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Presbyterian Church Protests Pokies

Presbyterian Church Protests Pokies

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has expressed its outrage to the Government about the impact poker machines are having on individuals, families and communities. In a letter to George Hawkins, Minister of Internal Affairs, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rt Rev Michael Thawley, also wrote of the concern the Church has at the level of funding community groups receive from gambling.

"Our Church is concerned that the proliferation of poker machines is having a severe effect on the lives of children and families throughout the country", said Mr Thawley. "We are keen to see these effects minimised through the Government taking action over poker machines and other forms of gambling."

One area of particular concern for the Church is that many community groups are being forced to rely increasingly on gambling money for funding. "We would prefer that the provision of vital social and community services was not dependent for their operation on income from gambling. The Government could do more to prevent this occurring," Mr Thawley said. "The Church does not accept the argument that the financial contributions poker machines make to community activities justify their existence."

Research has shown that after direct government funding and donations from individuals, money from gaming machine trusts and the Lottery Board constituent the third largest source of funding for not-for-profit sector organizations.

Mr Thawley said that the Church welcomes the Responsible Gambling Bill, which should curtail the spread of gambling outlets and give local communities some say in their location.

Mr Thawley wrote to the Minister following strong resolutions on gambling at the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Aoteraroa New Zealand.

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