School’s All In on Casino Night


Chips were flying this past Saturday, Feb. 11, when Williston hosted its second annual casino night, transforming the dining commons into a full-on gambling hall.

While Williston’s high rollers were certainly not waging chips with any real monetary value, students had the option to compete for prizes. After hours of roulette, blackjack, Texas Hold Em’ and craps, the two students with the highest chip counts were eligible for a JBL music speaker and $50 Amazon gift card.

Brayden Deschamps, Williston senior and three-year boarder, reflect positively upon his experience at casino night. Although he experienced an  disqualification, Brad remained confident and continued enjoying the night with his close buddies.

“Casino night was a huge success in my mind. I felt the Wildest Cats [Williston’s student planning team] did a phenomenal job setting up enough casino games to allow everyone to play,” Brayden said. “Personally, I spent my time on the poker table where I stole everyone’s chips and won a lot of money. Unfortunately, I was disqualified from the event for taking donations, but overall, I had a great time with friends. I think this is a great annual event that should continue to happen in the future.”

As Brayden, the winner of “Best Dressed” senior superlative, can certainly attest to, formal Williston events, like casino night, often generate great energy due to students’ fancy outfits.

Atticus Rudof, Williston senior day student from Williamsburg, MA., believes that formally dressed events increase more student enthusiasm than those involving casual attire.

“Being able to get dressed up and pick a nice outfit definitely adds another layer of excitement, making the school events feel more special and also provides good photo opportunities which contributes to the hype!” Atticus said.

Riley Van Son, Williston senior and member of Williston’s Wildest Cats, felt that the night was a great success. Having planned the event for weeks prior, Riley was pleased with students’ enthusiasm surrounding the event. As one of few student dealers, Riley could not participate in the betting action, but he still enjoyed socializing with peers. 

“My experience with being a dealer was tricky at first, but after a couple of hands, I started to get the hang of shuffling cards, becoming like second nature to me,” Riley said. It was fun to be a dealer and see a range of students come through my table. Not only did I have the opportunity to deal for my buddies, but I was able to meet new people and make new friends. As a dealer, I felt that I had a different perspective. Having the opportunity to sit back and watch students enjoy the night was truly a great experience.”

However, while the Williston’s casino night seems to have promoted generated a positive, student-driven response, there is certainly a contrasting argument regarding the event’s pro-gambling nature.

The Arizona Office of Problem Gambling examined high school casino nights and believes the overall impact to be negative.

Their report reads, “Think of this, would you consider holding a mock-tail-gate party for kids where non-alcoholic umbrella drinks and near-beer were served? Probably not, for fear it would give kids the wrong message. The same is true for casino nights or other school organized gambling activities. Even while real money isn’t being used, casino nights or other gambling related activities and fundraisers promote a behavior that is potentially dangerous and sends the wrong message that gambling is risk free.”