A Casino for Conservation?

What if you could gamble for a good cause? Why not build a casino where the profits go to conservation?

The idea came to me last night while watching a BBC documentary on gambling with Louis Theroux (see preview below). The segment features a woman who has lost $4 million over the last 7 years (don't worry, she says she had fun doing it) and a Canadian mattress man who lost somewhere over $250,000 in one weekend. Imagine if these people could lose their money and know that it ultimately wound up going toward a good cause rather than in the pockets of already rich casino owners?

Yes, some NGO would have to abandon a few scruples for such an undertaking (imagine a giant panda next to the Sphinx in Las Vegas). But I wonder if gamblers would have less sense of guilt or defeat if their losses went to a good cause? According to Stewart Brand in the excellent book The Clock of the Long Now:

One of the least reported, least reflected upon trends of the late twentieth century had been the rise of gambling. Growing at a rate of about 20 percent per year through the 1990s in the United States, the amount annually spent on legal gambling passed $700 billion in 1998. About 8 percent of that went to the "house"--$56 billion in profits, bigger than the domestic film and music industries combined. Instead of curtailing the game government joined it, actively teaching citizens to bet unthinkingly. States with lotteries went from one in 1964 to thirty-seven in 1997. The number of addicted gamblers increased accordingly, along with the usual crime, broken families, and suicides. The gaming industry has become a powerful political lobby, buying government acquiescence and media silence.

Let's put some of that casino money toward conservation...

**Update (October 27, 2009): While they are not casinos, apparently the Dutch postcode lottery and the UK postcode lottery are two gambling systems that support local charities.

Watch Louis Theroux - Gambling in Entertainment  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

A preview for Louis Theroux's BBC show on gambling.


More like this

NGO? (Non Greed Organization?)

Gambling for GAIA. Now this would be an interesting human evolution and novel use of capital aggregating entertainment devices. I vaguely remember, that recently some gambling czar was planning on using gambling capital to build a space hotel. Seriously. Hmmm, just imagine if some of that capital could indeed be directed to uplifting the conditions our shared cosmic Earth Hotel.

Question? Would "Gamblers" whose discretionary funds went towards benefitting the whole of society, and our natural environment then be considered role models and heroes? This might even put a whole new confusing spin on the boxed up view of what would be a new era of humanitarian socialized capitalism.

What a "FUN" posting.

By Chris Martell (not verified) on 25 Oct 2009 #permalink

Love it! Great idea. We can all host poker for the earth tourneys.

Since Native American tribes in the U.S. are allowed to have casinos on their lands, I've often thought that conservationists should lobby to extend those privileges to native wildlife. Imagine walking into a park or preserve visitor center and finding slot machines and video poker (wildlife themed, of course - gotta raise environmental awareness in those gamblers!).

The state of Arizona does something close to this already by earmarking a portion of state lottery income to a fund that supports the game & fish and state parks departments.

Awesome idea!

By intercostalwaterway (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

The state of Oregon has been doing this for some time. A portion of their lottery revenue is directed towards conservation work, not to mention K-12 education, and many other things such as building yurts at Oregon state campgrounds. They've got snappy ads and a great tag line ("Oregon Lottery: It does good things"). See http://www.oregonlottery.org/ or

What else is a state with no sales tax to do?

Both Missouri and Arkansas put a portion of the state lottery towards K-12 education.


By Ann Ketchum (not verified) on 14 Dec 2011 #permalink