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Baltimore City Community College is partnering with Horseshoe Casino Baltimore to offer a training program for prospective table game employees. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

A service academy for gaming employees

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is giving table games training a good college try.

The casino, which is set to open later this fall, has partnered with the Baltimore City Community College to provide training for table games employees.

“For everyone who we would intend to hire, we would over the next three years afford them the opportunity to train for free,” said Alex Dixon, vice president and assistant general manager of Horseshoe Baltimore.

The first Table Games Service Academy will begin April 28.

The tuition-free program is 12 weeks long, with 20 hours of classes per week. Trainees can choose from four class times, from morning to late night, a schedule designed to accommodate working students.

With more than 700 table games jobs opening at Horseshoe, the casino hopes to fill as many as possible through the BCCC program. The casino and college have partnered for three years, so that hiring can continue to fit demand and attrition.

In order to participate in the free program, students will first go through the Horseshoe table games hiring process. Once they complete the classes, they are likely to get an offer for employment.

Horseshoe’s academy is similar to a training program that Maryland Live Casino utilized when it was preparing to open table games. Maryland Live contracted with Anne Arundel Community College last year to train the first round of table game workers. Maryland Live paid for 625 students’ tuition.

The program has since expanded to an open enrollment curriculum, serving more than 1,500 students so far, and some students are able to get free tuition through grants. Maryland Live is now offering tuition reimbursement for AACC-trained table game workers it hires once they complete a probationary work period.

Dixon said that graduates of the AACC table games program would be welcome applicants for Horseshoe Baltimore positions.

“When casinos came to the state, there was no established labor base,” said Mary Ellen Mason, director of the Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute at AACC. “This was a huge opportunity for jobs.”

And they can be well-paying jobs. Dealers rely on tips, but at Horseshoe, they’re expected to make between $40,000 and $50,000. That’s similar to what Maryland Live dealers bring in, said Mason.

“The income level is really good, and there is a career pathway for them as well,” she said. “They’re not necessarily stuck at being a dealer.”

At Horseshoe, for instance, which has a number of casinos throughout the Midwest, the director of table games in Baltimore started out as a dealer several years ago, said Dixon.

“The casino industry has provided an avenue for those who are unemployed or underemployed to have a pathway to a new career,” he said. “If you look back five years ago, there were no casinos in the state. It’s just opened up a new career path for people from all walks of life to pursue.”