ASE Publisher Trevor Connell delves into the moral issue of the week.
If you work in the event industry you will most likely be involved in a gambling related event at some time – especially in just over three weeks’ time.
If you work on (or attend) any Melbourne Cup event next month, then you are indirectly supporting gambling. Because, the fact is, without gambling, there would be no Melbourne Cup or any other horse racing, harness racing or greyhound racing events.
I have nothing against gambling per se, but gambling advertising is another issue.
It is now all persuasive (and invasive) – no professional sporting event seems to be immune from it, especially football (all codes).
This week, the arts industry in particular turned out in force to oppose the projection of promotional images for a horse race onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House.
The protest was a reaction to the stated charter of the SOH to not allow commercial advertising on the sails being overturned by the NSW Premier under instructions from Alan Jones, and then a conga line of out-of-touch politicians supporting the decision.
However, I’m most disappointed by the comments (Facebook in particular) criticising the projection company for taking the job. This is hypocrisy from people who will probably participate in events on the first Tuesday of November even if they have no interest in horse racing.
The general view in the tech industry is that gig is a gig and I too have no less respect for the company who took the job.
The protest was supported by many in the events industry who signed the petition and/or turned up to protest at the SOH.
Understanding the technology used for the projections, lighting technicians knew that a bunch of torches being shone from the base of the SOH would be largely ineffective. So two lighting ninjas used a bunch of beam light cannons to wash out the projected images. These guys were supported by the lighting industry through their association ALIA (who may or may not have known that the lights were coming). Read about their exploits here.
So where does this leave companies working in events when it comes to gambling?
Many of us work in venues that are funded by gambling, whether it is the local RSL club, the major casinos or a major sporting event. That is fine; personally I have no issue with gambling and have enjoyed many outings to horse racing events at which I have placed a bet or two.
However, it is my personal opinion that gambling advertising should go the way of tobacco advertising. This can only happen at the Federal level because the state governments are too seduced by gambling revenue to outlaw it.
So where do we stand? Through the enterprises within the BAPCO Media Group, we do not take any job that directly promotes gambling. For example, EventPix have for many years photographed the NSW Harness Racing Awards which are partly sponsored by TAB. Our client is Harness Racing NSW – not TAB. For some that may seem to be a fine line to draw, however, we will all find our limit.
So, does the events industry have a gambling problem? I don’t think so – but our politicians certainly do! And Waleed Aly certainly thinks so too.
Then, of course, there is alcohol promotion, but that is a discussion for another day.