A small group of people attend an informational session for a dealer school… (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON…)
Live table games won’t begin at Maryland Live casino for another five months, but more than 2,000 people are already trying to get in on the action — as craps and card dealers.
The casino at Arundel Mills mall plans to hire at least 800 dealers to work about 150 tabletop games that are expected to be introduced in mid-April.
Before the first blackjack, baccarat and don’t-come craps bets can be placed, though, Maryland Live has to assemble a school of dealing staff from scratch.
On Tuesday, at an information session for prospective table-game hires in a mostly empty downtown Bethesda hotel ballroom, Maryland Live officials said that 2,065 wannabe dealers have applied online since Maryland voters approved a major expansion of gaming in a Nov. 6 referendum. The state’s largest casino expects the applicant pool to swell to 10,000 by the end of the year.
After in-person interviews, vetting and culling, at least 1,000 applicants will be invited to attend the free Maryland Live Dealer School, which begins Jan. 7 in a leased space at the Marley Station mall, in the Baltimore suburb of Glen Burnie. The first graduating class will finish 12 weeks — and about 240 classroom hours — later.
“If we do our jobs correctly, at the end of March we will have 1,000 dealers graduate,” said Howard Weinstein, the senior vice president who oversees the casino’s human resources operations.
But, he said, not everybody will graduate — and graduates aren’t guaranteed to get one of the jobs, which are likely to pay $45,000 to $55,000 in salary and tips.
Good work if you can get it — and hack it. Dealer school is not yet in session, but the lessons have already begun. First item on the syllabus: reality.
“Dealing,” Weinstein cautioned, “is not for everyone.”
Casino dealers spend long shifts on their feet, interacting with people who can become belligerent as their losses mount. “You’ve got to have very thick skin,” he said. You also have to have decent math skills, at least a little dexterity and a knack for engaging and entertaining customers who are risking their money.
Dealers must pass a background check, too — no financial crimes or crimes of moral turpitude, please. One of the 27 people at the first of four hour-long information sessions Tuesday left the ballroom shaking his head because, he said, he had “something problematic” in his past.
But it all sounded just great to Mitch Mitchell, 25, of Frederick.
“Graduating from dealer school would be a bucket-list sort of thing,” he said, explaining that it would be more than just a job, though he does need one of those at the moment. A former Web designer and social-media manager, he’s part of the 6.7 percent — Maryland’s latest unemployment figure.
The majority of applicants — and there are about 200 new submissions every day, casino officials said — have no previous dealing experience.
But on Tuesday, Sherri Norton, a shift boss at Maryland Live, was handed a résuméby a man who deals high-stakes blackjack at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va. He declined to give his name to a reporter, for obvious reasons. “I still work in Charles Town,” he said. “For now.”
Norton said the man wouldn’t have to attend dealer school to work at Maryland Live. He would just have to show off his dealing skills in a tryout and obtain a state license.
Norton said she had seen more than 70 applications from professional dealers employed in Atlantic City and elsewhere.
They know what Norton wants the newbies to know. “Some people think this is really glamorous work,” she said. “It’s not.”
Maryland Live will hold another series of information sessions Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. — every hour on the hour — at the Wisconsin Avenue DoubleTree in Bethesda.
Other sessions will take place at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Nov. 28 from 3 to 7 p.m.; at the Hotel at Turf Valley in Ellicott City on Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Dec. 4 from 3 to 7 p.m.; and at the Sheraton Annapolis Hotel in Annapolis on Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 3 to 7 p.m.