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Pell calls for ban on poker machine ads

A ban on poker machine advertising should be part of a stronger approach to problem gambling, Sydney's new Catholic Archbishop George Pell said on Friday.

Dr Pell said although moves to reduce problem gambling in the state had been ground-breaking and encouraging, more work was needed. He said measures should include further education, research initiatives and banning poker machine advertising in large-scale promotions.

"People who play poker machines need to be made more aware that the most they can expect in the long run is fun and entertainment and not windfall gains," Dr Pell said in a statement.

"Playing poker machines is a pastime enjoyed by many people with safety and responsibility, however we cannot ignore the plight of those who get themselves into strife.

"In a free society we tolerate gambling, but people's gambling behaviour should not be driven to excess by advertising and promotions which are, after all, driven by the profit motive.

"There is no need for 24-hour gambling anywhere."

Dr Pell said he shared state parliament's determination to "reduce the suffering and hurt" caused by gambling and also commended the efforts of clubs, casino and hotel operators.

"Clearly, we need to understand more about what can be done to reduce the risk in playing poker machines, and I strongly suspect a better level of understanding about how machines actually work on the vulnerable would help," he said.