Sydney Opera House horse race 'advertising' sparks uproar

The new theatre is set to reopen on New Year's Eve

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The furor erupted after the New South Wales state government over ruled the Opera House management's objections to projecting the barrier draw of the A$13 million ($9 million) Everest Cup onto the Sydney Opera House sails on Tuesday night.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday denied she caved into bullying from broadcaster Alan Jones when she intervened to allow the horse racing advertising to be projected onto the sails.

This image provided by Racing NSW shows an artist's impression of how horse race advertising will look on the Sydney Opera House.

Such promotion is clearly in breach of the guidelines under which the World Heritage-listed structure is managed in the public interest, and which are created to protect its cultural value.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said the advertising demonstrated the power of the Australian horse racing industry that made a profit of A$3.3 billion Australian dollars ($3.6 billion) previous year.

"This is one of the biggest events of the year. why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?"

"These events generate massive economic opportunities". It may also breach the opera house's requirement that the promotional use of its roof be restricted to events of major cultural or community significance, she said. It ... has politicians in the palm of its hand, ' the anti-gambling campaigner told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. I don't know why people are getting so precious about it, " Morrison said.

"It's not like they're painting it (the promotion) on there", the Liberal leader said on Monday. I mean, it's some lights flashing up there for a brief moment of time. "To me, the Opera House is a representation of Australia's capacity to build splendid things".

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

'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.

Jones spoke to Herron and Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys earlier this week, putting pressure on the Opera House CEO to reverse the decision.

The Opera House declined to comment on the controversy, referring all queries to the state government.

A petition against the plan to use the Opera House as a billboard has reached 170,000 signatures in three days.

Anti-gambling advocates deplored using the Opera House to promote gambling in a country that has the world's highest gambling losses per adult.

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