Getting Involved: Casino Volunteering

By: Giselle General

What does it entail? Are you expected to hustle and use your skill at poker to win a jackpot? Are you required to be lucky or know how to place your bets wisely on the roulette table, and the funds go towards the charity of your choice?

That’s not the case at all.

The simplest way for me to describe it is:

  • A charitable organization is provided two days to provide volunteers.
  • These volunteers are essentially “free labour” doing various tasks such as cashier, transporting gambling chips to the gaming tables, data entry, and counting money at the end of the day.
  • The charitable organization receives funds from Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
  • Many organizations do this, from nonprofit service agencies, community leagues, children’s dance groups, sports teams, etc.

Why should you do it?

It’s an easy way to volunteer that gives that organization a sizeable amount of money. Last I heard, about $70,000 – 8$0,000 is what the organization receives. Add a few grant applications and that can go a really long way to keeping that organization running and fulfilling their purpose.

Organizations do this only once every two years. If you are too busy with other day-to-day activities, this is a great way to contribute in an impactful way. Essentially about 38 spots need to be filled, divide that by $80,000, you are providing help with an estimated value of $2,000. Some organizations make the volunteer shifts shorter which means more people at needed.

It’s a great way to do other tasks, especially if you are doing a quiet role like the chip runner. Did you know drafted a huge chunk of my first mini e-book while volunteering for a casino? As the chip runner, you basically only do the task for ten minutes at a time, while you spend almost an hour in between waiting to be called. I spent a lot of that time writing and thinking.

Many organizations really need help to fill the roles. Casinos run practically all day, so there are volunteer shifts that are all-nighters. We’re talking about 6 PM – 3 AM or 11 PM – 3 AM. There are also times when the casino happens during a work week. For any students, retired people, those with flexible hours, or just anyone who don’t mind staying up late once in a while, this is a great way to help out. As compensation, you also get one free meal from the restaurant, and casino restaurants usually have decent food!

It requires very little training, the tasks and the rules are pretty simple. For each charitable organization that send a group of volunteers to fulfill their casino volunteering requirements, there is a Casino Manager assigned who will be there along the way. When I volunteered as a cashier, I had to remind myself to lay out the cash one bill at a time so it is seen by the overhead camera properly. As a chip runner, I just need to follow the security staff while holding a container of casino gambling chips. Volunteering as a group in the countroom is quite social while organizing stacks of cash which was the casino earnings from that day.

To learn more about how Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission runs the program, go to the following links:

So next time you hear about “casino volunteering” from your community league, not-for-profit preschool, children’s sports or dance groups or social agencies, consider signing up and helping out!

Getting Involved: A Review of the Insight Community Surveys

By: Giselle General

In this day and age, thanks to technology and social media, it seems to be very easy to share one’s thoughts and opinions.

This is a quick review of one of the ways I try to get involved in the community, through the power of technology, and why it is worth considering.

I would describe the Insight Community (weblink is as an online questionnaire program run by the City of Edmonton. Every month, if you have subscribed, you will receive an email with a link to a survey, that answers questions on different topics that the City works on.

How Does it Work?

It’s an easy process. Anyone interested can go to the link and create an account which asks demographics related questions. And then once a month, an email arrives in your mailbox with the survey for the month, what topics it covers, and the deadline.

Email for the January 2019 survey, That’s quite a range of topics. The Opt-in is an opportunity to answer additional in-depth surveys on specific topics.

Why do I do this?

It’s relatively straightforward and easy. I also sometimes feel like I only find out about city issues or changes in programs, bylaws and procedures after the fact. When the shovels are on the ground for that infrastructure change, or the brochures and set and the staff has been hired for a program, it can be more difficult to tweak things around. Since the Insight Community Surveys are part of the public engagement process that city staff need to do, I feel like I am getting an advanced preview of what they are working on. It is also a great opportunity to learn about what is going on outside of my immediate neighbourhood, since sometimes there are also questions about upcoming city-wide infrastructure projects.

Some concerns I hear about the survey is the allegation that it is deliberately self-affirming. Another concern is that allegation that people who may not necessarily know about a topic are giving their opinions on it.

That being said, I personally try not to stress about these parts since it is something I cannot control, and I feel like there are adequate opportunities in the questions to provide written answers. If there is something that I really feel passionate about that is either not covered by a the current survey or that the survey cannot convey my opinions about it, I know that I can contact my elected representative though an email, letter, or phone call. Some lucky constituents may even have an elected representative who is also active on social media, and in that case they can be contacted that way as well.

So, go subscribe and spend a few minutes every month learning about the city and sharing your input! At least for me, these few minutes feel so productive, a time away from browsing for too long on social media, haha!