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Faith, hope, love and pokies?

AS WE EDGE closer to Christmas, we begin to focus on the hope embedded in God incarnate in a helpless being; a newborn baby.

I recently heard World Vision CEO, Rev Tim Costello, speak about the Federal Government’s proposed mandatory precommitment on pokie machines.

According to Mr Costello, when the Crown Casino was opened in Melbourne, then Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, said the casino was “the new spirit of Victoria” and “a beacon of hope for the community”.

Launching a new advocacy website, www.unitingforchange.org.au, UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield
Dodds, said that Australians spent $19 billion on gambling in 2009 and 62 per cent of that money was fed into poker

“There are 200 000 pokies Australia-wide and they account for more than 80 per cent of all problem gamblers,” she said.

“In some venues it is possible to load $10 000 into a poker machine at a time.

“Average losses on these highintensity machines are $1200 an hour.

The average weekly wage in Australia is $1300.”

What kind of society do we live in if a casino is the basis of community?

How far removed from society is the story of hope in Christ if hope is found in a place that makes 40 per cent of its profits from people who are addicted to gambling?

To me, this all reeks of the story of Jesus throwing over the tables of the money changers outside the temple; but maybe
that is just me?

With the Clubs Australia campaign saying the precommitment will destroy clubs and consequently the community, it makes me ask: why do the clubs exist and why did they begin?

Don’t they exist to support local sport, not to take advantage of people who are unable to stop putting coins in their machines?

Gambling isn’t like other addictions.

You often can’t see the signs until it is too late.

But, as with all addictions, there is enormous embarrassment and stigma attached to admitting you have a problem.

This Christmas we are exploring the theme Faith, Hope, Love (but the greatest of these is love).

During floods, drought and fi re we see the church becoming the centre of community once more.

It is the faith Uniting Church members have that shows others the hope found in Christ by loving people for who they are,
where they are.

Let’s share the faith, hope and love with everyone in our communities once again this Christmas.

On behalf of the Journey team we thank you for your support and encouragement this year and wish you a Christmas full of
faith, an abundance of hope and all the love in the world.