Tony Kelly

Giving Gambling The Red Card

(Beating the Odds – Back from the Abyss of Gambling Addiction)

The Gambling Commission report ‘Young People and Gambling 2023’ revealed 26% of 11 to 17 year olds spent their own money on gambling in the twelve months prior to taking part in the survey. With increasing access to gambling related activities via apps, as well as relentless gambling advertising, young people’s exposure to gambling has never been greater than it is today.

Tony Kelly is a former professional footballer who, at the age of 16, became Bristol City’s youngest ever player. He went on to play 210 professional football league games for six different clubs between 1990 and 1999. However, Tony’s glamorous lifestyle as a professional footballer was turned upside down by a devastating gambling addiction that impacted the trajectory of his life. He lost over £500,000, had three houses and three cars repossessed, broke up with his partner of 20 years, suffered mental health issues, and ended up bankrupt in 2010 with a bankruptcy file of £192,000.

Despite the odds against him, Tony demonstrated immense courage, resilience, and mental strength, enabling him to come back from the brink and turn his life around. For over a decade Tony has continued to share his story highlighting the fact that anyone can become addicted to gambling.

Tony is well-respected by his peers and is a prominent figure in the gambling education space. Tony’s story is a testament to how one can rebuild their life after suffering trauma and adversity. Through dedication, hard work, faith, and hope, he demonstrates that one can recover from addiction and go on to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle for years to come. His story is truly inspiring and serves as an example of the human spirit’s resilience in the face of overwhelming odds.

Tony Kelly is the founder and CEO of the ‘Red Card Gambling Support Project’; author of two published books; an advocate for gambling reform and a committed educator on gambling harms.

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