Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House drew controversy this week when it opted to air a projection on its roof for the upcoming Everest Horse racing event, despite the week being the country's Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.
The outrage comes as horse racing is closely tied with betting in the country, and the Everest is one of the largest events in Australia. The races themselves have millions of dollars in purse prizes, and the amount wagered dwarfs that. To promote the race, the Opera House projected the race's logo along with colours onto the sails that comprise its roof. The projection went up for 20 minutes and was met by more than 1000 protestors, who turned up to boo and shine lights toward the structure to interfere with the projection.
Controversy was triggered during the week preceding the projection as chief executive of the Opera House Louise Herron refused to carry the advertising, stating that it was against the venue's policies. Regulations say that projections on to the world heritage listed site should be "confined to exceptional, non-commercial occasions of brief duration". However, seemingly bullied by influential radio shock jock Alan Jones, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered the Opera House to display the ad, to the consternation of many members of the public. More than 300,000 signed a public petition against the action.
Australians are among the biggest losers in terms of per capita income when it comes to betting. In 2017, the country came in second to the United States in regards to amount lost, at just about $1000 per gambler.
Responsible Gambling Awareness week runs from October 8th through the 14th and urges players to look within themselves and among their friends and family to analyse their gambling habits. If you or someone you know needs assistance, you can reach out to Wesley Mission's counselling line at 1300 827 638, or by checking out our Responsible Gambling page.