LONDON (Reuters) - British sports minister Tracey Crouch resigned from government on Thursday, accusing it of delaying a proposed reform of gambling regulations.
The government is to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from 100 pounds ($130) to just two pounds, but announced this week the reduction would not take effect until next October.
The move came after ministers opted to try to tackle problem gambling on the machines and rejected claims that such a big reduction could cost thousands of jobs.
The reduction had been announced by Crouch, 43. The BBC said she had expected the change would be brought in from next April.
She tweeted her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, in which she said: “It is with great sadness I have resigned from one of the best jobs in Government. I believe this delay is unjustifiable.”
In a letter to Crouch, May said there had been no delay.
“Indeed as you know from your work as the minister responsible, we listened to those who wanted it to come into effect sooner than April 2020 and have agreed that the change should take place within the year - by October 2019,” May wrote.
“Having taken this decision to make this very significant cut in the maximum stakes, we must ensure that this change can be implemented in an orderly and effective manner to make sure it delivers the results we all want to see.”
The departure of the junior minister is unlikely to have any impact on the fierce divisions over Brexit among May’s ruling Conservatives.
The opposition Labour Party said Crouch had taken a principled stance over the decision to delay cutting the maximum stake.
“She poured her heart and soul into a significant review of these destructive machines, faced down a systematic lobbying attempt by the gambling industry and took the right decision for those suffering from problem gambling, their families and communities,” said Labour’s culture spokesman Tom Watson.
Earlier, the government said implementation of the reform was timed to coincide with other tax increases to ensure that there was no public finance shortfall. It also said the industry needed time to adjust.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg