Belfast Telegraph

Parents of tragic gambler say addicts still being failed

Suicide: Lewis Keogh
Suicide: Lewis Keogh
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The parents of an Enniskillen man who took his own life over gambling debts have said addicts are still being failed in Northern Ireland.

A new report from the Northern Ireland Office has exposed a shocking lack of support for problem gamblers in Northern Ireland.

The report, which examines gambling law and policy, was required under the recently passed Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act and there will be a debate on its contents at Westminster this week.

According to the report's findings, "there are no gambling specific services commissioned by the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board and therefore the board does not hold data regarding the number of people seeking treatment for problem gambling".

Peter and Sadie Keogh's youngest son Lewis died aged 34 in 2013. His gambling addiction, which left him £50,000 in debt and leading a double life, eventually drove him to suicide.

"Failing to act to reform the law on gambling and the support we give to those suffering from gambling addiction can and does have serious consequences," said Peter. "We know the heartbreak and pain which gambling addiction can lead to. This report once again shows what we have known for a long time - we as a society are badly failing in this area. We can and must do better for those suffering from gambling addiction and those who will be affected in the future."

CARE NI's policy officer Mark Baillie said it was now time for an urgent overhaul of Northern Ireland's outdated and backwards gambling laws.

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