Australians are the world’s most prolific gamblers, with poker machines causing over half our losses.
NSW has about double (or worse) the rate of poker machine losses compared to every other Australian state and territory.
About 40% of all poker machine losses come from people experiencing significant harm from gambling.
Worse still, the highest losses are concentrated in the poorest LGAs in Sydney.
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.
Recent research reports the prevalence of harmful gambling has continued to rise over the last decade.
The NSW Treasury budget papers project taxes on gaming devices in clubs and hotels alone will grow to over $2 billion in the next financial year, with an average annual growth rate of 12.55% over the next four years.
And gambling taxation is rising as a share of NSW Government revenue.
We lament that it could be said NSW and its government have the world’s biggest, most destructive gambling addiction, and a growing reliance on a truly regressive and socially destructive form of taxation.
The Bible says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God” (Proverbs 14:31).
The Bible also reminds rulers to “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).
We believe that there are concrete reforms that both the government and the opposition can commit to in the long term.
This is an edited version of an open letter to the NSW Premier and the NSW Leader of the Opposition, by the Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant, and the CEO and Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Stu Cameron