more to be done on reducing gambling related harm online, dealing with advertising and supporting our treatment services which the Review makes various recommendations on and I look forward to watching from afar their progress with interest.

"In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone for their kind messages of support since my resignation. It has meant a lot."

Ms Crouch said in her resigation letter at the time: "It is with great sadness I have resigned from one of the best jobs in government.

"Thank you so much for all the very kind messages of support I have received throughout the day. Politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever."

She later added she had "no regrets" about the decision.


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