Government ‘has blood on its hands’ over betting machine delays

Tracey Crouch MP, who has resigned as sports and civil society minister amid a row over delays in cutting the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (pic: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)
Tracey Crouch MP, who has resigned as sports and civil society minister amid a row over delays in cutting the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (pic: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

The Government has ‘blood on its hands’ over a delay in slashing the stakes on addictive betting terminals, a Sheffield campaigner has claimed.

It was announced in May that the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals would be cut from £100 to £2 to protect vulnerable users.

David Bradford and his son Adam

David Bradford and his son Adam

But Tracey Crouch, who made the announcement, today resigned as minister for sports and civil society in protest after it emerged the reforms would not be implemented until October 2019.

READ MORE: New measures to tackle gambling addiction 'not tough enough', says Sheffield campaigner

She blamed the delay on ‘commitments made by others to those with registered interests’ and branded it ‘unjustifiable’ given two people with gambling problems take their lives every day.

Adam Bradford, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Waterthorpe, knows only too well the harm gambling can cause.

His father David was jailed for two years in 2014 after stealing to fund his secret addiction, and since his release the pair have campaigned tirelessly for tougher regulations to protect others.

READ MORE: Gambling addict from Sheffield who lost over £500,000 says more support is needed to save lives

Adam praised Ms Crouch’s decision and called on culture secretary Jeremy Wright to step down over the ‘appalling’ delay. 

“The decision to delay FOBT reforms is completely nonsensical and holds no merit in protecting the public from harm. The government literally has blood on its hands,” he said.

“People are losing lives to these machines and Tracey Crouch should be commended for her brave decision today. We thank her for her important work on this devastating issue and hope the Government changes its stance immediately….

READ MORE: Sheffield gamblers 'losing more than £13m a year' on 'crack cocaine' of betting

“Implementing FOBT stake reductions 17 months after the original announcement was made earlier this year is appalling and the Government have played politics with peoples’ lives.

“We believe the Treasury has bowed down to pressure from the gambling industry and threats of job losses to put off the implementation of these policies so the industry can figure out a new business plan.”

Mr Wright denied MPs were led to believe that lower stakes would be enforced from April next year and insisted there was no delay.