Twin River blackjack tourney nets $60,000 for local charities

Twin River blackjack tourney nets $60,000 for local charities

Twin River Casino general manager Craig Sculos, far right, emcees the final round of Tuesday’s Blackjack Tournament. State Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, NBC-10’s Frank Carpano, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce SVP Paul DeRoche, the Warwick Beacon’s John Howell, state Sen. Erin Lynch Prata and state Rep. Alex Marszalkowski, of Cumberland, all participated in the final round. (Breeze photos by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – “It’s getting jammed up over here like Route 95 during rush hour,” announced Twin River Casino’s General Manager Craig Sculos, acting as emcee during Tuesday’s “celebrity” blackjack tournament at the casino.

“They set me up for failure,” the dealer joked, motioning to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. “Melissa, you were doing so well!” Ruggerio said, with two hands left to play in the Championship Round the sixth annual Twin River Casino Holiday Blackjack Tournament. Ultimately, Ruggerio would take fifth place overall.

A total of 36 players competed in this year’s charity tournament, including elected officials, members of the local press, union representatives and business leaders. Each player was guaranteed $1,000 for their chosen charities, with those making the championship round earning even more. The top six winning players competed for a grand prize of $10,000, to be donated to a Rhode Island charity of the winner’s choice.

This year’s winner was Paul DeRoche, senior vice president of government relations for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “I’m going to come in every day from now on,” he joked as casino officials tallied the chips. As winner, DeRoche donated $10,000 to Crossroads Rhode Island.

Second-place winner Frank Carpano, of Channel 10, donated his $7,500 in prize money to Adoption Rhode Island, Sen. Erin Lynch Prata gave her $5,000 third-place winnings to Special Olympics Rhode Island, and fourth-place champ John Howell, editor and publisher of The Warwick Beacon, supported the Rhode Island Academic Decathlon with $3,500.

In fifth place, Ruggerio donated $2,500 in winnings to the Holy Family Home for Women and Children in Providence. Rep. Alex Marszalkowski, of Cumberland, took sixth and donated $1,500 to the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry, which recently relocated to 1 Angell Road in Cumberland.

Each of the tournament’s remaining challengers earned $1,000 for local charities, totaling $30,000.

Those competing on behalf of a broad range of charitable organizations included Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi, John Gregory of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO President George Nee, Building Trades Council President Michael Sabitoni, Dale Venturini of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, and John Taylor, chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc., who donated $1,000 to the town of Lincoln’s Memorial Day Parade Fund.

A total of $60,000 in prize money was awarded to charitable organizations from across the state, including several veteran-centered nonprofits, local food pantries and animal shelters. Valley Breeze publisher Tom Ward earned $1,000 for his alma mater, Mount St. Charles Academy. Brian Hunter, president of Hunter Insurance and last year’s top winner, donated his $1,000 to Lincoln’s Holiday Basket Program.

Holding a $10,000 check, to be donated to Crossroads Rhode Island, the top six winners of this year’s Blackjack Tournament at Twin River Casino, from left, are Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Warwick Beacon editor and publisher John Howell, NBC-10 sports anchor Frank Carpano, first-place winner Paul DeRoche of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Erin Lynch Prata and Rep. Alex Marszalkowski.
Paul DeRoche, senior vice president of government affairs for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, celebrates his first-place win during Tuesday’s Blackjack Tournament at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.