In Michigan, there are several ways for nonprofit / charitable organizations to host a “Casino Night / Las Vegas Party”, a fundraising event with a “casino theme”. They can do a State licensed, “Millionaire’s Party”, work with a local Charity Poker Room or produce their own Casino themed fundraiser / gala event
1. Host your own event
If your group is a registered charity (i.e.; 501(c) 3 or with a similar charitable designation), then you can apply to the State to obtain a license to host a Millionaire’s Party (this license will allows you to host a Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament as well), similar to what you might see being done at summer festivals and events held at many churches throughout the State. These events are like walking into a “real casino”, where your guests purchased their chips, play the various games and then at the end either “cash out” their chips for money, redeem them for prizes, etc.
There is a registration fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) per day for this license and you can get a license good for up to four consecutive days. Your group you can obtain up to four (4) of these licenses per calendar year. To obtain this license, there is extensive paperwork that needs to be completed and then more post-event paperwork to be submitted to the State as well. You should start your licensing application process as early as possible, since the State is currently telling people, that you should allow at least six (6) to eight (8) weeks for the processing of their application. And since you’re required to have your license number on all flyers and other promotional materials, you’re not supposed to advertise your event until you have your license. Also, you will need to follow all of the State’s rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of this event.
The key to this being a successful fundraising event, is that you need to have your group’s members and supporters, show up, participate in the games, and lose money at the games. The more money they lose, the more money your group will make.
You can visit the State’s website (see website address in Section 2 below) for more information on how to run your event, to obtain your licensing application and a list of licensed equipment suppliers.
2. Work with a local, Charity Poker Room
Due to the current popularity of playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker on television, within the last couple of years many Charity Poker Rooms, have opened throughout the State. Many of these Rooms have become so popular, and have such a large following, that they’re now open seven nights a week.
If such a Charity Poker Rooms exists in your area, you might want to check them out. If your group qualifies for a State license, you might want to consider working with them rather than hosting your own event. You’ll still need to follow all of these State’s rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of your event, but the Room will be able to assist you through this process.
The key reason to work with these Charity Poker Rooms is that you really don’t have to worry about your group’s members and supporters showing up for this type of an event, for it to be successful.
Now here comes a paradigm shift… your members and supporters don’t really have to show up at this fundraiser for it to be successful! If the Charity Poker Rooms is a well established charity poker room, they will have a group of loyal poker players that will show up and play, no matter who the charity is. Groups working with these established Charity Poker Rooms can typically expect to earn between $1,000 to $4,000 per four (4) day run, which isn’t too bad of a return for your $200 investment for your license.
Again you can visit the State’s website ( http://www.michigan.gov/cg/0,4547,7-111-35016—,00.html) for more information on how to run your event and to obtain your license application.
3. Host a Casino Night / Las Vegas themed party / gala event
Similar to having a traditional “dinner / dance, fundraiser”, instead of having dancing as the featured entertainment for your fundraiser / gala, you would have “just for fun” gaming.
Your guests would pay an admission price to attend your event / gala, and for this, they would receive some sort of refreshments, one (1) door price ticket, a predetermined amount of chips or “funny money” and the chance to participate in the “just of fun” gaming entertainment.
Then at the end of the event, your guests would convert all of their “winnings” into additional door prize tickets, and you would have drawings for various door prizes (and hopefully all of these prizes would have been donated to your group).
The key to remember here is that since the chips have no monetary value, and you cannot “buy” additional chips, this is not “real gambling” (remember it is only “just for fun” gaming), and therefore a State license is not required.
Also with this type of event you want to keep the focus on having fun, and not on who has won the most. Remember that with everyone’s admission to your event, they received one (1) door price ticket, so a person could come to your event, not participate in any of the gaming, but could still walk away with a door prize at the end.
And like any traditional fundraiser that your organization might conduct, you’re able to determine the amount of profit that this event will generate, since you already know all of your fixed costs (i.e.; refreshments / food, gaming equipment rentals, profit required per person, etc.), you just set your admission price appropriately. Also you will be able capitalize on several additional fundraising opportunities at your event, such as selling of gaming table sponsorships, selling of specialty drinks at the event, etc.