(WTNH) — The new casino in Springfield, Massachusetts is set to open later this year. That means MGM has to hire 3,000 people in the next 6 months, around 450 of them will need very specific training.
Looking around a large room on the 9th floor of a downtown Springfield office building, you might think the MGM Springfield was already open. What you are actually seeing, however, is the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute in action. It is designed for people like Barbara McLoughlin from Avon, who want to roll the dice on a new line of work.
“I’m kind of looking for a new career,” McLoughlin said. “I do landscaping right now. Been doing it quite a while and time for something new.”
The MCCTI will hold classes in blackjack, roulette, craps and poker, with the first classes starting Monday. Many of the students for the first blackjack class have had careers already and are looking to shuffle things up.
“I want to do something I really enjoy and that’s why I decided to sign up,” said Rosie Dellaventura of Plainville.
That is exactly the attitude the bosses want to see.
“You need to have personality and be engaging with our guests, that’s probably the number one priority,” said Robert Westerfield, Vice President of Table Games at MGM Springfield. “Then the dexterity and the skills to actually do the job, deal the cards, push the dice.”
Which is what gaming school is here to teach. The first lesson is about handling chips because, when you’re the dealer, it’s okay to count your money when you’re sitting at the table.Related content: 1st building of MGM casino opens in western Massachusetts
Of two dozen students, several are from Connecticut, which does not surprise MGM.
“As you know the border is only 7 miles,” said Marikate Murren, Vice President for Human Resources at MGM Springfield. “It’s a great, really easy commute, especially for people coming up from Hartford or other areas in Connecticut, so we’re getting people from all over.”
The casino also hopes to get customers from all over, which could take business away from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Those tribes are worried enough that they are thinking about building their own small, jointly-operated casino a few miles away, across the border in Connecticut.
As for Springfield, when the construction is done, there will be a 250 room hotel, shopping, restaurants, and 125,000 square feet of casino space.
“It’s going to be nice,” said McLoughlin, the landscaper looking to make a change. Will it be a nice place to work? “I hope so. I hope I do well.”
The gaming courses cost from $199 to $599 depending on which game you are learning. Once a student has completed two course, he or she can then audition for a job at the casino. Anyone who gets a job and stays for at least a year is then eligible for a tuition reimbursement program. That means the training will end up being free for many of the students.
There are several courses still available. For course information and registration, click here.