‘Gambling problem growing’ say Church of Scotland

Church of Scotland Moderator Right Reverend Lorna Hood. Picture: Jane Barlow
Church of Scotland Moderator Right Reverend Lorna Hood. Picture: Jane Barlow
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TELEVISION advertising and electronic gadgets are encouraging gambling and adding to Scotland’s debt problems, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland warns today.

In her New Year message, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood voices her concerns about an internet betting boom.

“Adverts during sports and other TV programmes encourage us to place bets using tablets and smartphones within arm’s reach,” she said.

“Gambling has a long history, but we are now in an era where it is more accessible because of new technology and promoted more through mass advertising.

“The ads seek to present regular gambling as a cool, normalised part of our culture. Companies may become richer through this commerce.

“The danger is that individuals and their families simply become debt-ridden, with all the misery that entails.”

She also blamed marketing by money lenders for further adding to Scots’ financial woes in straitened times.

“It is of little comfort that other adverts seem to suggest that it is pragmatic to solve financial problems by taking out loans with eye-watering interest rates,” she said.

“I am concerned we may be turning into a society with an ever-increasing desire to acquire what we want, when we want it.”

Recent cuts to welfare payments have also been fuelling money struggles for many of the country’s disabled and long-term unemployed, according to the Moderator.

She raised concerns about the rising number of people “struggling to make ends meet” who are being forced to rely on food-banks to feed themselves and their families.

She reflected on the forthcoming independence referendum in September, saying that regardless of the result, the people of Scotland strove for the same common good.

The Moderator said: “In 2014, we in Scotland will make some decisions which will chart the course of our future as a country.

“Imagining Scotland’s Future, a consultation led by the Church of Scotland, has provided us with some key elements of these hopes and dreams.

“Individuals coming to the gatherings in church halls across the country are telling us that, regardless of the referendum result, they wish society to be characterised by integrity, fairness and a sense of wellbeing.”

The Rt Rev Hood, only the third woman moderator in the past 400 years, called for people to remain positive. She added: “It would be terribly easy, faced with so many seemingly insurmountable problems, to give up hoping and dreaming.

“From within the Christian faith, we are called upon not only to dream of a just and fair society but to put all our efforts into building that society.”

The Rt Rev Hood, originally from Kilmarnock, began her church career as a probationer assistant at St Ninian’s Corstorphine Church in Edinburgh, where she was ordained in 1978. She served for more than two decades as chaplain in Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.