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Government to accelerate crackdown on betting machines

According to Sky’s deputy political editor Beth Rigby, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright will confirm later that a reduction in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals will be brought forward from October 2019 to April 2019.

It comes after Tracey Crouch quit as sports minister over the policy and a Sky News report that Theresa May was facing a mass resignation of ministerial aides if she did not change course.

More than 70 MPs, several former cabinet ministers among them, had tabled amendments to government business in a bid to force Downing Street to bring forward the reduction from £100 to £2.

Mrs May hinted at a u-turn in the Commons when she was asked about the issue by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, who co-led the revolt.

He said: “I was enormously proud of my government for agreeing to lower the stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 because they have caused endless harm, terrible damage to families and it was the right decision.

“Since then, there has been a hiatus about the date at which this would start.

“Can I ask my right honourable friend: is it a reality that now we have put down an amendment, that the government will accede and we will get this process started on 1 April next year?”

The PM replied: “I know he has campaigned on this issue with a passion because, as he said, this question of the maximum stakes for FOBTs is one which does have an impact on vulnerable people as well as their families and loved ones.

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“I recognise the strength of feeling on this issue. I know gambling addiction can devastate lives.

“Our priority is making sure that this change delivers the result we all want to see, we are listening to the concerns being raised by colleagues, and if my right honourable friend will have a little patience I can tell him my right honourable friend the culture secretary will set out further details later today.”

An impact assessment in May 2017 suggested the new policy should come into force in nine months to a year.

But Chancellor Philip Hammond told the Treasury committee last week that after talks with the betting industry, October 2019 was a “sensible” date to bring in the change.

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