sport news 'Furious' sports minister may quit over delay in gambling reforms

Tracey Crouch (file) dramatically quit as a culture minister tonight in a furious Budget row over curbs to 'crack cocaine' betting machines 

Tracey Crouch (file) dramatically quit as a culture minister tonight in a furious Budget row over curbs to 'crack cocaine' betting machines 

Tracey Crouch dramatically quit as a culture minister tonight in a furious Budget row over curbs to 'crack cocaine' betting machines.

Ms Crouch is angry at Chancellor Philip Hammond delaying the slashing of the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 to help problem gamblers.

She said tonight she was quitting with 'great sadness' but warned the Prime Minister two addicted gamblers kill themselves every day making the delay 'unjustifiable'.

Ms Crouch said the delay would mean people ploughing £1.6billion into the machines between the day of the announcement and the final delivery of reform. 

In response, Theresa May denied bringing in the lower stake in October 2019 was a delay to the policy.

The PM insisted it was sooner than originally planned and allowed the reform to be delivered in an 'orderly and effective way'. 

Ms Crouch's resignation is a major to blow Mr Hammond's Budget which has so far been well received and left Labour fighting itself over tax cuts. 

Ms Crouch said tonight: '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.' 

Theresa May is expected to write a response to Ms Crouch's resignation letter later tonight.

The FOBTs reform means the Treasury giving up huge tax revenues and campaigners believe the reform has been delayed until October 2019. 

Ms Crouch said tonight she was quitting with 'great sadness' but warned the Prime Minister delays would cost lives as two addicted gamblers kill themselves every day.

Ms Crouch said tonight she was quitting with 'great sadness' but warned the Prime Minister delays would cost lives as two addicted gamblers kill themselves every day.

In her resignation letter, Ms Crouch said the delay would mean people ploughing £1.6billion into the machines between the day of the announcement and the final delivery of reform

Ms Crouch (pictured last week) - who also covered the sport and loneliness briefs - is furious at Chancellor Philip Hammond delaying the slashing of the maximum stake from £100 to £2 to help problem gamblers

Ms Crouch (pictured last week) - who also covered the sport and loneliness briefs - is furious at Chancellor Philip Hammond delaying the slashing of the maximum stake from £100 to £2 to help problem gamblers

If it cannot calm rebels, the Government faces an embarrassing defeat when the issue returns to the Commons later this autumn.

Ms Crouch's resignation tarnishes an otherwise successful Budget for the Chancellor, who delivered billions for the NHS and tax cuts for 32 million workers.  

What are Fixed Odds Betting Terminals?  

FOBTs offer casino-style games such as roulette in bookmaker shops. Currently players can gamble stakes of up to £100 every 20 seconds. 

Currently gamblers can bet, and lose, £100 every 20 seconds meaning potentially thousands of pounds in a single session.

Since Labour's 2005 Gambling Act the number of FOBTs – which offer casino-style games such as roulette – has increased from 20,000 to nearly 35,000.

Each machine generates an average of £50,000 a year for bookmakers.

As the four day Budget debate ended, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith demanded concessions from Ms Truss.

She said: 'We have brought the date forward for the FOBTs by six months.

'I don't believe it is an issue for the Finance Bill but I am happy to discuss it with you about what more we can do.' 

After the Budget on Monday, the Treasury insisted delaying the measure until the autumn of 2019 was to take account of thousands of people working in bookies. 

Former Foreign Secretary and leadership rival to Mrs May Boris Johnson backed Ms Crouch.

He said: 'Congratulation to Tracey Crouch who deserves huge credit not just for her campaign but for sticking up for her principles.'  

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said: '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.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals allow gamblers to play casino-style games and players can currently shovel in up to £100 a time  

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals allow gamblers to play casino-style games and players can currently shovel in up to £100 a time  

Chief Secretary Liz Truss (pictured in the Commons tonight) said she was 'happy to discuss' curbs to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) amid a furious criticism curbs have been pushed back

Chief Secretary Liz Truss (pictured in the Commons tonight) said she was 'happy to discuss' curbs to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) amid a furious criticism curbs have been pushed back

'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.

Tracey Crouch's resignation letter in full 

Dear Prime Minister, 

It is with great sadness that I write to tender my resignation as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Sport and Civil Society.

Your personal support earlier this year for a reduction in the stake of fixed odds betting terminals was incredibly welcome and a real reflection of your ambitions set out in your very first speech on the steps of Downing Street to support vulnerable people against the power of big business.

I cannot begin to explain how many people got in touch to congratulate Government on its stance, including addicts, their families and also, sadly, those who have been left behind after loved ones took their own lives as a consequence of addiction.

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, a significant amount of which will be in our most deprived areas including my own constituency.

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 alignment of the stake reduction with an increase in remote gaming duty was a condition put on by the Treasury to provide fiscal neutrality but is not a technical necessity, so this is no reason why implementation cannot come in

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