The Anglican diocese of Christchurch has voted to stop local parishes from accepting funding from the trusts that receive a portion of the profits from gambling machines, known here as pokies.
“More than ever, the gaming trusts have been operating as a pro-pokie lobby and treating the grant money as hush money against the harm pokies cause,” said Reverend Jolyon White, who made the proposal. The funds are currently used to support food banks, conselling services and other activities.
Pub Charity, one of the gaming trusts, in June rejected an application for NZ$235,000 ($189,000) from Christchurch Cathedral for reconstruction, citing opposition by some Anglican groups to the machines over addiction issues. Pub Charity chief executive Martin Cheer said the church was being hypocritical and needed to take a consistent stand.
The Christchurch diocese social justice unit’s website PokieFreeChallenge solicits members of the public to make pledges on what they would give a bar to remove its gambling machines; under Christchurch’s “sinking lid policy”, machine once removed cannot be replaced.