Two Sydney church leaders have joined forces to demand poker machine reform in New South Wales.
Anglican Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant, and Wesley Mission CEO Stu Cameron have written to both the Premier and Opposition leader, demanding action.
sydneyanglicans.net reports NSW has around double the rate of poker machine losses compared to every other state and territory.
About 40% of all pokies losses come from problem gamblers.
The highest losses are concentrated in Sydney’s poorest local government areas.
The church leaders want a ‘unity ticket’ on poker machine reform.
Dean Grant took the call for a bipartisan approach to the Anglican Synod where he explained the enormous impact on families caused by gambling.
The Synod supported his call for one dollar limits on all machines; a cashless gaming smart card system; and a ceiling on the number of machines in clubs.
The Church’s resolution has been given to the State Government accompanied by a letter from the two church leaders.
In the letter, the ministers say: “As pastors, we can’t remain silent as we hear from people experiencing gambling addiction, who are at risk of physical self-harm, family members impacted by gambling harm facing repossession of a car or furniture, or even children going hungry”.
They say the main driver behind their campaign to police the pokies is their Christian faith.
“I’m passionate about it because of my Christian conviction that this is a justice issue – that vulnerable people, the poor in particular, are being exploited by what is a really predatory industry that is designed to addict. Change has to happen,” Stu Cameron, a Uniting Church minister, told Eternity News.
Dean Grant adds: “It’s just heartbreaking to see casinos send out buses to suburbs like Cabramatta to bring people in to sit at the poker machines. It’s awful the way this industry can work.”
Both church leaders say it’s a critical issue for communities ahead of the March state election.