Our new PM Theresa May says she will champion working people. So I don’t know why she’s dragging her famous heels when it comes to tackling fixed odds betting terminals.
No one in the Labour party wants to stop people gambling. But these machines have become a huge problem for many communities up and down the country. They are addictive and punters can gamble a £100 a time.
I’ve met people whose lives had been ruined as a result. Newham council in London, which has more than its fair share of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, has been calling on the Government to give local authorities more power to deal with them since 2014. It wants the maximum stake reduced to £2 – and so does the Labour Party. We will be campaigning on this issue in the weeks and months ahead.
The Tories keep on saying they’ll take steps to deal with them, but they have stalled, delayed and failed to act. Government spin-doctors have said Culture Minister Tracey Crouch is about to launch a review into Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. If so, she needs to stand up in Parliament and announce it – not next year, not next month, but this week.
When she was a backbench Tory MP Tracey campaigned against these terminals. Now she is in Government she can do something about it and Labour will support her if she does. The same goes for her boss Theresa May. I think she is a procrastinating Prime Minister who can’t make a decision without dithering.
I hope I’m wrong and I will be the first to congratulate her if she places poor communities ahead of the interests of the gambling industry by tackling the scourge of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. But she has been PM for nearly 100 days. She needs to act now.
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