A charity drive is a American tradition unlike any other. Everyone wins when members of the community come together and give what they can to a worthwhile cause. These charity events can be used to support a wide variety of causes, such as the local parent/teacher association, social clubs like Elks and Rotary and homeless shelters, The Humane Society, church groups, Little League Baseball and other youth sports.
You’ve likely bought a few pastries at a school bake sale or bidded on cool collectibles during a silent auction. But, the best way to host a poker or casino party is to raise money for charity.
This classic episode of “The New Prince of Bel-Air” will give you an idea of charity gambling nights. Will is accompanied by the Banks family to their annual casino night. There are plenty of hijinks.
A few guests may leave the event with some special prizes and gifts, but the true winner is the charity they chose. A single night of poker and casino charity drives can bring in as much as $10,000.
The contributions may be even higher for high-profile professional gambling events. Ask Matt Stout, a professional poker player based out of Las Vegas, who founded the Charity Series of Poker in 2014.
The CSOP consists in small buy-in poker tournaments that are held in Sin City or other stops on the American circuit. The buy-in costs players a few hundred dollars to play. Half of that money is donated to charities, such as Three Square in Las Vegas. The remaining half goes to the prize pool giving players a chance to win cash.
Here’s what Stout said about his gamble on CSOP in a conversation with PokerNews four-years ago.
Stout’s and the CSOP team had 90 players by 2017, including celebrities from Hollywood and local donors who wanted to get in on the action. The tournament raised $28,000. Read more about this successful event.
While the actual poker can be fun and games, with players willing to go all in and rebuy to increase the charity’s final funds, Stout made it clear to PokerNews to that running a charity poker evening is serious business.
Stout clearly benefited from his contacts in the worlds professional poker and casino operations. It is a great advantage to have the MGM folks in your rolodex. However, charity poker and casino drives are becoming big business.
A quick Google search will reveal a large number of companies that are specialized in hosting and organizing these charitable gambling parties. This is a rapidly growing industry with many new competitors. Why not make a splash and start your own company?
Casino Party Aces is a popular business on the East Coast that hosts casino nights. It has been doing so for many years. Magee has also learned a lot about how to run things in a professional manner over the years.
Get ready to learn how to set up a poker party and charitable casino.
Logistics are everything
When organizing your first poker or casino night, logistics is the most important thing to consider. Your party won’t be successful if you don’t have enough tables, chips and gaming equipment. It is important to have a large inventory of folding gaming tables.
Because players can’t gamble without a place to sit or stand, tables are essential for your company’s inventory.
Magee shares his thoughts on the importance of having enough tables so that everyone can play.
There are two options when it comes down to ordering tables. You can order genuine casino tables directly from the manufacturer. This is the first option. Although this will come at a high price, legitimate poker, craps and blackjack tables are built to different standards. You may need to order multiples of these games to complete your casino theme.
Follow Magee’s instructions and get plenty of equipment. Except if you are planning to limit attendance, which is never a good idea for charity drives, predicting how many people will turn up can be difficult. Don’t be afraid to bring more gambling equipment and tables than you actually need.
The foundation of a casino is the tables. Make sure you have enough inventory of chips, chips, dice and roulette balls. Backups are important as players may lose a die or bend a card. Your casino party night could end abruptly if you don’t have contingencies.
One thing is important: a casual player walking through a casino can easily overlook the planning and organization required to manage these games. To manage the game, you will need to have a team of trained dealers.
Do not skimp on Dealers
Neglecting to hire competent dealers is one of the best ways to ruin a charity casino night. It might seem that a few friends or hired hands could learn the basics of roulette quickly. The gig is essentially about spinning a wheel and paying winners. Nope.
The roulette dealers, as well as their counterparts at blackjack, craps and poker tables, are highly skilled professionals who have to perform many difficult tasks. They are responsible for monitoring and dispensing correct payouts and ensuring that the game runs smoothly. This may seem simple enough for the casual observer. To see the activities of the dealers upstairs, you can pull up a list with all the roulette bets and their payout odds.
Magee ensures that he has his own team of qualified dealers to handle any issues. It is important that you do the same. Fortunately, it is possible to do this online. Post an ad on Craigslist or other online forums looking for licensed casino dealers. Many locations have a tribal casino on reservation land nearby. The supply of licensed dealers is greater than you might think.
Post your ad and ask for documentation of a year or so of experience. You’ll soon have 12 dealers “on call” and they will be available to work your event.
Follow the Money
When you think about it, charity poker and casino businesses seem a little absurd. While the primary goal should be to generate charitable donations for the cause you choose, it is not enough to make a profit. This is your job. If you don’t take care, it can quickly become a nightmare.
It takes creativity to come up with a system that meets both your profit margins and the philanthropic goals. There are many ways to present charity casino night businesses. If managed well, they will produce enough money for both the charity and your accountant. One common method is to sell tickets to individuals and then solicit sponsorships from local businesses.
Let’s suppose that the PTA at the high school hires you as a host for a casino night. This will be open to parents, teachers, and others in the community. They want to raise $10,000 for school and have the cafeteria open for 100 people.
This example is a simplified one. You could charge $100 per entry to meet your charitable goals. How do you pay for your expenses? Equipment, dealer hiring, refreshments?
There are many ways to do this, but the best way is to get local businesses involved in sponsoring the event. These businesses can advertise their brand or logo on chips, tables felt, balloons and T-shirts for a flat fee. If you have enough sponsors, you can easily make a few thousand dollars extra to pay for your expenses and possibly even turn a profit.
However, in many cases the charity you will be supporting doesn’t have a predetermined monetary goal. This is a good thing, because they could earn more than the $10,000 in the above example – if they play their cards right. You could reverse the previous scenario and sell tickets to raise funds for your company. Then, you invite attendees – or encourage them – to gamble until their hearts are content.
Players will pay cash for chips, but if they beat the odds and win a payout, it will be in the form raffle tickets or other prizes. Every dollar wagered by players goes directly to the charity of their choice, regardless of whether they win or lose at the table.
You can spice up the gambling by having an auction where your sponsors offer cool prizes. A local hardware store may offer a wrench set while the top restaurant could give a free dinner coupon. After you have established the prizes, people can bid until someone blinks.
Last but not least, make sure there is a bar open throughout the evening. You can relax guests and encourage them to gamble. However, you will also make money for charity by selling beer or cocktails at a markup.
The final decision about how to set up the financial structure for your casino night is up to you, but there are plenty of options available. Here’s how Magee approaches accounting for Casino Party Aces events:
The Long Arm of the Law
Last but not least, it is important to observe all local gambling laws.
Each state has its own laws regarding charitable gaming events. It is your responsibility to find out how your state views this industry.
In states such as Utah and Hawaii, it is strictly forbidden to host any kind of casino or poker charity event. California has allowed charity bingo for decades but legalized full-scale casino parties only recently. Massachusetts has only bingo and raffle games. Blackjack and roulette are not allowed.
Magee recommends that you be fully aware of the local laws that govern your business, regardless of where you are located.
Check with your state’s gaming regulator to ensure you are following the law. Search for your state and the words “gaming board”/”gaming commission” to find your way. You’ll find the relevant codes for charitable gaming on these regulators’ websites. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the agency for assistance.
Although running a poker and casino charity party business can be a lot of fun and lucrative, it is also a huge responsibility. You have to make sure that charity uses its resources to the fullest extent. If you fail to follow the latest codes, no one wins.
A great way to combine business and pleasure is starting your own poker and casino charity party company. Your new venture will run smoothly if you follow the four lessons.