Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce historic meeting

Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce historic meeting

Heads of major Australian churches and leaders of their social services met in Canberra July 6 to voice their support for the Government’s mandatory pre-commitment reforms.

Chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, the Rev. Tim Costello, said mandatory pre-commitment for high-intensity electronic gaming machines would help problem gamblers who wanted to help themselves by putting consumer protection measures in place.

Members of the Taskforce are the heads of the churches and heads of church social services agencies nationally, united by a commitment to make poker machine gambling safer.

“Under the reforms consumers can choose how much they are prepared to gamble,” Mr Costello said.

“With 90,000 problem gamblers losing an average of $21,000 each a year, gambling in Australia is a huge issue and more power needs to be given to the consumer so they can set their loss limits.

“600,000 Australians play poker machines on a weekly basis, and around 200,000 of this group are people who have a moderate or severe problem with gambling.

“Mandatory limits allow people, in a sober moment, to say: ‘I can’t afford another $300 this month.’ It’s a reform that’s necessary to protect consumers from a dangerous product.

“Each year thousands of children suffer because of the impact of someone’s poker machine gambling, with problem gamblers each affecting at least one child and adversely impacting on ten others.

“Three quarters of severe problem gamblers play poker machines, and it’s possible to lose $1,500 an hour on high intensity machines.

“At least 40 per cent of clubs’ profits come from people addicted to gambling.

“How is a business sustainable when 40 per cent of its revenue comes from people addicted to the product they are selling?”

Mr Costello said, “The social costs of problem gambling are high, with relationship breakdown, mental health issues, unemployment, debt and financial hardship, theft and social isolation contributing to costs estimated at $4.7 billion a year.”

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