Why Great.com is in the casino industry?

I frequently get asked why I decided to launch an online casino marketing company that donates 100% of its profits to charity. This article will answer that question as well as the following:

  • Why do we believe that casino is the best way for us to help prevent the climate crisis?
  • How can you combine casino and charity?
  • Why don’t you start a company in any other industry where there is no harm done?
  • Why don’t you just give away all the money straight away instead?
  • How does Great.com generate profits then?
  • How much money has Great.com donated to date?
Erik Bergman Casino Industry

Why Great.com is in the casino industry?

Imagine that you are holding a plastic bottle.

You look into the bottle and see filthy water. You look closer and find insects, leaves, and mud. You smell a stench, unlike anything you’ve ever smelt.

As you take a deep breath, you do everything you can to avoid vomiting.

Unfortunately, you’re alone outside and the sun is beating down on you — you’re thirsty and only have whatever it is that’s in that water bottle. You put it to your lips and start drinking. 

You use every remaining ounce of energy to overcome the dirt and filth in the water because it’s the only sip you’ve had all day.

To many people, this story sounds far-fetched — but to millions around the world, it’s reality.

According to the CDC, approximately 780 million people currently don’t have access to clean water. The ongoing climate crisis is exacerbating this issue and forcing many to become climate refugees because of food and water shortages.

Our world has many challenges, and Great.com’s goal is to solve them all — starting with the climate crisis. We’re focusing on climate change first because we believe it’s the most dire problem of our time and leads to the most suffering for humans, animals, and the environment.

Why do we believe that casino is the best way for us to help prevent the climate crisis?

When I tell people we’re working towards solving the climate crisis, they’re always supportive. But, when I describe how we’re planning to use revenue from online casinos to accomplish this goal, they usually respond with a question like:  “Why are you combining something harmful like online gambling with charity and altruism?”

Before I answer this, let me take you back to 2006.

An easily distracted teenage boy is sitting in a physics class looking over his friend’s shoulder. The friend has downloaded and is playing a poker game on his calculator. The easily distracted boy can’t turn away.

In case you haven’t caught on, I was the boy watching my friend play poker. I was 16-years old at the time, and when he let me borrow the game — I discovered my love for poker. 

After school, I immediately ran to the bookstore and got my first poker kit. I then spent every chance I could get playing and learning the nuances of this card game.

This was the beginning of a career as a professional poker player, and it’s how I ended up in the casino industry. I loved the excitement, strategy, risk, and everything else about this game. 

So, we know how I found gambling — but, why am I donating our profits to charity?

Let me tell you a personal story about money.

Growing up, we had an old blue couch in my house. My mother always wanted to get a new couch, but my father was frugal and didn’t like spending money unless it was necessary. This was a constant battle for decades — and the old blue couch continued to survive.

Then, in 2010, my mother had finally reached her breaking point with the old blue couch. This was right after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, so my father proposed that we buy a couch and donate the same amount we spend on the new couch to the victims in Haiti.

Deal. In my parents’ living room is now a black leather couch. It cost around $2,000 and another $2,000 was donated to help the earthquake victims. 

As a kid, I always thought of my father as a cheap man because I rarely got anything that I wanted. In reality, he’s very generous. He just doesn’t like spending money on things that don’t help others.

Now you know a little bit about how I ended up in the casino industry and some perspective of values and morals within my household growing up.

After a few years of playing poker professionally, I decided to take a stab at entrepreneurship. My childhood friend, Emil Thidell, and I began starting several unsuccessful businesses before launching a casino marketing company called Catena Media.

Within four years, we took this casino startup from inception to a $200 million valuation on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. I made over $15 million that day alone — reaching my dreams of financial freedom.

What do you do with more money than you ever imagined? Well, if you were raised by my father you would probably end up with similar values to mine. I didn’t enjoy spending money on things that didn’t help others. I never bought that Ferrari that I thought I wanted as a kid, instead — I kept my small Audi A3.

Rather than buying unnecessary toys or jet setting to luxurious villas around the world, I started researching and learning about charities. I looked into child trafficking in India, donated to starting a school in Ghana, and supported childcare in impoverished areas of South Africa.

Very quickly, I learned that charities are, to a large extent, founded by people with amazing stories and passion. These founders want to solve some problems and bring positive change to the world. 

While many of these founders and leaders are experts in their niche, they aren’t necessarily experts at running a business. This paradox can make it hard for some charities to run efficiently and can lead to wasted spending — not because they are wasteful, but because they may make decisions with their hearts and not always their heads.

