Manx E-Gaming Companies With A Big Heart
By Warwick Bartlett
The Isle of Man is the proud home of three of the world’s major internet gambling companies: Celton Manx, owner of the world’s largest sports book SBOBET; PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room; and Microgaming, the largest provider of gambling software services.
With size and prestige comes corporate responsibility, and all three companies have a remarkable record in what they do for good causes, both locally and internationally.
In 2002 Microgaming established its Health and Care Trust to support Manx-registered charities and local health and social care projects. To date Microgaming has donated more than £700,000 to the Trust and supported over 50 charities.
The Trust has subsidised the purchase of over 20 life-saving defibrillators for businesses across the island and defibrillators are now available in post offices, dental practices and company offices. The Trust has supported environmental projects with the agricultural community, and in 2012 alone it has purchased an Ultrasound Scanner, Phototherapy Fibre Optic System, and a Panda Infant Resuscitating Monitor for Noble’s Hospital.
Roger Raatgever, Microgaming’s Chief Executive, is a keen sportsman, so supporting Isle of Man sport is an obvious choice.
The list of giving is endless, but one important donation needs a mention – Microgaming is donating £20,000 a year, for three consecutive years, to the Isle of Man’s Drug Advice Service Helpline (DASH).
Roger Raatgever said: “We are delighted to be able to support DASH, as it provides such an important service for the local community. As a local company we are committed to the wellbeing of the island’s residents, so we are pleased to be able to make this donation.”
PokerStars takes charity seriously and the company has recently recruited Sue Hammett from Orange to head up its Corporate Giving Department. PokerStars is a consumer-facing business and this is reflected in its approach to charity, which is organised on an international basis.
The company has eight international charity committees run by local employees in their regional offices, including its head office on the Isle of Man, along with Australia, Costa Rica, London, Dublin France, Italy and Malta. Each committee has an annual budget and supports projects that are relevant to the local community. In Costa Rica, for example, part of the budget went on building a brand new school, while on the Isle of Man the local committee supported numerous charities and projects across the island.
On a global level, some support has also been there to react to international disasters. Funds have been raised across communities from players and employees (with PokerStars matching donations) for both the Chinese Earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. PokerStars has also worked closely with a charity in Latin America which supports young people in obtaining an education and has also kept the wheels turning on the Isle of Man mobile library, which was facing closure due to government cuts.
Sue Hammett will now be focusing on developing a new framework of community investment for the company that will focus on two areas of its business – ‘Our People and Our Communities’.
Two new themes are to be adopted for PokerStars’ global support – ‘health and wellbeing’ with particular focus on sporting excellence, and education projects that focus on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) so as to enable young people to fulfil their potential.
Talking to Sue about the budget PokerStars had set aside for next year, she said: “We have supported hundreds of projects over the years, not for any PR benefit, but simply because as a responsible business and employer, it is the right thing to do. There is also a desire from our players to support deserving causes and I look forward to continuing our work in this area – not just through financial support, but also utilising our skills and those of our employees in making a tangible difference.”
Bill Mummery heads up Celton Manx on the Isle of Man and is known to everyone. Mummery is known for hosting tables at practically every charity event on the island but, more than that, he has sponsored events to raise money for Cancer Research, the Manx Blind Welfare Society, and the local hospice, the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the RNLI, and British Red Cross. The list is endless.
While travelling between airports Mummery read an article about a Manx girl called Molly Flynn from Ramsey who was suffering from a life-limiting disease. Her parents had contacted the charity ‘Wish Upon a Dream’ about Molly’s dream to visit Euro Disney in Paris. A local policeman was to run the Belfast marathon to raise money for her and Mummery stepped in. He called up the parents and offered his home and car in Orlando for three weeks so the entire family could go to Disneyworld Florida.
I think that says more than anything about Bill Mummery and the people in the gambling industry.
Gambling companies very often get a bad press and a lot of the reasons for that are based on faulty assumptions, poor facts and downright bias. I have been in the business for 40 years and the people I have dealt with are the best. They are honourable in their dealings with people and they are generous to others, as this article demonstrates.
If your gambling company does big things for charity, GBGC would like to hear from you.