Gambling reform campaign is endorsed by Synod members
Rev. Rick Dacey and Rev. Stu Cameron brought the “Put the Pokies in their Place” gambling reform Proposal to the Synod membership.
Rev. Cameron referred the reform as a critical moment when we can affect change in a plan that maps how congregations can support the campaign.
“It’s a problem industry. That’s what we’re dealing with here. That’s the problem that we are in a season, my friends, of enormous possibilities and only God moment. It’s a remarkable moment in our state’s history where a year ago we could never have imagined the doors that would have opened through the election season leading up to the state election in March,” said Rev. Cameron of the Proposal.
“It’s the first time in our state’s history, a moment where both political parties are being forced by community appetite to wrestle with the issue of gambling harm, Let me give you just a few statistics. $155,000, that’s what one poker machine and one pub in New South Wales made last year. One machine, $155,000, $1,000. That’s how much money is lost on poker machines.”
Rev Dacey, rightly referred to gambling addiction as a “crippling predator” and a social problem that affects people in our midst, even people in our congregations. The predatory ways that gambling is prevalent in social and the evil and sinister ways people can be lured into its grasp requires us as a Church to take action to minimise harm. Rev. Dacey explained that gambling addiction doesn’t descriminate, which is what makes it the most insidious.
“Maybe they’re in your shoes. And before we go any further, let’s just be clear about this. Those people are not the problem. You are not the problem. Problem gamblers are not the problem. An Australian cultural blind spot that mirrors American’s toxic relationship with guns. That’s the problem. Governments and businesses and community groups that have become dependent on gambling income.”
“That’s the problem. A massive predatory industry with immense wealth and power. That’s the problem. Research has shown that suicide, the suicide rate is higher among people struggling with gambling addiction than any other addiction. The misery, loss, shame and despair caused by gambling is not an unfortunate accident. It is by design. It is intentional. It is the business model,” explained Rev. Dacey.
“The industry intentionally preys on human vulnerability and brazenly profits on human misery. We have no doubt that in your churches you have been lovingly caring for individuals and families devastated by gambling harm as Wesley Mission. We’ve been doing that for a long time. We set up the first gambling counseling service in Australia, but to paraphrase Bishop Desmond Tutu, there comes a point where you need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and to see who is pushing them in.”
With some slight amendments the Proposal was passed unanimously with the full support of Synod membership.