Cruise Line Faces Backlash After Man Commits Suicide Following Casino Losses

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A cruise line in Australia is facing backlash after a man jumped to his death after racking up thousands of dollars in losses aboard the ship’s casino.

Shane Dixon and his mother Sue Dixon before their tragic P&O cruise aboard the Pacific Adventure. Shane reportedly committed suicide after piling up over A$11,000 in losses at the ship’s casino. (Image: DailyMail/

The Daily Mail, a UK-based publication that runs an Australian edition called Daily Mail Australia, broke the news on Monday that 50-year-old Shane Dixon, a father of three, committed suicide by jumping overboard upon return on May 6. Dixon took his life around 4 am local time as the cruise was about 10 nautical miles from the Sydney Harbor.

The incident took place aboard the Pacific Adventure, a cruise ship owned and operated by P&O Australia, a subsidiary of P&O Cruises based in the UK and parent company Carnival Corporation.

According to reports, Dixon went on a three-night excursion with his mother, Sue Dixon, 66, who was treating her son to a holiday after several family tragedies. Shane had recently lost both his father and one of his two brothers, and he and his mom were looking to reset via a cruise.

Casino Debts Pile Up

Once on board, Shane, who his remaining living brother Scott said was also facing financial difficulties after a divorce, ventured to the ship’s casino. He reportedly lost A$5,000 (US$3,345) the first night.   

After his mom offered to cover his gambling debts, Shane went back to the casino to chase his losses. He lost another A$4,000, but this time he didn’t tell mom. Shane instead tragically took his own life as the Pacific Adventure approached land.  

Customers familiar with P&O’s casino operations say some of the blame rests with the cruise line.

Several sources who have gambled on P&O casinos told the Daily Mail that the cruise operator commonly lends players additional money after they lose, offers them complimentary alcohol, and does little to intervene when someone might be gambling more than they can afford. A P&O casino VIP who wished to remain anonymous called the cruise line’s casinos “predatory.”

While Australia’s territories where casinos are permitted have strict regulations governing gaming, that isn’t the case in international waters where safeguards are few.

It’s really concerning that when a ship sails 12 nautical miles off the coast it can allow anything and everything to happen,” Carol Bennett, the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told Daily Mail Australia. “You would expect this cruise line would have some kind of duty of care to ensure that people are not plied with inducements, promotions, and advertisements that are pushing them to gamble to extremely harmful levels.”

Scott Dixon said P&O did nothing to prevent his brother’s suicide.

“They use all these incentives to tell people, ‘Come back, come back,’” Scott said. “It is terrible. It is wrong. Local pubs limit patrons, why not casinos?”

P&O Remains Quiet

When pressed for comment on the matter, a P&O spokesperson said it would be “inappropriate” to issue a statement. The company directed the media to its “Responsible Conduct of Gaming Policies” and added that it is “fully cooperating” with the coroner’s investigation.

Australia has long battled one of the world’s most prevalent rates of problem gambling and addiction.

Per the Australian Gambling Research Center, almost three-quarters of Australian adults report gambling at least once a year, and nearly 40% report gambling at least weekly. Among those who gamble, 46% are believed to be at risk for some form of gambling disorder.

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