More than 150 people took the step towards becoming card dealers at the new Encore Boston Harbor during a graduation ceremony at Everett High School on Saturday, June 1, for the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute run by Cambridge College.
The Institute has graduated two classes now, one in the Fall and one this Spring, with all of the graduates being eligible for a job on the gaming floor of the Encore Boston Harbor resort.
The ceremony on Saturday was a way to mark the occasion for the first two successful classes.
On hand was Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, who was pleased to see so many taking the opportunity to work in the new gaming industry.
“I had the privilege of attending the graduation of students who have completed training for one or two casino games at the Cambridge College Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute or as it has become known – ‘Bet on U,’” he said. “On Saturday, almost 200 students were in attendance to receive certificates for their course completion. Over half of the school’s students come from the casino’s host city of Everett or many of the surrounding communities including Boston, Malden, Chelsea, Medford and Cambridge…Offering these new careers to local residents was a critical priority of the Expanded Gaming Act and many graduates were those seeking to try a new career, find a new job after retirement or hoping to be part of something new and exciting – working at a destination resort casino that is the largest private development project in the Commonwealth’s history.”
The ceremony was as much a family celebration as it was a graduation, and it was for most the first step towards a new career in gaming.
George Magee, director of the Institute, said this was the fulfillment of a dream for many of the graduates – a dream to change careers and get in on the ground floor of a brand new industry.
“At some point last summer or fall, after having watched that beautiful building going up, everyone being honored here today made a decision to take a chance on themselves and apply to the class,” he said. “By taking that chance, they put a plan into action. Maybe they had a dream of being a dealer. Between September of 2018 and April of 2019, they committed to making their plan a reality and they worked hard to make sure that they would succeed.”
Magee said every graduate of the program spent at least nine weeks, and some as many as 23 weeks learning the procedures, techniques and rules of poker, blackjack and other games. Not only did they learn the games technically, he said, but also they have learned the importance of great service in the gaming industry.
“Do not stop having dreams,” said Magee. “Go forward knowing that you have accomplished much; keep setting goals and working to achieve them, and you will spend the rest of your life enjoying your successes.”
Cambridge College’s Philip Page and Mark Rotondo said they were happy to have their institution taking part in the training of new Encore dealers. Both said they look forward to continuing the partnership in the long-term.
“Each of the individuals you see here in attendance have made the choice to learn a new profession and take the critical step to access the opportunities to improve the lives of themselves, their families and their community,” said Rotondo. “More importantly, this program and partnership holds a special place for me. Growing up in Everett, playing baseball at Lynde Street Park and working as a longshoreman on the other side of the Alford Street Bridge, it gives me great pride to say together we have been successful in upholding these principles.”
For the Fall term, there were 1,964 applicants, and 324 were accepted, with 166 registering for the program. Of those, 62 percent registered for blackjack and 38 percent for poker. In that class, 68 percent were male, and 32 percent were female.
Some 49 percent were persons of color (Asians were at 28 percent), and 49 percent were from the host and surrounding communities. Everett had 10 percent of that class, with Boston having 14 percent and Malden 11 percent.
In the most recent, Spring 2019 term, there were 1,424 applicants, with 328 accepted and 179 registering for programs.
Most chose blackjack at 64 percent, and 36 chose poker. The class was more even in the gender lines, with 59 percent male and 41 percent female. There were 44 percent people of color (Asians at 29 percent), and 48 percent were from the host or surrounding communities. In that class, Everett had 12 percent, while Malden had 17 percent and Boston had 8 percent.