Gambling role for former football chief raises red flag

Business

Concerns have been raised about narrowing ties between the gambling and sport sectors with the AFL's former boss to lead a betting giant.

Gillon McLachlan has been named chief executive of Tabcorp, eight months since ending his decades-long tenure at the football league.

The move has been questioned by independent senator David Pocock, who said he has serious concerns about the appointment.

"At a time where we need to break the nexus between sport and gambling, not bringing the two closer together," he told ABC Radio National.

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"There's an opportunity for him to use his insider knowledge when it comes to the inner workings of one of Australia's biggest sporting codes for the benefit of the gambling industry."

Senator Pocock's sentiments were echoed by Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive Tim Costello, who said Mr McLachlan's new role is "chilling for the community".

"We have always known that Gill's great passion is gambling, he was touted to be a chair of Racing Victoria and post being the AFL supremo," Mr Costello told ABC News Breakfast.

Mr McLachlan's past positions have made him an attractive candidate for big jobs in any industry, he added.

"Gill is the best-connected person in Australia with the greatest access, as we know," Mr Costello said.

"He's close to both sides of politics."

Victorian Gaming Minister Melissa Horne said she is aiming for a productive relationship with Mr McLachlan.

"I look forward to him having a really constructive relationship with the toughest regulator of gaming in the country," she said.

Tabcorp executive chairman Bruce Akhurst said the company was impressed by Mr McLachlan's famed experience inking media rights deals.

"Gill has a deep understanding of sport, racing and wagering, combined with significant commercial acumen," he said.

"(He) brings an added dimension of having been responsible for some of the most significant media rights deals in Australian sports history."

Mr McLachlan will become managing director and chief executive on August 5, Tabcorp said in a statement to the ASX on Monday. He will act in an observer capacity until the regulatory approvals are made.

Mr McLachlan joined the AFL in 2000 and was appointed chief operating officer in 2008, then deputy chief executive four years later, before taking the top job in 2014.

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