National Council of Churches supports gambling reform

National Council of Churches supports gambling reform

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has supported calls for one dollar maximum bets on poker machines.

The NCCA Executive, representing many of the Christian churches in Australia, issued a statement from a meeting in Sydney this week.

Many of the churches support the mandatory pre-commitment measures sought by Andrew Wilkie MP, which have now been abandoned by the Federal Government.

Mandatory pre commitment and $1 maximum bets will, as part of a raft of measures, help prevent people from developing a problem in the first place.

Council spokesperson, the Rev. Alistair Macrae, said, “The National Council of Churches believes the Federal Government still has the opportunity to deliver change and reduce the human harm caused by poker machine addiction.”

He said, “Polling has consistently shown that around two thirds of Australians want reform. Church agencies provide about 70 per cent of the caring services in Australia. We see first-hand the damage suffered by individuals, families and whole communities across our country from poker machines.

“Poker machine gambling is a risk for around a third of regular users. Prevention is the focus of good public policy with measures in place to help people who fall through the safety net.

“Nearly 100,000 Australians lose on average up to $21,000 a year. Forty per cent of poker machine profit comes from problem gamblers. For every problem gambler there are many others affected; families, children, friends and co-workers. The price is high – depression, job losses, fraud and other crime, relationship break down and suicide.”

In addition to supporting $1 maximum bets, with losses limited at $120 an hour, the National Council of Churches supports reforms that reduce access to cash in gambling venues, and reforms that restrict online gambling, especially given the impact on young Australians.

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