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Melbourne priest's charity raising $3m from pokies

A children's charity backed by Catholic interests is grabbing more than $3.3 million a year from the pockets of poker machine gamblers.

The Doxa Youth Foundation - established by Catholic priest Joe Giacobbe - owns and operates two inner city pokie parlours.

"I wouldn't be allowed to do anything if it was against the rules of the church," he told the Herald Sun. "Why would I be uncomfortable? The industry is legal and regulated."

But Interchurch Gambling Taskforce spokesman and Baptist minister Tim Costello said Doxa's dependence on pokies was morally unacceptable.

"[Fr Giacobbe's] involvement is a private initiative," said diocese spokeswoman Geraldine Capp. "Many Catholics have associations with gambling such as having a bet on the Melbourne Cup or buying a lottery ticket. Involvement in gambling is not necessarily immoral or a problem."

However, taskforce member and Catholic Social Services worker Anne Tuohey said poker machine venues depended on problem gamblers.

"It is disappointing that any organisation funds its activities from these sources," Ms Tuohey said. "It is particularly short-sighted to be enticed by easy revenue with little consideration for the long-term social and economic costs associated with gambling."

Doxa directors include leading Catholic layman and Melbourne barrister Chris Wren, grandson of famed Melbourne gambling king John Wren. Patrons of the charity include Governor-General Peter Hollingworth and Victorian Governor John Landy.

Doxa Youth Foundation
Interchurch Gambling Taskforce


28 May 2002