Through a partnership with Rivers Casino, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) offers scholarships for its six-week Dealer Training School.

By Ashlee Green

As Director of Community Relations at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino, Dr. Rahmon Hart’s job is to connect the casino with the surrounding community and develop neighborhood partnerships.

“I make sure it’s a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

Rivers Casino opened its Pittsburgh location in 2009 with an in-house Dealer Training School. It was Hart who started a conversation that led the training school to partner with the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), offering the six-week, roughly 120-hour course off-site for the first time since opening its doors. Hart was brainstorming with Dr. Quintin B. Bullock, current CCAC president and former president of Schenectady County Community College in New York, who created a casino management program there. According to Hart, Bullock had a good understanding of how to get Rivers and the community of the Northside, Pittsburgh, and Allegheny County as a whole, working together.

Qualifications vary by state, but in line with the rules of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which regulates slot machines and casino gambling statewide, casino dealers must obtain a certificate to work at casinos in Pennsylvania. Right now, there’s a shortage of dealers. That’s why starting last year, Rivers began to provide scholarships to the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) Educational Foundation to fully fund students interested in the program.

The scholarship application process goes like this: Candidates fill out an application online, then undergo a prescreening to see if a casino job is a good fit for their personality: “Table games is an exciting, fast-paced, lively job,” said Hart. “The busiest part of our day is when people get off of work. You have to be someone with a hospitality spirit.” Next is an interview with a small math test and an audition to assess if applicants have the proper mechanics of a dealer. Dealers, for example, never cross their hands when dealing, Hart explained. If you pass the audition, Rivers recommends you to CCAC, who ultimately administers the scholarships. Once students finish the training course, they are offered a job.

“There’s no guesswork,” Hart said. “As long as they learn the general mechanics and successfully pass the audition at the end of the training, they are hired with us.”

The entry game for CCAC’s Dealer Training School students is blackjack, because according to Hart, it’s played the most.

“Blackjack is mostly about combinations,” he said. You must have basic math skills. Basically, learning the game is a way for students to build confidence. Once students have mastered the game of blackjack and become dealers, they have a chance to learn more games, which is an opportunity for them to be scheduled more, and ultimately, earn more money.

Hart has worked with Rivers for close to five years and can’t advocate enough for the work environment, particularly for Northside residents. Born and raised in Manchester, Hart said Northsiders can easily walk, bike or bus to work. There’s also free parking.

“That’s all money that you get to keep in your wallet,” he said.

Dealer jobs, Hart said, are a nice option for people to supplement their income. They’re for whom Hart terms “weekend warriors,” or people employed during the week who are interested in working evenings and weekends, like teachers and college students. They’re also beneficial for people undergoing career changes and teenagers looking for an alternative to college, he said.

“If you have a goal, let’s put a plan together so you can work for whatever you’d like to accomplish.”

To apply for a scholarship, visit the Rivers Casino website.