Today’s world is all about trying to better ourselves and combat climate change on the planet. This is evident with the recent COP 26 conference that was held in Glasgow with world leaders from the vast majority of countries. The United Kingdom has pledged to give £290 million in order to help poorer countries manage their own climate change problems, and this is just one of the moves decided upon after the conference. And while it is true that we, as the general public, can all do our own bit to help where climate change is concerned, it is also the case that big companies need to do something, too.
And it is at this point that we turn towards carbon neutral gambling. A few companies have already turned their attention towards promoting this type of gambling, but what exactly does it entail? Online companies should be able to manage this effectively enough, as they don’t have large physical establishments to host their games, but rather offices for customer support and so on. Websites and servers take up a lot of energy but these can be run on clean energy that would pretty much bring carbon emmissions from online gambling close to zero. The bigger side of things will come from the land-based gambling scene. What can these companies and operators do to ensure they are providing the best type of carbon neutral gambling to people? After all, some of the big gambling hubs such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City utilise a lot of power to operate.
The main question is how are these companies going to achieve their carbon neutral status? And will this have any effect on the people looking to play the games within their establishments? Is there something more compelling about playing games at such a casino over one that isn’t carbon neutral? Let’s take a closer look at carbon neutral gambling and how companies are intending to go about it.
Lottoland Commits to Carbon Neutral Gambling
The Climate Pledge is something that was introduced in 2019, as part of a collaboration between Global Optimism and Amazon. Participants engaging in this have stated that they will commit to having a zero-carbon footprint by 2040. This stands out as being a timeframe 10 years sooner than the one committed to within the Paris Agreement. Even an NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, will be playing games within the Climate Pledge Arena based in their home city. Even fans will be expected to commit to zero carbon emissions within the arena.
Yet, Lottoland, which is the leading German lottery operator, was announced as the first ever gambling operator to become a part of the pledge on November 3. It has now been united alongside 200 organisations that are also committing themselves to becoming carbon neutral by 2040. However, Lottoland achieved a carbon neutral status by collaborating with Tunley Engineering – a climate reduction consultancy.
Through this collaboration, Lottoland better understand the carbon cost that is related to energy use, water, and business travel. And with the knowledge it now possesses, the company can make better decisions regarding future plans, to ensure it operates in a much more ethical way.
In joining the Climate Pledge, Lottoland has agreed to three specific action areas. They are:
- Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a frequent basis.
- Create credible offsets in order to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
- Implementation of decarbonisation strategies in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Speaking of the gambling brand’s addition to the Climate Pledge, the CEO of Lottoland, Nigel Birrell said that his company “is thrilled to achieve carbon-neutral status”. He went on to stress that the company remains committed when it comes to being mindful of the environment, including both customers and employees.
Lottoland operates in a variety of countries across the world, including the United Kingdom, Hungary, Italy, India, South Africa, Mexico, Australia and Sweden, amongst others. But will other companies follow in its footsteps? And what about the land-based companies with large establishments to operate?
What About Big Casino Cities Like Las Vegas?
If you’ve ever seen a city like Las Vegas and all of its illuminated casinos, then you’ll probably at least be subconsciously aware of the power that it must take to provide such to visitors. But it’s not just the mass of bright lights in action that Las Vegas features. It also has a mass of fountains running, a plethora of places to eat and drink and dance, all of the machines inside to power, and more. Could it really be possible for such a place to become carbon neutral with so much going on?
Carbon neutrality is without a doubt becoming much more important in today’s world. Casinos haven’t really been explored in a big way yet. Yet some brands have taken steps towards cutting their carbon footprint already. The main goal behind becoming carbon neutral is to try and avoid all carbon created by human activity. Some companies have the possibility of switching to greener energy, like solar power. If it is not possible to remove carbon at the source though, companies need to try and offset it instead. This is something that can be done by planting more trees, which convert CO2 into oxygen.
With regard to solar power, some casinos in Las Vegas have already had panels installed on their roofs to take advantage of this. The largest casinos, which tend to be the largest where pollution is concerned, have vast roof spaces to be able to utilise such for solar panels. These establishments require vast amounts of electricity to power not only the slot machines within, but the crystal chandeliers, the neon signs, even down to things like hand dryers in the toilets. Therefore, committing to using solar power is a large contribution to carbon neutrality.
MGM Resorts in Las Vegas launched a 100 Mega Watt Solar Array in early 2021, being one of the global leaders in the battle against climate change. This serves as the hospitality industry’s largest directly sourced renewable electricity project across the world. Through this, up to 90% of the daytime power in the MGM Resorts establishment in Las Vegas comes.
