Australian bushfires came as a shock to the community, causing catastrophic damage to large regions of the country. Following the events, severe thunderstorms hit Australia on January 17th, bringing firefighters some much-needed relief. Still, severe damage to life and property has been done in months prior, both to human life and property.
While partisans politicized the events from every angle, regular people of all walks of life decided to volunteer and financially contribute to relief funds instead. Neighborhood restoration funds and charities found some unlikely allies among professional poker players.
How iGaming Contributes to Australia
Poker player groups and gambling organizations, in general, often present charitable contributions for a wide variety of causes. Some notable poker examples include the Helping Hands and US Poker. Still, large iGaming corporations like Aristocrat, IGT, Scientific Games, and others have social responsibility departments that focus on charitable contributions.
The situation in Australia looked particularly dire at the end of 2019. The fires have claimed 28 lives to date, destroying over 10 million hectares of bush, forests, and parks across the country. The risk of fires reaching homes and properties was higher than ever before, authorities urging people to leave dangerous areas temporarily. While a recent thunderstorm dropped the temperature to below 20 degrees Celsius, new fires could emerge still.
It comes as no surprise that Australian disaster relief funds received contributions from people and organizations all over the globe. The World Poker Tour hostess Lynn Gilmartin is one such person, focused on saving animals endangered by the fires. In the first three days of her campaign drive, Lynn raised nearly $30,000, contributed by 240 people in all parts of the world. Her campaign has since doubled in size, going over 500 contributions.
Crown Resort – hosts for the annual Aussie Millions poker festival – followed that up with their own AUD$5 Million pledge. Their contribution was divided between the Rural Fire Service, Victorian County Fire Authority, Victoria Government Fund, WIRES service as well as Zoos Victoria. Australia Bush Fire Brigade and the Red Cross were also set to receive additional $500,000 contributions.
These displays of good faith by both companies and individuals were picked up by high profile poker stars, resulting in millions put into the hands of charitable organizations.
Poker Players About Australian Situation
«The generosity we’ve seen from the poker community for many causes over the years has been extraordinary. Now, Australia needs some of that kindness,» Lynn’s Facebook statement says.
To date, her campaign collected nearly AUD$80,000 from the updated 100,000 goal introduced earlier. Her initial hope was to raise only $5,000 for a local wildlife charity. It’s been long since surpassed by generous contributors of poker players.
According to a Poker News report, high profile players Orpen Kisacikoglu and Patrick Leonard also set out to contribute a portion of their poker winnings to charities. More player pledges followed, including Rob Yong, Romania’s Alexandru Papazian, and Taiwan’s Kitty Kuo. Australian professional Kahle Burns got creative and offered to run a 2-hour group coaching session for anyone contributing at least $500 to the cause.
Australian Cricket Legend and avid poker fan Shane Warne went as far as auctioning off his «Baggy Green» cap, raising over $1,000,000 for the Red Cross efforts. The cap is significant because it’s only given once to a professional cricket player during their first field test match.
«It was sad to say goodbye, but at least I’ve still got the memories. The money that has been raised is going to make a significant difference so I’m pretty proud,» – Warne said after the auction, not long before joining the Aussie Millions of poker events as a player.
The iGaming And Charity
iGaming corporations, as a whole, accept social responsibility and help solve problems both within and outside of the industry. A few examples:
- International Game Technologies (IGT) releases yearly sustainability reports, spending millions on various charities, and problem gambling solutions;
- Aristocrat Leisure committed to ethical labor spending and environmental initiatives, complying with United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development goals;
- Microgaming introduced a Play it Forward program to help Isle of Man government with local charity work, sponsoring young athletes and local initiatives;
- Scientific Games contributes over $1 million annually to charitable and non-profits that support education, environment, medicine, culture, and other initiatives;
- Playtech committed to eliminating gender pay gap differences and developed the BetBuddy analytics platform to detect and act on risky gambler behaviors.
All major iGaming companies introduce Responsible Gambling initiatives to tackle the issues of problem gambling and get help for individuals in their local communities. It is done through technological solutions like behavior monitoring, as well as on the banking end, by detecting debt-based gambling and putting a stop to potentially dangerous addictions.
Because lottery and gambling wins are non-taxable in many countries, online casinos and platforms often offer an option to wire gambling winnings directly to charities of player’s choice, allowing to do so for a percentage or entirety of any win. Some go even further and give bonuses to any winnings devoted to charity.
While playing free online pokies in Australia and New Zealand, players can send any casino wins to a cause of their choice with a single click. The Big Red pokie machine is especially popular with Aussies, numerous winners coming out and wiring casino bonuses to various causes and even incorporating that as part of their strategy.
Players owe a significant degree of their winnings to luck – most understand this, which is why they’re willing to give back to those less fortunate in the world. Initiatives from people like Lynn Gilmartin go as far as they do because people want a better world, whether they’re part of traditional services or «vice industries,» among which gambling is often placed.
For anyone willing to look into the «Poker Players for Australian Wildlife,» head out directly to Gilmartin’s Facebook campaign page. All proceeds go to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors organization.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.