MP Philip Davies defends role in betting stake row


Philip Davies

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Mr Davies said the evidence did not support cutting the maximum stake to £2

Tory MP Philip Davies has rejected claims he is behind the “delay” in plans to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting machines to £2.

Tracey Crouch, who quit as sports minister last week, suggested Mr Davies’ “vocal” backing for the betting industry had played a role in the move not happening before next October.

Mr Davies told the BBC he met ministers to discuss the issue this summer.

But he said he “merely pointed” out the move was due to happen in 2020 anyway.

He also claimed gambling regulators did not believe cutting the maximum stake from £100 to £2 was justified.

Ms Crouch resigned from her post last week after it was announced the £2 stake would come into force in October 2019, rather than April as she believed it would.

Currently, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games such as roulette in High Street bookmakers shops.

Fixed-odds betting terminals generate £1.8bn in revenue a year for the betting industry and taxes of £400m for the government but anti-gambling campaigners say the machines let players lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems.

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Media captionWhat are fixed-odds betting terminals?

Ms Crouch has suggested Mr Davies and other MPs who support the betting industry had been “more persuasive in their arguments” to senior ministers.

She was asked on Sunday about a newspaper report suggesting she believed a meeting between Mr Davies and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright was key to the alleged delay.

She refused to confirm the details of the report, saying: “All meetings are registered. I’m sure it will all come out anyway.”

Mr Davies told BBC Radio 5Live’s Up All Night it was wrong to suggest he had influenced the decision and Mr Wright, when they met, told him he was “minded to introduce the reduction in stake in 2019”.

“I merely pointed out to him that as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t wanting him to delay it. I was pointing out to him that the decision had already been taken to implement the decision in 2020.”

He questioned the rationale behind the £2 stake and suggested the Gambling Commission, the government agency that regulates betting, did not believe it was necessary to address the harm caused by the machines.

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Ms Crouch has said she will continue to campaign on the issue

“I’ve spoken to the Gambling Commission and I know what their view is. They thought it should be cut to £30.

“I am not going to drop anybody in it but I have had discussions with with the Gambling Commission and I know for a fact they do not see any justification or didn’t see any at the time for reducing the stake to £2.”

In its final submission to government on the issue in March, the regulator recommended a maximum stake of £2 for slot games and a figure of £30 or below for non-slot games such as roulette.

Mr Davies suggested its wording had been designed to make it easier for the government to move to a £2 figure across the board.

“They put “or below” to try and help the government out with the decision it had taken,” he added.

Mr Davies is the MP who has received the most free tickets to sporting events from betting firms since the 2017 general election, according to a BBC analysis of the register of members’ interests.

He was hosted at 13 horse racing events by Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill and Sky Bet, which also offered him free tickets to the 2017 League One play-off between Millwall and Bradford City. The total value of the tickets was £5,759.

Of the 16 MPs who accepted hospitality from the betting industry over the period, nine were Labour MPs, six Conservative and one SNP.

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