CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

Tragic death shows dangers of gambling addiction

16 August 2021
Gambling 2 g

A widow has spoken about the tragic death of her husband due to betting addiction and called on the government to do more to curb the gambling industry.

Luke Ashton, 40, took his own life in April this year after falling into a “gambling hole” during lockdown.

A recovering gambling addict, he was lured back into betting by a “free bet” offer from a gambling app, which allowed him to place a bet without depositing money.

This move sparked a relapse, and Luke quickly “lost control”, taking out payday loans to cover his mounting debts.

His wife, Annie, told the i newspaper:

“My husband was a down to earth, hardworking man who wanted the best for his family.

“We’d drawn a line under the first bout of gambling and moved on with our lives. I remember Luke telling me how he hated being bombarded with betting adverts and he worried what it meant for younger people.

“Instead, the second time he was drawn in was tragic, because he lost his life.”
Annie Ashton

Mrs Ashton believes outlawing “free bets” could prevent others from being hooked and facing the same tragedy experienced by her family. She added:

“With free bets, you can open several accounts. Before you know it, you’ve opened 34 different accounts just to get the next one. They’re deceptive. You think you’re not wasting any money, but it’s designed to hook you into spending.

“I’m thinking about my son growing up, and his friends, and I worry. I want them to know that these things are not designed for their benefit. They’re designed to put money into an industry which profits from addiction and harm.”
Annie Ashton

Liz Ritchie, co-founder of Gambling with Lives, lost her son Jack to gambling addiction which he developed whilst at school. She commented:

“Every day at least one person takes their life due to gambling and this is what we’re trying to stop.

“A bombardment of aggressive marketing across all channels combined with predatory inducements such as ‘free bets’ is a disaster for a generation where everyone has a casino in their pockets on their smartphones.

“Gambling products are designed to be addictive and the majority of gambling industry profits come from a small amount of addicted customers and this so often leads to tragedy.”
Liz Ritchie Gambling with Lives

CARE is fighting for tougher regulation of the gambling industry, including a curb of betting-related adverts on television and in sport.

Last week, research by CARE found that 9 out of 20 Premier League teams have a betting ad on their strip, the same proportion as in 2018.

The study also found that a total of 19 clubs partner with betting firms in some way, meaning ads will appear on official channels such as websites and stadium noticeboards, if not on strips.

A spokesman for CARE said:

“It is time we had a serious public debate about the gambling industry’s relationship with football. We have an epidemic of problem gambling in the UK. We have to question whether the Premier League and other footballing authorities are doing enough to protect vulnerable fans.”
CARE spokesman

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news in Gambling



While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

Find out more about the cause