In blow to tradition, Casino Night canceled over legal concerns

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.”

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.
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 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.


  • Elle

    What I don't understand is the late announcement by the General Counsel that Casino Night is not allowed. This event is held annually. Why did this decision have to arrive two days before an event when Casino Night is always held in the fall? It just seems unfair to these colleges.

  • Jenn

    I'm sorry, am I missing something here? Gambling laws are enacted to prohibit gambling.

    Casino nights generally do not involve gambling, everything's either fake or for charity.

    The state has no right to tell anyone what card games they can or cannot play, it would be the same as telling a 5-year-old they're not allowed to play Go Fish. Yale or its students should take this one to the Supreme Court.

  • Alum 1966

    Casino cancellation is fine by me! Life is too damn soft at the Boola Boola Country Club anyway. By scaling down the hedonism at Yale, it will help you get real about the rougher world that awaits you upon graduation: fewer cushy Wall Street jobs, fewer six figure salaries to pay off those $80,000 tuition debts. As you know, your splended Yale experience (with its lifetime of fond memories) leaves most of you - the less affluent - pretty much indentured to the same sharpies who corrupted Wall Street and destroyed the world's financial system. Now its time to put the world back together again, if it's not too late to do so.

  • Anonymous

    Yale seems morally corrupt from the articles coming from Yale news: drunk date rape, casinos, abortion as art…
    Does the school care about the image they present to the world ?

  • Spherical Cow

    Dear Alum 1966:

    Cheer up.

    I'm no less sickened by Yale grads making a mess of the world than you are, from Vietnam to Wall St. And I appreciate your visceral disgust at all the injustices in the world.

    But, Casino Night has absolutely nothing to do with that. (In fact, it's now called "Elite," so pick your poison.) No one is going to "get real." It's called college, and having a dance party isn't a sin.

    You sound like an acquaintence back home who argued that no one should do anything fun, or let loose in anyway, until every one had enough to eat. It's a great sentiment, but it would be a pretty depressing world (yes, even more than this one.)

    And, since you left here, Yale actually foots much of the tuition, so very few people leave with the debt you're talking about.

    But, as we put the world back together, I hope you'll be there with us.

  • Anonymous

    Stay out of our lives, Hartford.

  • goldie '08

    Alum '66, what's your point? If we live like puritans at least we'll be ready for the "rougher world that awaits us?" We are in no way "indentured" to the corporate world. Why don't you get real about what life at Yale is actually like. We're not all future ibankers on financial aid. The world is open to us.

    As the old saying goes, if we're too loud, you're too old. Now please go decompose somewhere else. you're spoiling our hedonism

  • Anonymous

    I think that is just an absolute joke and a sign that CT officials have too much time on their hands--students gambling with fake monopoly money at an event that is university sanctioned, has a carding policy stricter then Toad's (only Yale IDs, which have your actual birthdate, are accepted, not some random state ID that you bought near Times Square), is supervised both by lots of Yale cops, and is attended by the masters of both colleges, clearly demonstrates a major threat to public safety.

    Give me a freaking break. What's next--suing monopoly game players for conducting real estate transactions without a license?

  • Anonymous

    If this is the conclusion made by the General Counsel, I think Yale needs a new one. One who actually knows the law.

  • Alum 1966

    #5 Spherical, thanks & I will be there with you.

    #7 goldie, have fun & I would not wish the lifestyle of Puritans on anyone. But is it not true that many grads leave Yale with huge tuition loans to pay off?

  • former tour guide

    families making under $200,000 pay on a sliding scale, approximately 5-10%

    families making less than $60,000/year pay absolutely nothing

    no Yale student is ever required to get a loan through the new financial aid policy, which is extremely generous, as are the student jobs, which pay minimum of $10.50/hour

    so no, huge loans are not really happening now

  • sam

    80,000 tuition debts? Most students will have about $150k in debts. Should have gone to a public school.

  • Calhoun '07

    I would have to disagree with those saying that people aren't leaving with huge loans. I recently graduated with $57,000 of debt. I got no financial aid from Yale because my parents own our house. My dad agreed to pay for half of my tuition/room and board. The only reason that I got out with $57,000 was that I paid off some before I graduated. Otherwise, it would have been over $60K…and yes, I'm stuck on Wall Street trying to pay down my loans.

  • Kurt

    Reply to Spherical Cow: Tell your acquaintence back home that you cannot make yourself poor enough to help other poor people in the world. You cannot go without food enough to help hungry people in the world. And you cannot avoid fun enough to help other people's misery. Only by fulfilling your maximum potential can you achieve positive change on whatever level.

  • Pierre

    Just put the damn loans on a 30 year repayment plan and deal with them as they come due. You're missing the real point here: a great party tradition at Yale is being squashed by an inane state law that shouldn't be applied to an event with FAKE MONEY. Who is advising the General Counsel? And who is going to enforce this law??