I also realized that if I wanted to fully immerse myself in charity, then I would need to build something myself. But, I know very little about child trafficking or mosquito nets. My expertise is in online casino marketing, not charity. I spent more than 10 years learning my craft and had become one of the best in the world at it.

So, I asked myself, what is the best way to use my talents?

The answer was simple — stay in the casino industry. Build a company that makes a lot of money, and then donate all that money away to charity. But, not just any charity. Support charities that are taking a data-driven approach to solving the world’s most pressing issues.

After a lot of research and consideration, we decided to focus on climate change.

How can you combine casino and charity?

I agree, it’s crazy to combine an industry like gambling which does harm with charity and hope. But, that’s exactly why I believe it’s important. Nobody else, that I know of, is willing to run a casino marketing business that donates 100% of its profits to charity.

I wish the casino industry didn’t exist, I truly do. If I could snap my fingers and end all of the gambling addiction and harm caused by the casino industry, I would.

At the same time, I believe the climate crisis and the imminent harm from climate change is more significant than gambling. If we have any chance of winning the war on climate change, then we need to start now and be willing to think outside the box.

Whether I like it or not, the casino industry isn’t going away. The difference is — without Great.com, all the money funneling to the gambling industry will go to making people rich (like it did me). 

Now, Great.com will compete with those other companies, taking some of their market share and donating it away — ala Robin Hood.

Why don’t you start a company in any other industry where there is no harm done?

I could start a company in a completely different industry that doesn’t cause harm, but that would be irresponsible of me.

If I started a business in another industry, my values might not be questioned. If I picked another niche, it may be easier for others to understand my mission of donating all profits to charity. Don’t get me wrong — not having my morals questioned would be nice.

But, if I didn’t choose the gambling industry, the risk of failure would increase many times over. It’s said that 9 out of 10 startups fail, and choosing an industry with which I have little to no experience would mean a roughly 90% chance of failing. I started 5 different businesses before my success, all of them failed.

Our climate can’t afford that risk.

Instead, I chose to start another casino marketing business. I’m confident in this industry and know that I’m one of the most experienced in this field. The risk of failing is close to zero.

Why don’t you just give away all the money straight away instead?

I started Great.com to make the most positive impact possible in the world. I could easily donate whatever I plan to invest in this project to charity right now, and it would be a significant help to the cause. But, that’s where it would end.

Instead of donating a finite amount of money to charity, I want to build a money machine that will continue to fund the world’s best charities for centuries to come. The most impactful action I can do is to build a profitable business that will ultimately donate much more than I could do myself.

Catena Media, my previous business, was founded in 2012. During 2020, it had approximately $115 million in revenues and almost $50 million in profits. If this was Great.com, that would mean roughly $50 million in charitable donations. Compound this year over year and you can make huge strides to solving the world’s biggest problems.

I truly believe that Great.com will surpass Catena Media one day and will be able to donate billions of dollars in the coming decades. If I simply gave away all my money now, Great.com wouldn’t become the charity money machine I know it will.

How does Great.com generate profits then?

Great.com is an online casino affiliate. That means we collaborate with online casinos and earn money by sending players to those casinos.

We are an SEO-based marketing company, which means that we get most of our visitors from ranking high in Google and other search engines on keywords like “NJ online casinos”, “Tropicana casino New Jersey” or “Borgata Casino Review”.

This organic approach means we get most of our visitors — and subsequent casino players — by targeting people who are already searching for casino terms or topics. We don’t aim to convert people to gamblers or target people with tv or radio commercials. We let players find us.

Then, we give them unbiased information about different legal casinos, casino bonuses, and other offers or gambling topics relevant to the market of that visitor. We create lists that show important details about casinos or bonuses so that people can quickly understand the differences and make comparisons themselves. We test casinos to measure customer support, terms and conditions, and other variables that can affect the user experience. We take all this information and do our best to present it effectively to our visitors to help them make a more educated decision.

You can compare our business model with what Hotels.com or TripAdvisor does for traveling. They compile all the information that the travelers need, they give it away to the visitors for free, and then they charge the airlines or hotels for every booking. That’s exactly what Great.com does within the casino industry. This is how we take money from the gambling industry and use it to save our planet.

How much money has Great.com donated to date?

Great.com was not profitable in 2020. Yet, our team and I still donated $1.3 million of our own funds and partnered with Founders Pledge to run a fundraising campaign that generated an additional $1 million. 

While most of the donations have been towards climate research, some small donations have also been made to preventing malaria, protecting the rainforest, supporting poor families in Haiti, and teaching teenagers entrepreneurial skills in Uganda.

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