The UK couple is suing the government for their son’s suicide, The Guardian reports. Why do they do this and how it can impact gambling? Read to find out.
The death of Jack Ritchie
Jack Ritchie was a young healthy lad from Sheffield, who moved to Vietnam to pursue a career in teaching. He was struggling with gambling since he was 17. In Vietnam, he still couldn’t control his gambling habits and tool the wrong decision. He wrote to his parents that he can’t control himself anymore and committed suicide. Jack took his own life at the age of 24.
In 2017, after this happened, his parents, Charles and Liz Ritchie started a charity fund to fight against gambling-related problems and push the government for stronger regulation. Now, the case of Jack Ritchie is taking a new unexpected turn.
The case the Ritchies prepared
The couple is now ready to avenge their son’s death in court. They hold the government liable for his demise and want to set a precedent that would spur more control over the industry and compensation to the victims.
The reason they believe they could win is Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The article touches upon the right to life and originally is appealed to when dealing with cases of police or military shootings or war crimes.
However, this article can be used in cases where the government failed to provide security for its citizens. In a 2012 case Kayak vs Turkey, the court has ruled that the government is guilty of violating Article 2 because they failed to protect a girl who was stabbed in front of a school.
The Ritchies seek to apply this article to their son’s suicide on the basis that the government failed to protect him from a gambling-related death. As the argument goes, gambling is highly addictive and problem gamblers have a high risk of suicide. The government failed to prevent this from happening, which is a violation of Article 2.
The problem with the case
The case seems to be fueled with emotions, not legal facts. It’s extremely sad that problem gamblers commit suicide on higher rates than the rest of the population, but the government has nothing to do with it. If anything, there’s huge support from both the government and the industry for people who are struggling with gambling addiction.
The UKGC sets quite harsh regulations and monitors them constantly to ensure all industry giants are playing fair. Recently, the government announced they’re opening an NHS clinic that is focused on treating minors with gambling problems.
Gambling is just a means to reach an end for a problem gambler. Often, these people struggle with depression, loneliness, and anxiety. They turn to gambling to find an escape from their problems, but they only worsen. The same is true about drug addiction. Treating depression and previous trauma is often key to overcoming any sort of addiction.
The industry is taking steps to help problem gamblers as well. Recently, they increased voluntary donations to £100 million a year. These funds are going to be spent on gambling addiction research and prevention. Big companies also refund big losses made on credit and in violation of anti-gambling programs.
Not only the government is hardly to blame for Jack Ritchie’s unfortunate demise, it also does a lot to help gambling addicts in the UK.
Then there’s the sinister part. If the case wins in court and the couple gets what they want, the government paying people for the loss of a loved one, it can only get worse. Now, addicts have two options, go to counseling and pay back the gambling debt, or commit suicide and ditch it on the loved ones. If the government foots the bill after their death, it can motivate desperate young people to take their own lives thinking this will help their relatives.