Yale’s annual Casino Night party, which had been scheduled for tonight, has been canceled, Ezra Stiles College Master Stephen Pitti announced Friday.
Lawyers in the University’s Office of the General Counsel determined Friday afternoon that Casino Night, which traditionally features roulette tables and gambling with fake chips, violated Connecticut’s Act to Repeal Las Vegas Night Games. Enacted in 2003, the state law prohibits “the playing of a casino gambling game such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, or a slot machine.”
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In an e-mail message to all Stiles students, Pitti wrote that the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue, which oversees gambling in the state, has “become more active in monitoring (and prosecuting) events of this sort over the past year,” making it impossible for the event to go forward as planned.
Casino Night has been a campus fixture since at least the early 1990s, and the myth that Rolling Stone magazine once ranked it among the top 10 college parties in the country persists among students.
In its place, Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges will hold what they are calling “Elite,” event organizers said. The event will feature cocktails and mocktails, jazz, a cigar lounge and dancing.
Members of both colleges’ councils said there were “rumblings” that Casino Night might have to be canceled Thursday night, but that the colleges’ masters did not confirm anything until 2 p.m. Friday. Although Pitti and Morse College Master Frank Keil attempted to mount a rapid appeal to the gaming commission’s decision, organizers said, the General Counsel’s Office told the masters there was not enough time to salvage the event before this evening.
“The facts are that we found out today, and this is coming from higher than Yale,” said Kaitlin Kelly ’10, vice president of the Morse College Council. She and the other members of the college councils have been scrambling since this afternoon to organize the new party, she said.
Organizers are billing the new event as a “half twenties dance party, half nineties crazy club party” with formal dress, cigars, jazz music and refreshments. They said they are confident that “Elite” will be a success.
Because Casino Night’s activities and entertainment are essentially the same from year to year, organizers said, they had little latitude in planning the event. “Casino Night was always kind of restrictive,” Ezra Stiles Student Activities Committee chair Jasper Frank ’10 said. “But I think … this party’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“It’ll be the sickest party planned in 24 hours that Yale has ever seen,” Kelly added.
Students who have already purchased tickets for Casino Night can present their tickets at the door tonight or at a table outside of Commons on Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a refund, according to an e-mail message announcing the new event.
The organizers said they do not know whether the same law will prevent Casino Night from happening in future years. Calls and e-mail messages to the masters of both colleges were not immediately returned.