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Casino Dealer Students Hopeful Training Will Lead To Jobs In 2012

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FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Before students get to deal a game of chance in Lee Chau’s class — and get a shot at a steady paycheck working in a casino — they must learn how to shuffle and count.

“Come on now, 20 at a time,” Chau coached Rose Leitaert, a 57-year-old laid-off restaurant worker from Michigan, as she tried to pick up a stack of chips with one hand in a recent class. “They aren’t going to let you work unless you can hold them all at once.”

Chau teaches poker and casino games such as blackjack, roulette and craps. The classes at ABC School of Bartending/Casino College use Monopoly money.

He instructs dozens of students weekly, mostly unemployed workers from Michigan and Ohio who are taking a chance at learning a new career that can pay up to $60,000 a year. Some hope their investment in his class will land them one of the 7,500 full-time jobs estimated to be coming to Ohio’s new casinos. The jobs come courtesy of Issue 3, which voters approved in November to allow full-service casinos in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland.

Gaming should begin in 2012.

Though dealers are not required to have certifications to work in casinos, graduates of the Casino College say the courses have given them the skills to properly deal cards, a proficiency that casinos look for when hiring.

“I think this shows the community and residents of Ohio are anxious for the jobs Issue 3 will bring and they are preparing themselves,” said Jennifer Kulczycki, a spokeswoman for Quicken Loans, owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who won the right in November’s vote to build the Cleveland and Cincinnati casinos.

The ABC School of Bartending/Casino College plans to open a school in Cleveland next spring and add the casino course to a bartending school the company runs in Columbus.

“We figured it would only be a matter of time before casinos would come to Ohio because they were losing too much money to Michigan and West Virginia,” Chau said.

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