Throughout my time working in the online gambling industry, donating to charity has been a constant focus and passion of our companies and leaders.
Raising money for charity is the driver behind several annual industry events such as The BiG Sports Dinner and the International Gaming Awards and our very own Calvin Ayre has raised money for a number of causes including schools in Antigua, hurricane relief in Haiti and typhoon relief in the Philippines via the Calvin Ayre Foundation.
The generosity of our industry is commendable and its my hope we can do even more for those who are in need.
James King is the Group Head of Business Development at iGaming Business, also a well-known and respected personality in the online gambling industry. King has decided to dedicate over one year of his life to intense physical training for the Marathon des Sables (MDS), coined as the “toughest footrace on earth” by the Discovery Channel, all in the name of charity.
In an effort to educate the online gambling industry on what he is doing and about Mencap, the charity he has chosen to run for, King agreed to have a chat with me about what’s happening behind the scenes.
Our conversation began with how in the world King decided embark upon such a challenging and grueling journey.
“A friend a few years ago ‘jokingly’ mentioned that we should run the toughest race on earth and lent me a video of English Olympic rower James Cracknel competing in it to become the fastest ever Brit to finish. It has been on my mind ever since- slowly pushing itself forward until I decided it was time and began the process of getting a place”, King explained.
“Toughest race on earth” doesn’t even begin to describe the physical challenges King will be faced with next April as he runs through the Sahara, not to mention the training he must go through from now until then.
“Each month my regime intensifies as well as the various competitions that I will be taking part in, so far it has not been too bad, but that is just a reflection of month one where I ran three half marathons and a full marathon distance over four weeks (with smaller amounts in between), I have a 46 mile race in May which is constantly at the back of my mind…”, he said.
Alex Pratt, Managing Director of iGaming Business, plans to use his company’s huge communication platform via events, websites, magazines and employees to help spread the word about King’s race to help raise as much money for Mencap as possible.
“I think he is totally crazy!” joked Pratt. “Its not until you actually look at what the race involves that you really appreciate what a challenge it will be….. The distance would alone destroy me but combine that with the heat and desert it comes a ridiculously impressive challenge that needs huge dedication, preparation and focus. Rather him than me!!”
Word of King’s efforts to raise money for Mencap have started to spread through our industry and Andy Jones of AliQuantum Gaming has already jumped on board as a sponsor.
“James is not only an important and highly knowledgeable colleague in the iGaming industry, but he’s also a good mate that I’d support any day. The fact that he’s so ambitious to attempt this extremely difficult race but also endeavoring to raise a lot of money for a great charity really sealed the deal in my decision to go all in on sponsoring him”, Jones shared.
With so many amazing charities out there to choose from, I asked King why he decided to zero in on Mencap in particular.
“Mencap spend every working hour making a positive difference to those with learning disabilities and are a voice for those who otherwise go unheard and every donation raised has a direct impact on those who Mencap support”, King said. He added, “I would like to point out that all charities that work with the MDS are fantastic and offer help and assistance to a huge number of people with differing sufferings and deserve support in the fullest”.
One of the reasons why I love working in the online gambling industry so much is the sense of community that comes along with it. The fact that so many industry professionals are keen on making donations to causes such as King’s is truly something to be proud of.
“What a fantastic industry I/we work in. To have so many people offer support both financially and emotionally has been overwhelming and a huge boost for me, I really don’t know many other industries that get behind “their own” in such numbers”, said King. “I think it is a great reflection on our industry, that can, at times be shed in a negative light in the media, to show that we support and spearhead charitable causes”.
Pratt added, “We work in a sector that is doing extremely well despite tax, regulation, and recessions and as such I think it’s important we give back simply because it’s the right thing to do both at an individual and company level. This could be through sponsorships like this or getting your team to work on a community project, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as we aren’t sitting in a bubble ignoring what’s happening outside of it”.
Jones agreed and said, “I’m a staunch advocate for the iGaming industry and by involving myself, my companies and others within this business in supporting charitable causes and our industry colleagues, I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Giving something back to our communities shines a light on the immensely good side of our business that doesn’t always get a lot of coverage in the press”.
When I informed Ayre of the good work King is doing and how the industry is showing support he commented with, “If you are lucky enough to do well in life, its natural to want to give something back and you often find that the act itself is very rewarding. Personally, through my own Foundation I have met some incredible people and it continues to give me as much pleasure as anything I have done. Anybody undertaking this sort venture should be applauded and we should be proud of our industry for its many charitable endeavours”.