Uniting Church doesn’t want Australian clubs funded by misery
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, the Rev. Alistair Macrae, has expressed disappointment at the rugby league clubs’ opposition to the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment measures for poker machines.
“I am a lifetime supporter of football clubs. But their claim that this measure will bankrupt them reveals either a very flawed business model or a lack of concern for the personal and social impacts of problem gambling,” said Mr Macrae.
“Sporting clubs in Australia make a wonderful contribution to our community. I’ve been involved at various stages of my life as a player, a parent and a member. But we have a moral responsibility to ensure that our clubs don’t rely on income generated from the pay packets of people who can’t control their gambling.
“It’s encouraging to see the AFL distance itself from Clubs Australia’s campaign, but the NRL’s support of the gaming industry demonstrates a lack of social conscience. Sport can and does flourish in our communities without being funded through the misery of addicts and their families.
“These reforms are not a tax but an opportunity for problem gamblers to set limits for themselves before getting carried away by their addiction. They require gamblers to determine ahead of time how much they can afford to lose.
“In the Uniting Church, through the work of UnitingCare agencies, we are daily dealing with the human consequences of problem gamblers losing the paycheque on high-intensity machines.
“Bills go unpaid, children go unfed and marriages crumble under the pressure.”
Mr Macrae said, “The Productivity Commission says 95,000 people are addicted to poker machines, spending on average up to $21,000 a year, and that an additional 95,000 are at risk of becoming problem gamblers.
“The proposed reforms are targeting these people.
“Australia has the highest number of poker machines per capita in the world. There are nearly 200,000 of them nationally, around half in New South Wales.
“Forty per cent of revenue from these machines comes from problem gamblers. Profit at the expense of other people’s pain is no basis for any business model. The practice must stop.
“We love our football clubs here in Australia. It’s time for them to return the love and say no exploiting problem gamblers.”
The Uniting Church in Australia is a member of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, established this year to limit the impact of poker machine gambling.