Gambling for a cause: Alpha Tau Omega hopes to break record for Casino fundraiser

Tuesday 31st March 2020

Urban Meyer sits with attendees of ATO Casino Night. Credit: Courtesy of ATO

An Ohio State fraternity is hoping to raise the bar in its top-earning philanthropy night March 2.

Alpha Tau Omega -- which has raised around $450,000 for The James Cancer Hospital through its Casino Nights -- is working to break its single-year record of $57,000 earned in 2017, with a goal of $60,000 this year.

The one-night event in the Ohio Union brings in the most money earned by a single Ohio State Greek life chapter consistently.

"We upped our goal another $5,000 since we beat it last year. We want to keep going with that," said David Clements, president of ATO.

The event was introduced to Ohio State 14 years ago, and has only continued to grow in both popularity and impact.

Last year, ATO's Casino Night hosted more than 1,000 guests, including students, parents, faculty, and university staff and members of the community. The money raised at the event benefits the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research at The James.

Guests dress in formal attire and enjoy a variety of casino style games. Blackjack, roulette and craps are all popular tables, and ATO members in attendance help guests learn the ropes of the pastimes.

Attendees can use their winnings to enter a raffle for a wide range of prizes such as gift cards, cruise trips and flat screen TVs. Autographed sports memorabilia is available, as well due to the fraternity's partnership with Buckeye Cruise.

Additionally, Urban and Shelley Meyer and a few members of the football team attend the event, held in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom.

"I think that having Urban and Shelley there brings a different energy to the event," Clements said. "They definitely have a celebrity status here at Ohio State and having them there makes it seem like a high-power event."

Chris Frometa, president of ATO's 14th annual Casino Night, said that while NCAA rules prevent the fraternity and Meyer from announcing specific football players or coaches that will be in attendance, he tends to bring some pretty big names to the mock-casino.

"In the years past he's always brought key players," Frometa said. "Two years ago he brought Joey Bosa and last year he brought Denzel Ward, it's generally always been someone drafted in the first or second round."

Clements said seeing the guests and fellow members enjoy the evening is the part of the event he looks forward to most.

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