Stephen Conroy Labor MP

Australian gambling firms are backing a new responsible wagering body but the move has come under attack for using ex-MPs like Stephen Conroy. (Image: AAP/Daniel Munoz)

A new Australian gambling lobby has been slammed over the appointment of a prominent former Labor MP.

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) was formed last week by several big hitters in the industry.

The new body has risen from the ashes of the doomed Australian Wagering Council (AWC) after the withdrawal of Ladbrokes earlier this year.

The RWA has support from sportsbetting firms bet365, Crownbet, Sportsbet, Betfair and Unibet. Ladbrokes Australia and William Hill will not feature as yet.

Coming in as executive director is former Labor senator, Stephen Conroy. While not illegal, the move has been criticised as Mr. Conroy was responsible for online gambling regulations in a former post.

Another former senator, the Liberals’ Richard Colbeck, becomes chairman for the revamped body.

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

RWA An Attempt To Support Government

A new attempt at a sportsbook lobbying giant comes in the wake of a crackdown on offshore sites. The federal government recently published its report into online gambling, and sportsbooks feel they have been particularly hardly treated.

In-play betting has been largely stamped out, at least in its online form. Lines of credit for online gamblers have also been done away with. Meanwhile, in SA, a ‘point of consumption’ tax will come into effect next year.

The new levy is similar to the UK tax placed on remote gambling sites offering services to Brits. In SA, the POC tax will hit betting firms hard if they provide gaming to South Australian players.

The online gambling amendment is also putting provisions into place to clamp down on advertising during primetime TV hours. Sports broadcasts are being especially targeted as well as adverts on public transport in Victoria.

But with a new self-imposed code of conduct, sportsbooks Down Under are hoping for a fairer deal.

The code of conduct includes better measures to help problem gamblers and supporting government initiatives on cutting back betting advertising.

Political Lobbyists Criticised By Independents

Mr. Conroy’s appointment has been slammed by anti-gambling politicians like SA’s independent senator, Nick Xenophon.

Xenophon told Guardian Australia he wanted to put a stop to former MPs taking on lobbying positions.

“The name Responsible Wagering Council is pretty much an oxymoron due to developments in the industry where we’ve seen an aggressive expansion of the sector and with that a massive increase in problem gambling,” Xenophon added.

Xenophon will have his work cut out. It was announced last week that former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell was to become head of Racing Australia, the body that oversees the country’s horseracing industry.

O’Farrell was originally put in charge of examining the Internet Gambling Act 2001 when Tony Abbott’s government instigated a review.

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