The Hilliard Education Foundation's (HEF) seventh annual "Casino Night" lets people gamble for fun, and the winners are teachers and students.

The Hilliard Education Foundation's (HEF) seventh annual "Casino Night" lets people gamble for fun, and the winners are teachers and students.

Those attending, most of them in their best cowboy attire, are going to play blackjack, craps and roulette from 6:30 to 10 p.m., March 10 at the Makoy Center.

For the price of admission, each person will be given $25,000 - in play money. When they gamble, they'll receive chips for their winnings. The chips will be exchanged for raffle tickets for door prizes.

There will also be appetizers, music and dancing, as well as contests.

Black Diamond Casino Events, a Cincinnati-based company, will provide the gaming materials, dealers and music.

John Marsh, president of Black Diamond, lives in Hilliard. A couple of years ago, he met his future wife at an HEF Casino Night. He'll be the disc jockey and emcee for the evening.

"It's all about fun," Marsh said of the event. "We play loose. We help them win, because it's a lot more fun to win than it is to lose. The more they win, the more raffle tickets they get. Even if you don't play, you still get one ticket."

HEF president Christy Farnbauch said the casino nights are the organization's primary fundraiser, drawing 400 or more people. The HEF used to have an adult spelling bee, she said, and the use of casino games was a way to add more excitement. Casino Nights in previous years have had tropical and Mardi Gras themes.

One of the interesting elements of the Casino Night is the "celebrity" blackjack dealers, which may be principals or school board members and other locally known people.

"It makes it fun to see who's loyal to their dealer, who stays all night at one table because they like their dealer," Farnbauch said.

Proceeds raised at the Casino Night will go "to fund innovative learning opportunities for kids in the Hilliard City School District," Farnbauch said. "We do that at the moment from teacher grants. We have two deadlines a year, April and October. Teachers and any staff member of the district can fill out an application and ask for up to $2,500.

"We have supported things like author visits, artist residencies and we just funded a new robotics program at Bradley High School - extra things that fall out of the budget as school funding gets worse and worse. Lots of things that make learning better for kids we try to fund."

HEF, formed in 1989, works with the school district and board of education on funding projects. In addition to casino night, they have held events such as Hullaballoo and the Evening of Excellence.

"I think HEF is one of the best kept secrets in this town," Farnbauch said. "We quietly go about what we do, and a couple of times a year we have an event."

Casino Night will take place from 6:30-10 p.m. March 10 in the Makoy Center, 5462 Center St. Tickets cost $40. To order, call (614) 777-2222 ext. 4333 or visit www.hilliardeducationfoundation.com.