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Media releases

Church concern over pokies lease plan

For immediate release – 25 Nov 2014

The NSW Council of Churches has called on NSW Premier Mike Baird to respond to community concerns over a proposal to allow registered clubs to lease their poker machines to other venues.

Under current laws, registered clubs may only sell their poker machine entitlements to other clubs.

Industry sources claim the proposal, outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed by NSW Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant on October 13, would enable struggling regional or rural clubs to create a new revenue stream, saving clubs from possible closure and providing much needed local community assistance in the form of grants and services.

But a spokesperson for the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce expressed concern that moving poker machines to places where the money will be lost would result in increasing problem gambling and harm, even where a net benefit test can be satisfied.

“The NSW Council of Churches shares this concern, and urges caution on the part of the Baird Government regarding any plans for deregulation of gambling in NSW,” Council President, the Reverend Ross Clifford, said today.

“We also call on the Premier to commit to follow through and implement all of the recommendations set out in the recent NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the social impact of gambling,” Dr Clifford said.

“As well as curbing the spread of poker machines in vulnerable communities, the NSW Government should seriously consider what can be done to reform the ‘any time, anywhere’ betting culture that has quickly taken hold as a result of new online and mobile phone technology,” he said.

Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678

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