The parents of a 27-year-old who took his own life after battling a gambling addiction say his death is a “waste of a talented, lovely boy”.
John and Alison Myers shared how their son, Ryan, had sometimes spent all his wages on gambling and was “haemorrhaging money”.
Although Ryan sought to “self-exclude” himself from gambling websites, he continued betting – spending hundreds of pounds on a gambling machine on the day he committed suicide.
John Myers said a distressing financial picture emerged after their son’s death, including a £1,000 payday loan and an account with a pawn shop.
His parents also discovered dozens of gambling adverts and offers on email and Facebook.
John said: “If you’re in the pub and you’ve got a guy who’s an alcoholic, you can see him, he’s stumbling around all over the place, he’s drunk, he’s always drunk”.
But he added: “The guy in the corner keeping nice and quiet on his mobile phone, he’s gambling thousands and thousands of pounds and no one can see it and you have no idea.”
Describing the betting companies as “parasites”, John said that he sometimes feels angry with his son.
But, “then you realise what he must have been going through”, and: “I look at pictures of him as a young child and I think: what a waste. What a waste of a talented, lovely boy.”
The heart-rending story comes as figures show the amount the gambling industry spends on television adverting.
According to statistics compiled by media analysts Nielsen, for The Guardian, sports betting, bingo, online casino games and poker companies spent over £118m on TV adverts in 2015 alone.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said gambling companies “need to keep acquiring new players” because customers “go broke, or lose whatever they can afford and decide not to play anymore”.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris said gambling was a “serious social blight” and called for more regulation.
Last year a former Premier League footballer who was addicted to gambling spoke of blowing his whole monthly wages in just two weeks.
Matthew Etherington explained that his gambling addiction was so strong that at one point he put it ahead of buying petrol for his car.