MPs Line Up to Vote Down Philip Hammond’s FOBT Changes

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are threatening to split the government as Tory members line up to vote against Philip Hammond’s recent budget announcement.

Tracey Crouch FOBT row

Following the resignation of Tracey Crouch (pictured), more than 20 MPs are ready to vote against Philip Hammond’s FOBT plans. (Image: pioneerspost.com)

In the wake of Tracey Crouch resigning as Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Westminster insiders have said that there are more than 20 MPs ready to take action against FOBTs.

As part of the parliamentary process, Hammond’s 2019 budget will have to pass a vote before the new levies, rates and taxes come into effect.

According to political publication The Spectator, Conservative MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, have signed a Commons amendment calling for the FOBT changes to be brought forward by six months.

High Profile MPs Ready to Revolt

If the amendment garners enough support, it could derail the budget and force the government to change its FOBT plans.

When Chancellor Hammond outlined his budget on October 29, he made two announcements that will affect the UK gaming industry. In addition to raising remote gaming tax from 15 percent to 21 percent, the Conservative MP said FOBT betting stakes would change in October 2019.

Prior to the announcement, many close to the situation assumed the maximum bet would be cut from £100 to £2 by April next year. However, after reviewing the potential impact of the changes, advisors to Hammond suggested a longer implementation period was necessary.

“[The changes] are a very good thing. However, bookmakers need to reorder their business to make sure people aren’t made redundant if it can be avoided,” culture minister Jeremy Wright said during an October 24 selection committee meeting.

Unrest Unlikely to Subside

In defence of the move, a government spokesperson said there was never a promise to make the changes in April. Crouch and the band of MPs supporting the latest amendment disagree and want immediate action.

As per sources speaking to The Spectator, the ongoing Brexit negotiations are being used as leverage. With pressure mounting on Prime Minister Theresa May to secure the best Brexit deal possible, FOBTs aren’t something she’ll want to spend much time on over the coming weeks.

Indeed, with £1.6 billion set to be wagered on FOBTs between now and Hammond’s proposed implementation date, opponents will continue to rally against the machines. Given the weight of opposition to the October deadline, the forthcoming vote will have major implications for the government.

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