Media release: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today supported concerns raised over South Australian Treasurer Kevin Foley’s enthusiastic support of poker machines, saying that more attention needs to be given to the devastating impact of gambling addictions on large numbers of Australian families.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace agreed with comments made by South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon about State Governments being too hooked to gambling revenues to deal effectively with problem gambling.

“This is not just a problem in South Australia but in all States where poker machines have been legalised and State Governments have themselves become addicted to a revenue stream that represents a significant part of their budgets,”  Mr Wallace said.

“The draft Productivity Commission report into problem gambling released late last year showed that gamblers in Australia lose over $18 billion per year including over $12 billion on poker machines. A large part of that take comes from problem gamblers who account for about 15 per cent of regular poker machine players (with a further 15 per cent facing moderate risks),” Mr Wallace said.

“Obviously the taxes from poker machines going to State Governments are huge, and they have a strong financial interest in blocking stronger measures to combat problem gambling. However, painting gambling just as a leisure activity is not appropriate. The social costs for problem gamblers and their families are immense and they need to be given far greater priority.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan