New casino Gaming Certificate Program Dealt a Full House

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College of Extended Studies’ new courses provide many students with an opportunity to pursue professional management positions By Stephanie Waits, ContributorCasino frequenters and gambling fanatics can rest easy becausethe College of Extended Studies now offers courses on the casinogaming industry.

Since April 2004, the College of Extended Studies has beenoffering courses and a professional certificate in casino gaming.

Students learn all there is to know about the industry, givingprogram graduates an advantage when applying for jobs in the field.

“The courses are not just classes on how to throw a dice ordeal a card game,” Wendy Evers, director of Program Certificates atthe College of Extended Studies, said. “They give the students actualinsight as to what it is like to work in an Indian casino.”

The completion of six courses, including Introduction to IndianGaming Past and Present and Indian Casino Marketing and Promotion,are required for the certificate.

Evers said each class is taught by someone from a differentcasino in the San Diego area. Some of the represented casinos includeSycuan Resort and Casino, Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino andViejas Resort and Casino.

Reno-Gazette Journal columnist Thomas Walsh reports there aremore than 30 casinos operating in Southern California – morethan half are expanded or are planning to do so in the next year.

“The casino gaming industry is huge and is always growing,”Steve Penhall, general manager of Sycuan Resort and Casino, said.”Sycuan alone has 2,300 employees, and there is a constant need forquality employees.”

The courses and curriculum are decided on by the Casino GamingAdvisory Board, which is made up of representatives from 10 differentcasinos.

Penhall, who is a member of this advisory board, said the boardmeets to discuss the future needs of the casinos and the type oftraining students need. He said getting this certificate is a greatway for applicants to show employers they have the interest anddesire to be good employees. It also shows the person has the rightskills to be a valuable employee.

The courses and certificate were designed in accordance withSan Diego and Riverside county casinos. However, it may be beneficialto have when applying to larger-scale, Las Vegas casinos such as theMirage and MGM Grand.

Ryshawnda Grant, a recruitment coordinator for the MGM Grand,said it wouldn’t hurt to have the certificate.

“We like to hire people with some experience, but it is notnecessary,” he said. “Having a bachelor’s degree in hospitality isalso something regarded highly when we are looking for a new hire.”

According to the National Indian Gaming Association, a hugefoundation for the establishment of Indian Casinos was to generatejob opportunities for the Indian community. Today the rate ofnon-Indian to Indian employees is three to one.

Evers said people of all ages and ethnicities have been signingup for the courses.

“Eighty percent of people who sign up for the certificateprogram are already employees of a casino and are looking to get thetraining needed for a promotion,” she said. “The other 20 percent arepeople interested in getting a job in the industry.”

She said although the casino gaming certificate is a fairly newaddition to the College of Extended Studies, its popularity has madeit one of the top three most sought after certificates offered.”Enrollment is at its peak, with each class filling up with 36 plusstudents,” she said.

Marketing senior Justin Taylor said he thinks it’s great thatthese courses are available, because there isn’t much opportunity tolearn about the industry elsewhere.

“The casino industry has a lot to offer college aged andrecently graduated people,” he said. “Young people are drawn to theexciting, fast paced atmosphere with all the glamour of a smallcity.”