Q: I’m a man of relatively few vices but there’s one thing I have a rather large soft spot for: gambling in all of its gloriously thrilling shapes and forms. Slots, blackjack, baccarat, poker … you name it, I’ll play it — with my loving wife’s full consent, of course. I gamble at home with buddies to socialize and let off steam and I also travel to casinos (Vegas: once a year; Mount Airy Casino Resort: frequently) to experience the real deal.

When not preoccupied with winning, I’ve sometimes wondered how I could possibly merge my love of gambling with another, totally unrelated interest: eco-living. This may sound a bit strange but it’s something I’d like to learn, with a little help of course. I mean, whatever floats your proverbial boat — golf, gardening, live music, numismatics — as long as it’s done responsibly, right? Any thoughts?


The green gambler,


Claude — New Hope, Pa.

Hey Claude,

I’m not much of a gambling man myself — I’d rather spend my cash on something nice rather than risk losing it all, but hey, that’s just me — but I’m glad you took the time to write because green gambling is something that’s never occurred to me (although the exact amount of energy needed to keep the Vegas Strip lit up certainly has).

First off, it sounds like you’re doing a fair amount of traveling regionally and beyond, which has a greater eco-impact than the act of gambling itself. I’d start by examining how exactly you get from point A to B on your high-rollin’ journeys.

When you make the 90-minute trek from your home in New Hope to the beautiful Pocono Mountains (by the way, the Mount Air Casino Resort’s slogan is “Mother Nature … Meet Lady Luck”) do you share a car with your fellow crap-heads and nickel slot nuts? Is there a bus or train you could take? For your annual pilgrimages to Vegas and elsewhere, have you looked into purchasing carbon offsets each time you fly? Once you touch down in Sin City, are you using a rental hybrid to get around or relying on a combination of public transportation options like the Las Vegas Monorail and your own two feet? And while we’re on the topic of Vegas, here’s a crucial question: Where do you stay? If you haven’t already, I’d look into some eco-friendly options like the Sands-owned, LEED-certified Palazzo or one of the super-luxe properties at the massive, 67-acre MGM Mirage CityCenter, which, not surprisingly, is the largest LEED-certified project in the world. Even eco-excess has a place in Vegas, so take advantage of it. Just don’t look too hard for Eco Elvis … he resides in Kansas City.

Back on the home front, poker night with your pals can be made a more sustainable affair by avoiding disposable cups, plates and the like. Also, serve your guests local and/or organic munchies and libations. Some may protest — what in the hell happened to the imported beer and greasy potato chips!? — but I recommend familiarizing yourself with MNN’s resident foodie, Robin Shreeves, and eco-event planner extraordinaire Danielle Venokur’s fabulous Green Party video series. And here’s something to consider: What if, once a month, the night’s big winner had to donate all or some of his of her loot to a local conservation group? Not too shabby of an idea, I think.

And I’m not sure how dedicated you are to home gambling, but if you’re looking to invest in a serious poker table or another piece of gaming furniture look no further than Eric Hansel’s EGM Green, a company that offers green consulting services and manufactures a range of eco-friendly casino gaming products made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. If you’re content with a card table and a few folding chairs, perhaps recycled plastic poker chips will do just fine.

So you see, Claude, with a little foresight Lady Luck and Mother Nature can indeed tango, and it’s more about making eco-tweaks to the gambling lifestyle than the act itself (unless there are solar-powered slot machines out there that I am unaware of). Hope this helps, and need I say, best of luck.

— Matt

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

How can I make my gambling habit greener?
Matt Hickman bets he can help gamblers help the planet.