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Gambling for Charity - a multi-million dollar business

Published on November 1, 2014, 4:10 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

Allied Charities of Minnesota (logo)Ask anyone who has ever hit the jackpot at a casino or online site: gambling is a fun way to make money. With the advent of online casino games, this activity is not just about personal gain anymore. Charities in Minnesota and other areas of the world are looking to cash in on the financial advantages of online charity gambling.

A recent meeting hosted by Allied Charities of Minnesota, or ACM, in June 2013 educated local fund-seeking groups about ways in which they can use online gaming software to generate revenue for their organizations.

Al Lund, the director of ACM, issued a statement extolling the possibilities that online games bring to charities seeking funding. The meeting included representatives from the Minnesota Gaming Control Board, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, and the state's Department of Revenue. The meeting was financially backed by the Minnesota Vikings, the state's professional football team based in Minneapolis, who donated prizes including a 12-person suite to their opening game in September.

Online Charity Gambling in the U.S.: Exempt from Anti-Gambling Laws

At first glance, it may seem preposterous that people in states with strict gambling laws like Minnesota could hop on the Internet and participate in slot-like games for charity. Despite not always with good intentions (as happened in this story), gambling in the name of a needy cause is legal - even in some restricted states through special legal clauses. To be sure, live bingo and in-the-flesh raffles are the most common types of betting exempted by these laws, but charitable online gambling is also gaining favor with people in states like Minnesota. In fact, this type of online gaming is not an American phenomenon. Websites promoting the activity may be found in other countries, as well.

In a nutshell, there are free, easily accessible casino-like websites on which people can play slot-like games for money, regardless of the laws in their state or country. The money does not go to them, of course; it goes to a beneficiary group. One of these sites, based in the United States, is

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About American

At, gamblers choose from four different groups they would like to support with their winnings. The choices are: the American Cancer Society, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. After selecting which charity they wish to support, users choose between casino games, poker, horse racing, and sports betting. Upon creating a membership, players deposit money into their account via credit card and are free to enjoy the games immediately. promises that a minimum of 5-40 percent of the house's win will be donated to a player's chosen organization.

Paf: Online Slots and Games for Needy Finnish

Betting with a cause is not unique to the United States. Paf, an organizations whose profits serve the Finnish province of Aland, was founded in 1966 by the Finnish public health service, the Red Cross, and several Finnish child welfare associations. Since its inception, Paf has evolved into an online site,, on which registered users can play poker, backgammon, slots, and other live casino games which benefit the Paf organization. Users wager money via credit card or bank transfer; their loss is Paf's gain. Paf's simple, yet inviting, slogan is, “Play among friends.” for UK and Irish Gamblers is an Irish betting site stemming from the the Rehab Group, a real-time organization benefiting those with physical, mental, and intellectual handicaps in Finland.

The “Bingo for Good” program donates thousands of dollars each month to more than 50,000 disabled people across Ireland. Site visitors can choose from nine virtual bingo rooms, online slots, and other casino games, resting assured that their proceeds will be donated to people suffering with problems ranging from autism to traumatic brain injury to quadriplegia.

Online Charity Gambling Yields Less-Than-Stellar Results for Minnesota Vikings

Although online charity gambling may sound like a great idea, one that would satisfy a gambler's itch while simultaneously generating revenue for a worthy cause, it does not always yield the hoped-for results. The state of Minnesota had originally planned to earn $34 million in 2012 in the form of revenue from online charity gambling. The cash ($348 millions) was to be applied to a brand new Minnesota Vikings stadium. This financial goal was not attained, however, and Minnesota's state government found themselves in a pickle they hadn't expected: the gambling charities they had been using did not earn enough money to fill their need.

Minnesota Charity Gambling: Slow but Sure

Minnesota governor Mark DaytonWhen Minnesota governor Mark Dayton realized that the games weren't going to fund the stadium as quickly as hoped, he found alternate ways of temporarily footing the stadium bill. The bulk of the project is still expected to be paid by the charities; it will just take longer than expected. In July 2013, ACM is expected to host a state tour in which helping groups in different Minnesota cities will be able to preview the charitable online games and software available for their use. ACM CEO Lund hopes the tour will stimulate sales of the games, therefore increasing revenue which the state can apply to the Vikings' new stadium.

Online gambling is one unique way for service-oriented organizations to earn money. People who enjoy slots and other games (play for fun on this page), can get their gambling fix while also feeling good about the money they are wagering. Different states in the U.S. have different rules governing online gambling for a cause; overall, the restrictions are more lax than in regular, person-centered gambling.

Globally, this type of online gambling is used by countries like Finland and Ireland to serve physically, mentally, and socially handicapped people who are struggling. Although this type of fundraiser may yield smaller profits than good old fashioned gambling, it is a slow-but-sure method for worthy causes to receive some funding.


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