Stewart Kenny, co-founder and former CEO of Irish bookmaker Paddy Power (now Paddy Power Betfair), has thrown criticism at the company and the whole industry for responding poorly to the growing issue of problem gambling, The Times reported.
Mr. Kenny, who stepped down as CEO of the gambling operator in 2002, urged the industry to adopt measures that would be preventing people from gambling away huge amounts of money online. According to the former gambling executive, who has been part of the industry for more than four decades, mandatory limits should be imposed on the amount that can be wagered via the Internet and a cooling-off period should be placed before any changes can be introduced.
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Mr. Kenny said that the move could help prevent online gambling customers from losing large amounts of money over a single playing session. The Paddy Power co-founder went on to say that if the industry indeed wants to take serious action to tackle problem gambling issues, it should not have problem with this suggestion. According to Mr.
Kenny, voluntary deposit limits have proved ineffective and it is the time for these to be replaced with mandatory limits.
This is not the first time that a Paddy Power executive has criticized the industry for its approach toward responsible gambling. Last year, Breon Corcoran, who served as CEO of Paddy Power and then of Paddy Power Betfair until earlier this year, sided with proponents of a massive crackdown on the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, saying that the maximum stakes on these should be reduced to £10 from £100. The gaming machines have long been blasted for being highly addictive due to their high limits and high speed.
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Mr. Kenny co-founded Paddy Power back in 1988 with the intention to create a business that would be capable to withstand competition from major British bookmakers who held 20% of the Irish market at the time. The company remained under Mr. Kenny’s stewardship until 2002 when he announced his resignation from the CEO post.
He was Chairman of the group between 2002 and 2003 and then remained on its board as a non-executive director until August 2016.
Paddy Power Betfair Boosts Ad Spending to Blunt Regulatory Pressure
With gambling operators facing crackdown in two of their key fields in the UK, retail and digital, Paddy Power Betfair announced earlier this week that it would increase its marketing budget by £20 million. The company currently spends £300 million annually to promote its gambling brands.
The growing regulatory pressure and competition from its main rivals in the field, including bet365, William Hill, and Ladbrokes Coral, the operator will be seeking to cement and increase its market share.
Earlier this week Paddy Power Betfair reported its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2017. The company recorded revenue increase of 13% to £1.7 billion and EBITDA increase of 18% to £473 million last year. However, its business grew at a slower rate than the year before.