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Saturday, February 20, 2016
Tragic gambling addict took his own life after "losing control" and forking out thousands on bets
The father of a man who hanged himself after building up thousands in gambling debts is calling for a change to fixed-odds betting terminals.
John Myers said he believed his son Ryan committed suicide because he felt he had “lost control” after losing thousands of pounds in May 2014.
The 27-year-old carpenter from Huyton had a serious gambling addiction, and had taken out a payday loan and even asked several websites to ban him to curb his spending.
On the day he killed himself alone he had blown £500 on a fixed-odds machine (FOBT) – electronic gaming machines that players can use to bet on the outcomes of various simulated games and events like roulette and horse races.
John said Ryan was engaged and had been laughing and joking as usual on a family holiday in Turkey just a few days earlier.
But just before his death he left a tragic suicide note saying how much he loved his family and fiance, Kiann, and that he had transferred his last £300 for her to his dad’s account.
An inquest ruled Ryan took his own life.
John, a DHL supervisor based at Jaguar Land Rover, 56, said his son’s death showed the damage that could be caused by fixed-odds machines, and has launched a petition for tougher restrictions on betting adverts.
He said he was furious his son was still getting messages after his death offering him free bets because he hadn’t gambled for a while.
He said: “Just two days after our holiday, Ryan put a message on Facebook saying he was so sorry he had let people down, and didn’t mean to break anyone’s heart.
“His aunt saw it, but by the time we got to his house in Toxteth the police and ambulance were there. They wouldn’t let us go upstairs, and eventually told us he was dead.
“It was absolutely the worst day of my life. We just couldn’t understand, but he had lost all his money again that day and felt he’d let everybody down.
“He probably couldn’t face telling Kiann, and must have felt ashamed he couldn’t control it. We could have sorted it easily, but he’d never done anything to be embarrassed of before.
“To think he couldn’t tell us - that’s what hurts us more than anything. I’m not here to tell people how to spend their money, but the problem now is the industry is taking over town centres and people’s lives.
“I hate FOBTS with a passion. They’re the crack cocaine of gambling, as you can lose hundreds in minutes and people get hooked - they should cap how much you can spend.
“It’s disgusting there’s so many betting shops, and so many free bets and adverts with people winning and smiling - while there are now adverts on the devastating impact.”
An Association of British Bookmakers spokesman said: “We deeply sympathise with Mr Myers and his family for their tragic loss. The industry takes responsible gambling very seriously and we have introduced new measures to help tackle problem gambling over and above regulatory requirements.
“This includes a mandatory code of practice for all betting shops, the banning of gaming machine advertising in shop windows and the introduction of a national self-exclusion scheme by April 2016.
“The ABB and our members have also introduced systems which allow targeted responsible gambling messages to be sent to account-based gaming machine players whose history indicates they may be on a trajectory of harm.”