CLEVELAND — JACK Entertainment and the Urban League of Greater Cleveland are partnering up to train people in a new career path.
The “Game Changer” program builds on an existing program offered by JACK Entertainment, called the Table Games Academy, which trains people to become table games dealers for games like blackjack and baccarat. It’s a chance for people to start a new job or pursue a new career path, especially in the aftermath of unemployment from the pandemic.
There are two upcoming trainings running from October 12 through November 20, one during the day and one in the evening. Both are offered for free to the 20 or so participants in each training session.
Kathryn M. Hall, vice president of diversity and inclusion at JACK Entertainment, said people don’t need a degree or existing skills as a dealer to be part of the program.
“They just have to be an individual that likes to have fun and wants to learn a new skill. We will teach them everything they need to know about being a table games dealer,” Hall said. “So they have to be an upbeat person. They have to be a person who is enthusiastic about having fun and working in the entertainment business.”
She said one thing she’s learned working in the gaming industry is that it’s a well-kept secret and many people don’t look to the gaming industry for potential careers, even though, according to JACK Entertainment, table games dealers can make up to $1,000 each week.
“What is unique about it is that you can come into this industry at the entry-level and work your way up to any number of positions that you want to,” Hall said.
Since the casino is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Hall said it’s a good fit for people starting a new career or looking for their first job.
“We also have tuition reimbursement, so we encourage college students to take a look at the program as well,” Hall said. “They can come learn the skill at night, go to school during the day, and utilize our tuition reimbursement.”
Marsha Mockabee, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, said that coming out of the pandemic, the Urban League is “trying to expose our community to every possible job opportunity that there is.”
The Urban League will be training people in the program on soft skills as JACK Entertainment trains them in technical skills for table games dealing.
“What we're finding is it's important to do those kinds of programs where people aren’t in training for months and a long time before they're able to actually get an opportunity to be hired,” Mockabee said.
She said it was a good opportunity for people to get back to work and have gainful employment.
“We know that the unemployment benefits are running out and we want to see the individuals in our community to be able to have sustainable wages that can help them to sustain their families and to do all the things that they need to do coming out of this rough economic time that we're in now,” Mockabee said.
Katie Collins is a table games dealer at JACK who went through Table Games Academy about ten years ago.
“When I came into the Academy, I didn't know a darn thing about table games,” Collins said. “I had played a few little slots over the years, but I didn't know how to even deal a card, card counts. I didn't know anything about how dealing a game worked.”
She noted that dealers “essentially create [their] own salary.”
“A lot of people don't know we're tipped employees, so the better guest service you give, the better you're going to do,” Collins said. “I went from a job that I didn't have very good earning potential, and I came here and now I have a house, I'm able to afford a car. I was able to, just by giving that good customer service, create a life that I wouldn't have been able to do anywhere else.”
Collins encouraged people to go for it and start the program.
“Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, because until you do, until you give it that shot and go for it, you're not going to know if it's the right fit,” Collins said. “
She praised the trainers who run the program.
“They are really good at working with your strengths and your weaknesses, and they're going to make it so you're comfortable and able to try it,” Collins said. “And who knows, this could end up being a career that takes you everywhere down the line. This could be your lifetime career, just with that one simple thought to apply.”
One thing Collins likes about the job is that it’s in the heart of downtown Cleveland.
“We’re a great big sports town, we’re a really big theater community,” Collins said. “You're going to interact with people on a daily basis that are coming down for these sporting events, maybe coming from a sporting event, going to a show. A lot of out-of-towners are coming in here recently because Cleveland has become a tourist destination, so you have a chance to create or continue someone's experience when they're downtown, which is so much fun.”
You must be at least 21 years old to participate in the training.
More information can be found here.
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