Tracey Crouch, the UK minister for sport and civil society, has resigned over delays to the reduction in stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Crouch tendered her resignation to the prime minister on Thursday, citing the £1.6bn that she believes will be lost on the machines until the date of the reduction, often in deprived areas including her constituency.
The maximum stake per spin on FOBTs was due to be cut from £100 per spin to £2 in April 2019 but has now been delayed to October 2019. To offset the loss of revenue to the treasury from FOBTs, the government is increasing the tax on remote gambling operators from 15 per cent to 21 per cent of gross gaming yield, also effective October 2019.
The government has said that the delay is to give remote operators sufficient advance notice of the tax increase, although Crouch described the delay as “unjustifiable”.
“Unfortunately, implementation of these changes are now being delayed until October 2019 due to commitments made by others to those with registered interests,” Crouch stated in her resignation letter to prime minister Theresa May.
“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.”
She noted that alignment of the stake reduction with an increase in remote gambling duty was a condition introduced by the treasury to provide fiscal neutrality. She added, however, that this is not a technical necessity, so there is no reason why implementation cannot come in sooner than October.