Sports Minister who backed Dulwich Hamlet resigns over fixed-odds betting legislation delays

Katherine Johnston (03 November, 2018) Politics Sport

Crouch 'pivotal' in Dulwich Hamlet's return to Champion Hill

21394A fixed-odds betting terminal

Sports Minister and Dulwich Hamlet supporter Tracey Crouch has dramatically resigned over government delays in curbing fixed-odds betting terminals, gambling machines responsible for millions in ‘social harm losses’ in Southwark every year

As the News reported in April, Southwark is one of the hardest hit London boroughs by the terminals, described by campaigners as the ‘crack cocaine gambling’.

According to research from economics consultancy, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, and commissioned by the British Amusement Catering Trade Association, known as BACTA, the body for the amusement and gaming machine industry, fixed-odds betting terminals cost Southwark an estimated £9.9 million in ‘social harm losses’ every year.

Southwark is the fifth most affected borough in London and London as a whole has the highest levels of problem gambling in the UK.

Their estimates include the cost to people directly affected by gamblers’ behaviour, such as their family, as well as the wider impact on their health, financial stability, and housing.

BACTA supported a national campaign to legally reduce fixed odds stakes from £100 to £2, to limit problem gambling.

Crouch wrote on Twitter yesterday: “It is with great sadness I have resigned from one of the best jobs in Government.

“Thank you so much for all the very kind messages of support I have received throughout the day. Politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, she explained her resignation came as a result of legislation changes being postponed until October 2019 – in which time an estimated £1.6 billion will be lost on fixed-odds betting machines, mostly in deprived areas, describing the wait as ‘unjustifiable’.

Just last week Crouch played a key role in securing Dulwich Hamlet Football Club’s return to their Champion Hill stadium.

The club’s supporters’ trust tweeted that they were sorry to see her go, but that she did so with her ‘head held high’.

Camberwell and Peckham MP, Harriet Harman, described Crouch as ‘principled, popular and effective’, and also paid tribute to her ‘pivotal’ role in Dulwich Hamlet’s return.

 

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