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Responsible Wagering Australia to be headed by Stephen Conroy

Thu, Dec 8, 9:14am by Bren O'Brien

A new lobby group for the gambling industry to replace the Australian Wagering Council will be headed by former Labor senator Stephen Conroy.

The AWC was disbanded earlier this year after its failure to prevent a ban on online in-play betting.

The major corporate bookmakers CrownBet, Sportsbet, Betfair, Unibet and Bet365 have now formed Responsible Wagering Australia to help lobby governments in the new gambling era under the amended Interactive Gambling Act, which is expected to pass parliament in the new year.

Conroy, who had a 20-year parliamentary career before resigning in September, will be executive director of RWA.

The new look RWA was revealed on Wednesday, with former Liberal senator Richard Colbeck announced as chairman.

The RWA will support the new IGA, which specifically bans on-line in-play sports betting, provides greater consumer protection for gamblers and cracks down on illegal offshore operators.

“I’m looking forward to working closely and co-operatively with the Australian government on their consumer protection agenda,” Conroy said. “We share their objectives and we are determined to engage constructively to make it work.”

Colbeck said the new body was committed to promoting responsible wagering practices across the Australian industry.

“Responsible wagering lies at the heart of many Australians’ enjoyment of their racing and sporting interests,” he said. “Responsible Wagering Australia is committed to meeting that need with the highest standards of consumer protection, integrity and harm minimisation.”

Corporate bookmakers have not been totally supportive of the new-look IGA bill, with concerns raised over a provision for retail gambling venues such as pubs, clubs and TABs to provide their own devices for betting on live sport. The bookmakers believe this gives Tabcorp and Tats an unfair advantage.

Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge, who introduced the IGA Amendment Bill into federal parliament in November, said he looked forward to working with both men.

Conroy and Conroy are not the only former politicians to be appointed to key positions within the racing and wagering industry this week.

Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, who led the review upon which the new IGA is based, has taken up the job as CEO of Racing Australia, a national racing body.

That position was vacated by former Nationals MP Peter McGauran, who is set to take up a specialist racing adviser role with Tabcorp in the New Year.

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