MADISON, Wis. - The NCAA basketball tournament drives billions of illegally wagered dollars. But a Wisconsin man is trying to combat gambling addiction before it's too late.
"Don't gamble," said Robert McGuigan, a simply message he's been preaching since 2006. "I had no idea gambling was even an addiction."
McGuigan's son, Jason, was a known gambler. He was murdered inside his Verona home in 2003. The killer, Mark Wu, was upset he didn't win $17,000 on a bet Jason never placed for him. Three years later, Robert turned his agony into action.
"It was like a light bulb went off, someone sitting on my shoulder saying, Robert, get off the ground," said McGuigan.
His longtime mission is to educate others on gambling addiction and this weekend, was presented the Leadership Award by the state's Council on Problem Gambling. It says 330,000 Wisconsinites are at-risk or compulsive gamblers.
Now, McGuigan is focusing on President Obama, who filled out a March Madness bracket, a time when illegal bettors can bring in $6 billion, according to the NCAA.
"I'd like to see him do something in regards to the Internet gambling and make that completely illegal," said McGuigan.
For McGuigan, though, time is ticking.
"I'm terminally ill," he said. Still, he won't quit his cause. "What keeps me going is getting the education out there."
McGuigan may only have two months to live, but if he can save another life, he says his work was well worth it.
"It's not their fault, there's not enough education out there in terms of awareness," McGuigan said.
Wu also killed Jason's two roommates. Distraught, one of the boy's brothers then committed suicide. And Wu killed himself in jail the morning his trial would have started.
For help, call 800-426-2535 or www.wi-problemgamblers.org.
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