Magazine article Techniques

A Career That Is Playing to Win: Gaming Is One Area of the Hospitality Industry That Has Experienced Incredible Growth along with the Need for Well-Trained Employees

Magazine article Techniques

A Career That Is Playing to Win: Gaming Is One Area of the Hospitality Industry That Has Experienced Incredible Growth along with the Need for Well-Trained Employees

Article excerpt

As the gaming industry has expanded throughout the United States, job opportunities have grown along with revenue. Holly Thomsen with the American Gaming Association says that, not only has the casino part of the hospitality business grown dramatically, but it encompasses so much--hotels, restaurants, the gaming floor and the shows.

"It is a unique environment with special needs related to other venues in the hospitality industry," says Thomsen. "It is important for employees at casinos today to have a well-rounded education."

She also notes that education shouldn't stop after employees are hired. "Existing employees need to continue to refine their skills in areas such as responsible gaming," she says.

According to Thomsen, "A lot of quite respected universities have begun to offer casino management courses as part of their undergraduate or graduate courses."

She believes that a recent announcement by Wharton Business School was most likely prompted by casinos that are about to come online in Pennsylvania.

"The school is starting a casino management track as part of its business school offerings, so that people who come out and take management positions-- and there are so many different facets involved in this business--will be prepared to work in this very specific but growing segment of the entertainment industry," says Thomsen.

The Web site for the new Wharton program for gaming executives notes that, "New competitors, globalization and new technology are rapidly transforming the gaming industry," and cites the growing importance of "effective leadership, strategic thinking, marketing and management."

A Two-Year Game Plan

Lonnie Wright is a workforce specialist with the Division of Workforce and Economic Development in the hospitality program department at the Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN), and as a native of Las Vegas, he has had a front-row seat on the growth and the changes experienced by the gaming industry. Wright describes it as having gone "from gambling to gaming to entertainment." He is also very proud of his city, which he calls "the entertainment capital of the world."

Wright, who has a master's degree in the field and is curre working on his doctorate, knows the gaming business from the "front of the house" to the "back of the house," and that is what they teach at CCSN. Among the "front of the house" jobs are dealers and front desk clerks, while "back of the house" jobs include food and beverage preparation and maintenance.

CCSN is one of the schools helping to address the shortage of hospitality workers as part of the President's High Growth Training Initiative. As part of the initiative, the Department of Labor was awarded a grant to provide hospitality training to more than 10,000 workers over the next three years. There are 16 different positions in hotel, food and beverage or catering for which students at CCSN can train--from reservations agent to bartender to concierge. The school even has its own casino lab that replicates the atmosphere of an actual casino.

"It looks just like a casino," says Wright, "but it is a classroom."

Because security is such an important issue in the gaming industry, CCSN offers courses in that area as well. Behind each of the many cameras in and around the casinos, there must be a trained security professional ensuring the integrity of the games and the safety of the patrons.

"They have to make sure that all the dealers are operating within house protocol," Wright explains. "And if a dealer makes a mistake and pays too little or too much to a patron, they have to be able to spot it and then call down to the floor man. To be in a position like that, they have to know all of the games--how they are dealt and how they are played."

If they are proficient at the job, Wright says, they will be able to spot red flags, such as something the dealer is doing that is outside of the protocol or a problem a patron may have, such as being too inebriated. …

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