Responsible Wagering Australia appoints Kai Cantwell as CEO

Responsible Wagering Australia represents gambling giants including Sportsbet, PointsBet and Ladbrokes.
Responsible Wagering Australia represents gambling giants including Sportsbet, PointsBet and Ladbrokes.

Cantwell will lead the group as it prepares for a federal inquiry into gambling harm.

Australia.- Responsible Wagering Australia, the lobby group that represents major bookmakers such as SportsbetPointsBet and Ladbrokes, has appointed a new chief executive following a six-month review of its operations. 

Kai Cantwell, a former policy adviser, will take over the role on April 17. According to WA Today, he has been in various government roles, including as a senior executive at the department of social services, where he implemented the national framework for consumer protection in online gambling, before joining Oracle.

The appointment comes ahead of a federal inquiry into gambling harm, which is set to focus on the impact of online gambling and wagering harm. Social services minister Amanda Rishworth launched the inquiry in September 2022 and has received around 150 submissions, including submissions from Responsible Wagering Australia, PointsBet, Sportsbet and Entain.

The inquiry will include public hearings in Canberra with the aim of gathering evidence to make recommendations for reform. Responsible Wagering Australia has previously argued that the gambling industry in Australia is already strictly regulated and that any future regulatory measures must be sustainable in order to be effective. 

In its submission to the inquiry, the body acknowledged community sentiment in relation to gambling advertising and committed to being a constructive participant in a conversation about sensible reforms that balance community expectations with the ability to promote a product that is safely enjoyed by millions of Australians.

Former chief executive Justin Madden resigned in November 2022 after just one year in the role, setting off intense speculation about the future of the body. Following Madden’s resignation, Responsible Wagering Australia’s chairman and former Howard minister Nick Minchin commissioned an independent review of the structure of the organisation. 

The review, conducted by Julie Ryan of JR Consult, recommended significant investment into developing responsible wagering research and better coordination with gambling harm experts. The body is also expected to focus on recruitment over the coming months to support Cantwell’s team and play a more active role in the regulation of the sector.

In addition to representing Responsible Wagering Australia at the next month’s public hearing in Canberra, Minchin believes that Cantwell is uniquely positioned to meet the industry’s challenges, which include new advertisement regulations enacted by the Albanese government, and increases in point of consumption taxes in key states.

See also: Australian Capital Territory may ban sports gambling ads

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