Gaming Courses No Longer A Safe Bet

Legal questions have interrupted USM's plans to offer gaming management courses beginning this fall. An attorney general's opinion says a 1972 state law prohibits such courses at public schools.

The dean of USM's business school says he's disappointed by the decision. Dr. Harold Doty will meet with the attorney general sometime Wednesday to discuss the specifics of what can and can't be taught.

For now, Biloxi's Tulane campus remains the only college in Mississippi offering the gaming management courses.

USM Gulf Coast planned on offering a degree in tourism with a specialty in casino resort management. The attorney general's opinion could alter this fall's class schedule.

"At this point, no gaming related courses were being offered. So, we had not yet offered courses specifically for casino and resort management. They were in the planning process. We're going to slow the planning process down a little bit until we get some other matters straightened out," said Dr. Doty.

Casino Magic general manager, John Ferrucci, says casino resort management is a specialized skill. He helped Tulane organize its gaming management courses.

"Things that are unique to the gaming industry are things like casino math, which is an entirely different verbiage of how we account for the monies here and how those margins all translate to shareholder equity and that sort of thing," said Ferrucci.

The dean of University College of Tulane said an attorney is reviewing the AG's opinion to see if it would impact the Tulane courses.

Dr. Richard Marksbury told WLOX News, "We've offered the courses for a year and no one has ever said anything. We're up and running and we're successful and we have a commitment to our students."

Casino executives say such courses translate into better jobs and promotions.

"We want to ensure that the residents of Mississippi, who have been here long before us, have an opportunity to be considered for those," said Ferrucci.

"We've got a huge number of jobs down here. Right now the residents of Mississippi can't get the training they need for the high paying jobs down here. And so they're either going to go out of state, or out of staters are going to get the good jobs. And that seems to me to be wrong," said Dr. Doty.

The president of the IHL board, Roy Klumb, promises a legal challenge to the attorney general's opinion about the casino courses. The IHL board is expected to discuss the issue at its meeting this Thursday.