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Money Maker Series Part 3

Taking a Gamble: Schools Rake in Casino Profits


Bake sales, car washes and basketball games have all been used to raise money for various school needs. From time to time a charity “Casino Night,” held in the gym or other facility, has generated a fair share of funds. But when a group of schools began raising money by volunteering in actual working casinos, the Roman Catholic Church got involved.

While they didn't travel to Las Vegas, dozens of Catholic schools in Canada traded labor in local casinos for a piece of the earnings.

Deciding that a few hundred dollars raised in the gym using borrowed chips wasn’t cutting it, a group representing 83 Catholic schools in Canada approached local casinos about working the tables. They worked out a deal that would have parents volunteering for four to six hours of work while other parents gambled. In exchange for the labor, the casinos allowed the group to keep a sizeable portion of that particular table’s profits, something in the neighborhood of $70,000 for one night of work.

Given the significant sums being generated at the casinos, school officials were pleased. That changed when the Archbishop of Edmonton caught wind of the practice. Citing all of the negative influences gambling can bring to both the individual and the community, he sought to bring an end to the fundraising practice.

The idea of exchanging labor for program funding is not a new concept. For over a decade, major sporting venues, like Major League Baseball stadiums, offer charitable organizations the opportunity to work concessions stands during big league games. The groups receive 10 percent of the total sales they make during the game. The difference between the MLB model and the casino model is the negative image associated with the latter.

According to MedicinNet, the harmful effects of compulsive gambling can include financial problems ranging from high debt, bankruptcy or poverty to legal problems or even suicide. Gambling addiction can also have a multitude of negative effects on the family. Statistics indicate that families of compulsive gamblers are more likely to experience domestic violenceand child abuse, and children of problem gamblers are at significantly higher risk of suffering from depression, behavior problems and substance abuse.

The board of the group of Canadian schools balked at the Archbishop’s recommendation, however, claiming that there would be no way to recover the estimated $6 million that is expected to be generated through the casinos in 18 months. Without that money, school lunch programs, equipment and field trips would likely be slashed. To date, the schools continue the controversial fundraising practice.

Related Resources

Other articles in the Money Maker series:

Part 1 - A Madison Ave. Education: Schools use ads to raise money

Part 2 - Gold Digging: School’s cash-for-gold event raises eyebrows

Part 4 - Cheating for Dollars: Schools fix grades to get more funding

Part 5 – Filling Seats: Bribing kids to come to school

Part 6 - 'Sheepish' About Cutting Costs: Schools trim landscaping bills with 'live lawnmowers'


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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