Church leaders alarmed over effects of gambling in South Africa
The growth of casinos in South Africa, a country relatively new to legal gambling, is having an alarming effect on families and communities, according to a bishops' spokesman and others concerned with social welfare.
"People are using money they can't afford (to spend)," said Auxiliary Bishop Reginald Cawcutt of Cape Town, spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, noting that "it is devastating for children and families when wage earners put all their money into slot machines."
Last year the government granted 40 casino licenses nationwide. But, unlike many other countries where licenses are restricted to areas in need of development and where a tourist infrastructure could not be created without gambling, many of South Africa's casinos are situated in low-income areas, where unemployment is rife and disposable income is scarce.
"I'm shocked to see how many people are going to casinos," Bishop Cawcutt said, noting that the number of gamblers at Cape Town's casino "hasn't dwindled at all -- and the holidays are long over."