During a recent interview for Prime Time on RTE, Paddy Power’s former CEO and co-founder Stewart Kenny deemed the gambling industry a “major social problem.” He revealed that many operators are now targeting the younger population, while the government remains focused on collecting gambling tax revenue.
Former Paddy Power CEO Criticizes Gambling, Says It’s a Major Social Problem
Stewart Kenny, co-founder of Paddy Power, the international bookmaker, has been a passionate gambler ever since he bet on Richard Nixon resigning back in 1974. Later, as a co-founder and key figure of the company, he helped create Paddy Power back in 1988.
After that, Kenny has witnessed the growth of the bookmaker on the Australian and UK markets. Although he served as chief executive and has been a part of Paddy Power for decades, it seems that Kenny now has a different view on gambling. In a recent interview for Prime Time on RTE, Kenny shared that not only his view on gambling has changed, but he even deemed the activity a “major social problem.”
Gambling Operators Are Targeting the Younger Population
Paddy Power’s former chief executive revealed that the Internet was one of the reasons for the expansion of the industry. Furthermore, he acknowledged that the continuously growing technologies have “brought gambling into every pocket.” Kenny stressed that this changed gambling from a hobby to a “major social problem.”
He criticized gambling operators who are targeting the younger population, especially adults under 25. According to Kenny, that part of society is especially vulnerable to “highly addictive” online gambling. Furthermore, he acknowledged that people under 25 are constantly “bombarded” by gambling operators with various ads on their mobile devices and TVs.
Government Remains Focused on Taxes
Kenny was also extremely critical of taxes and the government. He stressed that legislators are as addicted to gambling taxes as much as people who suffer from problem gambling are addicted to gambling. Furthermore, Kenny claimed that a gambling regulator cannot act as a “silver bullet.” Instead, he stressed that the government mustn’t hide behind the regulator, but legislate. On that topic, Kenny criticized the gambling regulation once again, saying that “governments for the last 20 years have been totally negligent.”
Stewart Kenny: Once Gambling Proponent, Now Opponent
It was back in 2016 when Kenny resigned from Paddy Power. Now, in his most recent interview, he said that he resigned because the booking giant “refused to do anything meaningful on gambling addiction.” Additionally, Kenny said that he had to take “responsibility for some of the developments,” considering that he was a part of the gambling structure. However, he acknowledged that he had to be “more proactive.”
There aren’t many people that have observed the industry for as many years as Kenny has. Undoubtedly, he has seen the ups and downs, as well as the rise of Paddy Power as a bookmaking giant. However, we cannot help but wonder how Kenny changed his point of view after being a part of the industry for decades. Furthermore, wouldn’t staying with Paddy Power and pushing for changes toward meaningful actions on gambling addiction have been a better option instead of resigning?