By Martin Hussey Jr., Correspondent
Image Credit: Jason Marsan for Horizons
Embry-Riddle students showed up en masse to the Activities Center on March 3, 2023, for the annual Board of Campus Activities (BCA) Casino Night. This year’s theme was masquerade style. Many students were seen in professional suits and masks. Some of the masks were traditional, whether they were provided by the BCA over the week or their own, while some were more informal and ranged from animal masks from Walmart to iconic characters such as Spider-Man and Steve from “Minecraft.”
The doors opened at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Upon entrance to the gym, students were handed $2,000 in BCA bucks by the front desk to start their night off. Those who dressed according to the theme were given an additional $500. To the left of them was bingo; to the right was the food court; and in front of them were various casino games, including Blackjack, Texas Hold’em, Craps, and Roulette.
At these games, people would trade their BCA dollars for poker chips. Chip values were based on their color, with white being $1, red being $5, green being $25, black being $100, purple being $500, and yellow being $1000. Any other chips, such as company chips people got from last semester’s career fair, were considered worthless, but it was worth a shot. The dealers consisted of either Embry-Riddle volunteers or dealers working for Vegas Knights Casino Entertainment, a casino equipment rental company based in Los Angeles County. Attendees had a multitude of strategies when gambling. While some were humble and only played on a $5 chip every time, others were more daring and played on chips or dollars worth a couple hundred.
On the far left side of the gym, several non-casino games people could play were Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch, the card game Happy Salmon, and axe throwing. People who got 1st place in Mario Kart 8 won $500. Students earning first, second, or third place in Happy Salmon earned $1,000, $500, and $100, respectively. As for axe throwing, anybody who hit the red, white, or blue earned ten, five, and one point, respectively. A total of 14 points or less earned $100, 15–29 points earned $500, and 30 points earned $1,000.
“I had quite good luck in Blackjack, approximately doubling my money. I also had good luck in bingo, winning $1,000,” said Jacob Lackey.
Outside of the games, student workers would toss money on the floor for people to grab or go to a game table and offer $1000 to the first person to leave. Additionally, some students began betting against each other on games of rock, paper, scissors. Occasionally, someone would get lucky and find a lost BCA dollar on the floor.
Either at the entrance or at tables next to the prizes, people could turn in their money or chips for tickets, with $500 per ticket. The more money one had, the more tickets they could buy (although some people kept a couple of chips as souvenirs, much to the dismay of Vegas Knights Casino Entertainment). People used the tickets to enter a raffle for a chance to win a variety of prizes. Because there were dozens, if not hundreds, of tickets per raffle bucket, the chance to win a prize was slim. This is especially true when the people with more money get more tickets, but nonetheless, the idea of winning at such odds was thrilling to some.
“I won mac and cheese. I will rather enjoy eating it,” said Jacob Wolf.
By 10:00 p.m., the gambling was wrapped up and the raffling began. People were winning prizes until roughly midnight. Overall, about 700 students (which is reportedly close to pre-COVID-19 attendance) had fun at Casino Night! Between academics and the drama of the snow and weather, a night of gambling and fun with friends was needed.