Volunteering for casinos is very rewarding

Many organizations in the Edmonton Jewish community depend on casino volunteers annually. Casinos help raise between $70,000 and $80,000 in a two-day period. Jodi Zabludowski has been volunteering at casino nights for over 30 years—since before computers could count money. 

“Organizations wouldn’t survive without having a casino. Casinos keep the community going. It takes lots of volunteers, but it’s well worth the time and effort,” she adds. 

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton has scheduled the JCC casino for November 19 and 20.  Organizer Rebecca Asbell explained that the two days of volunteerism generates over $75,000. Without these casino nights and the volunteers, the Federation could not provide all of its services and programs for the community.  

Alberta has a unique charitable gaming model. It is the only province in Canada where charitable organizations are licensed to conduct and manage casino events. Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis distributes the revenue to the casino, government, and non-profit organizations. For every dollar in revenue, non-profits receive 15 cents. The 15 cents are divided between a variety of local charities and non-profits, like the Federation.    

In return, casinos require volunteers for day and night shifts. They require each organization involved to recruit around 40 volunteers for two days of work. The casino requires volunteers to work as chip runners, count room personnel, cashiers, bankers, and managers. Volunteers can donate their time by filling any of the positions. Each of the five roles contributes in various ways and suits people differently. Those who enjoy movement may prefer to be chip runners. Regardless of preferences, all roles are vital to running a successful casino night.    

Rebecca has been volunteering at casino nights for over 20 years. She estimates that one shift is worth around $2,000. She says that volunteering is a great opportunity for people, who don’t have the financial resources, to donate money to give back to the community.   

“Although I give financially to the Federation, there is nothing more valuable than time. As a person who is a giver, this is such a meaningful way to give time and know that it equates to money,” says Rebecca. 

Jodi recommends that first-time volunteers be counters or chip runners, since those are the easiest roles. She volunteers at casino nights after all these years because not only is there a need for it but also the satisfaction and camaraderie are very rewarding. She said that volunteering is a chance to make friendships throughout the entire experience and a bonus is a complimentary meal and snacks.    

“It’s usually the same group of people who volunteer for the casinos. The challenge for the community and not just Federation, but all the Jewish organizations, is to get the young people, the next generation, involved. The ones in their 20s, 30s and 40s need to volunteer at a casino so that they can carry on the tradition,” says Jodi.

To sign up to volunteer, please visit volunteersignup.org/XYQYP.