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The Shorthorn: Paul Zoeller Nursing freshman Adrian Jones waits for the dice to stop rolling before she realizes she has won at the craps table during EX-CEL Campus Activities' Casino Night on Tuesday in the University Center Bluebonnet Ballroom.

Game-goers win big, support local charity at Casino Night

by Sally Claunch

Special to The Shorthorn

Nursing freshman Adrian Jones screamed, "I won!", and a big smile crossed her face as she raked in chips from the craps table at EX-CEL Campus Activities' Casino Night on Tuesday. The event benefited the Make a Wish Foundation of North Texas, an organization that grants the last wishes of terminally-ill children. Scott Blackwell, assistant director of student activities and advisor to EX-CEL's campus and community service committee, said the average wish costs $4,000. "We're trying to raise $1,000 tonight," he said, "so we need a fair amount of people to show up." Final donations raised were not available at press time. Jones said she came out to have fun and help a good cause. "I don't know anything about gambling, but I thought it would be fun, and I wanted to support the Make a Wish Foundation." Jones began losing at craps after a few minutes. "Can I bet against myself?" she asked. "At least that way I might win something." For $5, the students who attended received "$500"-worth of chips. After the event, they could use their winnings to bid on prizes, such as free dinners, baseball tickets and even a 3,000-foot sky diving jump. All the prizes were donated by area businesses. Faculty and staff were on hand to deal cards and run the games. Allan Saxe called bingo from 7 to 8 p.m. Bingo was not attracting a crowd at first, but Dr. Saxe was not discouraged. "I think a lot of people will be here after eight," he said. "Unfortunately, I have to leave at eight to go teach a class." Bingo began to liven up after political science senior Tamara Benson won $500 during the first game. "I feel lucky," she said as she sat down at a blackjack table with her pile of chips. The craps table drew a crowd early, and information systems senior Connan Hill gave people a quick lesson on how to play. He said his mother taught him all he knows about dice games. "We go on a cruise together once a year to gamble," he said. He explained to eager faces around the craps table how there are more combinations to roll a seven than any other number on a pair of dice. Kris Fitz, EX-CEL director of campus and community service, said they hoped to have 200 people there. "We had a promo booth set up last week, and people that came by said they were excited about the event and wanted to come out and play blackjack," she said. Howard Meyers, associate director of the Counseling and Career Development Office, was a blackjack dealer. Before he sat down, he explained to beginner gamblers basic blackjack strategy. "I've been to Vegas a few times," he said. "I've been dealing at charity events and leadership retreats for years." Dr. Meyers dealt himself a blackjack early on in the evening, and he smiled at the students who just lost. "I feel highly guilty about this," he said. University police Chief Wayne Gay also dealt blackjack and took a few pointers from Meyers. "I've never played cards in my life," he said. Undeclared sophomore David Saputra, an EX-CEL member, ran the roulette wheel. He said people weren't participating in roulette because they don't like to lose. "Roulette's a game that not a lot of people win at," he said. He yelled out into the crowd, "Come play, please!" Jamie Peterson, a pre-law freshman and EX-CEL member, helped serve free chips and soft drinks. Domino's Pizza donated pizzas that EX-CEL sold for $1.50 per slice. The proceeds from the pizza also went to The Make a Wish Foundation. There was also a cash bar available for those who wanted alcohol.

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