UK Minister who resigned over FOBTs delay speaks out By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports November 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm Former Minister for Sports Tracey Crouch spoke out last week about her decision days earlier to resign her post. By this point it was well understood that her resignation concerned the six-month extension granted by the government to the planned reduction in fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) maximum stakes to £2 per bet, from April 2019 to October. Ms Crouch was very candid on the matter, saying that other members of parliament were “very interested in the bookmaking industry” as well as “more persuasive in their arguments” in an interview given to Radio 5 Live. These plain-spoken references to financial interests and corporate sway within Parliament reveal something that the more cynically-minded might have already guessed: nowhere in the world is there a government untouched by corporate interests. More’s the pity. This particular corporate lobby seems to be aimed purely at squeezing some final profits out of the FOBT action before its value severely dwindles. The cost will be highest for addicts and problem gamblers, of course, who surely welcome the news of the max bet reduction with relief on some level. In her remarks, Ms. Crouch made specific reference to Tory MP Philip Davies, who reportedly held meetings with Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright recently. Ms. Crouch refused to be drawn into speculation about whether such meetings may have influenced the delay, but she did mention that Davies had been “vocal” on the subject of bookmakers in Parliament. In Ms. Crouch’s letter of resignation, she quoted a shocking statistic – that two people commit suicide daily due to gambling-related problems. (It must be mentioned that, while I’m not sure where this statistic came from, between 2001 and 2016 there have only been 21 cases of suicide in the UK in which gambling was cited as a factor on the death certificate.) Ms Crouch further stated that she had been working under an assumption that the new maximum stake would apply from April 2019. Interestingly, in her response to Crouch’s resignation, Prime Minister Theresa May stated that there had been no delay, saying instead that the change had originally been slated for April 2020 and brought forward to October 2019. Whatever the political back and forth, Crouch’s resignation seems genuine and heartfelt, and will sting Theresa May at a moment of extreme political pressure, as Brexit negotiations continue to test her. It’s difficult not to feel that there’s a degree of political cover-up going on, however; the implication of Crouch’s actions, and her words, seems to be that there are vested interests at play behind the apparent delay, interests that are angling, as ever, for the maximum profit available from a given play, even one soon (presumably) to be shut down as socially destructive.