Christian groups call for gambling reforms in New South Wales

The church leaders have called for limits on pokies.
The church leaders have called for limits on pokies.

The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant, and Wesley Mission CEO Stu Cameron have written to the premier and opposition leader demanding action.

Australia.- Two Sydney church leaders have released a statement calling for reforms to gambling regulation in New South Wales. Anglican dean Sandy Grant and Wesley Mission CEO Stu Cameron have demanded reforms, arguing that NSW poker machine losses were around twice as high as in other states.

They have called for dollar limits on pokies, a smart card system for cashless gaming and a ceiling on the number of machines in clubs. In the letter shared by, the ministers said: “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.”

The Australian gaming industry is in a state of flux owing to changes in gaming regulation in several states. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has launched an inquiry into online gambling and its impact on people with gambling problems. 

The committee said it will examine how to better target programs to address online problem gambling to reduce the potential exploitation of at-risk people and protect individuals, families and communities. It will also analyse the quality of and access to online gambling education programmes and the appropriateness of gambling regulations in light of emerging technologies, payment options and products. The committee is taking written submissions until November 11

The government of Victoria has introduced changes to combat gambling-related harm and money laundering at Crown Resorts. Casino Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 introduces 12 of 33 Royal Commission recommendations to strengthen harm minimisation measures, combat financial crime, and boost governance and oversight.

In Queensland, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR), the state government body responsible for overseeing Queensland’s four casinos, is in the spotlight after a whistleblower accused the regulator of being “asleep at the wheel”.

A source claiming to have inside knowledge of the casino industry told ABC: “The Queensland regulator has clearly failed to deter, prevent and detect serious crime occurring in Queensland casinos and it’s failed to protect vulnerable people from harm associated with gambling.”

Tim Costello, the chief advocate at the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR), described Queensland as “the wild wild west”. He said: “There have been no fines, there have been no sanctions, there has been no action. This is a complete farce in Queensland.

“When you see how aggressive the gambling industry is, the level of its donations to both sides of politics — it’s lobbying, it’s bullying and the lack of a regulator actually enforcing sanction or imposing fines just proves what a joke this is. You realise this is a completely lawless state.”

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