Unsure how successful your casino night fundraiser might be? Read below about one of our recent fundraising events in the NY Daily News.
What Is A Casino Night Fundraiser?
Former NY Giant Tiki Barber, Susan G. Komen's Eric Brinker, NY Giant Jason Pierre-Paul, and rapper Jim Jones at the "Men Love Pink Too" charity casino night fundraiser.
Looking for a way to raise lots of money for a great cause? With the popularity of casinos at an all-time high, more people understand and enjoy playing casino-type games. This makes casino night fundraisers more thrilling, and most importantly, more successful than ever.
We've provided our casino night fundraising services for a number of successful fundraisers in New York. We've worked with various celebrity and VIP clients so we have the experience to help make any event a true success.
How Does A Casino Night Fundraiser Work?
Perhaps the most important thing to realize as we're discussing casino night fundraisers is that you are NOT running an actual casino. At no point can one of your guests come up to you and say, "OK, my wife and I have to get back home now because we've got a babysitter, and we've won $5,000 in chips, so where do we get our $5,000 in real money?!" These are NOT the types of events we or any party planning company gets involved with! What we actually do is to provide casino entertainment (tables, dealers, and cards/chips/accessories) at a fundraising event where you are charging your guests to attend. Guests do NOT play with real money at the tables, nor can they give our staff members any real money at the gaming tables or elsewhere. Any and all money raised is 100% yours (or your organization's) to keep. How much you earn through the fundraiser has no impact on our contract with you.
As your guests enter the party, you'll want to have a check-in/cashier table so they can sign in, give you their donation, and receive their casino "funny money." Although it's company policy that our staff members not be allowed to handle any real money (even if you ask nicely!), our crew can help distribute play money to everyone once they arrive and give your cashier their donation for attending. Our funny money is in denominations of $500 bills, and we usually suggest giving one $500 bill in return for the suggested price of admission.
It's useful to note at this point that most clients will also offer guests the ability to purchase extra funny money for a second suggested donation. We usually suggest that you consider the psychology of a "sale price" when designing your pricing scheme for play money. For example, instead of simply telling guests they can pay double their price of admission for double the amount of funny money, consider either slightly lowering the price for this additional $500 in funny money, OR giving more than $500 to guests who pay double the price of admission. We can also provide $100 funny money, so feel free to design pricing schemes using this denomination as well. Just remember to make that next level of donation so enticing that guests can't say no (because it's such a good deal on extra funny money).
Once the casino opens, guests can walk up to their favorite table and hand their $500 in funny money to the dealer, who will in turn exchange this money for casino chips. Our casino chips are clearly marked with denominations that range from $25 to $10,000, and each denomination has a different color so guests can easily tell each one apart. Typically, once they hand in their funny money to the dealer, guests receive a combination of $25 chips and $100 chips to start. Because our smallest chips are $25 denominations, $25 usually serves as the minimum bet at most tables.
Once guests start getting involved in the action, their stack of $25 and $100 chips might start getting larger and larger, at which point the dealer at their table might "color them up" and exchange their smaller denomination chips for larger‐valued chips. In this way, as guests go from table to table, they're not necessarily carrying an unwieldy amount of chips.
On the other hand, if someone actually goes on a losing streak and runs out of all their chips and funny money before the end of the party, they can always go back to your cashier and buy more funny money. Another great idea at fundraisers is to have several volunteers or staff members floating around the room selling additional funny money to guests. In other words, make it as easy as possible for your guests to give you their donations! You can even periodically announce a "sale price" on additional funny money, offering a slightly better deal just for a short time.
All our parties in the northeast include 4 hours of "casino time," which includes 3.5 hours of gaming time followed by 30 minutes of cashing in of chips and any giveaways. Although it's not labor law, it is somewhat of an industry standard and courtesy to give each dealer a 15-20 minute break somewhere during the first 3.5 hours so they can run to the restroom or grab a drink of water. So a great idea to consider for your fundraiser is to have at least one "relief dealer" who can give breaks to other dealers throughout the night, thus ensuring that all tables remain open throughout the fundraiser and no tables have any downtime. Our usual recommendation is to have one relief dealer for approximately every 8 tables. On the other hand, if your fundraiser has a natural break in the middle for something such as a short speech or live auction and you wish to shut down the casino entirely for a few minutes, this can also serve to provide breaks for all the dealers at once, obviating the need for extra relief dealers.