The MGM brand has a long-term climate strategy in place, too. Back in 2016, the brand decided to make the transition to distribution-only service from the local utility grid. This was done primarily so that it could take control of the energy future and utilise renewable power as a main source of energy. Then, in 2017, the company committed to reducing its scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions per square foot by 45% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
One of the most effective ways for a casino to reduce its carbon footprint is to move its operation online. This provides an easy way for many people to access the various games, and it become a lot more environmentally friendly to run. And you can also get a high-quality experience akin to that which you get from a land-based establishment. The carbon output of a casino is removed altogether, and the only emissions come from those people responsible for the running of the website and the customer support sector. The problem is that some people don’t want to play their favourite casino games online, and instead prefer visiting a land-based establishment. The social aspect of casino gaming is not as high when it comes to online sites.
Another issue that is connected to land-based casinos is the fact of food waste. Resort casinos often come with buffets for visitors to utilise, and this can often result in a lot of food being left and subsequently wasted. Food produces methane as it decomposes, which is a greenhouse gas that is a lot more dangerous than CO2 when it comes to the atmosphere. Some of the bigger casinos have taken notice of this though and have started integrating ideas to combat such. MGM, for example, has sought out ways of distributing leftover food to the homeless and hungry across cities where their establishments exist. Any food that isn’t fit for redistribution is directed to composting schemes in order to generate soil for micro-herbs to be grown in. Vegetable matter left behind is transported to farms for animals, while leftover cooking oil is turned into biofuel to run vehicles in a more efficient way.
All of these efforts could definitely be echoed by other casinos within the Las Vegas area, and beyond. Locations like Macau, London, Monaco, Atlantic City, and so on could take notice of these routines and integrate them into their own setups.
Vegas Already Affected by Increasing Temperatures
It has already been noted that Las Vegas has a lot to consider when it comes to the climate crisis. It has been marked as the fastest-warming city in the United States of America. Temperatures there have increased by 5.76F since 1970. That may not seem like much of a rise, but it has been enough to affect various parts of the city. A study in June of 2019 by the Las Vegas Desert Research Institute discovered that there was a definitive correlation between heatwaves and heat-related deaths in southern Nevada. Both of these, the organisation said, are on the rise. Experts suggest that Vegas could experience 96 days of heat above 100F by the end of the century, if global action isn’t taken.
Casinos in Vegas have made environmental sustainability a priority in recent years, alongside hotels on the Strip. Much of the energy running through the Bellagio, Luxor and New York, New York establishments also comes from solar arrays based in the Mojave Desert, in a similar vein to MGM Resorts.
And while it would be ideal for businesses to move their casino operations online, this remains illegal throughout a lot of the United States. Legislation hasn’t moved in a great way towards legalising such in many U.S. states and various other countries. And it was for this reason that Nevada looked to increase the proportion of renewable energy it can use with the solar panels. Could a change in law be of any help to the climate crisis?
Well, possibly so. Although, many states and even the Federal Government of the United States have rallied against the legalisation of online casino gambling. And this has led to gambling companies taking things into their own hands. Caesars in Vegas has a three-scope climate plan of its own, which involves replacing the largest portion of its lights with LED bulbs, installing 2,000 of its own solar panels, and more. At the same time, it has turned to its suppliers to improve on their own environmental practices. This, Caesars says, has reduced its emissions by 23.7% when compared with 2011.
Outside of the United States though, countries such as New Zealand have turned to making radical improvements on their climate problems. SkyCity Entertainment, for example, has pledged to be carbon neutral in the coming years. A 38% reduction in emissions by 2030 is expected to occur, thanks to the positive change.
Will People Want to Visit Carbon Neutral Casinos?
Will there be any difference between a carbon neutral casino and a standard one other than the source of power etc.? Well, the likelihood is that they will run just as effectively after some initial niggles. Naturally, the largest casinos, like the Hippodrome in London and the masses of establishments in Atlantic City and Vegas, will have the most work to do. Being the biggest brands means that there is a lot more to focus on.
That being said, if renewable energy and other routes lead to a reduction in carbon emissions while still providing the same sort of gaming experience, why wouldn’t you visit such a casino? After all, that would lead to you doing your part. You could travel to one in public transport rather than use your own car, too. That would reduce your carbon footprint event more. There is nothing that would specifically suggest that a carbon neutral casino would provide a dramatically different experience for the gamer than one that isn’t carbon neutral. The decision rests entirely in the hands of the operators and whether they are taking the climate crisis seriously or not.