Prizes at Casino Night included essential oil diffusers, vacuum cleaners, a flat-screen TV and Nintendo Switch.
Students got the chance to dress up to the nines, sip on mocktails, indulge in some gambling and potentially earn prizes at Casino Night held by Campus Activities on Nov. 15, 2021.
The black-tie-themed event surpassed expectations, with 250 attendees present when only 150 were anticipated.
Attendees entered the University Center, signed in and received $500 in play money to exchange for playing chips. After playing, chips were exchanged for raffle tickets. The raffle included an abundance of prizes, from essential oil diffusers and vacuum cleaners to a flat-screen TV and Nintendo Switch.
The event required six weeks of preparation. Campus Activities staff reserved the entire University Center, set up contracts with the casino dealers to run the games, hired catering and decoration companies and secured a 360 Video Booth. Staff members also spent a fair amount of time perfecting the prizes for students to win.
Blain McVey, the main coordinator of Casino Night, saw this work pay off firsthand.
“Last night, [Casino Night] was amazing,” McVey said. “The event ran incredibly smooth. Normally at events, you have one or two things that go wrong. Surprisingly, we had no hiccups. The food was tasty, the video booth was a nice surprise for attendees and the casino dealers were informative and friendly.”
Casino Night was advertised to be the biggest event of the semester for on-campus activities and students responded to that, with 100 more people in attendance than previously anticipated. Many participants, even those with no prior gambling experience, found themselves invested in the games.
“I was expecting some attendees to be nervous about playing games,” McVey said. “But after the initial hesitation, people sat down at tables and never got back up. In fact, towards the end of the night, there were lines at each table to get a turn. I think students were excitedly surprised at how fun the games were to play.”
Junior Reaghan Young had no experience with gambling prior to attending Casino Night, but found herself walking home with a new flat screen TV.
“It was fun to learn how to play the games, since I’ve never gambled,” Young said. “I was kind of shocked, I didn’t think I would win since there were so many tickets. But I was really happy afterwards. A new TV is always something to look forward to, especially if you win it.”
With Casino Night being a Webster University staple for several years prior, it was important to revive the tradition after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the event from taking place for the past two years. Jennifer Stewart, director of student engagement for Campus Activities, was happy to keep the tradition going this year.
“Since we haven’t had [Casino Night] for a couple of years due to COVID, it was a good opportunity to bring back something that’s been kind of a traditional part of the campus events that we’ve offered and do it up big, and celebrate the fact that we’re able to do things back in person again.”
Whether students went home with prizes or not, the sole focus of Casino Night was to have fun and foster important relationships at Webster University.
“There is always some method behind the madness with all sorts of Campus Activities events,” Stewart said. “The idea of building community and camaraderie is really important for this, making sure that we hit all different areas that will be of interest to a lot of people to help build that community and get people mixing and mingling and building relationships across campus.”