Author: Sebastian Scheplitz
Some iGaming operators are mostly driven by profit. We get it, it’s good business. But there are also many online casino and sportsbook companies of all sizes that make it a part of their mission to give back to the community.
More than a few are involved in noble causes and various charities. It’s easy to forget that, yes, there is such a thing as gambling for a good cause.
One of the ways the industry works towards fulfilling its corporate social responsibility is by supporting non-profit organizations through charitable donations.
And you might be surprised at how much gambling operators donate to charitable causes every year – ranging from hundreds of thousands to upwards of several million euros and dollars.
This article will discuss the relationship between charity and gambling and if they go hand in hand, like milk and coffee or ice cream and bratwurst.
Before we go any further, let’s check out this summary video of our take on charitable gambling.
Now that’s we’ve seen an overview of this article , it’s time to discuss the history of charitable gambling and define what it is.
Gambling and Charity: A Background
In a nutshell, charitable gambling is a method of incentivized giving, wherein a charitable organization runs gambling activities and uses the proceeds to further its goals, rather than a private casino or iGaming operator.
And it’s fun. Charitable gambling typically involves games, cash prizes, opportunities to bond, and perhaps most importantly – a noble cause to make a stand for.
“Charity” isn’t just a tag that’s slapped onto it to make it legal – there is an implication that the profits will go to the specific cause or charity the charitable gambling event was held for.
Like building schools, funding scholarships, or repainting the church walls. What’s not to love?
Set a lofty goal, throw some poker tables and chips, a roulette machine, and a blackjack table, get some sponsors, ask your local government authority for the legalese, and you’re set.
In the UK, charitable gambling operators help provide much-coveted funding to good causes and are fully compliant with the regulations set forth by the UK Gambling Act of 2005.
Many of the organizations these operators help fund would never have received a single pence in funding. Needless to say, local and national charities receive millions of pounds in donations.
A Brief History of Charitable Gambling
Gambling has been around since Romans governed Britannia millennia ago. Wagering has always existed in one way or another, and Britons have indulged in the activity that was once so prevalent that no less than King Richard of England decided to regulate it in 1190.
Fortunately, the Britons of that bygone era had little to worry about the importance of responsible gaming then.
That’s because only noblemen could have afforded the indulgence of gambling. And, more often than not, those men would be found wagering high stakes in private clubs or by betting on horseracing – the proverbial sport of kings.
Commoners and serfs would gamble under cover of night and the hanging threat of a hefty fine payable to the Church and forfeiture of the wager. Oh, and they would have gotten a nice, welt-inducing whipping for their trouble.
As British society evolved, so did the rights and privileges – that were once reserved only for noblemen – were extended across societal classes. That meant more people being able to afford the as-yet highly-regulated practice of wagering.
Gambling was nonetheless still forbidden, but the tantalizing prospect of winning something for practically nothing led Britons to risk losing their quid and losing their freedoms quite literally.
The advent of online casinos, sports betting, and the emergence of iGaming as a multibillion-pound industry has since drastically transformed how people gamble nowadays.
For one, gambling has never been so appealing across all social classes. The same is true for charitable gambling.
The rigid structure of privileges has come apart, and now everybody can enjoy a wide array of charity iGaming options equally without fear or favor.
Evolution of Charitable Gambling
Today’s interest in online sports betting and casinos is eons removed from that of our forebears.
So has the industry itself.
And, granting that charity iGaming is a relative newcomer in the space, you’ll be surprised to find out that the link between the wagering and charity runs all the way back to the 16th century.
A lot of good has come out of charity iGaming operators in the lottery sector. No less than the British Museum itself was partly funded from the proceeds of the scandalous British Museum Lottery of 1753, after all.
Charity gambling organizations mushroomed in popularity after World War II such that its definition encompassed all sorts of fundraising organizations who raised money for charity under their wings.
Now, gambling for a good cause is much more established in the public psyche. And more and more people support such fundraising for causes close to their hearts more than ever. Plus, technological advancements just made participating in such activities in just a couple of clicks.
Through interactive charity iGaming and lottery options, individuals are given a chance to win not only a jackpot that would change the course of their life but also a chance to take stock of the fact that a portion of their wagers goes to a good cause.
That said, is gambling for charity legal? Let’s find out.
Is Gambling for Charity Legal? The Lowdown
The UK Gambling Commission answers this question succinctly.
You can raise money for charitable causes with gambling, but you need to ensure you don’t break the law.
The best part? Based on UKGC’s guidance, charity iGaming providers in the UK are not required to have a license to conduct such activities.
However, it was made abundantly clear that guests must be informed about the cause the event is supporting, that the proceeds of the event are transferred to such end, and there must be no similar events taking place within the four corners of a casino, online or offline.
The Commission sets forth guidance on fundraising through gambling as follows:
- Fundraising with lotteries or raffles at events. Lotteries or raffles are allowed to be held in fairs, fundraisers, concerts, or exhibitions.
