|By Andrew M. Seder, The Times Leader,
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Mar. 16, 2010--With the allure of dealer jobs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and other casinos in the state, there is a concern that unlicensed training schools will spring up, leaving some people lighter in their wallet and no closer to landing a gig.
Michael Race, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said anyone putting himself "out there as someone who can train someone to get a job at a casino, you're breaking the law." And the education the student receives will not make them eligible for any dealer or croupier jobs because they weren't taught at an approved school with an approved curriculum.
Mohegan Sun has established its own dealer school, taught by teachers brought in from the company's parent casino in Uncasville, Conn. The program has been approved by the state Gaming Control Board and its completion certificate is valid by the state and recognized by all state casinos.
Currently, about 350 people are being trained by the Plains Township casino, which began offering its classes last week. Those who make it through the 12-week program will be all but guaranteed a job at the facility once table games are installed sometime this summer, pending state approval.
The only other certified dealer course in the state right now, according to Douglas Harbach of the Gaming Control Board, is at Northampton Community College with campuses in Tannersville and Bethlehem. That school has agreements with both Mount Airy Casino near Mount Pocono and the Sands Casino in Bethlehem. It got under way on Monday.
Wendy Wilson, a spokeswoman for Mount Airy, said about 300 dealers will be hired from the class that completes the Northampton course.
Harbach said that he's aware of others who have expressed an interest or have applied for certification, but none have been approved as of Monday.
Race said that already accredited colleges can also offer courses, but they still must meet gaming control board minimum requirements and course outlines.
Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke has offered online courses in casino gaming, including the art of dealing different games and hospitality and casino management course since 2007. But the course descriptions for the dealing-related classes do not appear to meet the minimum number of hours the state requires for certification to be eligible to deal in the state.
For example, a course catalog description for Casino Blackjack Dealer class states: "The 100-hour course teaches everything students need to know in order to become a professional blackjack dealer. Course topics include shuffling, how to handle cheques, limits and betting procedures. Tuition is $1,395."
But according to the state law's minimum classroom hour requirements, blackjack requires a minimum of 120 hours of education.
The school's baccarat course is also short on the required hours, offering 75 though the state requires 80. However, the college's poker class does offer enough classroom hours, 100. The state requires 80.
Messages left with LCCC spokeswoman Lisa Nelson Monday evening were not immediately returned.
Harbach said he has forwarded the course descriptions and information to the Department of Education to look into the course work and whether they qualify graduates to deal at a table game in Pennsylvania.
Race urged anybody who is offered a chance to participate in a "dealer school" to make sure the school is licensed by the state and offers an approved training program. He said that anyone who has concerns about the legitimacy of a school should visit the Department of Education's Web site to search the list of all private licensed schools.
Andrew M. Seder, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 570-829-7269.
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