Wisconsin father's dying wish to raise awareness about sports gambling
Sports gambling can be a fun tradition but when the gaming turns into an addiction, it can have a fatal result. It's a Wisconsin father's dying wish to raise awareness about just how harmful a seemless harmless activity can be, after his son was murdered over a sports bet.
Robert McGuigan had plans to go on a 200 city tour to educate people about the dangers of sports gambling. But plans changed when Robert was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. His days are limited and that's why he wanted to tell as many people as he could about his son and his two friends who were murdered when a sports bet went terribly wrong.
In June 2003 in Wisconsin, 28 year old Jason McGuigan and his two friends were found shot to death in their home.
"It blew me away," Robert said. "I just couldn't believe it... Over a bet? That you kill people?"
A bet worth around $17,000 that Jason never called in.
"Jason didn't have the cash on him, shot and killed him," Robert said.
Jason taught his alleged murderer Meng-Ju Wu how to gamble.
"The young man had over $75,000 in his checking account prior to meeting my son," McGuigan explained. "When he met my his son, to my understanding, it dwindled down to around $20,000."
Jason on the other hand had been gambling most of his life.
"I had an addictive personality my brother had an addictive personality, so did my son," Robert said. "The signs were there but they did not mean anything to me but I did not know anything about signs, things to look for in addiction."
He struggled to identify an addiction someone can't see, touch, smell or taste.
"Sports gambling is the enticement which brings young people who like sports into the gambling venue," explained University of Illinois professor and sports gambling expert John Kindt. "It's not fun and games."
He knows Robert's story but he also knows others.
'We've had instances of students in Iowa and elsewhere losing their tuition money, living in their cars," he said.
They were hooked on gambling and the problem is only getting worse.
"We're seeing studies that show the number of students and young people that are getting hooked steadily increasing," according to Kindt.
Kindt said young people show double the addiction rate and problematic gambling rate of the older generation.
"Young people in particular don't realize the dangers of this," he said. "They're educated about drugs. They're educated about smoking. They're educated about drinking, but there's no educational program going on about gambling."
For seven years, Robert visited schools to raise awareness about the dangers of sports gambling, but then something Robert couldn't bet on, his recent cancer diagnosis.
"My time is becoming even shorter," Robert said fighting back tears.
His message is now urgent.
"Gambling is an addiction and gambling can kill," he said.
And it's a message he hopes will spread.
Robert has been in high spirits. He's been working on a video that will be posted online so he can try to get his message out to as many people as possible. As for his son's case, his alleged killer hanged himself just before his trial.
Internet gambling is illegal almost everywhere in the United States. Nevada allows it and just recently, New Jersey legalized the activity. Kindt said Internet and sports gambling are known as "the killer application" because it's so difficult to track the users.
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