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Casino Management Course Prepares Students for Jobs in Local Casino

Posted Oct. 24, 2011 | Kasey Fahey
enter photo description
Kent State students travel to Las Vegas to see
firsthand how the casinos operate as part of the
Casino Management and Gaming Operations course.

The passing of Ohio Issue 3 in 2009 has led to many changes around the state, including the addition of the Casino Management and Gaming Operations course at Kent State University. Casino Management and Gaming Operations is an introductory hospitality management course with an overview of the casino industry. The course will be offered for the fourth time in spring 2012.

“When we first introduced the course, it was met with conservative views, but as understanding grew of this aspect of the hospitality industry, it was an easier sell,” says Assistant Professor Rob Heiman. “Then, with the passing of the casinos, it was quite logical to introduce the subject.”

Heiman has taught at Kent State for 28 years, and he conceived the course.

“The course isn't about how to gamble,” Heiman says. “It covers all aspects of casinos, including casino operations and gaming procedures.

As part of the course, the class travels to Las Vegas for five days to go behind the scenes and see how it all works. In the past, the class went to the MGM Grand, Excalibur and Bellagio to see the inner workings of the industry. Two out of three times, the class also got to see the security rooms. The only course requirement is that students must be at least 21 years old for the on-site visit.

“This trip gave me the opportunity to meet individuals in the industry, as well as experience Las Vegas in a way that I had never before,” says Sarah Grant, senior hospitality management major. “I was there as a professional, and I was able to gain an understanding of how the Vegas life is run, while also enjoying the city.”

The trip cost is a $750 fee, which covers the flight, hotel stay, one meal out, transportation and admission to the International Restaurant Show-Las Vegas. Although the experience is educational, there is a lot of free time for students to explore the city. Students must pre-select a casino, investigate it and have a presentation for the class when they return.

“I took this course because I wanted to open my horizons to the casino industry, especially with casinos coming to Cleveland very soon,” says Ryan McDonough, senior hospitality management major. “This course gave me the opportunity to see Las Vegas in a way I will never be able to see and experience again.”

Heiman says the Las Vegas employees are highly receptive to students, and they have told him that no other university does this trip like Kent State.

“We could do a local trip, but Vegas is the Mecca,” Heiman says. He also makes it a point to emphasize that Las Vegas was not built on winners, and gaming is not a way to make money.

The amendments passed in 2009 allowed construction of casinos to begin in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati. The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland opens in March 2012.

“You’d hope the emerging industry in Ohio would view our students with a positive eye,” Heiman says about correlating the course with the current economy.