Taking a Gamble on Small Businesses

Cathy Salustri

Taking a Gamble on Small Businesses

Stone Handy tries his luck at a blackjack table last Thursday night at the Gulfport Casino.

For one night, the Gulfport Casino transformed from a dance hall-style casino to a Vegas-style Casino. Last Thursday night, the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the first-ever Casino Royale on the Bay. High rollers took their chance at games like roulette, craps, blackjack, and Texas Hold-’Em tournaments.

While no actual gambling took place – attendees exchanged vouchers for chips and won no cash – the Chamber of Commerce raised money for its small business programs through ticket sales, table sponsorships, extra chip sales and raffles. The Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Foundation also raised money with a silent auction.

“It was very successful,” Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Newcomb said. “It the first event. We learned a few things.”

Newcomb estimated roughly 250 people attended the event. He also praised community support.

“The really great thing was the number of contributors, in terms of donors and gifts and people who purchased tables. That was more important to me than anything, people really pulling together to make it work,” he said.

The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce mentor group, in concert with the Gulfport Library, will use some of the proceeds to host SCORE seminars for small businesses.