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£53,000 ($81,165) Gambling Debts Led to Suicide

12 August 2002

U.K. -- As reported by the Guardian: ``When Mario Opalka's wife died from lymph cancer his emotions went into freefall. So too did his bank balance, and finally his life.

``The distraught council planning officer sought something to take his mind off his despair and became addicted to gambling on the internet. He amassed debts of more than £53,000 on the 19 credit cards he had been issued, with credit limits of up to £6,000.

``In January this year Mr Opalka hanged himself. He was found by his son Jonathan to whom he had recently confided his addiction to internet gambling.

``...Jonathan Opalka has called for the government to take action against credit card companies.

``...Now the government has agreed that credit cards can be used not just on the internet but in casinos where they had previously been banned.

``Mr Opalka became caught up in his gambling spiral when he won $15,000 on a US casino website. Encouraged by this win, he began to take time off from his work with Blackburn and Darwen council to play blackjack and roulette on his computer at home. He applied for more and more credit cards and piled up debts.

``...Mr Opalka junior said: `I will not rest until I find out why these credit card companies handed so much money out to my dad without realising he didn't have any in the first place'..."

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