Reduce gambling harm Reduce gambling hours - Uniting Wesley Alliance

Gambling Reform NSW


Reduce gambling harm

Reduce gambling hours



Pokies are designed to addict.

Every day $18.7million is lost through poker machines in New South Wales. Every day of the year.

Gambling contributes to anxiety, financial stress, work and study problems. It can lead to poverty, mental health issues, and family violence.


Gambling rooms currently operate for up to 18 hours a day in NSW and the ACT, from 10am until 4am the next morning.



This is an addiction that ensnares many, says The Moderator, Rev Simon Hansford.

As with other addictions, the costs are measured in broken lives and families, lost jobs and poverty. As followers of Jesus, we believe in forgiveness, we believe in healing, we are a people of the resurrection.


Please pray for those whose lives are being punished and destroyed.


Pray too, for justice in our community - that politicians and communities would no longer tolerate the societal disease brought about by unfettered gambling.


Pray for the courage to act.


Rev Tim Costello offers this prayer

Dear God. 

We are at a loss to understand ourselves. We remain a puzzle to ourselves. We recognise our longings for beauty and justice and yet we yield to fear, greed and injustice.

We confess our silence in the face of the spread of these predatory machines that addict our neighbours. We confess our political fear and silence to speak up as they saturated  our communities.

We mourn the lives and livelihoods lost. We grieve that our State is the epicentre of global gambling and hosts 10% of the world’s poker machines. We grieve that our nation has the highest per capita gambling losses of any nation globally. 

But God give us courage to speak up and demand reform.

We know human dignity is degraded by these insidious machines. We know you are aggrieved by a business model that is dependent on terrible addiction. We admit shrugging at political capture and not challenging the justifications of economic returns.

We ask for the spiritual strength to act, to speak and to protect the  dignity of those made in your image.

We commit to the beauty of your reign and to your justice.




Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said closing venues from midnight to 10am is a simple, yet effective, measure to reduce gambling harm.

“The early hours of the morning are when an awful lot of gambling harm occurs, especially with people most at risk. With unemployment at record highs and the general stress around COVID-19, many more people are and will be vulnerable to gambling harm,” Rev Costello said.

Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod NSW.ACT Rev Simon Hansford said gambling is an ongoing crisis for our community. 

“We know that seeking systemic change to reduce the power and social licence of the gambling industry is critical,” the Moderator said. “COVID has made this even more pronounced as people are more isolated. We need to approach this in terms of support for all those who are harmed but also to address the structural concerns of how gambling is able to take such a hold on people’s lives.”

Wesley Mission CEO Rev. Keith V Garner AM says many Australians consider having a bet as being enshrined in our culture.

“We must ask ourselves as a society what harm comes to individuals from making gambling a socially acceptable form of fun and recreation,” Mr Garner said. “The highest at-risk groups of people that we connect with at Wesley Mission are those who have experienced trauma, where gambling becomes an outlet for overwhelming emotions, compounding the harm caused.”


If you want to help achieve gambling reform, consider taking other action:





If you or a loved one are experiencing problems related to gambling, please contact:

Wesley Mission: 1300 827 638

Gambling Help: 1800 858 858 or

Lifeline: 13 11 14


Map of Australia highlighting NSW