As the gaming time is drawing to a close, our dealers will announce the last hand, the last spin of the wheel, and the last throw of the dice. Guests will then be instructed to go back to their favorite table and turn in their casino chips. If you choose to have a raffle we'll provide raffle tickets free of charge, and our crew can handle all the logistics and even emcee the entire raffle for you.
At this point, each of your dealers will "cash everyone out," meaning that they'll count up everyone's winnings in chips and convert these to raffle tickets. The simple idea is that the more chips you've won over the course of the night, the more raffle tickets you'll earn.
The standard conversion that we've found to work best is giving one raffle ticket for every $500 in chips that guests have left at the end of the night, rounding up as needed. For example, if someone simply breaks even and ends up with $1,000 in chips, they would earn two raffle tickets. Alternatively, if someone has $1,100 in chips, they would earn three raffle tickets. Keep in mind that a handful of your guests might win big and end up with a lot of chips, so you don't want a smaller conversion that requires them to walk around with a roll of thousands of raffle tickets. One ticket for every $500 tends to work out quite well – not too many and not too few tickets for each of your guests. If you feel that guests won't get enough raffle tickets with this standard conversation rate and you'd like them to end up with more tickets, we can always increase the ratio up to 1 raffle ticket for every $200 or $250 left in chips.
By the way, should you have any guests who attend your fundraiser but aren't planning on gambling at all throughout the course of the night, definitely still plan on giving them the same amount of funny money as all other guests, but simply let them know to hang onto this money until the end of the night, and they will be able to convert their funny money directly into raffle tickets along with everyone else.
After all this though you might be asking, "If no one is playing for real money, why should anyone take the gaming seriously? And what are these tickets for?" In one word: PRIZES! Although you'll have to provide the prizes, this is what gives your guests the incentive to play for keeps. Ideally you would solicit local businesses and try to get as many prizes donated as possible in order to keep your expenses low and your profit margin high. In terms of how many prizes, there really isn't any rule of thumb, but more is sometimes nicer than fewer prizes, so long as you keep things within reason. For example, guests would probably not be too excited to win a stack of legal pads or box of pens you raided from the office supply closet, but even a Starbucks gift card is a great prize to start out with on the smaller end. Remember too that you'll probably want to build up to your last prize drawing as the "grand prize," but even this isn't set in stone.
Another idea that helps your profit margin is to solicit local businesses for table sponsorships. You can tell businesses that, in return for their table sponsorship, they will receive a poster-sized ad somewhere in the room, like on an easel behind one of the poker tables, for example. It would mean a little extra time on your side working with them to print up their poster and finding a few easels, but it could help cut down your costs overall.
At this final point of the event, the simplest way to give away the prizes is to have a random drawing for as many prizes as you have. If you had 3 prizes to give away, for example, our crew could randomly draw 3 winning tickets. If you had 4 prizes, they would pull 4 winning tickets. A twist on this that's even more interactive is to do what's sometimes called either a "Chinese Auction" or "Teacup Raffle" or "Tricky Tray." This is where you simply put a basket or bucket in front of each prize, and then everyone decides where to "spend" their raffle tickets. The prize does NOT go to the person who puts in the most raffle tickets, as in a silent auction though. There would still be random drawings for each prize, but someone might say "Hmmm, I want all my tickets to go towards the drawing for prize X instead of any of my tickets going in the drawings for prize Y or prize Z." However you decide to run the raffles, our crew can easily handle all the details for you and emcee the whole thing!
Here's an important point to note regarding prizes. Prizes are NOT simply being given to the biggest winner, the second biggest winner, the third biggest winner, etc. At the end of the night there is still an element of chance as prizes are randomly drawn from the pool of raffle tickets. As with any raffles, our advice is to always consult with local authorities to make sure they are OK with the way you're running the proposed event as described.