Former AFL boss Gillon McLachlan to lead Tabcorp as new CEO

Former AFL boss Gillon McLachlan to lead Tabcorp as new CEO

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After speculation was quashed that he would be joining Racing Victoria as chairman, it has been announced today that former Australian Football League (AFL) boss Gillon McLachlan will take the reins at Melbourne-headquartered betting giant Tabcorp (ASX: TAH), kicking off in August.

McLachlan was CEO at the AFL for almost a decade until he left at the end of the 2023 season, and had been deputy CEO of the league for two years before that.

He is attributed with having helped double the AFL's revenues from $502 million in 2013 to more than $1 billion last year, while also securing the largest sports broadcasting rights deal in Australian history and overseeing the expansion of the AFL competition to 18 teams and the launch of the AFLW competition.

The appointment will fill the void left in March by the sudden departure of then-CEO Adam Rytenskild over allegations of inappropriate and offensive language, which brought an end to his 23-year career with the group. 

Bruce Akhurst, who has taken on executive chairman duties at Tabcorp since then, says McLachlan has the right attributes to accelerate growth at Tabcorp with a proven track record and deep knowledge and understanding of wagering, sport and racing. The incoming executive also has extensive racing knowledge as a thoroughbred owner and breeder.

"Gill needs no introduction - he is recognised as one of Australia's leading CEOs and securing Gill is a great vote of confidence for Tabcorp’s future. We’ve laid strong foundations and Gill brings a growth mindset and the capability to capitalise on the opportunities ahead of us," says Akhurst.

"Gill has a deep understanding of sport, racing and wagering, combined with signficant commercial acumen which was highlighted in the substantial growth of AFL revenues under his leadership.

"Importantly for us, Gill brings an added dimension of having been responsible for some of the most significant media rights deals in Australian sports history and we're excited about the potential growth opportunities for our wagering and media business under his leadership."

Until he gains the necessary regulatory approvals, McLachlan will act in an observer capacity with Bruce Akhurst continuing to act as executive chairman. Once in the new role, he will earn a fixed annual salary of $1.5 million plus incentives.

"Tabcorp is a wagering, broadcast and integrity services business and the challenges of growing it are appealing. It’s about creating entertainment for our customers in a safe way and providing a unique customer omni-channel entertainment offering across digital, retail and the media business," the incoming CEO says.

"Tabcorp is a proudly Australian company that contributed $1.1 billion to the racing industry last year and continues to be one of the racing industry’s biggest partners, as well as the wagering licensee in all states, except for WA. This is a really important component of my decision. There are enormous opportunities ahead and I’m looking forward to driving the sport category among other things.

"Tabcorp is part way through its transformation journey and I’m looking forward to working with the leadership team to accelerate and deliver on the growth oportunities."

Akhurst says that two years since the demerger of The Lottery Corporation from Tabcorp, the group has significantly improved its customer offering and delivered key structural reforms in Queensland and Victoria.

"The transformation of Tabcorp is not complete and I am delighted that Gill is joining us to continue to drive change and growth," he says.

"We're pleased that Gill will commence shortly, and until then, along with the executive team, we’re focussed on executing on our key strategic goals and adding value for our shareholders."

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