Thursday, June 20, 2024

Dark side to gambling – former Stoke City player – BBC News

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Image caption, Former Stoke City winger Tony Kelly’s gambling addiction started when he was a non-league player

  • Author, James Bovill
  • Role, BBC Midlands Today

A former footballer and recovering gambling addict is warning teenage non-league players against the dangers of betting.

Tony Kelly played for clubs including Stoke City in the 1990s before gambling away £500,000.

He said his addiction started as a young non-league player, and that it was important to warn other footballers about the dangers of gambling.

“There is a dark side to gambling. We don’t want to create another generation of problem gamblers,” he said.

Mr Kelly told his story to academy players aged 16-18 at non-league Bedworth United in Warwickshire, whose first team plays in the Northern Premier League – Midlands Division.

After filing for bankruptcy, losing three properties, going through the break-up of a long-term relationship and a battle with his mental health, the Coventry-born winger said: “I often wonder to myself how did I not get to the point where I lost hope and want to take my own life.”

Image caption, Bedworth United Academy Manager Jamie Lenton said many young people used gambling apps on a daily basis

Bedworth United Academy Manager Jamie Lenton said education was important as many of his young players already used gambling apps.

“Young people over the age of 18 are accessing them on a daily basis,” he said.

“It’s a case of making sure they are aware of how to manage the time that’s being used and the money that’s being spent.”

Seventeen-year-old Jayden said he had not been tempted to gamble.

“I don’t see the point of it, you might win a small amount, but you never really win in the long run,” he said.

Makenzie, 18, said gambling messages in football had influenced many to start betting.

“It’s always on the shirts of clubs. If they got rid of them, I feel like plenty of people would stop gambling,” he added.

Image caption, Makenzie thinks there should be less gambling advertising in football

Some 3,500 gambling logos appear during a single televised Premier League game, according to Big Step, a campaign also backing an end to gambling advertising in football.

Premier League clubs will not be allowed to feature gambling brands on the front of their shirts from the 2026-27 season, but they will be allowed on sleeves and advertising boards in stadiums.

The front-of-shirt ban does not apply to English Football League teams.

A 2014 study found professional footballers and cricketers were three times as likely to suffer from gambling addiction as young men in the general population.

During the 2022-23 season, eight Premier League clubs had gambling companies on the front of their shirts, in deals worth an estimated £60m per year.

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