Reduce gambling hours, reduce gambling harm

15 October 2020

A new campaign spearheaded by the Uniting Church Synod NSW and ACT and Wesley Mission, in conjunction with the Alliance for Gambling Reform, says reducing gambling room opening hours will make an immediate difference in curbing gambling harm.

Australia has the greatest gambling losses per head in the world – with more money lost on gambling than the amount spent on alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs and over $18m lost each day on poker machines in NSW alone.

Gambling rooms currently operate for up to 18 hours a day in NSW and the ACT.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, 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.

Each person impacted by gambling affects approximately five to ten people as a result.

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

“We know that it is critical to seek systemic change to reduce the power and social license of the gambling industry,” 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.”

Small actions, one step at a time, can make a big difference.

Learn more about the campaign and how you can help to reduce gambling harm via the Alliance’s website:

If gambling is a problem for you, help is available. Call Wesley Mission’s gambling counselling hotline on 1300 827 638 or Gambling Help on 1800 858 858.

If you want to talk to someone right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or use crisis chat online.

For more information, please contact: Ashley Donnelly, 0400 509 068.


The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT | The Uniting Church is one of the largest Christian denominations in Australia. Our Congregations and members are diverse in age, location and culture. The Synod of NSW and the ACT supports more than 500 Congregations, 50,000 members, 13 Presbyteries and 9 schools and Parish Missions. We are a fellowship of reconciliation, living God’s love and acting for the common good to build a just and compassionate community.

Wesley Mission is a growing Christian Church and a Parish Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia, serving the community wherever the need exists. Wesley Mission provides real, practical care and support for more than 200,000 people each year across NSW. They reach all faces of Australia – from children, families and older people to those struggling with homelessness, addiction, mental health, financial or family challenges.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.