Man’s phone bombarded by gambling companies weeks after he took his own life
Gambling companies inundated the phone of a young man who took his own life after developing a betting addiction, his dad has said.
‘Happy-go-lucky’ Ryan Myers, from Huyton, Lancashire, took his own life after trying to get help with his addiction issues.
His dad John recalls the moment his ‘world fell apart’ when he saw police officers and paramedics outside his son’s house in Toxteth.
Moments earlier, the 27-year-old carpenter had posted on Facebook saying he was sorry for letting people down, the Liverpool Echo reports.
In the days and weeks after his death, gambling companies relentlessly sent offers of free bets and bonuses to entice tragic Ryan back to their platforms.
Heartbroken dad John said: “My son had just killed himself. I was in a terrible way.”
He continued: “If somebody gets killed in a car crash, you can blame the driver of the car. If somebody dies of cancer, you can blame the illness.
“But if somebody takes their own life, you’ve got nobody to blame, so the question is always, ‘Why? Why? Why?’.”
His parents searched for answers in their son’s emails and social media accounts after finding a betting slip on the floor of his house and seeing his card had been declined.
Digging through his communications, they realised “how deep he was” in a gambling problem, and dad John was “angry” to see how relentless gambling companies’ advertising was, with emails offering Ryan free bets because they hadn’t heard from him in a week or two.
The UK is one of the world’s biggest gambling markets with profits of £14.2bn in 2020.
A House of Lords report found 60 per cent of the gambling industry’s profits come from just five per cent of its customers, those who ‘are already problem gamblers, or are at risk of becoming so’.
In England, roughly a third of a million people, and 55,000 children aged 11 to 16, have a gambling problem, according to the same report.
Ryan was trying to get help, asking one company he was betting with to self-exclude him, and talking to a recovering gambling addict he found on YouTube.
John added: “One of the things my son said when he was talking to this guy was, every time he tried to stop, he couldn’t get away.
“Because every time, he would get texts or emails, he would go out and it would be on the streets, it would be in adverts, in the paper, on the TV. He just couldn’t get away from it. And that’s what [gambling companies are] like, they’re predatory.
“They look for people, they look for a chink in someone’s armour, and they go for them. And when they start losing, and they can see they start losing, instead of trying to help them, they give them VIP status, and give them more credit, and give them more free bets.”
He added: “The problem we’ve got is gambling is seen as a normal part of everyday life. People don’t like coming forward because they’re scared of the stigma, because when they try, people just say to them, ‘Well just stop’, as if they can.
“And that’s one of the things that gets me when people in the government, people in the gambling industry, just put it all on the addict and say, ‘Self-exclude, you do this, you do that’. What are they doing? What they’re doing is getting people into gambling.
“What they’re doing is grooming people into gambling. What they’re doing is offering free bets after free bets after free bets to try to get people in.”
There are 409 gambling-related suicides in England every year, according to a 2021 report by Public Health England.
After Ryan died, John started talking to others affected by gambling addiction, in the hope of preventing others from experiencing the same loss.
Now he is walking with 60 people from Manchester to Liverpool, via the cities’ football stadiums, demanding change.
Organised by The Big Step, a campaign with the support of 27 clubs in the UK and Ireland, the protesters are calling on four Premier League clubs – Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United – to end all gambling advertising in football.