Employee orientations wind down as casino prepares to openWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Cassaubon and Carol Jones had never seen the inside of a casino.
But when Hollywood Casino opens — tentatively by the end of May — the two will be dealing blackjack to the hundreds of players who might come through the doors.
They took four-hour classes, five days a week for five weeks. They had to become familiar with cutting the deck just the right way and learning how to watch all of the players at the table. On May 3, they stood along with about 140 others for employee orientation, marking the end of strenuous training and the beginning of a steady job — something Cassaubon hasn’t had since summer. Jones had been unemployed for six months.
“I probably would have never even thought about it,” Cassaubon said, had funding cuts at the East Toledo Family Center not forced her layoff after 16 years of work.
Jones, 52, and Cassaubon, 44, said this is quite the career shift, and quite the shift for Toledo too.
“This is going to be wonderful for Toledo because it needs a kick in the butt,” Jones said.
The two join more than 1,300 others who are starting new jobs at the casino, picked out of a pool of 39,000 job seekers. About 90 percent of the applicants lived within the Toledo metropolitan area but the hiring crew saw applications from cities all around the country. Ninety percent of the people hired are locals, said Chrystal Herndon, vice president of human resources.
This week’s orientation was the seventh of nine. Before the presentation, the third floor of the Seagate Center was decked out with black and gold balloons. Speakers blared with the “Celebrate Good Times” song.
“We want people to understand they’re not going to be coming to a stuffy corporate environment,” Herndon said.
Personality was essential to scoring any of the casino jobs, as the management has noted in the past that the technical skills of dealing or serving can be taught, but charisma cannot.
Richard St. Jean, Hollywood Casino general manager, asked the employees at orientation what type of employees he would not tolerate.
“A**holes!” The crowd shouted.
With only a few remaining digital displays to finish, the casino’s interior is nearly complete. The management will learn in in about a week if the Ohio Casino Control Commission will approve the May 29 opening date, said Jason Birney, vice president of marketing.
The casino is still looking for about 100 more employees. Of the jobs they have filled, about 75 percent are full-time and 25 percent are part-time, Herndon said.
Twenty-three year old Shanice Sample barely stopped grinning before orientation started, saying she couldn’t wait to start work. She’ll be a model beverage server, meaning she’ll wear a bustier top, a short skirt and heels while serving drinks to patrons.
“I’m like — finally — we’ve got something fun to do in Toledo,” she said.