Churches seek gambling limits

By on November 1, 1998

Canadian churches have written to the federal minister of justice asking her to help stop the rapid expansion of state-sponsored gambling.

The 19-member Canadian Council of Churches wants Anne McLellan to ask the provinces to impose a moratorium on gambling expansion and to set up an independent review of the impact of state-sponsored gambling.

The group, which includes the Anglican Church, also wants video lottery terminals banned.

The churches are concerned about the moral effect of gambling on society. “When you base your economic development plan on gambling, you’re asking a community to make part of its living by persuading people to gamble more and lose more,” said Bonnie Greene of the United Church in a news release. “Is that love of neighbour? Is that social justice?”

The churches also believe the majority of Canadians back them on the issue.

“It’s the people in the pews, the activists in communities, the grassroots who have been pushing hard on this,” said Ms. Greene. “They don’t see gambling as only a question of personal morality any more, either. Now they’re worried about what it’s doing to their whole community, and to all the other parts of their economy.”

Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary said Canada is “witnessing the growth of a culture of gambling …. We need to evaluate the social consequences, not just the promised benefits,” he said. “I believe casino gambling is a bad bet.”

Rev. David Pfrimmer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada said, “Governments have a job to do, and that job is to protect the common good, to make sure that the public interest doesn’t get subverted.”

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