Eighteen Canadian church leaders have sent a joint letter to the nation's justice minister calling for an independent review of state-sponsored gambling in Canada.

David Pfrimmer, of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy, told ENI on Tuesday, "What's remarkable is the unanimous ecumenical consensus among the Christian churches in Canada that state-sponsored gambling is bad public policy, bad economics and bad public morality."There are more than 50 casinos in Canada, and there are plans for more to be built. Recent estimates state that the casinos earn profits of $1.75 billion a year; federal and provincial governments take almost half this amount as taxes and duties.

A national magazine, Macleans, reported in May that the gambling industry's overall turnover was $19 billion a year. The magazine also said that the average Canadian household was gambling $840 each year.