‘Appalling’: Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO describes gaming rules at sea after P&O death

‘Appalling’: Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO describes gaming rules at sea after P&O death
Edited by Travel Weekly

    The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of a cruise passenger on board Pacific Adventure last week have been revealed with family members highlighting a $4,000 casino bill racked up the night he went overboard.

    The deceased was identified as 50-year-old father of three Shane Dixon by his brother, Scott Dixon, who spoke to the Daily Mail.

    Scott said his brother was grappling with several personal issues, including the recent passing of their father and another brother, and the breakdown of his marriage.

    The details around Shane’s gambling behaviour while onboard the ship has raised serious questions about the responsible service of gambling onboard cruise ships.

    While cruise ships are in Australian waters, they must abide by local laws when regulating alcohol and gambling on board.

    Once it reaches international waters (about 12 nautical miles offshore), an internal set of rules then apply.

    Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett told Travel Weekly the line had a level of responsibility when it comes to gambling.

    “It’s pretty appalling and really there should be some accountability by the cruise provider for that situation and the responsible service of gambling activity,” she said.

    Casino spree 

    Scott Dixon revealed to the Daily Mail that his brother spent $5,000 on Friday night whilst onboard the Elvis-themed cruise as casino staff ‘lavished’ him with free drinks and a $750 voucher to be used on a future cruise. He then borrowed $5,000 from his mother who was also onboard the ship to repay the debt before returning to the casino the following night and amassing a $4,000 tab.

    Shane went overboard around 4:15am the following morning, 10 nautical miles from Sydney, with his brother believing the gravity of his debt would have been realised nearing Australian waters when the casino closed.

    “They (cruise companies) do have a responsibility to ensure that people are gambling in a way that is not going to leave them completely out of pocket and completely without support or assistance at a time when they most need it,” Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett told Travel Weekly. 

    P&O advertises ‘Casino’ under its entertainment options online. (Supplied)

    “I’d like to know what that company does to ensure Responsible Conduct of Gambling, I’d like to know that it’s comparable to what is available on land, the rules shouldn’t change because you’re on a cruise ship,” Bennett continued.

    “The reality is there is still as responsibility on the company to provide that safe environment for gambling and to reduce the levels of harm that are experienced.

    “They should be compliant with the laws of the land of which they left.

    “It’s a pretty shocking situation when people are exposed in that way to that level of harm where they feel that they’re only option is to jump off the ship.”

    P&O Cruises Australia Response 

    “It would be inappropriate to comment on the tragic death of a guest while a Coroner’s investigation is carried out,” the line said.

    “We have Responsible Conduct of Gaming Policies in place on all P&O ships and take those policies seriously.

    “We are cooperating fully with the Coroner’s investigation.”

    If you, or someone you know needs support, there are a range of services available:

    National Gambling Helpline: 1800 858 858 or gamblinghelponline.org.au

    Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

    Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au

    Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

    Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au

    13YARN: Speak to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter on 13 92 76 or visit 13yarn.org.au

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