We are all familiar with the lavish offerings of casino resorts around the world ranging from extravagant entertainment, luxurious accommodations, and decadent dining. But did you know that collective charitable contributions and philanthropic endeavors from the gaming industry total over $1 billion annually?
From supporting local communities to tackling national issues, casinos are increasingly recognized for their positive impact beyond the gaming floor. From donating funds to sponsoring events, casinos actively engage in their communities, addressing diverse needs like education, healthcare, and social services.
The MGM Resorts Foundation has a focus on education, youth empowerment, and workforce development and has awarded over $700 million to communities across the country. Similarly, the Caesars Foundation focuses on community building, education, and environmental sustainability, investing over $100 million annually in local initiatives.
On a national level, casinos contribute to causes addressing critical issues like responsible gambling, addiction prevention, and disaster relief. The American Gaming Association, the national trade association for the casino industry, established the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) in 1996. The NCRG conducts research, develops educational resources, and provides support for responsible gambling initiatives across the country.
When COVID-19 ravished the world, the casino industry donated millions to healthcare organizations and food banks, while also offering financial assistance to their employees and furloughed workers. Additionally, casinos have actively participated in disaster relief efforts following hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters.
With this in mind, we wanted to highlight awesome efforts from some of our supporters around the region and how they contribute to important causes in their respective communities.
North Star Mohican Casino Resort – Bowler, Wisconsin
2023 Habitat for Humanity Golf Outing Raises Almost $24,000
In addition to many other organizations throughout the year, North Star Mohican Casino Resort’s 25th annual golf outing raised nearly $24,000 last year and benefitted the Wolf River Habitat for Humanity and its vision to build strength, stability, and self-reliance for families in Shawano and Menominee counties. The outing took place at Pine Hills Golf Course in Gresham, Wisconsin last August and continued to be a huge success and major fundraiser for the group.
“We are pleased to be hosting the 25th annual Habitat for Humanity Golf Outing at Pine Hills. North Star Mohican Casino’s hosting of the Habitat for Humanity Golf Outing exemplifies our dedication to giving back to the community and supporting important causes” said Tony Granquist, North Star Mohican Casino Resorts General Manager. “Through this partnership, both organizations were able to make a positive impact and raise funds for affordable housing initiatives.”
Local fundraising events are the only financial support that Wolf River Habitat obtains, as it does not receive any monies from the national organization. This year’s event, with the help of North Star Mohican Casino Resort team members, Habitat for Humanity volunteers and numerous companies donating raised approximately $24,000.
Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort – D’Iberville, Mississippi (Gulf Coast/Biloxi Area)
Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort may be one of the newer properties on the Gulf Coast, but they are all-in when it comes to helping the community. Scarlet Pearl Cares was created as the properties philanthropic initiative dedicated to giving back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast community. Throughout the years, the Scarlet Pearl family has raised awareness of key issues while working together to make a difference with several organizations from team members serving on local boards to serving the local community by partnering with over a dozen non-profit organizations to create conversations and establish change on key issues they value the most. The family-owned property identified the importance of their customers, associates, and community as three important core pillars and have been engaging with local charities and philanthropic causes while encourages associates to come up with innovative solutions to social and environmental issues and creates awareness for customers to participate as well.
The property feels that by upholding their support of philanthropic causes/local charities, they are contributing to making a difference in the communities they live and work in and find it rewarding to know they are making a difference. Some of the areas needing the most assistance in the community evolve so they continuously evaluate how they can be the most impactful with their efforts.
Some of the recent groups they have worked with are the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Point Cadet, the Gulf Coast Heart Walk, Out of the Darkness Community Walk on the MS Gulf Coast, Pet’s Sake Rescue in Long Beach, MS with a linen donation, items (diapers, water, sundries, etc.) collected and donated by team members to the victims of the recent tornadoes in the city of Winona, Mississippi, the donation of 1,000 pounds of spaghetti to the City of D’Iberville to aid the March of Mayors Food Drive and Extra Table, that will benefit their partner food pantries across the Gulf Coast and a donation to the Midway Missionary Baptist Church & Health Ministry of Midway MBC disaster relief for the town of Selma after tornados hit Alabama and Georgia. Ms. Debbie, the Hotel Housekeeping Supervisor was instrumental in facilitating this donation and were able to give cases of shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and 256 cases of bottled water.
