UK Government on course for defeat over delayed crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals

Written by Emilio Casalicchio on 13 November 2018 in News

More than 20 Conservatives have put their name to an amendment to the Finance Bill bringing forward the change to April

FOBT - Image credit: PA images

The UK Government is set for an embarrassing defeat after scores of Tory MPs lined up to rebel over an apparent delay in plans to crack down on fixed odds betting terminals.

More than 20 Conservatives have put their name to a Commons amendment to the Finance Bill insisting a cut in the maximum stake for the controversial machines must be brought by six months.

Chancellor Philip Hammond's announcement in the Budget that the limit would be slashed from £100 every 20 seconds to £2 from October 2019.

That led to the resignation of sports minister Tracey Crouch, who said she had been told the clampdown would be introduced from next April.

She said the six-month delay would lead to the suicides of gambling addicts hooked on the controversial machines.

The Finance Bill amendment has been backed by Tory MPs from all wings of the party, including Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg and Remainers Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening.

A number of DUP MPs, who prop up Theresa May’s minority government in a confidence and supply arrangement, have also put their names to the move, meaning the UK Government will have to back down or face near-certain defeat when it is voted on next week.

The UK Government has insisted it never promised to slash the stakes on fixed odds betting terminals in April.

But in her resignation letter, Crouch said: “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."

The amendment will be voted on next week.

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