By Raena Doty
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
Poker tables, roulette wheels, and decks of cards adorned the McCarthy Forum on Feb. 1 when Framingham State Activities Board (FSAB) hosted Casino Night, giving students the opportunity to play traditional gambling games.
Starting at 6 p.m., the event gave students the chance to play games like roulette, blackjack, and poker in a school-sanctioned space. FSAB worked with a company called Mike’s Music to create a beginner-friendly space for gambling. The games did not accept real money, but rather paper slips designed to look like money.
Andrew Thompson, senior hospitality major and vice president of FSAB, said he believes events like Casino Night are good ways for students to connect with the community and gain new experiences.
“I think that it really gives students an opportunity to - I don't want to plug gambling in the best way - but it's giving them different experiences to things,” he said. “It gives students and people of the community a way to come in and be able to have a fun time with their friends - be able to meet new people.
“To this day, all the time, there’s these two girls that didn’t know each other, and now all the time I see them hanging out constantly. That’s an experience I’ve seen where people have made friendships at nights like Casino Night,” he said.
Many attendees agreed the best part of the event was the community and experience offered.
Audley Brown, a freshman finance major, said, “I came here tonight because I was interested in gambling and I wanted to practice proper gambling and I feel like this will be a great place for me to practice safe gambling without real money.”
He joked his favorite part of the night was winning $500 at blackjack and then immediately losing the money, but then corrected and said his favorite part of the night was actually learning to play poker.
Gwendolyn Schutt, a sophomore ASL major, said, “A lot of my friends talked about how they really liked it last year and so I was interested to see it and I wanted to experience what they enjoyed.”
Mike Salvati, the founder of Mike’s Music, said he’s been working with colleges and universities to host events like this since he was a sophomore in college, and his company has offered traveling-casino services for 20 years now.
He said his favorite part of the night was “just seeing everybody come over and start playing and just smiles on their faces - and getting a chance to learn.”
Celia Marchese, a senior elementary education major and the traditions coordinator for FSAB, said traditions like Casino Night are very important to FSU.
She said FSAB has been hosting Casino Night at least since her freshman year, and students come to expect annual traditions like this.
Samantha Stafinski, off-campus events coordinator for FSAB, said the timing of the event is also important.
“These events definitely benefit the community, especially in January. I feel like a lot of the students in the past have had a really hard time connecting, especially first years and second years. So this is a really great opportunity and you’re all learning together - you’re either winning or losing money together - so you’re building that bond to maybe grab Snapchats, phone numbers, things like that,” she said.
Thompson said FSAB is a good organization for students to join if they want to get involved in the school, as it can provide experience, connections, and a lot of good fun through events like Casino Night and the upcoming Drag Bingo.
“Honestly, it makes lifetime bonds with the people in the club, the people you work with,” he said. “Every college has a campus activities board in some way or another. You meet these people, you exchange ideas.”