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Shift gambling focus to harm minimisation

For immediate release – 10 June 2015

The NSW Council of Churches has expressed grave disappointment at a decision by the Baird Government to amend the state’s gambling regulations.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant recently approved a raft of changes to poker machine rules including an increase in the threshold below which poker machine winnings can be paid in cash from $2000 to $5000, and an increase in the amount of money players may store in an account or smartcard to $5000.

“While we welcome the increase in the minimum period for problem gambler self-exclusion schemes from three months to six months, in the interests of public health, it is hard to understand why pokies players would want to load $5000 on their account or smart card unless they intended to spend it in an attempt to gain a win,” the President of the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said.

“If that is the case, the change means there is a higher likelihood that more people will lose more money playing the pokies, which may be good for the NSW government’s bottom line but not for those at risk of gambling addiction and their families,” he said.

“Gambling regulations should be framed in the best interests of NSW citizens rather than in the interests of the gambling industry. The NSW government should explain how it plans to implement all recommendations tabled in the recent report of the NSW Legislative Council gambling inquiry,” Dr Clifford said.

– ENDS –

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