WCCC to train dealers for new Hempfield casino

Thursday 30th January 2020

When visitors try their luck playing blackjack at the new casino under construction at Westmoreland Mall, chances are they will compete against dealers trained by Westmoreland County Community College.

College trustees have approved a letter of intent to offer instructional courses for casino dealers in partnership with the Maryland-based company that will operate Live! Casino. The 100,000-square-foot gaming and dining venue is taking shape at the Hempfield mall in a space previously occupied by the now-closed Bon Ton department store.

WCCC once offered similar training at its Youngwood-area campus. This time, the casino will provide the setting, as well as the curriculum, for two introductory courses -- 96 hours of instruction in blackjack and 48 hours in carnival games, according to David Pistner, the college's vice president of continuing education, workforce and community development.

Prospective dealers will have to successfully complete both noncredit courses to be eligible to apply for casino employment, Pistner said. He noted they will be free to seek jobs at other casinos, not just the one in Hempfield.

"Instructors will be adjuncts of the college but will be referred to us by the casino," he said. "We would be looking to start training about 120 (dealer) candidates." Initial classes are expected to begin in late winter or early spring.

As the program continues, the annual goal will be to train between 30 and 50 additional dealers, according to WCCC President Tuesday Stanley.

The casino operators "will help us offset the cost of the training and any administrative costs associated with carrying this out," Stanley said. According to the letter of intent, the casino will pay WCCC $20,000 annually to cover staff expenses and a one-time payment of $15,000.

The casino also will help provide needed equipment for the training and will help to recruit students, who will pay tuition, Stanley said. The agreement is subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and to annual review by the college and casino.

The operators have a similar arrangement in place with another community college to train dealers for a casino in Anne Arundel County, Md., Stanley said.

Developed by Stadium Casino Westmoreland RE, an affiliate of The Cordish Companies of Baltimore, the Hempfield casino is expected to create more than 500 ongoing jobs, in fields ranging from finance to security, while pumping about $200 million per year into the state and local economies.

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