THE father of a man who killed himself after developing a gambling addiction urged Councillors to get tougher on gambling businesses.

Charles Ritchie spoke of how his son Jack had taken his life, having developed a gambling addiction aged just 17.

He was talking to members of Bradford Council's Corporate Scrutiny Committee on Thursday during an item on gambling in the Bradford District.

A report before the committee showed that many of the district's gambling premises were based in the most deprived areas. Members also heard that there was no Council or NHS service for problem gamblers in Bradford.

Mr Richie told members: "Jack Started gambling aged 17, going into bookies under age. He didn't think it was a problem - it is promoted by the industry as a bit of fun."

He said the desire to gamble increased, adding: "By the time he had come to us he was already an addict."

After Jack took his life, Mr Richie and his wife helped set up a group called Gambling With Lives to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling.

He told Councillors: "Please don't think you're dealing with a normal industry."

Gambling businesses 'located in Bradford's most deprived areas'

When the committee began their debate, Councillor Simon Cooke (Cons, Bingley Rural) questioned why they hadn't invited anyone from the gambling industry. He said: "How as a committee can we do our job when we are only hearing from one side? I share some of the concerns we have heard, but if we are going to scrutinise the gambling industry we need to show them the courtesy of inviting them to the committee so we can challenge them."

Councillor Richard Dunbar (Lab, Thornton and Allerton) said: "The industry has got to stop measuring people by pound signs.

"It is important that there is treatment and care for addicts, we don't do that enough in Bradford."

Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) said: "The big menace isn't the high street betting shops of old. It is the 15 year old on their smartphone, pretending to be 18, on betting sites."

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) said: "I regularly back the horses, and to me gambling is fun, it's exciting. But there is a difference between that traditional bookmaking and fixed odds machines and online gambling. As a Council we have to do what we can do. We can't take on the whole international online gambling industry. We have to focus on where we can get actual results.

"What we can do is explain to our young people about the dangers of gambling."

The committee voted to develop local area profiles of gambling in the district, promote awareness of the dangers of gambling in schools and look at how treatment services for problem gamblers in the district could be improved.