One of the biggest focuses in the world for many countries today is climate change. Many nations are looking at what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Most communities are looking towards a safer, more responsible future. This means that they have turned their attention to tackling certain industries. Electric-run vehicles are growing in popularity at a steady rate because of this and businesses are turning their attention to ways that benefit the environment more. Some countries have also turned to wind power in place of fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, the UK government is way behind on its promise to be net zero in due course. According to leaked documents, cabinet ministers have received warnings over this. That is straying a little away from the topic we’re looking into today, though. With so much focus on climate change these days, we wanted to ask about the gambling industry, does it contribute in a big way towards climate change?
If so, what sort of effects does this have on the climate, in a direct or indirect way? We’ll be looking at the possibilities of climate change within the gambling industry. Join us to take a look at gambling and its potential impact on the environment.
Is There an Impact on the Environment from Gambling?
When you think about the gambling industry, you wouldn’t consider it affecting climate change. People are only playing games, right? How can that affect the environment? It’s not like a big factory pumping out harmful emissions from vast chimneys. Yet you need to look beyond what the gambling industry provides to gamers and you may find it surprising that there are certain significant contributions.
Of course, this relates more so to physical gambling venues than online options. Land-based casinos and bookmakers need certain things to operate; supplies like games, tables, the buildings themselves and so on all need producing. The running of these venues is another factor to consider. They demand a lot of energy, which in turn emits greenhouse gases. These gases go into the environment, and there is part of the contribution. According to some research, gambling yields 2% of total carbon dioxide emissions. That has quite a significant impact on the environment.
Besides that, it also has indirect effects. The construction of new casinos will often destroy natural habitats, for example. This leads to biodiversity loss amid fleeing and destroyed wildlife. You may not think it, but gambling is also contributing a lot to water pollution. Significant quantities of wastewater comes from casinos and into waterways and they can include toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals. These can harm the ecosystem and, in course, affect human health.
The consumption of resources within these physical venues contributes in a negative way, meanwhile, the quantity of domestic waste generated within these buildings is significant, too. Paper and plastic are two of the most common products discarded within casinos. Food from the inbuilt eateries and potential lodgings is also discarded this way and that often goes to landfill and remains undigested and rotting away for years.
The number of casinos and other gambling venues differs from country to country. Some locations don’t provide such establishments at all while others have many. They may still incorporate online gambling, though. This does contribute in some ways, but only in a minimal way – especially if online betting companies have green energy in use.
What About Gambling Tourism?
You may not know it, but gambling tourism is a prolific industry today. Many people visit other locations around the world to experience their casinos, and so on. In January of 2022, one tourist won $229,000 in Vegas without even knowing it. Robert Taylor believed the slot machine he played had experienced an error. He had travelled from Arizona to Las Vegas for a gambling holiday.
This type of tourism is especially present in the world of poker. Professional poker players travel all around the world to partake in tournaments and this means they will go from the USA to the UK to the Caribbean to Asia, and so on. That’s a lot of travelling to play poker against various other competitors. Of course, aeroplanes are often highlighted as one of the factors contributing to climate change as they utilise vast amounts of fuel and thousands of flights occur every day of the year. Yet, there is a point to consider with regard to poker players and travelling.
Even if they stopped travelling altogether for poker games, they make up a small number. In the grand scheme of things, people will still go on holiday to different countries. Not everyone is a gambler, after all and while they do contribute in some way, it isn’t quite as much as holidaymakers. As you would expect, these poker tournaments do help to keep venues in business. With players using them, they continue their own addition to climate change.
When you look at everything contributing to climate change, gambling’s contribution is small but this doesn’t mean that it can’t do work to help minimise such effects. It’s only to highlight the fact that there are many other industries with more to do. Climate costs within betting shops, casinos, bingo halls and so on can change, indeed, that is the intent for the near future.
Betting & Gaming Council Leading Change for Net Zero
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is making headway with change in the UK. It is leading the way in what it defines as “levelling up” the country. Or at least, that was the promise back in June of 2022. The BGC said that the industry will generate 15,000 tech jobs within the next five years and at the same time, it is investing in workforces. In a joint report from the BGC and the Purpose Coalition, it made a pledge to create 5,000 apprenticeships. It will also put an extra £20 million to work in training and development programs.
