The controversial projection on the Opera House promoting the Everest horse race, ironically occurs during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, 8-14 October.
According to the NSW Government’s own website, “During Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, people are invited to check in with themselves, friends, and family about their gambling.”
The week event promotes awareness of safe gambling practices through promotional events such as barbecues and offers information on where to turn for help.
The Everest barrier draw will be projected on the Opera House sails, promoting an event that is expected to heavily generate gambling revenue.
The projection promoting the Everest horse race was opposed by the Opera House CEO Louise Herron, as well as community groups. It is supported, however, by the NSW government, who overruled Ms Herron.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned opposition to the projection as “precious.”
“This is one of the biggest events of the year. Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?” Mr Morrison said.
Micah Australia CEO, Rev. Tim Costello has argued in an opinion piece for The Guardian that the projection, “proves Sydney is in thrall to the gambling industry”.
“The Jones performance shocked many for its sheer brutality but it should not come as any surprise. He has long been a promoter of the gambling industry and also has commercial interests in racing,” Rev. Costello writes.
“No jurisdiction anywhere in the world inflicts as much gambling harm and losses on its community as New South Wales and the Opera House advertising stoush just highlights how the industry uses its power and connections to stand over government and get whatever it wants, irrespective of the harm caused.”
“The 2016-17 national gambling statistics were belatedly released last week and show losses from gambling on racing jumped 6.9% to a record $3.31bn while sports gambling losses jumped 15% to a record $1.06bn. Do they really need an Opera House gimmick with that sort of growth?”
The projection takes place after a controversial 2GB interview between Ms Herron and broadcaster Alan Jones, which has been widely condemned as bullying. Jones has since apologised for the interview.
“To Louise and those people who’ve been offended, I apologise,” Jones said.
He indicated that he did not believe he had bullied Ms Herron, but acknowledged that there were those who did.
The National Association for the Visual Arts has condemned the projection as “a capitulation to bullying that has resulted in the Sydney Opera House being forced to advertise a horse race against policies that ensure compliance with its world heritage status.”
If gambling is a problem for you, help is available. Call Wesley Mission’s gambling counselling hotline on 1300 827 638. If you want to talk to someone right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or use crisis chat online.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor