Casino Work Permit Costs Will Double On July 1st

Leonard Chiles paid $75 to get his Mississippi Gaming Commission student badge. The dealer in training got lucky. Next month, that same badge doubles in price.

"It's just too much money for me to come out of my pocket to support the family," Chiles said of the newer fee.

On July 1, the gaming commission will charge $150 for a gaming badge. Gaming school students must pay an extra $10 when they get a job.

"It's too much of an increase," said Chiles.

But according to Caren Austin, "It's still worth it."

Austin was also at the Crescent City gaming class. She recently decidecd to leave a hospital job to become a casino dealer.

"Say I make an extra five dollars an hour more than what I'm making now," she said. "That's still going to double my income over the next year. If it means I have to put out $150, then it's worth it. It's only $150 for three years."

Gulf Coast Gaming Association members worry that the $150 license fee could hurt the casino employee who makes $7-8 an hour. The casino executives are also concerned about a second regulation that goes into effect July 1. That regulation prevents new employees from starting work until their background investigations are completed.

Beverly Martin is the gaming association's executive director.

"Most of these people probably can't afford to wait a week," Martin said. "Usually if you apply for a job, it's because you needed a job yesterday, not a week or two weeks from now."

The gaming commission has told casino operators that after a few months, agents will see if future gaming students are being handcuffed by the new badge approval system. A spokesman for the gaming commission said the agency raised license fees because of the escalating cost to do background checks.