Schenectady County Community College is betting that the job market will be good for people studying how to run casinos.
The New York State Education Department and SUNY have signed off on SCCC’s proposal to offer a two-year associate degree in casino gaming management starting this fall.
Courses would teach people information about gambling law, the layout and flow of a casino floor and how to spot the signs of gambling addiction. Students also would have the opportunity to take part in internships.
SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said she is excited about the program, which she said seemed like a logical one for the college to add.
“We thought it would be a natural fit with some of the things that we’re already doing in hospitality,” she said.
McGraw said the college, which offers programs in culinary arts and travel and tourism, has been focusing in the past four years on programs that lead to jobs. She believes that gaming is a growth industry and there will be more demand for casino employees as the state considers a constitutional amendment this November to allow full-scale casinos with table games such as poker.
Employment is the gaming field nationally is expected to grow by about 13 percent from 2010 to 2020 to nearly 200,000 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth rate is on par with other careers. The median salary for casino workers is about $20,260.
McGraw said people who successfully complete the program would be trained in all aspects of casino operation and qualify for jobs such as dealers and floor managers at casinos.
“They’re going to have a leg up over somebody they’re going to have to bring in and train,” she said.
She doesn’t know the potential number of jobs available. Exactly where new casinos will be located in the state is unknown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants three of the casino sites to be located upstate but has not stated the specific areas. Some legislators are pushing specific sites to be included, such as Saratoga Casino and Raceway, which currently has video lottery terminals.
SCCC plans to hire a faculty member at a minimum salary of $42,000 to teach the courses. The successful candidate would have a master’s degree in hospitality management or a bachelor’s degree with three to five years of experience in the casino and gaming industry as well as teaching experience. This person would recruit students into the program and secure internships for them in addition to teaching a full course load.
SCCC President Quintin Bullock said in a news release that the college is trying to respond to future workforce employment needs.
“The casino gaming management program is another opportunity for students to integrate their classroom learning with hands-on workplace experiences,” he said.
College officials have met with the New York Gaming Association as well as Saratoga Casino and Raceway officials for input on the program’s development.
Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing for the racino, said the two-year degree could only help graduates seeking to work in the field. People could take gaming floor, food and beverage, customer service and marketing positions.
“Any industry is looking for potential employees that have a background in their business,” she said.