Biggest Casino Donations to Fight Covid19

Angie Harper - EditorAngie Harper - 27 April 2020 in Features
Biggest Casino Donations to Fight Covid19

Some of the world’s biggest gambling companies have shown how serious they are about social responsibility practices and pledged millions to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not only their own workers and industries that they are looking after. In many cases, the casino groups have made sizable donations to world health organizations and local governments who are still desperately trying to get COVID-19 under control.

Chinese Gambling Companies Make First Coronavirus Pledges

In February, when the seriousness of the virus and its potential effects on life and industries was only sinking in, gambling companies such as Meg-Star Group and Melco Resorts and Entertainment took the first step. The groups said that they would be donating money to help the city which was at the heart of the outbreak – Wuhan in China.

Meg-Star, which is based in Macau and operates nine VIP gaming rooms in the gambling enclave, was quick to establish a charity, known as the Meg-Star International Charity Association. Through this charity, the group created the Wuhan Coronavirus Special Fund and provided $1.24 million to kickstart the fund. The money collected was used to buy medical supplies for Wuhan and other Chinese cities hit by the virus.

Melco Resorts and International also made a donation of $2.6 million for Wuhan and Hubai, and boosted local communities and health workers’ expenses with the funds.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Melco, the prominent gambling industry personality, Lawrence Ho, said: “Our thoughts are with the people of Wuhan and Huei, and all those who are impacted by the new strain of the coronavirus. We hope this donation helps accelerate the preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus.”

How US Casinos are Helping the Fight Against COVID-19

Las Vegas is one of the cities to have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. Casinos in the city have been shut for several weeks and it remains unclear when they might be able to open up their doors to customers again, with lockdown conditions in the city having been extended. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs in Nevada are said to be at risk.

A Nevada task force that was quickly set up to help fight COVID-19 raised some $10 million in a matter of days, while casinos across Vegas have been converted into coronavirus food banks. Boulder Station Hotel & Casino is among the unused sites that have turned into food banks in recent weeks and Station Casinos donated $1 million to the Nevada COVID-19 task force. Station Casinos chairman and CEO Frank Fertitta III and the company's vice chairman Lorenzo Fertitta have also confirmed they will be giving up their salaries until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Three Square, which is part of nonprofit Feeding America, has reported queues of several miles at food banks as people struggle to find enough money to eat well due to the ongoing crisis. Some 1.3 million pounds of food is being distributed by the Three Square food bank in Vegas, which is a rise of around 30 per cent on data from before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Other casino companies have stepped up by making donations too. Among them is the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, which donated cell phone chargers and medical equipment including thousands of pairs of gloves and face masks to Northern Nevada Medical Center.

Away from Nevada, $2 million was donated by Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino to the All Together New Mexico Fund, with the cash going towards local charities and food banks.

COVID-19 Relief Efforts Headlined By MGM

MGM Resorts, one of the biggest casino companies in Vegas, has also donated thousands of pounds of food to Three Square - the equivalent of meals for 400,000 people.

"In battling the current global crisis, at MGM Resorts we intend to embrace humanity, exemplify inclusion and exhibit compassion. Our commitment to our employees and the communities in which we operate, conduct business and serve our customers, remains steadfast," said Jyoti Chopra, the senior vice president and chief diversity and sustainability officer for MGM.

Freezer and refrigeration units were also handed over by MGM to the University Medical Center (UMC) of Southern Nevada from its Mandalay Bay casino site to aid with COVID-19 rapid test storage. Furthermore, MGM has been working with its global arm in China to deliver hundreds of items of personal protective equipment such as gloves and gowns.

"By leveraging our supply chain, we can help source critical items that are in high demand," said the senior vice president and chief procurement Officer for MGM Resorts International Stacey Taylor in a statement.

The Effect of Coronavirus on Global Casinos

Gambling companies all over the globe are being significantly affected by the virus, and not many are in the position to make big donations.

Casinos and betting shops have closed down in many countries and operators have taken a major blow to their income as a result. There is also no end in sight in countries such as the United States and the UK until lockdown is lifted, and places can go back to operating again.

Even if casinos are allowed to operate once more, they will need to take serious steps to contain the spread of the virus. This means allowing less customers onto their premises and other measures that will eventually add to less profits overall.

Bet365 Makes Large Donation to COVID-19 Relief

At the beginning of April, Bet365 chief executive Denise Coates made a £10 million donation to the UK's National Health Service to support staff fighting the virus. Bet365 made the donation to University Hospitals of North Midland, which also covers the area from where Bet365 operates, Stoke-on-Trent. Coates said that the Bet365 charity foundation in her name felt that it “had to step forward… to see what we could do to help.”

Some of the money donated will be invested in technology to help improve communication between doctors, patients and families. It will also be used to invest in mental health and social care services in the community. This, said Coates, was “to support them to support us”.

Another portion of the money is being put towards cases that are not necessarily connected to coronavirus, such as cancer care, which has been seriously affected by the pandemic too.

“We are extremely grateful to the Denise Coates Foundation for this significant grant to support our staff and patients during COVID-19 and beyond,” said the chief executive of University Hospitals of North Midlands, Tracy Bullock.

In the meantime, Bet365 also vowed to pay its entire workforce for at least the next five months, promising that no jobs would be lost during that time period.

Other VIPs who have made substantial donations to fighting COVID-19:

  • Vladimir Potanin – owner of Norilsk Nickel, pledged $142 million.
  • Viktor Rashnikov – will provide $6.8 million to healthcare in Magnitorgorsk, Russia.
  • The Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor - will donate $12.5 million to UK coronavirus relief efforts. This is the second multi-million donation that the Duke has made this year.
  • David Tepper - The owner of the Carolina Panthers has given $22 million towards pandemic relief efforts.
  • Netflix power-couple, Reed Hastings and Patty Quillin - donated $30 million to Bill and Melinda Gates’ non-profit immunization organization.
  • Phil Knight – Nike co-founder, donated $10 million toward response efforts.
  • George and Amal Clooney – donated $1 million for coronavirus relief efforts.