Pearl River Resort and Bok Homa Casino – Philadelphia, Mississippi
Annual Contributions to American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Clubs and More.
Pearl River Resort and Bok Homa Casino are more than just entertainment destinations, they are committed to being good neighbors, not only to the surrounding community but statewide as well. One of their yearly initiatives is raising funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Employees participated in their annual Paint the Promenade Pink campaign, donating $14,000 to the Mississippi Chapter of the American Cancer Society and the resorts’ family water park, Geyser Falls, donated 2,000 snacks to area youth organizations, including tribal and public schools and the Boys and Girls Clubs. They also partner with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to support Diamond Dreams, a baseball league for special needs children in the community by feeding players, helping them run bases, cheering them on, and providing fireworks to end the season with a bang!
Throughout the year, Pearl River Resort and Bok Homa Casino are proud to participate in annual events and activities, as well as unforeseen needs in the community in times of disaster. They understand the importance of being a part of philanthropic activities and want everyone to know that they are more than a brick-and-mortar building… they are 2,400 members of the community.
Southland Casino Hotel – West Memphis, Arkansas
Property Game Changer initiative benefits Special Olympics Greater Memphis and More.
Southland Casino Hotel has grown their property from a regional greyhound track to a lavish casino resort featuring a luxurious hotel with fine dining, a great casino and more. In addition to growing their gaming footprint, they have also continued to excel with their charitable efforts as well.
Last year in July the property was able to give a check for $20,637 to the Special Olympics Greater Memphis. Through training and competitions in Olympic-style sports, the Special Olympics Greater Memphis’s nonprofit organization spreads the message that people with intellectual disabilities can and will succeed when given the opportunity. The campaign is part of parent company Delaware North’s “Game Changer” initiative across its gaming properties in the United States, with the goal of making a positive change in those local communities.
Guests are encouraged to be a part of their efforts by dropping off items at the property and gifting the change that’s left on a slot voucher at wishing wells, located throughout the casino floor.
“We have a deep appreciation for the work that the Special Olympics Greater Memphis does to help our community,” said Osi Imomoh, general manager and president of Southland Casino Hotel. “And to take it a step further – it’s wonderful to know that we are a part of something even larger, as patrons of other gaming venues within our company’s U.S. portfolio are helping those in need within their respective communities.”
All proceeds of Delaware North’s Game Changer campaign are provided to local organizations focused on creating positive community impact within each participating location. Since September of 2020, the Game Changer program at Southland has raised over $420,000 for the local community. The initial Game Changer campaign raised $41,000 for Hope House Ministries. The second Game Changer campaign for Families in Transition of West Memphis, Ark raised $47,604. The third Game Changer campaign raised $53,984 for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Crittenden County and the fourth campaign for the Children’s Advocacy Center of East Arkansas raised $47,051. The fifth campaign raised $46,427 for the Good Neighbor Love Center in West Memphis, Ark. The sixth campaign raised $44,346 to benefit the Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, TN. The seventh raised $37,349 for the West Cancer Foundation in Memphis, TN, the eighth raised $25,523 for the Jackson Wonder Elementary School and the ninth raised $17,608 the Memphis Child Advocacy Center. And the tenth raised $20,637 for Special Olympics Greater Memphis.
The Game Changer initiative is designed to function throughout the year, with multiple local charities benefiting at each location, including at Southland Casino Hotel.
Challenges and Future Directions
While the casino industry’s commitment to philanthropy is undeniable, it still faces certain challenges. Public perception of the industry can sometimes hinder its philanthropic efforts as the perception doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of the impact that is provided to so many organizations and causes year-round. We commend their efforts and look forward to seeing the impact in 2024 from our friends at casino resorts around the region.
By G. Douglas Dreisbach