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Gaming School A Go

DATE: Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A full schedule of training classes, along with course descriptions, prices and school policies, is available on the MCCTI website.

Prospective students register for classes during a launch event for the new MCCTI Gaming School in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD — Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College today officially launched the new MCCTI Gaming School, where area residents interested in working as professional card dealers or croupiers at MGM Springfield can start taking training classes early next year.

HCC and STCC, through TWO, their Training and Workforce Options collaborative, and MCCTI, the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute, will run the gaming school on the ninth floor of 95 State St., Springfield.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued a certificate to MCCTI to operate the gaming school on Nov. 9. That certificate was presented at today's launch event in the first-floor lobby of the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. 

"MGM Springfield is inspired by our educational and workforce development partners' strong commitment to creating a healthier regional economy through career opportunities," said Alex Dixon, general manager for MGM Springfield. "We are grateful for their willingness to learn about and adapt teachings for the gaming and hospitality industry. Today, we celebrate this milestone and look forward to hiring the first-ever table game professionals in the Commonwealth."

Today's event also signaled the opening of registration for training classes, which will begin Feb. 26 in anticipation of the opening of the $960 million MGM Springfield resort casino in September 2018.

Jeffrey Hayden, vice president of Business and Community Services for HCC, who also served as executive director of TWO and MCCTI, noted that the MGM International website prominently features two new resort casinos MGM is building that are literally half a world apart, one in Massachusetts and one in Macau.

"There will be a $1 billion facility one block from here," he said. "The show is coming to Springfield."

A full schedule of training classes, along with course descriptions, prices and school policies, is available on the MCCTI website under "Gaming School," where job seekers can also register and explore other employment possibilities with MGM.

"The citizens of the region want to work in positions that provide a livable wage and the potential for advancement," said Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno. "MGM Springfield will provide both, right in the heart of our region in downtown Springfield. I want to thank the community college presidents for their continued dedication to providing people with the education and skills they need to be successful in the job market."

"This is truly a great day for Springfield and a great day for Massachusetts," said Jim Peyser, Massachusetts secretary of education. "MCCTI is not just a targeted solution to a specific workforce challenge, it's also a model for how we, collectively, can work together as employers, colleges, state government, local government, and a variety of other public and private partners. "

Robert Westerfield, vice president of Table Games for MGM Springfield, said starting out as a dealer at MGM can truly open up career pathways with the organization. 

"I started off as a craps dealer," he said. "I stand before you as vice president of Table Games. Anybody can do it."  

In 2012, the presidents of the state's 15 community colleges signed a memorandum of understanding with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to work collaboratively to provide training for casino jobs in each of the state's three defined casino regions: Greater Boston, southeastern Massachusetts, and western Massachusetts. In the western Massachusetts region, MCCTI is operated by TWO.

"We know that economic development and workforce development are not separate efforts," said STCC president John B. Cook. "It is imperative that economic and workforce development are integrated for the benefit of our region's businesses and citizens. The investment of MGM Springfield will allow many of our citizens to begin the process of getting employed and establishing a career pathway."

"I particularly appreciate HCC's historic and continuing partnerships with STCC in support of the workforce needs of area businesses," said HCC president Christina Royal. "Both colleges offer a wide variety of educational and training options for job seekers and incumbent workers in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, engineering, hospitality, culinary arts and many other fields. MCCTI and events like today reinforce the important role community colleges play in the state and regional economy."

The MCCTI Gaming School will provide dealer training in black jack, roulette, craps, poker and other casino games. Participants who successfully complete training programs for at least two different table games will be guaranteed an "audition," or tryout, for a job at MGM Springfield.

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Above) Prospective students register for training classes during a launch event for the new MCCTI Gaming School in Springfield. (Thumbnail) Bruce Stebbins, Massachusetts Gaming commissioner, awards a gaming school certificate to HCC president Christina Royal and STCC president John Cook.