Stewart Kenny Calls for Ban on Sporting Event Gambling Ads
Paddy Power co-founder Stewart Kenny is the latest to give support to a ban on gambling ads. Stewart Kenny said the current CEO of Paddy Power is “completely wrong” in trying to normalize gambling to the younger generation through a steady stream of gaming advertisements.
Stewart Kenny said he respects Paddy Power-Betfair’s current CEO, Peter Jackson, but that does not change his stance on the gambling ad regulations. Mr. Kenny’s statements came in response to Peter Jackson’s previous comments defending gambling ads.
The Paddy Power-Betfair chief executive recently defended the current UK and Irish gambling advertisement laws with the argument that a ban would not achieve its purpose, but instead would help illegal offshore gambling operators.
“There Needs to Be Radical Change”
Stewart Kenny does not see it the same way. The former gaming executive, who has not been a Paddy Power board member since April 2016, said of the current state of gaming ads in the British Isles: “There needs to be a radical change.”
It is an ironic position for Stewart Kenny to take, because Paddy Power is known for its outrageous and eye-catching gambling advertisements during British sporting events. While Stewart Kenny is not calling for a comprehensive ban on gambling advertisements the way the Italian parliament recently addressed the issue, he is calling for a ban on ads before a certain time of the day.
The idea behind Kenny’s proposal would be to wait for a time slot when children might be less likely to be viewing programs. Whether such a proposal would work for mainstream sports broadcasts — which tend to air in midday on the weekends and prime time during the weeks — is another matter.
British Politicians Call for Ban
Mr. Kenny’s comments come at a time when several Labour MPs in the House of Commons have called for a total ban on UK gambling ads during broadcast sporting events. Last month, Irish Prime Minister Michael D. Higgins also called for a ban on Irish gambling ads at live venues and during television broadcasts.
Higgins made the suggestion at the start of his re-election campaign, so the issue could become pivotal during this fall’s Irish elections. The UK lawmakers’ suggestions are less likely to have an impact, given it was made by the opposition party. Only if Theresa Mays’ political troubles with Boris Johnson over Brexit turn into a general election battle (unlikely) will gambling ads become a hot-button issue in the United Kingdom soon.
Still, Peter Jackson felt the danger of a ban was enough that he warned Irish and UK politicians about the consequences of such legislation. Michael Higgins had a weaker argument for his proposed ban, as the Republic of Ireland’s prime minister said he wanted ads banned to protect players from developing problem gambling habits — not to protect fans in the stands or viewers at home.
Stewart Kenny: Time Frame for Gaming Ads
Stewart Kenny’s ideas make more sense. He argues that a betting ad ban on daytime and evening sporting events would assure children who enjoy sports were not “bombarded” with pro-gambling messages.
Banning such ads would assure that gambling was not normalized in their young minds. Stewart Kenny believes the research which suggests lifelong habits are learned by children in their adolescence, so gambling ads aimed at children could have profound effects later on in life.
Italian Sports Broadcast Gambling Ad Ban
Earlier this summer, the Italian government banned gambling companies from advertising during sports broadcasts in that country. A number of Serie A football clubs have complained that the ban would rob them of hundreds of millions of advertising dollars in the coming years. Those clubs noted that gaming companies are among the most reliable advertisers and corporate sponsors, so the loss of capital was irreplaceable.
Italian lawmakers did not buy the argument. While the Italian football clubs might be technically correct, the politicians saw the ban as essential for protecting the Italian people — especially the younger generation — from a constant stream of gambling ads. Much like Stewart Kenny’s arguments, they see the presence of such commercials and corporate logos as having a negative impact on society in the long term.
The suggested ban on gaming company ads in the European sports industry appears to be a developing trend — and one which could cost the UK and Irish gambling industry dearly.