Invite over some friends, put out a few snacks, pour drinks, and play games a la Las Vegas.
Credit: Jonny Valiant

"The casino is the ultimate entertainment destination," says Jonathan Marcus, Vice President of Marketing at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. And with the indoor entertaining season in full swing, you might find yourself trying to pull together a fun evening with family and friends—and a casino night just might be the perfect idea. The key to hosting such a memorable fête is simple, offers Marcus, who says, "mix together a fun environment, exceptional service, and, of course, come in with an enthusiastic attitude to create an unforgettable experience." And part of that experience? The games. Shawn Tinling of 21 Nights Entertainment, who says that there's nothing quite like the thrill of casino gaming. "Casino parties provide guests all of the excitement of games like blackjack, poker, and roulette without the anxiety that come to most with actually betting one's own money on those games. It's truly a win-win!"

To recreate the casino night experience at home, Tinling says that it's important to start by selecting the right games—ones that don't require an enormous amount of time to complete, and are conducive to guests meeting and mingling as they enjoy party food and play. "We don't recommend poker as highly as we have in years past, because, by its nature, it's a slower game that's more demanding on guests' time and energy compared to other casino games," Tinling mentions. "Some hosts don't have a problem with players sitting at a single game for hours on end, but many do."

Beyond the games, how do you host a casino night? In addition to his top game night picks, Tinling offers a few pointers to ensure that your party comes together without a hitch.

Serve a ritzy menu, buffet-style.

Tinling says that he's found that guests really just want to keep playing at casino night parties. For that reason, he suggests offering passed hors d'oeuvres or a buffet-style meal, which allows your guests to eat at their leisure as opposed to adhering to the rigid timing that more formal dining, like a seated multi-course meal, offers. He says to serve foods that can be eaten quickly with minimal mess such as chicken skewers, sliders, or chicken and waffle bites. A bar cart outfitted with of a mixologist will allow guests to shake up their own cocktails.

Add glitz and glamor to the decorations.

At the party, make sure you have enough space for game tables, mingling, and food setup. Casino party decorations and props such as giant playing cards, giant dice, and replicas of the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign can either be easily purchased online or, if you're crafty, can be made yourself using party supplies. Some professional casino event companies offer décor and uplighting packages that will give your home or event space the feel of a real Las Vegas casino. Of course, some event spaces will require more in the way of casino décor than others.

Don't forget energizing music: A playlist featuring some Las Vegas styled elements is great, but you don't have to play tunes by Elvis or Sinatra the entire event (Tinling actually recommends that you don't, as that'll probably wear on your guests quickly).

Try your hand at exciting games.

As the hostess, you'll want to provide multiple game options to your guests. Consider your party size: A mix of five or six casino games works great for a room of 200, but would be overkill for a group of 20. Blackjack is, by far, the most popular casino game. But there is also roulette, craps, mini baccarat, and poker. In roulette, players are given colored chips to place on a number or series of numbers of their choice; the dealer then spins the wheel and if it lands on your number, or group of numbers, you win. Craps, alternatively, is one of the most energetic, fast-paced, and loudest games in the casino—pick up the dice and roll. And despite its reputation to the contrary, baccarat is one of the easiest casino games to play; in it, two hands are dealt—the "player" and the "banker"—and the hand with the point total closest to 9, wins. Understand the rules of play, assemble the players, then start a round.

Choose your guests wisely

While having the right games is important, having the right people matters even more. Fun, vibrant personalities dealing the various casino games are what's going to make your party memorable. Consider hiring professionals, as Tinling says. While there are some easy do-it-yourself options for some casino games like blackjack and poker using chips, cards, table felt bought online, and volunteer dealers who've taken a quick online course, other games like roulette and craps aren't as easy to do yourself; these require specialized game tables and equipment designed specifically for those games, as well as a trained professional dealers to run them.


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