Opinion: Is the Melbourne Cup really a good bet?

IT'S funny to be talking about productivity the day after the Melbourne Cup has been run and won.

While Australians were tipped to spend more than $400 million betting on the cup yesterday, it's also expected to have punched a $1 billion hole in the economy.

It's estimated three-quarters of workers spent something like 3.5 hours or more celebrating the cup yesterday.

But it's the hangover that is the real killer, with a 25% spike in people in full-time jobs calling in sick the day after the cup.

Based on all of those figures is the Melbourne Cup a good bet?

Do we lose far more than we gain and, if so, why do we continue to back a horse race the way we do?

Perhaps we need to rein in all the boozy parties and gambling and continue working instead of nicking off from work.

Old habits die hard though, so I reckon we would be better making Melbourne Cup day a national holiday.

Ditch Labor Day or the Queen's birthday long weekend holiday and enshrine Melbourne Cup day as a national holiday.

Sure it seems bizarre to have a whole day off for a horse race but it is uniquely Australian and would add to our quirkiness.

You only have to see how well known the race has become around the world to realise we need to enshrine it on our calendar.

Plenty of pundits have plenty to say about the merits of horse racing around Melbourne Cup time.

Many of them are Monday's experts.

My tip is we could cut our losses and make cup day a joyous public holiday in much the same way as Australia Day.

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