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MINISTERS’ links with the betting industry are the reason for the delays in new restrictions being placed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), says former sports minister Tracey Crouch.
The Chatham MP resigned from her post after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut in maximum stakes to £2 would not come into force until October 2019. Users can currently bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on the high-speed and high-stake electronic casino games.
She told BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday morning that it was a fact that some ministers are “very interested in the bookmaking industry.”
Ms Crouch said she had been working under the assumption that the new £2 maximum stake would be introduced in April 2019.
“There have been conversations that have taken place with many members of Parliament with different interests and, on this occasion, clearly I wasn’t as persuasive as some of my other colleagues,” she said.
Campaigners say FOBTs allow users to lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems. Every day, two people will take their lives because of gambling-related problems, Ms Crouch noted in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.
The machines generate £1.8 billion in revenue a year for the betting industry, according to the Gambling Commission, and taxes of £400 million for the government.
Ms Crouch said she has no regrets about her decision to quit.
At least 16 MPs have received free sports tickets from betting companies since the 2017 general election, a BBC study found. Of the £175,580 worth of sports tickets accepted by MPs, 13 per cent came from betting companies, including William Hill and Ladbrokes.
Nine of the 16 MPs were Labour ministers, six were Conservative and one SNP. Tory MP Philip Davies topped the list having received free tickets worth £5,759 since the general election. He chairs the all-party parliamentary group on betting and gambling and has spoken out against restricting FOBTs many times in Parliament.
Labour’s Tonia Antoniazzi received tickets and hospitality worth £1,693 from betting firms, including for boxing and darts which she claimed were for a parliamentary charity darts competition.
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