The group is named “What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino.”
But, in reality, the name couldn’t be much further than the truth.
What started as a small collection of people looking to enjoy each other’s company while gambling has turned into something much more. They’ve become a family.
The Facebook group has nearly 12,000 members that share photos and videos of their experiences. Turns out What Happens at the Casino, gets shared amongst thousands of people.
How ‘What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino’ got started in Michigan
Kalamazoo native and 52-year-old Tim Stevens is where this Facebook group all started.
Not a gambler, Stevens found himself on the winning end of a radio contest in 2005 that earned him a free bus trip to then-Greektown Casino (now Hollywood Casino at Greektown) in Detroit.
With $100 in his pocket, Stevens managed to turn it into $300 and decided he liked the whole casino experience.
After making more trips over the years with co-worker Dawn Morse, the two decided to create a Facebook group.
“I work at the courthouse and we have all the federal holidays off. So we would always plan a casino run on a holiday and then we’d see half of our co-workers there,” Stevens said. “So we decided that we could just create this group, just for us and our friends and our coworkers.
Naming the group was easy. Friends had already printed shirts with the “What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino” slogan.
Social casino group established 13 years ago
Stevens created the group in 2010, and shortly after, he started getting requests to join from friends and eventually strangers.
“As we started going on casino runs together and posting pictures, I think it just kind of started taking on a life of its own,” Stevens said. “People saw what we were doing or would hear about it from a friend. Then, they wanted to join.”
What started with a small few has now turned into more than 11,700 members. They exist from all over the state, some even coming from Indiana.
“I certainly didn’t expect it to grow to what it has. When Dawn and I created it, we thought it was going to go left, with our friends. Instead it went right, and now now it’s almost 12,000 people,” Stevens said. “I didn’t know any of those people. Now I have made all these friendships. I think that’s pretty cool. All these people have made all these new friends just through being part of this group and enjoying themselves at the casino.”
The $100 Club a big part of casino enthusiast Facebook group
Perhaps the most popular aspect of this Facebook group is its $100 Club.
Spawned from an idea he had seen on YouTube, Stevens decided to pull together group members, and each would bring in $100.
The collective group then goes around together and plays slot machines. The total wins and losses would be suffered collectively. Should the group win, it spreads the win out between all who signed up to play.
“The idea behind the $100 Club is simple. I’m a low roller. I don’t have $1,500-2,000 to take into a casino on my own, as I’m sure most of us don’t, or at least we shouldn’t. However, I do have $100, and I can go through that pretty quick at any casino. So, I came up with an idea how we could all play like high rollers, even for a couple of hours and maybe share that almighty jackpot,” Stevens said.
Only one group member is playing at a time, allowing others to interact and cheer on the player or gamble on their own when it’s not their turn.
All the group’s player club cards get mixed together, and when their card is drawn, they pick a slot to play. This allows each player to earn rewards points while taking part in the group as well.
The goal for the group is to double up the collective investment or lose it trying. If the group doubles up, they will cash out, and those that want to play again will start a new round.
The club typically lasts multiple hours and allows players not to have to commit more than $100 to play.
This group has had 168 different $100 Club events at 12 casinos. They have broke even or come out ahead about 36.3% of the time, while collecting over $146,000 in hand pays.
“I can take part in the $100 club and I can play for five hours and still get money back,” Stevens said. “I would much rather do that than play by myself and burn through my money much faster.”
While it began with 10-20 players in the beginning, the most recent $100 club featured a total of 76 people taking part.
Some have expanded the group to include $200, $500 and $1,000 clubs.
Monthly ‘What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino’ events in Michigan
“What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino” puts together at least one monthly event. Those events are more planned and typically include weekend stays at a Michigan retail casino.
More impromptu events will appear on the group’s Facebook page calendar.
Even with the boom of Michigan online casinos after Michigan’s January 2021 launch, the in-person events have continued to grow and have approached nearly 100 people.
“We joke about it between the admins, that if you build it, they will come. When we build an event or a casino run, my gosh, those people show up every time,” Stevens said. “It blows my mind that no matter what time no matter what day, no matter what month, people come.”
These events come with a fair amount of planning. Each casino is contacted to see what kind of perks package they can provide the group that signs up to appear. That typically includes free play, meal vouchers and discounted room rates.
For the group administrators, the time putting these events together is a small price to pay for what they get out of the group.
“Why wouldn’t I work hard at putting these groups together? I love these events and these people have become my family,” said Maria Gonzales of Grand Rapids. “It makes people feel you’re going to a family event, it really does. I think that that’s what really makes this group special. None of these admins get paid, we just pretty much do it just for fun.”
Michigan casinos vying for ‘What Happens at the Casino’ group to appear
While some Michigan casinos saw this Facebook group as a nuisance in the early days, most are now vying for their attention.
“It’s getting very competitive,” Gonzales said. “Casinos are starting to offer us more free play or more perks each day we stay. I think they know how much the group can bring to the casino and are wanting to make sure that we enjoy our experience. Some of the casinos didn’t like us much at first, now they love us. A lot of these casinos love to have us and look for opportunities to have our group come back.”
The most recent event was held at Gun Lake Casino in Wayland. The casino hosted a birthday celebration for Stevens that included a special slot tournament just for group members.
“Everybody loved that and thought it was really cool. People just ate it up,” Stevens said. “I think anyone likes to be treated a little special and some of these casinos really do a nice job to make us feel welcome.”
‘What Happens at the Casino’ Stays at the Casino taking new members
The Facebook group isn’t slowing down anytime soon and is willing to add more members that want to enjoy a casino experience with other people looking for a good time.
“When you go to the casino with this group, you have a different experience than when you go by yourself,” Stevens said. “It’s a way to save your money at the casino and still have a good time. You will also benefit from some comps that are given to you by the casino.”
Those that might be apprehensive could learn from Gonzales. She was admittedly shy to join and interact with the group at first. Now, she wonders where her life would be without them.
“I was very lonely. I moved here from Texas. When I moved here, I moved here all by myself. So, I didn’t know what it was to have family here, and that’s what we made with this group,” Gonzales said. “For me, I have several sisters now. I have everything that I’ve wanted my whole life. It’s family and it’s been one of the greatest things in my life. It’s been a gift from God letting me know I wouldn’t ever feel lonely again.”
For those interested in What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino, you can visit their Facebook Page and request to become a member.