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The odds are in SUNY Canton students favor with spring semester Blackjack class


CANTON — SUNY Canton students will be able to try their hand at learning how to deal casino style this spring.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort hosted a career showcase with SUNY Canton at the college’s Underground Lounge on Thursday afternoon to promote a non-credit blackjack-dealing class scheduled to begin next month, giving students a shot at working the tables at the casino.

Resort officials said they were trying to gauge student interest during the event and were looking for at least 16 students to sign up for the course that would result in seasonal and part-time employment at the casino, said Janique Odjick, director of guest services.

With a live DJ, beverages, a light show and prize giveaways, students were entertained by the “Cosmic Bingo” session from 3 to 4 p.m. The razzle-dazzle of the event is a key element of what the resort is about: guest services and entertainment, Ms. Odjick said.

“We wanted to bring this here to create a sense of excitement,” she said. “We set up a blackjack table where students could play and get some information about the class that’s going to be offered. We already have 20 people that signed up and committed to it.”

The dealer skills training course is scheduled to start Feb. 15 and end May 3. The class meets for four hours on Saturdays and teaches the basics of blackjack dealing. There is a $50 fee, which is refundable after the first class if a student finds it isn’t for him or her. The money goes to SUNY Canton student activities. The casino makes no profit on the course.

Upon successful completion, students will receive a certificate and become eligible to apply for employment as a blackjack dealer. They will, however, have to complete an additional 60 hours of training before they can start working at the casino’s tables. Those classes are being offered at the casino and are free of charge.

SUNY Canton Professor Patrick A.T. Hamilton teaches casino management at the college and gaming management classes at the casino. He said soliciting students made the most sense as not only will they be getting an exciting job opportunity, but they are out of school during the casino’s busiest times, summers and weekends. “It will marry the two together, creating a symbiotic relationship between the casino, the school and most importantly, the students,” Mr. Hamilton said.

Priscilla Leggette, the school’s director of student activities, said she hoped the event would serve as a model to other businesses. “Hopefully other businesses in the community (will) come in and showcase to students what they have to offer,” she said. “It is mutually beneficial to the community as well as to our students.”

The casino’s lead table game shift manager, Ralph D’Ambrosio, said there is fantastic potential to climb up the gaming ladder at the resort.

“Once they get on the floor, they will continue to train on the other gaming tables,” he said. “The will start with blackjack and then move to the craps table and then maybe roulette, getting an increase in pay of 50 cents with each table game they get under their belt.”

Students have until Feb. 7 to sign up for the course and can do so at the Student Activities Office in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center.

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