When it comes to betting, Robert Pierce has proven that he absolutely knows when to fold.
The 46-year-old San Jacinto resident said the only time he dipped his toe into the world of casino gambling, he put aside a few hundred dollars and went to one of lavish Southern California gaming centers.
“I said as soon as it’s gone, I’m done,” Pierce said. “I won a little, lost a little more. Gained a little, lost a little more. Gained a little, lost more.
“Very quickly, you know, after about three or four hours the $200 was gone and I walked out and never came back.”
Now Pierce plans to walk through that door again, but this time through the employee entrance.
Facing a career change in his 40s, Pierce recently enrolled in Mt. San Jacinto College’s two-year casino dealer program at the community college’s Temecula Education Complex.
The non-credit vocational training certificate lasts eight weeks and costs $1,000. MSJC offers separate courses for table games and poker games. Private school fees can typically range from $1,200 to $2,500, depending on the program.
There are more than a dozen casinos within a two-hour drive of the school and according to Peter Harrison, who operates a private casino dealer school in Temecula, now is the time.
“There’s a lot of demand for dealers right now,” said Harrison, owner of Jack Black Casino Dealer School, which has operated in and around the Inland Empire since 2001.
MSJC Director of Community Education and Workplace Training Teri Safranek helped launch the program after starting a similar program at Palomar College earlier in the 2000s. She said he has eventually discontinued when the college closed its community education program.
Tribal gaming is said to be a $30 billion industry in the United States, with California controlling a huge slice of that $7 billion+ pie, according to the Indian Gaming Industry report produced by California economist Alan Meister.
Enrico Butta, a former Palomar instructor who is now a consultant for the MSJC program, said a lot has changed in his 26 years working in the gambling industry in Las Vegas and South America. California as a dealer and teacher.
“It’s become a more generally acceptable thing to do,” Butta said.
School officials say that after receiving their certificates, students can earn between $55,000 and $85,000 a year as a casino dealer.
Pechanga Resort and Casino vice president of table game operations Mike May said there aren’t many public colleges that offer such programs. He didn’t know of any others in the area.
“We always prefer someone to go to a more structured school environment,” May said.
The real test for students comes when they compete for an “audition” – the business term for a job interview at a casino.
“Everything comes out,” May said. “You have to audition, manage the tokens, do what we want you to do.”
Despite his inexperience, Pierce said he was a quick learner and looked forward to the challenge of learning new skills.
“It’s an eight-week, self-paced course and if you don’t get it after eight weeks, you can keep practicing and working with the instructors until you get it,” Pierce said. .
Or, as Kenny Rogers said, you have to know when to hold them.
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