Former Stoke City Footballer Raises Awareness Among Young Players About the Risks of Gambling

Former Stoke City Footballer Raises Awareness Among Young Players About the Risks of GamblingTony Kelly, founder of the Red Card Gambling Support project and former footballer, warned young football players at Warwickshire’s Bedworth United Football Club about how harmful gambling can be. The said warning was a part of his campaign’s awareness workshop, which aims to mitigate and prevent gambling addiction among aspiring footballers.

He was accompanied by the BBC’s James Bovill and his crew. As reported by Mr Bovill, Mr Kelly told the students about his football career and how it was cut short once his addiction spiralled out of control. As a result of gambling harm, he lost £500,000, his home, and his partner, and at one point contemplated suicide. Eventually, Mr Kelly got the help he needed and went on to establish the Red Card Gambling Support project to help raise awareness of gambling addiction and its negative impact on people’s lives.

According to Mr Kelly, his struggles with gambling began when he was young, and he stressed that now, he does not want English football to “create another generation of problem gamblers.”

The BBC also spoke with Jamie Lenton, the Bedworth United Academy’s manager, who said that gambling apps were popular among his players. He continued, claiming that, in general, young people who are over 18 use such apps every day. Because of this, he stressed how crucial education is.

Jayden, 17, told the BBC that he did not see the point of gambling since, long-term, “you never really win.” Another student, Makenzie, explained that gambling promotions such as the ones displayed on clubs’ football shirts had tempted players into betting. Therefore, he argued, doing away with such adverts would stop many from continuing to gamble.

Gambling Ads and How They Exacerbate the Issue

Gambling Ads and How They Exacerbate the IssueMakenzie’s stance is similar to that of Mr Kelly, who has long campaigned for the reduction and eventual outright removal of gambling ads from football. Just this January, he criticised the Premier League’s decision to remove betting sponsorships from the front of players’ shirts as opposed to making shirts completely ad-free.

Similar sentiments have been gaining traction among football clubs as well. In November 2023, Casino Guardian reported on how AFC Wimbledon joined The Big Step campaign, which is an initiative of the Gambling with Lives charity. Prior to this, the club had ceased accepting sponsorships related to gambling and continues to operate without relying on sports betting companies. Apart from AFC Wimbledon, Clapton Community FC, Glasgow City FC, and various other football clubs have made the decision to back The Big Step.

While not completely aligned with the demands of The Big Step and other opponents of gambling ads, the government’s Gambling White Paper does suggest that regulators are looking to introduce further restrictions on how betting and wagering are promoted. The White Paper points to how the marketing of gambling, specifically when deemed to be “aggressive,” can be harmful and how both children and those who are over 18 are particularly susceptible to gambling ads. Therefore, regulators are aiming to improve gambling ad regulations and for existing promotions to be made safer.

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Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.
Daniel Williams
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