Political outcry over delays to limiting gambling stakes – National

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals will be limited to 2 per spin
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals will be limited to 2 per spin

THE head of a parliamentary group with close ties to the gambling industry says he did not push for a delay to limit the stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, has been accused by former sports minister Tracey Crouch of playing a role in delaying the introduction of a £2 limit of FOBTs – resigning over chancellor Philip Hammond's decision to push back the change to October 2019.

But Mr Davies, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary All Party Betting and Gaming Group, claims he ‘merely pointed out’ to culture secretary Jeremy Wright that a decision had already been made to implement curbs on the controversial gambling machines in April 2020.

The News has been campaigning for a limit on FOBT stakes, joining forces last year with Portsmouth City Council to impose a restriction.

He said: ‘I merely pointed out to him that as far as I was concerned, I wasn't wanting him to delay it, I was pointing out to him that the decision had already been taken to implement this decision in 2020.’

But Ms Crouch believes that a number of MPs have vested interests in delaying the move, which she says will lead to two people taking their lives each day due to gambling addiction in the interim period.

Speaking on Radio 5 Live yesterday, she said: ‘It's a fact there are MPs very interested in the bookmaking industry and clearly they were more persuasive in their arguments than I was.

‘Philip, who I admire on many issues, is very vocal in parliament on behalf of the betting industry.

‘On this occasion I just clearly was not as persuasive.’

On Sunday, communities secretary James Brokenshire insisted there had been no stalling over plans to limit stakes on FOBTs.

Talking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he explained: ‘What I would say is that actually we were called on to introduce these arrangements prior to April 2020 and we have brought that forward to deliver this in October 2019, recognising we need to do this, we need to bring these stakes down.’