The FOBT stake reduction will be brought forward to April 2019, confirms culture secretary Jeremy Wright. Chancellor Philip Hammond said in the budget that the stake limiting from £100 to £2 would happen in October next year, but a u-turn has come about after the resignation of the sports minister Tracey Crouch.
A growing rebellion of MPs caused the government to back down after it was announced that delaying the FOBT stakes cut would give gambling firms a £900m windfall. The culture secretary has confirmed today though that stakes will be cut from April ’19.
“The government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government is is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition,” the written statement says.
“Parliament has, however, been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019.”Jeremy Wright, Culture Secretary
Theresa May indicated that there would be a u-turn on this policy in Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s questions in response to a question from Iain Duncan Smith. May said she recognised the strength of feelings on the issue and that a statement would be made by the end of the day.
More than 100 MPs – including senior Tory’s such as Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis – had put their names to an amendment designed to force the government to bring forward the stake reduction.
Labour said it would support the amendment, meaning the government was all but certain to lose a vote that was expected to take place next week. However, Labour deputy leader and shadow culture minister Tom Watson was not complimentary about the Conservatives following this change in tact.
“This climbdown shows the disastrous political judgment of Jeremy Wright and Philip Hammond.
“It’s very sad that it took an honourable resignation of a good minister and a cross-party revolt to achieve the blindingly obvious and necessary reforms to FOBTs.
Tom Watson, Labour Deputy Leader
“Whilst this is a personal humiliation for Jeremy Wright, this is a very good day for the many thousands of people whose families and communities are blighted by gambling addiction.”
Jim Mullen, ex-Ladbrokes Coral Chief Executive, said that the stake cut will potentially close approximately 3,000 betting shops across the UK, and will cause the job losses of 15,000 people.
Offshore gambling tax has also been raised 6% from 15% to 21% in the government’s attempt to ensure no money is lost from tax.