Schenectady County

SCCC to offer courses on problem gambling

Schenectady County Community College, which began offering a popular casino and gaming management pr

Schenectady County Community College, which began offering a popular casino and gaming management program in 2013 and should soon be in the shadow of a new casino, will offer classes in the fall on how to counsel people with gambling issues.

But the school said there is no link between the counseling and gaming programs, or the fact a that a casino is slated to be built less than a mile away off of Erie Boulevard,

SCCC has been approved to offer a certified substance abuse credential for problem gambling by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. Only three community colleges in the state offer such a credit program, with Schenectady County the only one to do so in the Capital Region. The college will begin offering the class in the fall.

According to SCCC Dean of Liberal Arts Carol DeFries, the school has been working on securing certification for the problem gambling class from the state for several years independent of a casino being sited in Schenectady or SCCC’s casino and gaming management program.

“They are not connected,” DeFries said Friday. “Any time as a community college we can be the first in the area to offer something, we are going to go for it.”

Students in the gaming program will not be able to take the upper-level course, since there are specific prerequisites needed for the advanced credential.

The 60-hour course is part of SCCC’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, which offers two tracks: a certificate and an Associates in Applied Science Degree. There are 118 students enrolled in the two programs.

“Adding a new curriculum to help our students build their skills is always a positive for our college, whether those students are looking to enter the workforce for the first time or are professionals interested in expanding their skill set,” SCCC Acting President Martha Asselin said in a statement. “I look at this advanced credential as another way our college is helping students stand out in the workforce.”

The future Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor, less than a mile from the SCCC campus and located at the old Alco site, could be up and running by 2017. Interest in SCCC’s gaming program ramped up since the state Gaming Facility Location Board in December recommended Rivers Casino for a license as one of the first commercial casinos in the state.

The $330 million project is spearheaded by Rotterdam developer the Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago. The casino is part of Galesi’s plans to revitalize the 60-acre Alco property with apartments, condominiums and townhouses, retail and office space, plus a hotel. The entire development is slated to cost $480 million.

SCCC launched the gaming program in the fall of 2013, less than two months before voters approved the expansion of casino gaming in the state as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate NY Gaming and Economic Development Act.

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