URGENT regulation of the gambling industry is needed to save people’s lives, says the childhood friend of Joshua Jones who killed himself in 2016.

Josh, from Swindon, who was only 23, jumped from the ninth floor balcony of his office at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London in July 2016.

He had an online gambling addiction and an inquest revealed he owed £30,000 in total to the bank, payday lenders and friends and family at time of his death.

Zach Ockwell, who grew up with Josh, said the gambling industry was in urgent need of reform to prevent similar tragedies happening.

“If I go to a bar and I’ve had a few to drink, the bar tender will eventually say "you’ve had too much." But there’s nothing like that with gambling machines,” he told the Adver.

“His death has taught me that there’s a huge problem with these huge gambling companies.

“They need to take responsibility for the lives they are destroying, and there needs to be a serious discussion in parliament about how this can be managed.

“They hide behind the wins, the offers, and the adverts, which eventually leaves a whole road of destruction.

“They should be setting up their own charities where they put a percentage of their profits to offer some support to the people that do get in trouble.”

Almost three years on from their son’s death Kim and Martin Jones have started a renewed push for regulation to safeguard gambling addicts.

Their efforts have won the backing of Gloucester MP Richard Graham who raised the issue in parliament on Tuesday.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate he put forward ideas to ban gambling adverts during sports games and introducing a mandatory levy of one per cent on companies to go towards the leading UK addiction charity Gamble Aware.

Online gambling platforms and book makers agreed to pay a voluntary 0.1 per cent levy in 2007, but for the year ending 2017 the charity said companies had failed to meet its estimated £10m target, renewing calls for statutory regulation of the industry.

To contact Samaritans for free at any time call 116 123, for the Swindon branch call 01793 53 73 73.