Revenue Record Reported At The Same Time New Gaming School Unveiled

The competition to train casino workers is about to heat up. Virginia College has added a gaming technology lab at its Biloxi campus. The lab will give dealers a new place to learn the tricks of their trade.

Duncan McKenzie knows a few of those tricks.  He's also intimately familiar with south Mississippi's casino industry.  So when you hear the casino executive say, "It's a very exciting time for Biloxi," you begin to understand why educators at Virginia College are so eager to expand their casino curriculum.

"All right. Bet them up. Set them up. Here we go," David Marini told four nursing students who sat down at a blackjack table for a practice game of 21. "Twenty. Good hit," he told a player.

Marini is the lead instructor for Virginia College's new gaming technology program. He entered the education field to share "the passion, the love for the business" that he has for casino dealing.

According to the Mississippi Gaming Commission's website, coast casino resorts employ more than 14,000 people. And in 2010, when Margaritaville and Bacaran Bay expect to open, thousands of additional workers will need to know the intricate rules at a blackjack table or a roulette wheel. "It makes a big difference when you go into a job with confidence, and knowledge," said Marini.

Virginia College is a career education school. So unlike the courses offered at graduate-based Tulane and USM, which concentrate solely on gaming management, Virginia College can use its Biloxi campus to teach students how do become dealers.

Hildie Flynt is Virginia College's Program Director. "We want to provide them with quality dealers, professional dealers that have more than the technical skills, that they can do customer service and entertaining as well," she said.

The Virginia College gaming technology lab offers its first 12 week program on February 11th.

Virginia College's decision to start a gaming technology program gives potential dealers two accredited places to learn their craft. The Crescent School of Gaming also offers dealer training classes. That's company's technology lab is in downtown Gulfport.

News about Virginia College's program came out just as the Mississippi State Tax Commission released its 2007 gaming revenue report.  It confirmed what most people suspected. The economy in Harrison and Hancock Counties got a quite a boost from south Mississippi's casinos. The industry raked in a record $1.3 billion. The state also set a one year gaming revenue record. Casinos on the coast and on the Mississippi River combined to take in $2.89 billion.