The philanthropic efforts of gamblers and those in the gambling business too often go unnoticed by the mainstream media. But two recent articles shone a little more light on this aspect of gambling, and deserve a little extra promotion. The Kyiv Post recounted the difficulties the Ukraine faced in financing the nation’s first independent Olympic squad in the mid-1990s. The Soviet Union had supplied the vast bulk of funding for Ukrainian athletes, but when Communism collapsed, so did the funding. Enter Harry Bowman, a Ukrainian by birth and owner of Bowman’s Sports Betting. Upon learning of the Ukraine’s challenges, Bowman cut a $1.3m check, to date the single biggest donation ever received by the country’s National Olympic Committee.
More recently, Rhode Island’s Providence Journal detailed a similarly generous donation made to Boston’s Tufts Medical Center via the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. John Davis, a 67-year-old self-described “expert in gambling” and personal friend of former Boston Bruins hockey great (and current team president) Neely, had previously donated $150k to Neely’s foundation. But Davis made a promise to Cam’s brother Scott ahead of the most recent National Hockey League playoffs. “I said, “if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, I’ll give the Foundation a million dollars.”
True to his word, Davis cut the check following the Bruins’ victory over the Canucks, although he confesses that, having made the promise, he would have donated the money win or lose. Davis, who is presently in remission from his personal battle with multiple myeloma (bone cancer), has been gambling his entire life, and has even acted as a consultant in criminal cases involving gamblers. Other causes that have reaped the rewards of Davis’ betting know-how include a non-profit golf course in Providence that serves disadvantaged children, an organization that provides scholarships for students who work at golf courses, and Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium, for which Davis provided a new scoreboard. So what spurs Davis to give so much back? “Success not shared is the ultimate failure.” Here here.