Playing for a Purpose:
Integrating Classic Casino Games into CSR Strategies through Poker Philanthropy

Exercising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be neither a challenge nor a chore. Doing the right thing and giving back to our community resonate with most people. Extending that, and the corresponding positive image it reflects, to businesses should be a natural step. CSR is high on business agendas globally, but in Australia especially, there are a growing number of initiatives surrounding classic casino games like poker.

Poker players – are not charitable… right?
Poker pros have a reputation for being hard-nosed and selfish – but that is all part of the “front” that is a prerequisite for success at the poker table. A ruthless streak is essential and being a “nice guy” would be as disastrous here as it would be in the boxing ring. 

Poker pros are as human as any of us away from the heat of battle. After the devastating bushfires of 2020, Australia’s poker playing community rallied. Australian World Poker Tour presenter Lynn Gilmartin set up the “Poker Players for Australian Wildlife” campaign on Facebook, and it raised $50,000 in five days.

There are similar stories from the poker community across the globe. Raising for Effective Giving (REG), won “Charitable Initiative of the Year” at the European Poker Awards in 2014. Co-founded by Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, Philipp Gruissem, and Stefan Huber, REG sets out to make the most significant possible impact through philanthropy by injecting resources into those charities that deliver the biggest impact. Since its establishment 10 years ago, REG has raised over $14 million for charities, including $6 million to alleviate global poverty, $3 million for animal welfare, and $3.5 million to prevent risks from emerging technologies.

Poker and pokie philanthropy for all
You don’t have to be Daniel Negreanu or Liv Boeree to get involved in poker philanthropy. The Australian example demonstrates that a passion for gambling and a willingness to give generously to a good cause are not mutually exclusive. 

Whether it’s playing online pokies in Australia for real money or Texas Holdem around the table, it is relatively simple to set aside a proportion of the funds for charity while still leaving enough in the pot for the winner to scoop a reward, too. It might sound novel, but using gambling games to raise money for a worthy cause is a concept that goes back hundreds of years. 

According to popular legend, Chinese Emperor Cheung Leung invented the gambling game of Keno to raise funds for renovation work on the Great Wall of China about 2,200 years ago. In recent years, national lotteries worldwide have generated billions for worthy causes while also making millionaires of some lucky jackpot winners. 

Setting up a charity poker event is a great way to raise money for a good cause, have some fun, and demonstrate your business’s philanthropic credentials. Celebrity poker nights often hit the headlines, and if you happen to have Kylie Minogue or Jack Black on your speed dial list, then all the better. But star power is not a prerequisite for a successful charity poker night.

A poker tournament can raise anything from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Depending on the size of the event, you can factor costs and overheads into the ticket price. Ensure vendors and suppliers know it’s a charity event. They might like to help with free or discounted services in return for having their brands associated with the event. 

There is a lot to think about, but make sure you give enough attention to poker itself. Texas Holdem is the most popular format, so that’s usually the best choice. Ticket sales will be the main source of revenue, but consider any extra ways you can raise money for charity. At the same time, you have everyone together, such as a raffle or sign-up opportunities for long-term support. 

Are you looking to host your own charity poker event?

Chicago Charitable Games (CCG) is a Marketing and Event Planning Company dedicated to charitable games events. Chicago Charitable Games has been working with non for profits promoting their charity poker events since 2006. We currently promote over 200 charity poker events each year, and work with a wide range of of charitable organizations. Contact us today for more information on how we can maximize your fundraising abilities on your next event!