Casino Night celebrates 10th anniversary at Washburn Welcome Week

Going All In Student Orientation Counselor Joe Muiller deals a game of blackjack to students at his table. Students of all experience were encouraged to partake in the festivities.

Regina Budden

Casino Night never gets old, according to some, as this Welcome Week activity recently celebrated its 10th year running.

Mary Bannwarth, the Campus Activities Board director of varieties and entertainment, said she felt the pressure when they started planning this year’s Casino Night because of the significance of the anniversary. Although the attendance was not a record—last year was slightly bigger—Bannwarth felt that it was just as successful.

“My favorite part was seeing the amount of students that came because it’s not a mandatory event,” she said, “There were a lot of people who stayed for the whole thing.”

Although various reasons drew different students, the social atmosphere was a big influence on attendance.

“I think it’s fun to get dressed up and meet people,” said Kara Peterson, a freshman who attended Casino Night with her roommate Alyssa Crawford. “It seems like a lot of people are more accepting.”

The girls were lured by the prospect of new friends and winning a prize or two.

“A TV would be nice for our room,” said Crawford.

Junior Jane Billinger was there with fellow sorority sisters armed with green Greek wristbands and clothespins decorated with sorority letters in an attempt to both recruit and have fun.

“It’s like a 50/50 sacrifice,” said Billinger, “These events are some of the best ways to meet incoming freshmen that we wouldn’t normally meet because we’re upperclassmen. I was recruited at one of these events.”

Part of CAB’s focus, said Bannwarth, was to show new and returning students that Topeka businesses have a lot to offer. This year, CAB members visited local businesses to ask for underwriting and donations, and were able to get Cici’s Pizza, Olive Garden, Chili’s, The Classic Bean and Juice Stop to be some of their main contributors.

The event was largely affected by the movement to go local by CAB’s switch from an Arkansas-based gaming company to Jacks and Aces Events, LLC, which is located in Kansas City.

“This company was somewhat cheaper, and we were testing the waters to see who else was out there,” said Bannwarth, “We wanted to see what more local businesses would be, closer to Topeka.”

Jacks and Aces supplied the tables for poker, blackjack and craps, as well as supplying a lighted entryway arch, Plinko game and a feathered showgirl.

“Our main focus was on little details this year, we wanted to go with details to make it look sharp,” said Bannwarth.

Apparently this tactic worked out well, because Blake Bryant, a Washburn junior, returned for his third Casino Night and was anticipating “an overall better experience.”

“This year they’ve really gone out of their way to step things up,” he said. “I was really excited to play Plinko because I watched Bob Barker and ‘The Price Is Right’ every day from, like, age 4-10.”