- »Poker Players and Gamers Step Up for Wildfire Relief
Poker Players and Gamers Step Up for Wildfire Relief
The world has been watching as the wildfires burn through Australia. Many people feel helpless, but others have stepped up with monetary donations in an effort to fund whatever relief may be possible.
Seeing as Australia is home to many poker players and gamers, it is no surprise that those communities have launched impressive fundraising efforts to help.
Latest Fire Numbers
Since wildfire season began for Australia in the latter part of July 2019, the increasingly hotter temperatures and drought-like conditions spurred fires beyond the norm.
In the past six months, CNN reported that at least 28 people have died and more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, the latter just in New South Wales. Air quality in most Australian states has been dangerous, with Sydney sometimes measuring in the hazardous territory. Millions of animals have died, with many more in danger due to their destroyed habitats.
Across six states, more than 7.3 million hectares have burned, the majority of 4.9 million in NSW.
Firefighters have flown in from countries like New Zealand, Canada, and the United States to help. Even so, it seems that the fires burn faster than all resources put together can handle it.
Financial Assistance Pours In
Federal and state governments are funding as much of the wildfire efforts as possible. This helps with the military equipment and personnel needed, as well as the firefighting, environmental, and infrastructure costs. There will be cleanup expenses, too.
The costs, however, continue to accumulate.
This has prompted many celebrities and business moguls to donate. Chris Hemsworth and his family donated $1 million, as did Elton John and Kylie Jenner. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban donated $500,000, as did Kylie Minogue, Pink, and Metallica. Those are just a few of the most publicized examples.
Casino mogul James Packer stepped in as well. In November, his Packer Family Foundation donated $1 million. And just this month, his foundation teamed up with the Crown Resorts Foundation to donate another $4 million.
With thousands of employees and businesses ranging from lotteries like The Lott to sports wagering operations like TAB, Tabcorp is known across Australia.
Following the lead of many others, Tabcorp announced that it will donate $1.5 million to emergency services. Further, it will donate all lottery proceeds from the Saturday Lotto draw on January 25.
More than the lump sums of money, though, Tabcorp has also been helping in other ways. Its Keno brands have donated $100,000 to some affected communities to help with hotels and clubs (and employees) affected by fires. Tabcorp also offered open-ended paid leave for volunteers and reservists.
CEO David Attenborough said Tabcorp is providing as much support as possible. “We have partners in pubs, clubs, newsagents, and retail outlets across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia that have been devastated.”
Gamers Raise Funds
Online gamers are known to raise money for worthy causes, and with so many gaming streamers living in Australia, it seemed natural to help with bushfire relief.
According to Kotaku, gaming influencers and streamers have raised more than $350,000 to donate to volunteer organizations, shelters, and wildlife rescue groups.
Much of that came from three players – Kathleen Belsten, Nathan Ryan, and Fasffy – who raised more than $318,000 for the fire associations in the four primary states with fires, the Red Cross, and Wires (NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue). What started as a goal of $15,000 was quickly surpassed.
More gamers continue to raise money.
Poker Players Step Up
Many poker players and fans know Lynn Gilmartin, on-camera host for the World Poker Tour. Those who know her also know several things about her: She is charitable and generous; she loves animals; and she loves her home country of Australia.
When Gilmartin traveled to her hometown of Melbourne at the time of the Aussie Millions, a massive poker series at the Crown Casino in Melbourne this month, she was taken aback by the smoke and devastation.
Her original goals were surpassed quickly, so she set a goal of raising $50,000 for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, an organization launched by Steve Irwin’s family for animal conservation. Gilmartin’s new goal has already been surpassed as well (in just five days), with the donation total as of the publication of this article was $64,330.
“The generosity we’ve seen from the poker community for so many causes over the years has been extraordinary,” Gilmartin wrote on the Facebook page established for the cause. “Now, Australia needs some of that kindness.”
Gilmartin has inspired many poker players to pledge portions of their winnings at the Aussie Millions and playing online poker in the coming weeks. While poker players are always seemingly giving to various charities, the devastation in Australia and personalization of the disaster by Gilmartin has inspired many to donate more than usual.