Paddy Power co-founder Stewart Kenny says that gambling has become a “major social problem” thanks to the internet era and smartphone technology.
Kenny, who was one of the founders of the Irish bookmaker back in 1988, went on to become chief executive of the company, but left in 2016 “because they refused to do anything meaningful on gambling addiction.”
Speaking on RTÉ Prime Time, Kenny said that Ireland is “so far behind in regulating the gambling industry that there is no protection for the young and vulnerable,” adding that “governments for the last 20 years have been totally negligent” in gambling regulation.
Kenny suggested that smartphones and the internet have brought gambling into people’s pockets all over the globe, describing the latter as the “explosion,” and one that not even he predicted would be so devastating.
“In fairness to the industry, we didn’t realise how much it would take over people’s lives,” said Kenny.
The bookmaker has in recent times introduced different initiatives to promote safer gambling, such as banning credit cards for online betting and gaming, and a pre-watershed whistle-to-whistle advertising ban for live sport. Paddy Power is also committed to dedicating 1% of its net gaming revenue to support research, education and the treatment of people who have suffered from gambling related harm in the country.