What are poker operators doing to make their live events more sustainable? Is it high enough up the priority list to even matter to these multi-million dollar…

What are poker operators doing to make their live events more sustainable? Is it high enough up the priority list to even matter to these multi-million dollar corporations? If it isn’t making top billing, then why not? Like activist Greta Thunberg says, “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

So let’s get a rocket up our arse and take responsibility for what we can change before there is nothing left of the house to save.

In this new editorial series, pokerfuse is taking a closer look at what poker operators are doing to make their live events more sustainable and a little bit more green.

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The World Series of Poker has spoken about its “Code Green” initiative and wide recycling scheme, whereas online poker operator partypoker has spoken about its wish to cut carbon emissions at all of its events.

Now we take a look at the biggest online poker operators of them all, PokerStars, as Marta Norton, Director of Live Events, takes time out of her schedule to talk to us about putting on sustainable live events and on the face of it, they are doing more than the rest combined.

“Sustainability changes are always part of the discussion because we know we’re not perfect. We do a lot, but there’s always more that can be done. So, we look for ideas where we can. We talk to our customers at events and we talk to our venues and suppliers, and where we can make changes we do.”

“For example, to be environmentally conscious we recently stopped printing flyers and schedules. Players complained quite a bit about the lack of schedules, so we brought them back but on non- laminated recyclable paper with minimum ink. Elsewhere, we try to source locally to reduce the impact of haulage, we offer water dispensers rather than bottles on sites where we’re permitted to do so to reduce plastic usage and waste. We swapped most of our branding to digital and we take fewer staff to events to reduce our carbon footprint. These are just a few examples of small incremental changes that we believe will ultimately make a big difference.”

When asked about the main barriers for live tour operators to make their events more environmentally friendly, Norton discussed the difficulties operating globally—what can work in one country, in one location, just might not be feasible somewhere else.

“Putting on live tournaments in a regulated environment can be incredibly complex. Every venue, travel firm and supplier has obligations and restrictions put upon them, which makes it difficult to point to any one or even a few main barriers. Ultimately, I’d say it’s time. The time it will take for the entire supply chain – from beverage suppliers to haulage and everything in between – to catch up with our own and our customers’ desire to have more environmentally friendly events. It’ll be tough, but we’ll get there.”

I wanted to know if there was any push back when it came to looking at the environmental impact of live events. “I don’t think there is any push back, and in fact we, along with many of our suppliers, are promoting the trend towards environmentally friendly events. In the last few years we have seen a visible shift in tackling pollution and helping the environment. In some countries, this change is more noticeable than in others. That’s the nature of progress.”

Supply and demand also comes up in conversation too—if players request greener events there is more chance that that is what they are going to get.

“Players have a huge influence in how green events can go. The more they demand greener options, the easier it is for us to demonstrate that demand for greener events. And, of course, players can get in touch with us with their own ideas any time. Not just at our events.”

“Players can always consider doing taxi shares, they can offset their flights carbon footprint by donating to charity, they can recycle while at our events, they can bring their own hard plastic/metal water bottles to re-fill. They can also request environmentally friendly food packages and options.”