The family has raised questions after a father of three went overboard from a cruise ship after losing $9,000 over two nights on the P&O Pacific Adventure.

Shane Dixon, 50, first lost $5,000, then borrowed money off his mother and lost another $4,000.

Dixon’s family maintained he was lured by high-roller incentives into losing the money.

Dixon died after falling overboard while sailing on the Pacific Adventure just after 4 am on May 6 as the vessel approached Sydney Harbour.

Now fellow passengers, some of whom were with Dixon in the casino, are asking why the rules for ship casinos should be different from those on land.

And they questioned the practices of giving out free drinks and free cruises to incentivise gambling.

Talking to The Daily Mail they claimed the line allow punters to run up big bills by charging losses to their rooms, rather than paying upfront.

Cruise ships are exempt when operating casinos in international waters.

What happened in the casino

Dixon was travelling on a three-day Elvis-themed cruise to Moreton Island with his mother Sue Dixon, 66, who had saved up to book the holiday.

“Our mother is devastated. Broken,” Shane’s brother Scott Dixon told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.

His family said ahead of the holiday, Scott and his brother were going through a tough time and struggled financially. They were dealing with the impacts of a series of tragedies including the breakdown of Scott’s marriage and the deaths of their brother and father.

“She has already buried one son and now she has to bury another one,” Dixon’s brother told the news site.

“Mum said they were having fun, everything was good. But the casino – they use all of these incentives to tell people, ‘Come back, come back’.”

Shane went to the cruise’s casino on Friday and spent $5000. He borrowed the money from his mother to repay the debt but returned to the casino the following night and then amassed another $4000 bill.

“His brain was probably going 100 miles an hour. He probably thought, ‘S***, I’ve done it again. I can’t afford it and I can’t ask mum for more money,” Scott said.

What others are saying

One passenger, who the paper named as James, Shane and some of his friends all spent time together in the casino.

The Daily Mail maintained James was shocked by the “blatant practices used to lure gamblers”.

‘We all got given free cruises to use in the next six months from the casino director and I myself racked up almost $2,000 gambling which was charged to my credit card, something I would never normally do in a million years,’ James said.

Passengers can pay ‘cash’ by topping their cruise card up with set cash amounts using machines located around the vessel, or linking their cruise card it to a credit or debit card.

If they run out of cash, passengers can add more money by selecting “charge room”.

P&O Cruises Australia Response 

“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 or

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or