Luke Ashton

Luke was a hard-working, family man with two children and a loving wife, Annie, who he’d known since their time at school together. He was an avid Leicester City fan and took his son to matches frequently. 

In 2018, Luke was drawn into gambling by so-called introductory “free-bet” offers and struggled with gambling addiction. He managed to stop gambling and pay off all his debts with Annie’s support and closed his accounts in 2019.

But whilst on furlough during the pandemic, Luke was lured back into gambling by marketing offering more “free bet” bonuses. Just four months later, Luke took his life.

Luke Ashton and Annie Ashton on their wedding day, smiling at each other
Luke and Annie on their wedding day.

During those four months, Luke took out loans to cover his losses. He kept his addiction hidden – the only people that knew were Luke and the companies he was gambling with. The companies could have used the information they had to help him, but on those weeks leading up to his death, they instead plied him with more “free bets” to keep him gambling, including one on the day before he went missing. Luke died in April 2021, aged 40.

Since Luke’s death, Annie has been campaigning tirelessly to end so-called “free bet” bonuses, inducements and advertising which encourage people to gamble beyond their means and wishes. She started a petition – Luke’s Law – calling on the government to ban “free bets” which gathered over 31,000 signatures in six months, forcing a response from the government.  Annie’s campaigning was recognised by The Big Issue when she was named as one of their Changemakers for 2022.

Collection of people with blue ballons outside Leicester City FC's home ground to celebrate what would've been Luke Ashton's 41st birthday
Annie held an event – Light up for Luke’s Law – on what would’ve been Luke’s 41st birthday in 2021, that ended at his beloved Leicester City FC.

Annie vowed to keep taking their son to Leicester City matches after Luke died but the amount of gambling advertising at the stadium was overwhelming. Annie has since written to the club and met with their chief executive about their six gambling partnerships – more than any other English football club.

In 2022 Annie started a new petition, calling on the government to publish the Gambling Act review whitepaper immediately.