Australian Churches Combat Problem Gambling

Churches in Australia joined forces and formed the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce to address problem gambling, according to the latest research more than 90,000 problem gamblers lose on average $21,000 per annum. The churches have also called upon the Australian government to impose sterner measures that will protect gamblers from being over exploited by casinos.

Key members from the following churches; Catholic, Baptist and Anglican, the Salvation Army and church-based social service institutions met in Canberra to start a campaign on gambling reform.

Reverend Alistair Macrae President of the Uniting Church says thousands of children suffer as a result of parents who have a history of problem gambling. A staggering $12 billion has been spent by Australians on poker machines or pokies. Macrae believes the amount of money spent by Australians on gambling has become an area of great concern.

Reverend Macrae states that on a weekly basis 600,000 Australians play poker machines, whilst 15% have gambling related problems accounting for 40% of the money wagered on pokies. The Productivity Commission reckons that Australian problem gamblers lose in excess of $21,000 per year. More than 75% of patrons play poker machines and some lose up to a $1,500 in an hour.

Macrae says problem gambling has its social ramifications as well; it impacts negatively on relationships, causes psychological problems, exacerbates joblessness, increases poverty, fraud and social segregation, which contributes to an approximated $4.7 billion a year. Macrae vented his anger toward the gambling industry; it’s inhumane for a club or hotel to exploit people who have a history of problem gambling just so that these businesses can reap the financial rewards. He says the taskforce’s responsibility is to ensure that proper gambling policies would be in place to protect gamblers and to mitigate possible harm to them.

Macrae says the Taskforce focuses on the regulation of poker machines and venues and policies should be in place that police gamblers once they’ve received a certain limit. It’s up to the gambler to set his/her limit before entering a casino.

The Australian Churches Gambling Forum invites all states to enforce the necessary legislation, warranting that all gaming establishments have compulsory pre-commitment technology in place by 2014.



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