|Messenger photos by Sean V. Lehosit|
|Hilltop resident Anna Challen (far right) decides her next move during a game of blackjack. More than 700 central Ohioans have received contingent job offers to work for Hollywood Casino.|
|Scott Diller of Dublin (pictured left) and his co-workers listen closely during their first day of onsite training. Diller is one of nearly two dozen individuals being trained as slot technicians at Hollywood Casino.
One year ago Hollywood Casino had a single employee, general manager Ameet Patel.
Almost 12 months later the casino has grown with 90 positions filled and more than 700 dealers given contingent job offers.
“Were moving along quite well, Patel said.With the weather helping us, were still on track to open before Thanksgiving.
Patel said approximately 20 percent of new hires are from the Westside. They will continue to track this percentage over coming months. This statistic includes residents from Hilliard, he said.
On June 25, nearly two dozen recruits began their first day of slot technician training. Patel said the first set of the casinos 3,000 slot machines are expected to arrive around late July.
Patel reminded the future slot technicians they are special to be singled out from more than 30,000 applications.
The onsite technical training is the result of a partnership between Hollywood Casino and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC). The prospective employees will learn how to install, troubleshoot, maintain and complete updates on slot machines.
“When legislation passed that said we would have casinos in Ohio, I knew we would have a new emerging market, said Joy Padgett, director of government relations and grants for COTC.
According to COTC adjunct professor Rodger Orr, the trainees have varying backgrounds in electronics. The first day is a comprehensive review of circuitry and other basics that form the foundation of their training.
The big emphasis is on troubleshooting, Orr said.
Dublin resident Scott Diller said he has 27 years of troubleshooting experience. Diller was an automotive technician, but spent the last year looking for work. He is excited to be in the inaugural group of slot technicians.
“For me this is a whole new chapter, a turning of the page, Diller said.Its a totally different atmosphere. Im used to just going under the belly of a car, but this crowd is like a rock concert.
Technicians have begun training, while the first half of dealer school is wrapping up. Nearly 400 recruits are enrolled in the first dealer school and the second dealer school in July, Patel said.
Card dealers at Hollywood Casino will make around $35,000 annually, Patel said.
Patel said they looked for customer service experience when hiring. He said when faced with 10,000 patrons daily, casino workers must be comfortable in a crowd. Skills in dealing cards can be learned through training.
Hilltop resident Anna Challen entered dealer school familiar with blackjack. Now she plays outside of the dealer school, working to build her speed and technique.
Challen said she applied because she required a job that allowed her to complete her masters degree in Christian counseling at Liberty University.
“This gives me the flexibility to continue my schooling, Challen said, adding she believes the casino is a catalyst for neighborhood change.
Hilliard resident Jack Boyer is no stranger to casinos. He said he loves gambling and visits Las Vegas a half dozen times per year.
Boyer owned his own company for 11 years, but he had to dissolve it. Still, he looked for the positive in the hand he was dealt.
“This is the first job Ive ever gone to where I enjoy going to work every single day, Boyer said.
This is a change for Boyers professional life, but he said those who know him best are not surprised.
“Im kind of a night owl, Boyer said.Im all about having fun and theres no better way to do that than working for a casino.
The Ohio Casino Commission will decide the date for Hollywood Casions grand opening, Patel said. The decision should be announced in July or August.
Patel also announced the casinos partnership with Columbus State Community College starts in July. The school will spearhead the culinary training for Hollywood Casino.