Prizes draw students to Casino Night

by Anna Weggel

First-year University student Jim Hertneky said he planned to spend his bingo winnings frivolously.

But the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that Hertneky envisioned could not be bought with his faux prize money.

He was one of approximately 750 students to try their luck at Bailey Hall’s Casino Night on Friday.

“It was amazing,” Hertneky said of his long-awaited win. “I wasn’t going to leave until I won.”

The event has taken place every year since 1987, said Bailey Hall Council President Amanda Lens. Residence hall executive boards ran the event. The Residence Hall Association, Minnesota Student Association and St. Paul Board of Colleges helped fund it.

“It’s a big event for a lot of residents at the University,” Lens said.

Poker, bingo, craps and roulette were some of the games at Casino Night. The free event, offered to all University students, also included prizes and food.

Students entered winning tickets into a raffle that offered prizes such as video game systems, DVD players, digital cameras, compact disk players, CDs, clothing and tickets to sporting events.

Lens said Casino Night offers a positive atmosphere for students.

“It’s a safer alternative to going out and partying,” she said.

Although the event was held on the St. Paul campus, approximately 90 percent of residents in attendance came from Minneapolis, Lens said.

“It’s a chance to show off the St. Paul campus,” she said.

Journalism sophomore Erika Mayerle helped run a fake wedding chapel at the event.

“People get excited about marrying whoever,” Mayerle said. “We don’t discriminate.”

Many students at the event said it should be moved to an even larger venue.

“I think they should have it in the Great Hall at Coffman,” said first-year pre-dental hygiene student Amanda Helgeson. “Why not use Coffman; they just redid it.”

But regardless of the venue, students thought gambling with fake money was a good idea.

“Better to do it here rather than in a real casino,” Helgeson said.

Entomology student Andy Graves said he attended the event a couple years ago as an undergraduate and came this year as a graduate student. He and three other graduate students saw the event on the way back from a lab.

They ended up losing all their money at the black jack tables, but Graves said they were not too disappointed.

“This money is hard to spend outside of Bailey,” he said.