It was also announced in the report that BGC members are helping to harness energy transition. This will help with delivering net zero. William Hill made its own commitment to becoming carbon neutral, meanwhile, Gamesys signed into the UN Global Compact for its part.
By September of 2022, 888 Holdings reported on William Hill’s success. As part of the Environmental, Social and Governance goals, the carbon footprint of the brand has reduced and the company’s emissions have lowered enough to balance out the carbon produced.
To do this, William Hill sourced 100% renewable electricity at all UK sites. The power within all its shops and offices comes from solar, wind and hydro plants and as a result, it has stopped almost 61,500 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Other alterations include low-energy LED lighting throughout the retail side of things. Smart Meters were also rolled out within all William Hill shops in 2020. This allows the company to track its energy consumption. The next goal for the brand is to put in place a strategy for net zero. This falls in line with the UK government’s plan to be net zero by 2050.
Another big-name brand in Entain has committed to being net zero by 2035. It announced that promise in March of 2021, stating it would achieve such 15 years before the 2050 target of the UK. Entain also stated that it had already made significant progress to reduce emissions. Between 2018 and 2021, it looked to lower such by 15%. From that, it achieved the Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon in the UK.
It didn’t take long for various other gambling companies to commit to similar targets. Allwyn said it aims to become the first net zero carbon lottery company by 2030 or earlier. It backed this up by signing the Planet Mark Zero Carbon Commitment pledge. The Kindred Group also mapped out its journey towards net zero. Others launching their own strategies for sustainability include:
- Flutter Entertainment
- 888 Holdings
- European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA)
The Indirect Effects on Climate Change from Gambling
It is true to say that the gambling industry has links to various other sectors. One of the main areas is sports. Bookmakers tend to promote various sports and associated events a lot. That may not seem like an issue on the whole, but sports contribute a significant amount to greenhouse gases.
A report published in 2022 by the United Nations made vast suggestions about the sporting world. It said that “the global sport sector contributes the same level of emissions as a medium-sized country”. It’s easy enough to believe as well. Look at the Rio Olympics in 2016 or the Russia World Cup in 2018, these events resulted in 3.6 million and 2.16 million tons of carbon dioxide, respectively.
More recently, we all saw the events unfolding with the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Over the course of the one-month tournament, 32 teams represented their countries. Yes, the compact nature of the event meant there would be no need for air travel after it started. Yet there were still very significant environmental costs highlighted. Desalination of water, the construction of seven new stadiums, false reports from FIFA on carbon neutrality, and more. These are only a few of the issues surrounding that event but it didn’t stop sportsbooks from promoting it in a big way. That is always the case with vast events of this nature. Bookies know they will generate a lot of profit from bets placed on them and they want to draw gamblers’ attention to such even more so.
Let’s imagine for a moment that gambling wasn’t possible anywhere. This would mean no sponsorship of sporting events, teams or stadiums from the scene. Some people have suggested that this would result in fewer carbon emissions, but there is a flaw in that argument.
Even if gambling wasn’t around, football and other sports likely wouldn’t stop. People would still spend their time enjoying the events as normal. It would be true to say that sports like horse and greyhound racing rely a lot on bettors and they wouldn’t likely falter without the possibility of gambling. Yet big sports like football, tennis, basketball and so on would likely continue. People attend such games for enjoyment, rather than to also always wager on them. You would likely still see the World Cup, Olympics, and so on take place without gambling.
Football itself is one of the biggest contributors to climate change when it comes to sports. The emissions associated with travel, for example, is a big factor. Travelling to and from games or tournaments means many players are often “on the road”. The gambling world has very little, if anything, to do with that. It’s down to the sports themselves to try and curb their own greenhouse gases.
There are many countries in the world that have outright bans on gambling. Take a look at many U.S. states as an example. In 2018, the Supreme Court of the country overturned a law banning sports betting there but even before this time, various sports were growing in popularity in the USA. American Football already had a big following. So too was the case for baseball, basketball and ice hockey. They all continued growing in size, with events taking place at bigger venues and with more spectacle. Not only that, but soccer also grew in a considerable way, always seen as an inferior game to the NFL in the U.S., it has garnered extra followers over the years.
That goes to prove one thing – sports, in most cases, don’t rely on gambling to operate. Yes, they may enjoy the money they get from sponsorships, for example. Yet their carbon emissions have little to do with this or the possibility for sports betting.