Many online casinos publish press releases regarding their charitable acts and ongoing partnerships with local communities. This article puts the spotlight on a few high profile cases. Victor Hugo said “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.” Is this still true in every charitable case? Let’s explore.
$1 million charity poker tournament
Pokerstars drew attention in May 2020 with its “Call for action” online poker event. It hosted a charity poker tournament featuring dozens of celebrities and sports stars with $1 million donated by Poker Stars. CARE International, a humanitarian organization, received at least half that value. Participating celebrities included Michael Cera, Jon Hamm, David Schwimmer, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Amy Schumer and Edward Norton.
Similarly, GGPoker donated over $350,000 after a massive WSOP charity poker tournament online. Over 2000 entrants donated $111 of the buy in fee to Caesars Cares assistance fund. This fund helps Caesars Entertainment staff suffering hardships brought on by the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic.
Charity under pressure
Sometimes donations are made for darker reasons, more as penance than out of simple good nature. In May 2020, casino operator and games provider Playtech made an increased donation to responsible gambling charities. This was following the unfortunate suicide of a former customer. Playtech announced it would boost the donation to 3.5million GBP. The move came shortly after UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) released an investigation. Their findings revealed that a 25 year old man had gone on a 5 day gambling spree, losing over 119k. The enquiry found that the company had failed to have sufficient anti money laundering and social responsibility processes.
At first Playtech had offered to settle by paying 619k, which UKGC deemed insufficient. The company would be penalized 3.5million had its subsidiary brands not been withdrawn from the UK. Therefore Playtech agreed to increase the donation to match it. The brand apologized to the family of the victim and has since worked hard to improve safety measures in place. However, the initial good sentiment at hearing of a 3.5million donation feels somewhat tarnished when we find the reasons behind it are not born from true altruism.
Some casino brands have made a bit of a name for themselves when it comes to regular charitable donations. Microgaming is well known for it’s annual “Gift Of Giving” campaign. Since it started the campaign has raised £210,000. The way it works is the company gives Microgaming operators and partners the opportunity to donate to worthy causes. They can contribute by voting for the charity they wish to see receiving donations. The Gift of Giving campaign is part of Microgaming’s “PlayItForward” charity initiative that provides support to many local initiatives.