Belfast Telegraph

Lewis's tragic story highlights the danger of online betting as well as the hidden nature of gambling addiction

Editor's Viewpoint

Tune into any sporting event on your television and sooner or later an advertisement for a betting company will be screened. Quite naturally these will make placing a bet seem glamorous, even thrilling.

Whereas years ago in the traditional bookies sporting bets were confined to the result, now you can bet on the number of corners in a football match or the margin of victory in a high scoring game.

And then there are the sites which promise a virtual casino experience, betting on games like online roulette, poker, blackjack or fruit machines.

The only warning of any dangers attached to gambling is the almost throwaway exhortation to gamble responsibly or as one betting empire puts it, 'when the fun stops, stop'.

For the majority of people, an occasional bet is just a bit of fun, but for others it can be a deadly addiction. Read our report today on how it led to the death by his own hand of Lewis Keogh and wonder where the fun in gambling was for him or other addicts.

He ran up £50,000 in debts using credit cards to fund his addiction, laying his bets by computer as he lay in bed.

In days gone by it would have been very difficult for the average person to run up that scale of debt placing bets across the counter, but today addiction and ruin can be only a few clicks away on the internet.

Lewis' distraught parents deserve great credit for going public with their son's death in the hope of warning other young people of the dangers of uncontrolled gambling.

Lewis, they believe, caught the gambling bug playing arcade games on the ferry to family holidays in France. In later life, like all addicts, he probably thought one big win would clear all his problems, but bookmakers exist because the odds are always stacked in their favour.

This tragic young man's parents want stricter controls on gambling, but as this case shows how do you identify a gambler with a problem from one who bets for fun? It is a hidden addiction.

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