Family Says Gambling Debt on Cruise Caused Man to Jump

The family of a man who passed away after going overboard during an Australian cruise last week has a hit out at the cruise line’s gambling policy.

Shane Dixon, 50, went overboard just ten nautical miles from docking in Sydney on the Elvis-themed sailing aboard P&O Cruises Australia ship, Pacific Adventure.

Pacific Adventure cruise ship
(Photo courtesy of P&O Cruises)

The man overboard alert was triggered at around 4:30 a.m. local time, less than two hours before the ship was scheduled to dock in Sydney at the end of the cruise. Mr Dixon’s body was recovered a few hours later. The New South Wales Police Marine Area Command said the search operation was hampered by rough seas with five-meter waves.

Man ran up Losses of $9,000

Side-by-side image: left shows an aerial view of a cruise ship on the ocean; right shows a row of illuminated slot machines in a casino, capturing the excitement of gambling onboard.

Dixon was on the cruise with his mother, and his family says the cruise line bears some responsibility. Brother Scott Dixon, who wasn’t on the cruise, told Daily Mail Australia his brother had racked up a sizable debt in the onboard casino.

He had originally lost A$5,000 and then borrowed money from his mother to pay this off. Dixon then lost another A$4,000 the following night.

“Our mother is devastated. Broken,” Scott Dixon said. “Mom said they were having fun, everything was good. But the casino – they use all of these incentives to tell people, ‘Come back, come back.'”

What the Cruise Line Said

PO Cruises Pacific Encounter
(P&O CRUISES)
The cruise line responded: “It would be inappropriate to comment on the tragic death of a guest while a Coroner’s investigation is carried out,” P&O Cruises Australia 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.”

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett told Travel Weekly that the cruise industry shouldn’t be exempt from local gambling laws just because it operates in international waters.

“They 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 without support or assistance when they most need it.”

“There is still as responsibility on the company to provide a 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.”

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