Gambling college

Does it really take a college education to work at a casino?

Over the past five years, gaming courses and majors have cropped up at colleges including San Diego State University, Michigan State University, Tulane University’s University College in New Orleans, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They join the pioneering University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Reno, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

. . . Courses at such schools include the study of gambling laws, operating on sovereign Indian land, and biometrics and “facial recognition” for casino security. Some students learn to be pit bosses, dealers and slot machine repairers.

I wonder if they study statistics and probability.

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Comments

  1. It doesn’t take college to work there, but it should take one to run a casino… along with the stats and probability. I know of a statistician who worked as a consultant to casinos, trying to explain to them expected take and variability of that take. Seems someone picked some very stupid slots odds for a promotion, and they lost a lot of money… so this guy had to go and tell them why they can’t just change the payouts without looking at the consequences…

  2. You can get certificates for everything now. A certificate for computer programming, gaming, day care, …etc, of course the care of small children requires the least education of all. It seems to favor more education for management and sciences that influence human control. The emphasis seems to be on defining the division of labor. For example, a person who defines a process for the care of autistic children isn’t actually involved in classifying the child, implementing the process or evaluating the quality of the implementation.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    Why is the difference in concentrating on gaming and getting a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management like you can at Cornel?

    Remeber a former college professor is COO (or something like that) at Harrah’s because he convinced them that frequent flyer cards for casinos would be a good thing.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Makes more sense than some of the gender and ethnic majors we hear about.

  5. I suspect if the curriculum involved probability and statistics they would have very few majors.

  6. A few years ago there was an article in Harper’s or The Atlantic or some similar mag. about the economic impact of casinos in Tunica, Mississippi. The area was supposed to get a huge influx of jobs for the impoverished locals. The problem was, they were hiring people for jobs as waiters who didn’t know what bacon was (this is not a joke). So maybe the community colleges should offer “Intro. to Life 101.” Apparently, though, it is illegal to teach gaming at colleges in Mississippi.

  7. I would think that a good business program would already teach 90% of what they need to know–accounting, probability & statistics, fundamentals of marketing, etc. The industry-specific stuff they could pick up from reading the trade rags.

    Two thoughts:

    1)Educators have indoctrinated people to believe that you can’t do anything unless you are certified in that specific skill…the whole idea of a generalized set of knowledge, applicable across multiple domains, has largely been lost.

    2)Corporate hiring managers and HR types have aided and abetted this trend…it’s easier to just hire someone with a degree in Hotel Management, or whatever, than to think through what the job requires and understand that someone with a degree in Marketing Management might do just as well or even better.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    Foster,

    There was an article about the inability of those educated in more general things to find employment. How does one with a degree in classics or art history get a foot in the door when the entry level position is applying online where software screens out degrees and majors that could possibly work.

  9. sd…that’s part of my point. Many companies are missing out on good people because of this kind of thing. (Interestingly, last week I talked with an investment analyst whose degree *was* in art history.)

    Having hired many people, both directly and through subordinate managers, my view is that the hiring manager must not abdicate this process to HR. *You* are the one who will be held accountable for performance, and you are the one who should determine the criteria. If “policies” won’t allow you to do this, you should think about whether or not you really want to be in that company.

  10. chris haynes says:

    I’ll just let my certificate(degree, diploma etc..) do the talking for me.
    Better yet I’ll get into the certificate issuing business. Now there’s an idea, convince everyone that they canot possibly be intelligent unless they have my certificate. What this ends up doing is reducing the pool of potential quailified applicants to just those that are credentialed. Everyone loses and you’ll always be a widget maker because that’s all your degree says you can do.

  11. applying online where software screens out degrees and majors that could possibly work

    Oh heck, that’s not much of a problem if the bogus requirements aren’t mandate by force of law. As soon as project deadlines start getting frighteningly close the manager does an end-run around HR by calling a contract outfit. The people who show up either get the job done or they’re gone and if the contract outfit sends enough stiffs, they’re gone.

    What this ends up doing is reducing the pool of potential quailified applicants to just those that are credentialed.

    No, what you’re describing is legally mandated education qualifications. Without the force of law behind it a certificate’s value depends on its visibility and the preception of it’s accuracy in representing the aquisition of skills/knowledge.

    If it’s a good cert then those who are otherwise qualified are motivated to add it to their resume as are potential employers motivated to see it as a useful measure of a potential employees value.

  12. I always get a cuckle out of the euphemism “gaming.” No, it’s gambling, and 98% of the time you lose. But this is how we expand the educational bureaucracy, by demanding highly specialized degrees and certificates for jobs that used to require average intelligence and common sense. Legislators enforce the gimmick by passing rules and regulations. And I’m not against gambling. It helps oppressed people of color by ripping off millions of dollars from willing fools. Just ask the 27 members of the San Manual Indian Tribe. Since the passage of Proposition 1A Indian gambling has generated revenues of $5.1 billion per year in California and California Indians have become the largest contributor to California political campaigns. But I digress.

  13. Does anyone else recall that in The Wizard of Oz (the movie, not the book), the wizard’s solution to the scarecrow’s problem (“If I only had a brain …”) was to give him not a brain, but a diploma? In the movie, this was a joke, of course … but life seems to be imitating art in an unfortunate way.

