How Have Online Casinos Helped Improve the Environment?
Online casinos have been quite a in vogue in recent years. The sector has evolved from a niche market to a thriving global industry.
Much-touted for their convenience, practicality, and environmental upsides, online gambling operators have seen significant expansion in the past two decades. So, have online casinos helped improve the environment?
To expand upon this topic, we have Nina Olsendburg, an author and senior contributor for odds sider. Ms Olsendburg boasts broad expertise in topics including the online gambling industry and sustainability impact analysis.
Online Casinos & Carbon Emissions
Next, let’s examine the case for greener gambling. We’ll look at carbon emissions, a standard measure of environmental impact, across traditional casino models.
Impact on Emissions: Consumer Side
Carbon emissions for the gambling industry can be divided into consumer-side and provider-side emissions. Consumers make up a sizable portion of the emissions generated by the traditional gambling industry.
For example, the average US Midwest consumer drives more than 121 miles (194 km) to visit a land-based casino. According to the EPA, the average car emits around 411 grams of CO2 per mile driven. That’s almost 100 kg of CO2 for an average casino round trip.
That’s without taking into account any additional emissions produced by consumers visiting a casino. For instance, casinos with hotels and amenities have guests engaging in activities with a large carbon footprint.
High-emission amenities include heated indoor swimming pools and athletic courts. Visiting the casino spa is another way to rack up a significant carbon footprint. The spa industry is notoriously taxing on the environment.
The online casino industry, in stark contrast, cuts back on all these emissions. Consumers rarely have a reason to leave their home to gamble. This aspect alone significantly reduces the consumer-side emissions of the gambling industry.
Impact on Emissions: Provider Side
Consumer-side emissions are only the tip of the iceberg for the casino industry. On the provider side of the equation, emissions are even more significant and often less visible.
On the one hand, you have the sizable emissions involved in clearing land, developing infrastructure and building a sprawling casino complex. This is typically concrete-and-steel construction, burdened by the steep environmental costs of cement.
Adding to that, staffing a casino requires mobilising thousands of people, day in and day out. While public transportation could reduce this environmental cost, few cities have legal casinos and extensive public transit networks. Thus, most employees drive to and from work.
Furthermore, casinos often feature a range of full-blown restaurants and eateries. Guests often receive complimentary food, drinks, and services, all of which add to the provider’s overall carbon footprint. It’s hard to estimate their exact impact, though.
Conversely, online casinos do away with all these added environmental costs. Best of all, consumers aren’t shortchanged in the process. Welcome bonuses and promotions replace complimentary dinners and drinks.
Sustainability & Online Casinos
Online casinos clearly have many structural advantages in terms of environmental costs compared to traditional gambling establishments. However, they can also introduce new sources of environmental costs. Let’s take a look at the overall sustainability of online casinos.
All businesses consume energy. Land-based casinos gobble up power to keep the lights on, the A/C running, the pool warm, and machines operational. Online casinos use energy to power their websites, servers, storage, and security features, among others.
Thanks to the economies of scale, energy consumption for online casinos tends to be reasonably low per capita. Using cloud-based solutions allows online betting sites to offer the same services as traditional casinos at a fraction of the environmental cost.
That fails to tell the whole story, though. The online betting industry isn’t evenly distributed across the globe. Some countries have pretty sustainable power grids. Online casinos based in these jurisdictions will consequently have a far smaller carbon footprint.
For example, Norske Casinoer is based in Norway. 98% of the energy produced in Norway comes from renewable sources (mostly hydroelectric generation). Thus, the environmental cost of online casinos in Norway is orders of magnitude below similar casinos elsewhere.
Efficient use of land is another important pillar of sustainability. The land is a preciously limited resource. Every acre cleared for industrial and commercial use is a tremendous loss. Undeveloped land has huge potential for housing, agricultural and ecological uses.
This is perhaps one area where online casinos offer the biggest improvement over traditional brick-and-mortar business models. Casinos can often take up anywhere from an entire city block to more than 100,000 sq ft (or about 10,000 m2).
They take up sizable real estate in rural areas, often in prime locations with excellent access to roads and infrastructure. In urban environments, they take away space from public housing and nature-filled parks, perennial necessities of the modern city.
Conversely, online casinos have tremendous geographic reach with virtually nonexistent land use. Cloud-based warehoused solutions have minimal relative land use, and many data centres aren’t on land to begin with.
Online casinos live up to their green reputation. With reduced carbon emissions, energy consumption and land usage, online casinos make gambling more sustainable.