Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino unveils new Dealer School Program

Jeff Kronenfeld

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Zen S, a casino dealer who lives in Pinal County.(Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino)
By Jeff Kronenfeld / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Maricopa, AZ) Amateur card players looking for more reliable action can now learn when to hold them and when to fold them at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino’s new Dealer School Program.

Announced via press release on May 19, the course teaches prospective employees how to run the most popular table games and lasts eight to 10 weeks.

Unlike many dealing schools, which cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, there is no charge for the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino program.

After a two-week initial training on blackjack, students test for mastery.

Those who pass can be paid for working three times a week dealing blackjack while learning other games two days a week. These include Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, High Card Flush, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, 3 Card Poker, and Roulette.

“Unlike other dealer schools in the Valley, our new program offers classroom training and valuable hands-on experience,” Casino Operations Manager Karen White said in a press release.

"The program is free, offers an opportunity for individuals to make money while in training, and has the prospect of securing a permanent position with an organization named one of Phoenix Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in the Valley.”

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Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino dealer Reanna R lives in Pinal County.(Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino)

The croupier's career path

The average annual salary for a casino dealer in Arizona is $34,226, about 14% below the national average of $39,777, according to data from ZipRecruiter.

Hawaii offers the highest pay per year at $44,905, while Mississippi offers the lowest at just $31,028.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino is Arizona’s first and only tribal casino with an international management partner, Caesars Entertainment.

“Benefits available to Caesars Entertainment Team Members include affordable best-in-class healthcare and wellness, 401k with employer match, paid time off, professional development, Team Member discounts, tuition reimbursement, tuition repayment, and much more,” Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Director of Human Resources and Total Service Beth Amoroso wrote in an email from the company’s public relations firm.

“In addition to the Dealer’s School, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino offers a culinary development program.”

The casino’s website showed numerous open positions for dealers of many different games.

Besides handling cards, essential job functions for dealers include inspecting card decks, ensuring game security, exchanging currency for gaming tokens, assisting guests, and making sure no one breaks the rules.

A high school diploma or GED is preferred. In addition, applicants must pass auditions where they display adequate gaming propensity. Preference is given to applicants who are Ak-Chin Community members or members of other Arizona tribes.

"We pride ourselves on being a great place to work, and we are looking forward to bringing on new members of our team," Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Senior Vice President and General Manager Michael Kintner wrote in an email from the company’s public relations firm.

"Open roles at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino represent a variety of areas including culinary, food & beverage, finance, audiovisual, security, table games, and environmental cleaning services.”

Changing attitudes to a growing industry

Laws and attitudes toward gambling continue to evolve.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the federal ban on states authorizing sports betting.

This ruling paved the way for the passage of H.B. 2772 into Arizona law in 2021, which established rules for fantasy sports contests and event wagering.

That same year, the state and tribes renegotiated their gaming compact. Changes included authorizing new casinos, adding more slot machines to existing ones, and allowing betting on more table games.

Winners and casino employees aren't the only ones profiting from gambling's growth.

Gaming had a $4.75 billion economic impact on Arizona and supported 38,069 jobs in the state, according to a 2021 economic impact study by the American Gaming Association. Tribal revenue sharing and the tax impact was $691.4 million.

A 2021 survey from the AGA found the number of Americans who said the industry is committed to responsible gaming went up by almost 40 percent since 2018.

Help cashing out

Of course, with more games of chance comes more risk. In 2017, The Economist reported that adults in the U.S. lost $100 billion to gambling every year.

The National Council for Problem Gambling estimates at least a million Americans have a gambling addiction.

A portion of gambling revenue funds the Arizona Division of Problem Gambling, which provides information and resources to the public.

It runs a 24-hour helpline and text service. The helpline saw calls more than triple from 20 in March 2021 to 62 in March 2022. The number of texts doubled from 25 to 51 over the same period.

Another program allows people to ban themselves from casinos, called self-exclusion. The division also offers free informational presentations and grants to reduce problem gambling behaviors in young people.

Ante in to Ak-Chin

To learn more or apply for the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Dealer School Program, click here.

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Jeff is an award-winning freelance journalist covering news, business, science and the arts. His work has been published in Discover Magazine, Vice, the Phoenix New Times and other outlets.

Tempe, AZ
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