A leading tourism and travel compensation lawyer has launched his own probe on the death of gambler Shane Dixon on a P&O ship, claiming the death was “immoral and illegal”.

Carter Capner Law director Peter Carter alleges recent P&O Cruises passenger accounts of being incentivised to gamble while intoxicated and then prevented from disembarking due to unpaid casino debts are alarming.

He was promised to help former passengers seek legal recourse, and says some have already contacted him.

The revelations from passengers and others followed the tragic death of father of three Dixon who allegedly jumped overboard from P&O’s Pacific Adventure on May 6 after reportedly losing thousands of dollars over two nights in the ship’s casino.

Cruise Passenger contacted the NSW Gaming Minister Robert Harris. But his office reported he was powerless to act as the vessel was in international waters and not covered by strict laws governing credit and gaming.

Carter Capner Law director Peter Carter, who is also a former national president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said P&O’s conduct is arguably misleading and deceptive, and that preventing passengers and their relatives from disembarking is unlawful.

“Providing free alcohol, offering free cruises for those who gamble more, and allowing automatic credit are all examples of egregious conduct.

“Most would agree that this is immoral and unconscionable, but whatever label you use, it is definitely offensive,” he said.

Mr Carter said none of these actions are generally allowed in Australian venues.

Pacific Adventure
Pacific Adventure is set to arrive in Hobart after being turned away from New Zealand.

They are adults, but…

“I accept that these passengers are adults and choose to gamble knowing the risk, but we are talking about practices that prey on vulnerabilities and actively incentivise people to lose money.

“Then strong-arm tactics are engaged to recover the debt.”

He also warned P&O that it is illegal to detain people for a debt and that significant compensation is payable for doing so.

“The practice of preventing passengers and their families from leaving the ship and interrogating them – even for short periods – while in an Australian port is against the law.

“A cruise line must allow a passenger to leave and follow up any debt through a court if necessary,” he explained.

Mr Carter said his firm has commenced an investigation into the practices and for the recovery of financial losses incurred by former passengers and damages for unlawful imprisonment.

“There may be legal recourse in a variety of ways and passengers who have been affected have a right to consider this.

“Cruising can be a wonderful holiday but passengers expect a safe and enjoyable cruise without becoming the victim of exploitative practices.

P&O replies

“It would be inappropriate to comment on the tragic death of a guest while a Coroner’s investigation is carried out,” the line 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.”

National Gambling Helpline: 1800 858 858

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au