Australians are furious Sydney Opera House will promote a horse race

Sydney Opera House executive Louise Herron

Sydney Opera House executive Louise Herron

The sails of the internationally feted Sydney Opera House will be misguidedly turned into a blatant betting billboard for a $10 million horse race today, after the NSW government capitulated to unbecoming and insidious pressure.

While some have defended the promotion as having economic benefits, others say it is crass commercialism and threatens the iconic building's value as a World Heritage site.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also refused to back down after calling the Opera House "the biggest billboard Sydney has" on the weekend.

This is a proposed example of what Racing NSW would like to project onto the famous sails of the Sydney Opera House. 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.

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) past year.

'The gambling lobby, particularly in New South Wales, is the equivalent of the National Rifle Association in America.

The agreement will allow Racing NSW to promote the Everest race with colours and branding, but not with horse names. It. has politicians in the palm of its hand, " Costello, a spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told the ABC.

On Friday's 2GB Breakfast show Jones repeatedly yelled "we" own the Opera House over the top of his interview subject.

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Morrison, who supports the promotion for Saturday's Everest Cup, said he couldn't understand why people were so upset.

"It's not like they're painting it (the promotion) on there", the Liberal leader said on Monday.

Graham Quint, a National Trust of Australia manager, went as far as suggesting the advertising went against federal and state laws governing use of the Opera House.

In the past the Opera House has been used to project colours and images, marking events, from sports matches to religious holidays, as well as the annual Vivid light and sound festival.

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

According to Chief Excecutive Peter V'landys, the state blocked the move and offered the Sydney Opera House as an alternative.

"Gambling destroys lives and has no place being displayed on the sails of the Opera House", said Elizabeth Smits, one of the thousands who signed the online petition.

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

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