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'Gambling as addictive as heroin'

Gambling
24 May 2022
Jack Ritchie took his own life after developing a serious gambling addiction

The parents of a young man who took his own life after struggling with gambling addiction have called for the dangers of betting to be properly recognised.

Jack Ritchie died aged just 24 whilst working in Vietnam having become hooked on fixed-odds betting terminals, gaming machines described as the 'crack cocaine of gambling'.

An inquest into his death in March heard how Jack spent years battling his addiction to gambling but failed to receive the help he needed, despite seeing professionals.

Jack's father told the BBC his son had thought gambling was just a "bit of fun" as a teenager before it spiralled into an addiction that ruined his life.

Mr Ritchie described gambling products as "incredibly addictive", even "as addictive as heroin" but said there was no messaging about their risks to mental health.

He added that the "whole system was flawed" and when his son had sought help even medical professionals were unaware of the risks.

Jack's mother said there was an assumption that addiction issues were "an individual's fault" and that "stopping the harm is down to the individual and that it is not part of the system".

At the weekend, The Times revealed aspects of the government's forthcoming gambling reform proposals, which are expected next month.

The government is expected to announce maximum stakes of £2 to £5 for online gamblers using slot machines, and "affordability checks" to prevent punters incurring debt.

Ministers also hope to reach agreement with Premier League football clubs in the next few weeks to remove gambling companies from their shirts.

CARE is lobbying for a wide range of measures to reign in the betting industry, and ensure that problem gamblers receive the support they need to be free from addiction.

We stand alongside other charities and campaign groups in supporting a statutory levy on the gambling industry to pay for independent public health messaging, research and treatment.

Learn more about our wok on gambling here | CARE for Gambling

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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.

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