Casino Night goes virtual


Oakland Post Archives / Ryan Pini

Casino Night in 2020. This year’s event will be all virtual.

There is a first for everything, and this year Casino Night makes its first virtual appearance.

In a normal year, the Student Program Board’s (SPB) annual Casino Night takes over the Oakland Center and turns it into a three-level gambling and games hotspot. But with COVID-19 restrictions, SPB had to take the student life mainstay online. 

“There was never truly a question about whether or not [Casino Night] was going to happen,” Kristyn Franzel, SPB assistant annual events director and the chief planner for Casino Night. “We knew that this is an annual event, it is something that should happen every year. We just did not know how it was going to happen.”

On Saturday, Jan. 23 at 6:00 p.m., prospective gamblers will be able to log into GrizzOrgs and join the roaring ’20s themed event by following Zoom links to breakout rooms. Each room will have links to rooms leading to individual tables, games and other activities. Attendees will be able to go from table to table, with each table’s host tracking players’ winnings over the night and relaying them to SPB staff.

“It is going to be kind of the same as in person, where there is going to be multiple events,” Franzel said. “We are going to have gambling, we are going to have caricature artists, tarot card readers and we are having game shows as well.”

The game shows include a trivia game based on Kahoot’s method of awarding points based on how fast players can guess the correct answer, as well as bingo and a game inspired by Family Feud. Attendees will be able to press their luck with games such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and a “Wheel of Fortune” type wheel.

Each game will pay out tickets to be put toward one of the over $5,000 of prizes available, and all bingo winners get a prize. Attendees will join an SPB staff room where they can determine which prizes they put tickets toward. Prizes on offer include a Nintendo Switch, Airpods Pro, an electric skateboard, a Roomba vacuum and a mini fridge, with more to be announced on SPB social media channels.

While there was not a question about whether or not Casino Night was going to be held, putting it together was not an easy process.

“For an organization whose specialty is large in-person gatherings, of course there have been a lot of changes and we have had to make a lot of adjustments,” Owen Bennett, SPB president, said. “The hope that I have is that through the precautions we have taken and the way that we plan these things, that people can get just as much enjoyment from watching a performance through Zoom or coming through Casino Night online as they would in any other year.”

SPB planners have found ways to fulfill the goal of making enjoyable online events, such as an upcoming Zoom-based escape room in February where players will follow a person streaming from an escape room and send them tips on how to get out.