The Sydney Opera House, one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia, is at the center of a heated debate over its role in promoting gambling.
A beautiful structure located at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, the opera house is a favorite tourist site. Gambling companies are pushing the authorities to allow them to advertise on this historic building.
However, many Australian citizens believe that such advertising would destroy the appearance of this well-known landmark. There is an ongoing debate across the country about the issue of gambling advertising.
History of the opera house
The first steps toward the creation of the Sydney Opera House were taken during the 1940s. The location was chosen as being ideal for performances. A global contest was held in 1955 to select the best design for an opera house.
An architect from Denmark won with a design that links it with the sea, which is close to the hearts of Australians. The opera house has won many awards over the years, and it hosts over 1500 performances annually.
Opera house advertising
Companies have been looking at more creative ways to get their messages to people. The external structure of the Opera House is white tile, which means that it is extremely easy to project images upon it.
This has been done throughout the years for various displays, such as during the Olympics in 2000 and advertising some of the events in the Opera House.
The recent controversy has been stirred up by the advertisements shown for the Everest Cup on the Opera House. This is the biggest horse race in the nation, with prize money worth $9.2m (£7.2m).
Many Australians went crazy because the beautiful landmark was advertising an event based on gambling. The gambling sector is continually coming under scrutiny in the country as the number of problem gamblers continues to rise.
Australians lose more money through gambling than inhabitants of any other country in the world. Many measures are being taken to alleviate these issues, but the Opera House advertising is a big issue.
Extent of the problem
Numerous research papers have been published recently showing the extent of the gambling problem in Australia. While it is an industry worth a lot of money to stakeholders, including the provincial governments, it is clearly hurting a large portion of the population.
The average gambling loss is about $1,000 per person each year. Singapore is next in the list, with $650 lost per year per adult in the country.
A lot of people think that gambling advertising is taking a serious toll on people, who see pro-gambling ads everywhere they look, both online and offline.
Sports teams have gambling company kit sponsors, stadium naming rights going to gambling companies and the fields have pitch-side gambling ads. Ads for gambling companies appear during televised games, often featuring a well-known athlete or celebrity.
It is particularly dangerous for those who are under age. As their brains are developing, they are constantly seeing messages telling them that gambling is a normal, everyday activity. A ban has been placed on gambling ads during live sports games shown on Australian television, but this is still only in its early stages.
If fewer people are aware of these gambling companies’ offerings, then the number of people gambling will likely decrease significantly. Italy, for one, has banned all forms of gambling advertising, including sponsorships.
That ban came after a new anti-gambling government came to power at the start of 2018. Other European countries such as Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom are looking to implement their own forms of gambling advertising bans.
While the Sydney Opera House management is within its rights to project any images they wish, the public outcry has been evident. Many feel that using such a historic landmark to advertise gambling is going too far. Whether the Opera House authorities listen or not to these calls is a different question.