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01 June 2021

Former footballer Tony Kelly’s battle with gambling addiction inspired his founding of Red Card, a community interest company that delivers workshops for schools, rehabilitation centres and youth projects. Tony is particularly concerned at the increase in black, Asian, and minority ethic children and young adults becoming involved in gambling activities.

There is no doubt that children and young adults are at risk of problem gambling in the UK today.  This situation is getting worse and needs to be addressed urgently.

I believe that I am well placed to work to address the problems associated with gambling addiction. I have suffered badly in my life from this problem that took me to rock bottom before I turned my life around. My aim now is to help others by providing awareness and education around problem gambling, and what can be done to make a change.  

Gambling problems an issue for wider society

Many susceptible young people come from deprived and poor backgrounds and are particularly vulnerable to developing gambling addiction in the future. There are obvious knock-on impacts to their own lives (e.g. spiralling debts and potential domestic abuse), as well as the wider social issues (such as crime and violence). RED CARD is looking to support all young people who need to be educated on the impact gambling can have on their lives.

I set out my thoughts in my book: Red Card – The Soccer Star Who Lost it all to Gambling and I was motivated in part by a report published by the Gambling Commission in November 2018. Among some alarming statistics, the report stated that c62,900 young people are defined as problem gamblers. This is the equivalent to the capacity of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium; the total population of a town like Corby or the Isle of Anglesey. It seems likely to only go up in the future.

Tony playing for Bolton in 1992

Receptive audience and positive feedback

I believe that ‘up front’ education and awareness is needed to tackle problem gambling among children and young adults.  There is now a groundswell from a wide range of areas such as schools, colleges, MPs and the industry itself.    Red Card came to life in January 2015 with the objective of driving forward this belief in making a difference within our communities, and within society in general. We run various workshops to a range of youth organisations, which I and a team of professional therapists, advocates, and dedicated volunteers deliver.

RED CARD has had such a positive feedback that we now realise we need to do more, and with government and industry support, we feel we will be in a position to deliver our project nationwide and remain a sustainable and beneficial service for thousands of children and young adults.  

Collaboration for faster change

RED CARD works with other agencies to help raise awareness, and we have delivered workshops to organisations such as MIND, YGAM, STEPS TOGETHER REHAB, ROTARY CLUBS, GORDON MOODY ASSOCIATION and others. We feel that collaboration is key, and the more we can all work together to tackle problem gambling, and educate the next generation, the faster changes will happen.   For more information on RED CARD contact Tony at  

Autobiography available:  Tony Kelly – A bet you can win

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