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Gambling spree is all for fun
With its annual "Monte Carlo Night" on Saturday, the Aquia Evening Lions Club combines the thrill of gambling with the chance to support a worthwhile cause.

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Date published: 2/25/2004


IMAGINE losing $40,000 in a few hours at a gambling table and walking away with a smile.

I know if I were to lose $40,000 at a casino, I would need a stretcher to exit the building--and probably a toe tag when my wife found out what I had done.

But the mood will be decidedly upbeat on Saturday night, when the Aquia Evening Lions Club holds its annual "Monte Carlo Night." That's because the gaming tables accept only play money and everyone can go home a winner knowing that they contributed to a worthwhile cause.

The event will be held from 7 to 11:30 p.m. at the Harbour Inn in North Stafford's Aquia Harbour subdivision.

For a $12 admission fee, guests will receive $40,000 in chips and an opportunity to try their luck at roulette, craps, blackjack or poker. At the end of the evening, the top money-winners from the gambling tables will earn prizes donated by local merchants.

There also will be raffles, door prizes, hors d'oeuvres, desserts and a cash bar.

"Some of the people are experienced card players," said Kristin Bishop, who is responsible for organizing the event. "But mostly, it's an informal setting where people can just have fun."

Bishop has been involved with the event for seven years. She said attendance has been as high as 150 and that more than $2,000 is likely to be raised for the Aquia Evening Lions Club's charity programs.

"It's one of our major fund-raisers," Bishop said. "I know people like gambling without the risk of financial loss. But I think they also enjoy contributing to a good cause.

"And most of our money goes back to the local community. We have an arrangement with several school nurses in Stafford. They will contact us when a student needs glasses or an eye exam, but might not be able to afford them. Then an appointment is made, and the bill is sent directly to us."

Saturday's event is open to the public, and Bishop said guests include people of all ages and from all walks of life.

"We have a lot of Aquia Harbour residents," she said. "Plus, family members, co-workers and friends of friends. We have some people come from as far as Spotsylvania and Fairfax every year."

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