In an attempt to replicate the thrill of Las Vegas, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) will host their first ever casino night on Thursday, May 20 in the Chumash Auditorium. Presented by Late Night with ASI, the night aims to serve as an educational experience about the dangers of gambling.
Courtney Serafin, ASI special events student supervisor, planned the event after successful nights such as poker and bingo earlier in the year. Serafin said the popularity of gaming among college students led her to offer something similar to the students at Cal Poly.
She said the event is more flexible than other events that ASI has put on, since people can leave at any point during the evening.
“It’s definitely going to be an open, welcoming environment,” Serafin said. “With Casino Night, it’s come as you please, which gives the students a lot more freedom to be part of an ASI event without having to commit their time to the entire night.”
Upon entering the auditorium, everyone in attendance will receive the same amount of chips and one raffle ticket. Serafin said students can then try to win as many chips as possible to gain more raffle tickets, which can be exchanged for prizes. She said prizes will be given out every 15 minutes throughout the evening.
With the end of the quarter in sight, the casino night gives students one last opportunity to get out and meet some new people. Dana Matteson, who serves as ASI Events student manager, said the casino night is designed to bring all students together in an effort to replicate the Week of Welcome setting, where students meet many new people.
“I think our focus for most of our events is for students to make new friends and allow them an outlet to interact with others,” Matteson said.
The event is aimed at the more than 6,000 students who live on campus and provides them with alternative activities to drinking. Also, the event’s timing is helpful in that it provides students with an opportunity to enjoy an entertaining night before finals begin, Matteson said.
“This is a way for students to relax on a Thursday night and not worry about tests or homework,” Matteson said. “They can enjoy some pure entertainment and release some of their stresses before the end of the year.”
For the casino night, games will include blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and horse racing. Providing the equipment for the gaming is Admark Productions, a Chicago-area business. Mark Shafer, the company’s founder, said he brings along educational material with his equipment to help people learn more about the dangers of gaming. He will fly out on his own dime to help train the dealers and educate them as well.
“I educate people about safe gambling and gambling addiction,” Shafer said. “I tell them about the odds and pitfalls that people normally make, so hopefully the light bulb will go on for college students so they won’t make those mistakes.”
Shafer was involved in higher education for 14 years, working in student life and student affairs at the University of Illinois. Shafer said his business helps serve as an awareness program without having to risk any actual money.
“It’s a great program to offer students some fun with a quiet educational aspect, since if you did it as a lecture, nobody would show up,” he said.
Shafer said his message can educate college kids who have not had the experiences of the casino so that their first time in an actual casino will not cost them. Also, he said he hopes he can make a difference in someone’s life, since anybody can make mistakes with gambling, which could be very costly.
The event will be the first one that Shafer has done in California and is the first time that he has ever shipped any of his equipment. He said he is excited for the event and that every new school presents a new challenge for him.
“I’ve never been out there to San Luis Obispo, so it’s kind of a new horizon for me,” Shafer said. “If this works out, then maybe it could turn into an annual event and continue to build a relationship with Cal Poly.”
As this is a first-time event, Serafin said she is excited to see everything come together and how the night will progress. She said ASI Events wanted to plan something to wind down the year for the students.
“I’m just excited to bring something new to campus and see how the students will react to it,” Serafin said.
The event will begin at 8 p.m. and last until 11 p.m. Complimentary food and beverages will be provided. Admission is free for all students with their Cal Poly ID.