Classes start soon at the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute, the region’s first school designed specifically to train people for the hundreds of gaming jobs at the soon-to-open MGM Springfield casino. MGM today announced an incentive for people to enroll.
With the need to hire 450 people to deal blackjack and poker and to operate table games including craps and roulette at the western Massachusetts casino resort that is on track to open in September, MGM is offering a tuition reimbursement plan.
Students who successfully complete two or more courses at the new gaming school, get hired at MGM Springfield, and are still employed there one year after the grand opening will be eligible to have their tuition reimbursed.
MGM Springfield General Manager Alex Dixon announced the incentive Tuesday as the media was given a preview of the school.
" In other jurisdictions people are knocking down the doors to get these jobs, but here we are a new industry, and it takes time to get people invested," Dixon said.
Tuition ranges from $199-$599, depending on which courses a student elects to take. Classes are scheduled to start on February 26th
So far, 60 people have enrolled, according to Jeff Heyden, executive director of the casino school, but he said he expects an additional 100 people to sign up by the time the first classes begin.
"Now that we are within two weeks ( of classes starting),we are going to see the seats fill up fast," predicted Heyden. " This is a one-of-a-kind workforce development opportunity for the single largest development in Springfield in its history."
The casino school, located in downtown Springfield adjacent to the MGM site, is a joint venture of Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College. MGM has supplied the curriculum, 15 professional instructors, and the equipment which consists of 30 gaming tables, 432 decks of cards and eight sets of dice.
Deborah Cusson , an instructor at the craps table, said is is a hard game to teach people, but she said it is perhaps the most fun of the table games.
" If you hear people hooting and hollering, you are on a dice game," said Cusson.
Robert Westerfield, Vice President of Table Games for MGM Springfield, said the classroom is designed to duplicate the actual casino experience for the students.
"You have all the games that would be on a casino floor: craps, blackjack, midi baccarat, roulette, etc. and we have all the equipment that would be on a casino floor, so when the students graduate and go to work nothing will be foreign to them," said Westerfield. He conceded the spacious classroom does not duplicate the casino experience in every respect.
"There won't be this much daylight in the casino," said Westerfield
Diane Garvey from Wilbraham has enrolled in the casino school and wants to learn to be a blackjack dealer. She said she is looking for a fresh start after recently losing a job in sales she had for many years.
"This just looks like a great opportunity for me," said Garvey. " It is in Springfield. It is not going anywhere."
MGM spokespeople said a table game dealer’s income is heavily dependent on tips, but estimated a fulltime dealer could make $45,000 - $50,000 a year at the Springfield casino.