Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Sport | By

Anti-gambling advocates slam Sydney Opera House racing ad

Anti-gambling advocates slam Sydney Opera House racing ad

A plan to advertise a horse race on the sails of the Sydney Opera House has prompted a large backlash in Australia.

NSW State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the advertising for The Everest horse race had been "toned down" since its original proposal.

"I don't think taxpayers want it used as a billboard for everything and every powerful person in Sydney who comes to the opera house and says, 'Can you promote something that I have an interest in...'"

Close to 150,000 people have now signed a petition calling for Racing NSW advertisements planned for the Sydney Opera House to be scrapped, in a massive pushback against the racing industry and conservative broadcaster Alan Jones. In two days it garnered 55,000 signatures, and by this morning that figure had more than doubled, with thousands throwing their support behind Herron who argued the projections would put the building's heritage status in jeopardy.

While Tim Costello, a spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said that the advert demonstrated the power of the Australian horse racing industry, which made a profit of 3.3 billion Australian dollars (£1.7 billion) previous year.

Anti-gambling campaigners have slammed the move by the New South Wales Government, which runs contrary to the views of Opera House management. It. has politicians in the palm of its hand, " Costello, a spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told the ABC.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called it "Sydney's biggest billboard".

A spokesman for UNESCO told the Guardian that the World Heritage Center is "looking into this" advertisement, but declined to comment further.

Racing NSW boss Peter V'landys the man behind The Everest to be held at Randwick racecourse this weekend
WOLTER PEETERSRacing NSW boss Peter V'landys the man behind The Everest to be held at Randwick racecourse this weekend

"It's not as though they're painting it on there, there are lights flashing up there for a brief period of time".

Graham Quint, a National Trust of Australia manager, said the advertising contravened federal and state laws governing use of the Opera House.

A petition to "Defend Our Opera House: Support Louise Herron" on change.org has been backed by 45,000 people.

"I'm absolutely confident the Sydney Opera House will continue to be the icon that it is globally and for us locally", she said.

'The World Heritage listing requires not only that the building be preserved in its fabric, but also that it be presented properly ... and no way under the current conservation management plan should this be allowed, ' Mr Quint said.

With the debate heating up, Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys on Monday revealed he and his staff had received death threats.

Sydney Opera House policy on illumination of the sails states: "No logo or corporate identity shall be permitted to be projected onto the Sails".

Should the Opera House be used as a billboard? The Everest is the world's richest turf race and injected $100 million into the NSW economy previous year.


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