Government minister may quit over FOBT cut delay

A government minister is reported to be considering her position as a result of the delay in the cutting of maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2.

Tracey Crouch, a Conservative, junior culture minister, part of the team whose efforts led to the planned reduction of maximum stakes on FOBTs from £100, is reported to be “on the brink of quitting.”

Reports from The Telegraph state Crouch is understood to be “furious” after the Treasury pushed back the drop in maximum stakes to October 2019.

Crouch and Matt Hancock, former Culture Secretary, are said to have pushed hard for the policy.

The original announcement of the policy detailed a launch in April next year.

Explaining the delay, Downing Street said the October deadline was “a balance between making sure we protect those who work in the industry and making sure that we bring in this really important change.”

Today in the House of Commons, the government faced an urgent question from Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson to ask why a “verbal promise” to make the change in April 2019 was amended in the budget to October 2019.

Jeremy Wright, Culture Secretary, insisted the planned date of change had been April 2020, and therefore, the final date was no delay.  

Crouch, who was returning from a ministerial trip to the US, was not present at the meeting. Labour MP Kevin Brennan described this as “disappointing.”