No Regrets for Crouch Following FOBT Fallout

A mid-air message about fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) triggered the fallout between Tracey Crouch and the government, but the former frontbencher doesn’t have any regrets.

Tracey Crouch

Tracey Crouch, seen here at an EFL event, believes resigning over the FOBT issue was the right thing to do. (Image: efl.com)

Speaking to LBC Radio’s Iain Dale, the ex-Minister for Sport, Civil Society and Loneliness explained why she left her role after fighting so hard for change. During the December 18 interview, Crouch explained that she first saw the warning signs during a flight over the Atlantic.

Paying to use the plane’s Wi-Fi, the Conservative MP said she was instantly disappointed after reading reports that chancellor Philip Hammond had delayed the FOBT changes. Having played a pivotal role in reducing the maximum stakes from £100 to £2, Crouch also led the charge to implement the new rules sooner rather than later.

Crouch Resignation Rouses Revolt

Despite announcing the legislation in May, Hammond’s 2019 budget made provisions for the changes to take effect in October 2019. For Crouch and those around her, that was a problem.

“You can’t park it for another 6 months. So, I resigned, I did give up a job I loved but it lit a spark that hopefully lit the fuse that changed the policy,” Crouch told Dale.

The spark referenced led to a cross-party revolt the ended with Hammond reversing his decision. With the new date set to the previously agreed April 2019, Crouch said she is “delighted” with what she sees as a victory.

However, despite standing up for her principles, the MP for Chatham and Aylesford doesn’t feel as though her convictions have won her any friends in Westminster. Elaborating on the fallout, she told The Guardian that the Treasury were dismissive prior to her resignation forcing a policy change.

“I don’t think I’d be asked. The job I was given was the only one I really wanted and I’m not interested in high office for the sake of it,” Crouch said in December 17 interview with The Guardian.

No Regrets After FOBT Fallout

Although her time at the top of the political tree may be over, Crouch has left a lasting legacy on the UK gaming industry. As well as her efforts seeing a reduction in FOBT stakes, online operators are preparing for an increase in remote gaming duty.

To address the shortfall in revenue when FOBT betting limits are lowered, Hammond has increased the tax rate for online operators to 21 percent. Due to take effect next year, the new rate could cause further consolidation among the largest brands and force smaller operators to exit the market.

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