    Without picking on the gambling/gaming industry in particular, it is worth wondering just how many sorts of jobs are best prepared for with 4 years of college. Some majors seem truly bizarre to me; for example, at least one midwestern school had (decades ago) a major in Automotive Technology, taking 4 (expensive, time-consuming) years of college to produce auto mechanics.

    Even some occupations that “everyone” knows need college-level training might not. For example, several decades ago, Peter Drucker wrote that computer programming was “semi-skilled labor” that one could learn the requirements for in 6 months. I believe it, at least for the basics that major CS majors seem to come out ready to handle.

    And I’ve read that during WWII, the navy found that it needed not the (then) traditional 5 years of schooling to produce pharmacists, but a 6-week crash course to produce pharmacists’ mates.

    (These cites are all from memory, though, so they may be inacurate in some of the details.)

    Increasingly, I find myself wondering if we are relying on colleges (and their for-profit analogs) more and more to train people for routine work because high schools have abandoned the role of teaching useful job skills.

    As to majors in gambling (or whatever they call them; undoubtedly something less direct), I find it hard to imagine that the occupations given as examples — “pit bosses, dealers and slot machine repairers” — should require a college education at all, let alone a specialzed one. I don’t doubt that some casino jobs require, or at least benefit from, specialized training, but I’d expect that to be statistics, accounting, or the kinds of skills business majors acquire.

  14. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Lots of problems with job hunting would go away if only a boss could fire an obviously incompetent worker without having to anicipate a million dollar lawsuit. Job protection laws are job killers.

  15. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I should have anticipated spelling errors.

  16. Of course, it takes good degrees to actually win through thorough card counting, with fine exponents from Harvard and other premier unis in the states.

  17. To make money by counting cards it also helps to: 1) work in a team rather than alone; 2) work in a town with lots of casinos and 3) never have previously been caught counting cards.

    Um, or so I’m told. 😉

  18. At the University of Arizona, it is possible to major in racetrack management. For students, it’s a good way to get a degree in something they want to do. For the employers, it’s an easy way to figure out whether or not someone is trained in what the job entails. There is also a program for art gallery management.

    I’m not always sure whether a specialized or generalized education is superior, but I’m glad that both are out there. What I am sure about is that educational providers are never going to be able to please everyone.

  19. I tend to agree with the “it may sound silly but it beats a BS in gender studies” crowd. You may not need a 4-year degree to deal cards, but is it really worse than spending 4 years studying how lousy men are?

  20. Kirk Parker says:

    > Peter Drucker wrote that computer programming was “semi-skilled labor” that one
    > could learn the requirements for in 6 months. I believe it, at least for the
    > basics that major CS majors seem to come out ready to handle.

    He’s completely wrong. Not that I think a CS degree is a necessary prerequisite for a programming job, but rather that the kind of “semi-skilled labor” programming jobs are pretty much already gone if not going quickly. Heck, depending on what he meant by “semi-skilled” it might even have been lost long before the current outsourcing wave to one of those two demons of productivity: the compiler and the 4GL.

    > And I’ve read that during WWII, the navy found that it needed not the (then)
    > traditional 5 years of schooling to produce pharmacists, but a 6-week crash
    > course to produce pharmacists’ mates.

    Another apples-to-oranges comparison. During college I worked part-time as a pharmacy tech (which is what the Pharmacist’s Mate resembles far more that it does a real Pharmacists) and it sure didn’t take me 6 weeks to be productive on the job!

  21. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Gamblers are “…willing fools…”?
    The grannies who drop $20 for a night of bingo or $100 for a Reno fun run are fools, but someone who pays $500 for a front row seat at a rock concert, where the only possible return is deafness is a patron of the arts?
    I suppose everyone needs to feel superior to someone. Superiority should be made of sterner stuff.

  22. Richard Brandshaft says:

    I spent my working life as a computer programmer. You don’t need to be nearly as smart as a good physicist. (For those non-techies out there, physicists are the smartest of the techies.) In fact, ON THE TECHIE SCALE, you don’t have to be exceptionally smart. But calling it “semi-skilled” sets a high bar for “skilled.” There are three reasons people have so much trouble with computers:

    1) Microsoft, a rant in itself.

    2) Marketing economics favor getting a product out fast, even if it doesn’t really work. Actually, (1) is (2) with aggravating factors.

    3) Programming is hard.

    In addition to requiring more knowledge than Mr. Drucker thought, programming requires knowledge of the subject being programmed. I was a programmer for an aerospace company. I needed some basic knowledge of math (through calculus) and physics. (My degree was in engineering; I drifted into programming.) Had I been programming for a bank, I would have needed to know about accounting, encryption, data redundancy, and no doubt lots of topics I can’t even name. The people who call programming semi-skilled may be confusing programming with knowing a computer language, which is only part of it.

    It is NOT TRUE that programmers just program, and someone with a knowledge of the subject can tell them what to do. That’s like saying a reporter doesn’t need to know anything about the subjects he’s reporting on; he just needs to report the expert’s opinions. It doesn’t work. Even if he manages to find the right experts, he invariably gets something wrong. When you read a story by a generalist reporter on a subject you have specialized knowledge of, the surprise is when you don’t see any mistakes. Similarly, programming is hard enough when the programmer knows what he’s doing.

  23. When you read a story by a generalist reporter on a subject you have specialized knowledge of, the surprise is when you don’t see any mistakes.

    Getting off-topic here, but the various gun bloggers turn up ignorance in news reports regarding firearms on a daily basis. Not wanting to know about a topic does not help.