The recent combined meeting of Anglican churches across Sydney and the Illawarra voted to send a strong message to the NSW government that it needs to “break its gambling addiction.”
Sandy Grant, minister at Wollongong Cathedral, says Australians currently lose over $18 billion each year on gambling, an average of around $1300 per adult Australian, and that poker machines are by far the biggest contributor to the losses.
“Of course many Australians do not gamble at all, and so the losses for some are far greater and they’re concentrated in lower socio-economic areas, where poker machine concentration is often higher and the rate of individual machine use is also higher.” Canon Grant said. “So, the impact on the families of problem gamblers who contribute something like 40% of these losses, is appalling.”
At this meeting, the Synod requested that the NSW Government implement measures such as a $1 maximum bet limit for poker machines, stopping the disproportionate concentration of poker machines in lower socio-economic areas and developing a scheme that requires venues to intervene to assist problem gamblers.
“Mr Baird and Mr Foley are both professing Christians. As a matter of justice and care for the vulnerable, it would be wonderful to see a bipartisan leadership effort from them to face down the mighty vested interests of the pubs and clubs gambling industry interests and to make real effective changes for the welfare of those devastated by problem gambling.” Canon Grant said.