May hints at U-turn over fixed-odds betting terminals

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Media captionWhat are fixed-odds betting terminals?

Theresa May is facing the possibility of having to make a U-turn over fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

More than 70 MPs have called on the government to cut the largest wager on FOBTs from £100 to £2 in April, as originally planned, and not October.

Chancellor Philip Hammond had said the date had been decided after discussions with the betting industry.

The prime minister now says Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright will make a written statement on the issue later.

The government had earlier said it had consulted widely and considered “all of the evidence” before making its decision on a timeframe.

It had denied that MPs were led to believe the cut in the maximum stake would come into force in April. But the October timing, announced in last month’s Budget, has been criticised, with sports minister Tracey Crouch resigning in protest.

Mrs May was asked at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday about the timing by Conservative ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith.

He said: “I was enormously proud of my government for agreeing to lower the stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 because they have caused endless harm, terrible damage to families and it was the right decision.

“Since then, there has been a hiatus about the date at which this would start.”

Mrs May said: “I recognise the strength of feeling on this issue. I know gambling addiction can devastate lives.

“Our priority is making sure that this change delivers the result we all want to see, we are listening to the concerns being raised by colleagues, and if my right honourable friend will have a little patience, I can tell him my right honourable friend the culture secretary will set out further details later today.”