- Fundraising with 100 clubs (and above). A 100 club (may also be known as 200, 500, and onwards club) is a group of individuals raising funds for good causes by running private lotteries.
- Fundraising with race nights. Race nights may be held to raise funds for charitable causes.
- Fundraising with colleagues, living companions, or members of an organization. Any lotteries held for ends other than charity are forbidden.
- Fundraising with bingo, casino, poker, or race nights. Individuals are allowed to raise funds for charity by holding a bingo night or poker night, subject to the rules set forth by the Commission.
- Fundraising with small society lotteries. Small society lotteries with draws below £20,000 in proceeds do not require a license but must be registered with local authorities depending on where the society is registered.
How to Organize a Charity Gambling Event
Now that we’ve gotten the legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way, we can now delve into how to organize your very own charitable gambling event.
Here are some of our best practices on how to organize and manage a charity gambling event.
- Always follow local laws and regulations. There’s no shortage of themes you can choose for your event. Make sure to choose one that will be well-received by the community, and above all, 100% compliant with all local laws and regulations.
- Consider contracting a charity gambling organization. Local legislation may not allow individuals to organize a charity gambling event single-handedly. In such cases, you may want to consider hiring an external organization to run the activity for you.
- Host a poker tournament rather than casino games. Poker nights significantly cost less time and effort while raising a fair amount of coins. Players may be encouraged to buy a seat or donate to get chips for the tournament, and you can have non-cash prizes awarded as well.
- Offer a variety of games. The more games you have on offer, the more fun it will be, and the more funds you can raise. Consider adding crowd favorites like baccarat, roulette, and blackjack to your games. These are among the most played/wagered games for charitable gambling events. Regardless of what games you choose to offer, make sure everything is aboveboard.
- Set fundraising targets. Entrance or participation fees are not allowed to be collected in the UK. You can only do so by selling chips or lottery tickets. Explore the possibility of obtaining sponsorship or selling other items to raise funds. Don’t forget to provide chances to gain more chips by running parlor games and other gaming offerings throughout the evening.
- Plan ahead. Failure to plan is planning to fail. It would be best if you set plenty of time in advance to promote the event, purchase or rent gambling equipment, set awards and games, etc. Success is in the small details!
- Consider hiring an event planner. If you prefer to leave the planning and execution to the pros, you may choose to hire an event planner. It could save you time and bother, but it will cost somewhat more than usual. If you do, be sure to give them enough leeway to make professional decisions that will make your event a success.
Pros of Gambling as a Fundraising Method
The advantage is evident. Imagine billions of dollars of revenue being siphoned into a sector that’s always been traditionally cash-strapped.
Here are some more pros of using charitable gambling proceeds as funding:
- Efficiency. Charitable gambling is an efficient revenue stream for charitable organizations because of its favorable cost to benefit ratio. The majority of the expenses for running such events are generally paid for by the event operator or partner.
- Fewer “strings attached” to other revenue sources. Revenues stemming from charitable gambling may be spent on essential expenses and can be used to obtain matching funding. Gambling offers charitable institutions a ready source of this hard-to-find income.
- Widespread public support in some sectors. For instance, in a 2000 survey conducted in Canada, most respondents firmly believed that charitable organizations should be the primary beneficiaries of gambling revenues. This is a good indicator of the long and healthy ties between gambling for a good cause.
Cons of Gambling as a Fundraising Method
Gambling’s viability as a lucrative source of income is proven. But it isn’t without its negative consequences.
Here are some of the cons of gambling for organizations that rely on the activity itself for fundraising:
- Changing public perceptions about gambling. Some charitable organizations have been asked by their stakeholders to stop the use of funds from gambling largely due to a better understanding of gambling’s adverse effects.
This includes issues such as gambling as a means of taxation, problem gambling and its far-ranging impact on community and society, and the fact that problem gamblers themselves may end up being clients of charities.
Such effects have highlighted the importance of responsible gambling and the efforts governments have taken to promote it.
- Competition for gambling revenues from outside the charitable sector. As private groups continue to lobby for their interests in getting a piece of the proverbial pie, this crowds out charitable gambling operators that have primarily gone unmolested.
The fact is that long-term access to gambling revenues is not a foregone certainty for charities.
- Overreliance on gambling income may reduce individual donations. As both charitable organizations and governments continue to link gambling to charitable causes funded by gambling income, such revenues may be seen by individual donors as a replacement for their donations.
However, because only a fraction of gambling losses end up with the charity, a dollar lost isn’t equivalent to a dollar donated.
Gambling has had a long history with charity, and the activity of charitable gambling isn’t going away anytime soon.
In spite of the constantly-changing landscape in the gambling industry, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, charitable gambling has ensconced itself as an important part of the gambling industry as a whole.
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “The “Gambling for a Good Cause” Card: Gambling and Charity”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