Posts Tagged ‘casino’

NJ college training blackjack dealers for other states

Friday, August 13th, 2010

It’s survival of the fittest out there in the business world, unless you can get a federal bailout. Therefore, businesses must adapt or die. A New Jersey college is doing just that because of the struggling local economy. With lessening demand for casino workers in Atlantic City, the college is exporting the talent.

Atlantic Cape Community College opened casino school a while back with the mission of training dealers and croupiers to work in the Atlantic City casinos. It seemed logical, considering the large part of the Atlantic City economy that the casinos played. However, the Great Recession has hurt everyone, making an economic mess of things all over.
Atlantic City is hurting worse than most places, though, partly because gambling is considered a luxury expense that should be reduced or eliminated during tough times, and partly because of mismanagement from ousted Governor Jon Corzine.

Atlantic City casinos are losing money and cutting jobs. Therefore, the employment situation there is bleak. As a result, the community college is still offering the casino school, but most of the students are finding employment elsewhere, particularly in the nearby areas of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York.

To help a flagging attendance, Atlantic Cape Community College now sells its casino school curriculum to other states. Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for example, purchased the curriculum and trains students in a strip mall before sending them to local casinos. Including Mount Airy Casino, which has a partnership with NCC.

As more and more states opt to legalize casinos and add table games to their slot parlors, it seems that this new business model of selling their curriculum to competitors is the best way for ACCC to make money at the moment. Hopefully at some point the economy will recover and Atlantic City will have jobs of its own.

Girl Scout Leader Stole Money to Play Blackjack

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

When I was young, I was in the Cub Scouts. I never graduated to the Boy Scouts because I didn’t have fun as a Cub and didn’t feel that it was worth my time. That was mostly because my troop leader sucked. What makes a scout leader suck? Well, if you never schedule activities for us to do and on the rare occasion that you do schedule something, you cancel at the last minute, that would qualify. Stealing the cookie money to fund gambling would also fit the bill, I believe.

That is exactly what a Girl Scout troop leader in Minnesota is accused of doing. Joleen Hopkins of Mendota Heights, Minnesota allegedly stole $8,214.22 from her troop. After the girls went to all of the trouble of bothering and harassing every single person who walks in and out of Wal-Mart until they gave in and bought cookies, Hopkins is said to have taken the money for her own purposes.

Hopkins allegedly wrote herself checks from the troop’s bank account and used that money to play blackjack at a local casino, pay bills and buy sports equipment for her kids. So I guess she’s just a good ol’ soccer mom who needed a little extra money. No harm in that, right? So she stole from the Girl Scouts. No one likes them, anyway, right?

It turns out that the justice system doesn’t feel that way. Hopkins has been charged with six counts of theft, with three of them felonies. If convicted, Hopkins could receive up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. What’s worse, as a result of her actions, that particular Girl Scout troop broke up. Now who am I supposed to buy cookies from?

Just last week I reported on a restaurant manager stealing from his company to fund a night of blackjack. Hey, at least Hopkins didn’t offer to pay the scout troop back with blackjack winnings!

I think the moral of the story here is clear: Don’t give money to Girl Scouts because you’ll only be funding a degenerate gambler…Wait, I don’t think that’s it. The moral is if you have to steal from others to have enough money to play blackjack, you have no business gambling. Blackjack and other casino games are meant to be played with your extra or disposable income – income that you use for trivial things like entertainment. If you don’t happen to have any of that, you don’t need to be gambling!

Honestly, I don’t know how Hopkins even thought she would get away with this. You know that saying “it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby?” That saying is deceptive, because in reality, taking candy from a baby and getting away with it is very difficult. For one thing, the baby will cry. Then you have everyone staring at you and wondering why you made the baby cry. Anyway, the same goes for stealing Girl Scout cookie money. Did she expect the Girl Scout headquarters to just think, Gosh, I could’ve sworn that troop sold about $8000 worth of cookies. I guess not, though, because they didn’t turn in any money.

So maybe the moral of the story is this: Joleen Hopkins is an idiot. Allegedly.

Manager Steals from his Company to Play Blackjack

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

People sometimes ask me, “How do I know I have a gambling problem?” One clue would be if you steal from your employer to pay for your gambling habit. An Edinburgh, England man was charged with doing exactly that. Benjamin Metcalf, a 26-year-old restaurant manager, was caught embezzling from his company after a five-figure amount was found to be missing.

Metcalf was the managing director of Nando’s and according to the BBC, he admitted embezzling £10,220.72 between June 28 and August 1, 2009. Metcalf loved to hit the blackjack tables and embezzled that money to fund his gambling habit. But wait, folks, it gets worse than that.

After he was caught and admitted to the embezzlement, Metcalf came up with a plan. He offered to play blackjack at a local casino and use the winning money to repay it. Brilliant! Of course, if he needed to steal money from his employer to play blackjack in the first place, I don’t know how he could pay it back by playing blackjack. First of all, he probably doesn’t have enough money to get started and make some money (which is why he had to steal it). Also, making money at blackjack is far from guaranteed, even for the best players. If Metcalf needed to steal to have enough money to play blackjack, then I don’t see why he would be so confident that he could win £10,220.72 playing it.

For obvious reasons, Nando’s declined Metcalf’s generous offer and instead agreed to press charges. The authorities then arrested Metcalf and charged him with theft. A guilty plea was made en abstentia and Metcalf is currently awaiting sentencing.

Folks, this kind of goes along with my last post. Metcalf did a bad thing (stealing) but justified it by saying that he was going to turn it into more money at the blackjack table and pay it back to the restaurant, keeping the rest. If you find yourself stealing from your employer to pay for playing blackjack, you have a problem. Actually, if you find yourself stealing from anyone for any reason, you have a problem of some kind.

Cheating in Blackjack

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I recently read an article online about the training of special agents in casinos who are tasked with identifying cheaters. The methodology in their training was very interesting, but my mind kept going back to the basic questions of why do people cheat and is it immoral to cheat?

Both questions are so intertwined that it’s impossible to fully discuss one without the other. First of all, I’ll point out that counting cards is not cheating if you do so using nothing but your mind. Using any sort of outside help, which can range from a digital counter to a rubber band, is cheating.

So why do some people cheat at blackjack and other casino games? First, let’s concede the fact that most people think of themselves as good people. Short of someone with a severe mental disorder, such as antisocial personality disorder, it’s virtually impossible to continue doing bad things, realize that they are bad, know that it makes you a bad person, and be okay with it.

People are not okay with thinking they’re a bad person. A person’s self-concept is formed at an early age and with the exception of extreme circumstances of abuse, as children we come to think of ourselves as good people. Doing bad things contradicts that positive self-image, forming cognitive dissonance, which is when someone holds onto two contradictory ideas simultaneously. One of the ways of resolving that dissonance is by rationalizing the bad behavior.

Yes, I had an affair, but my husband is never home and doesn’t love me anymore. Yes, I spent too much money on this house, but it’s an investment for the future. I would never abuse a child, but it’s the only way to keep him in line.

People invent justifications for their bad behavior that allow them to think of that behavior as okay. This allows them to see what they did not as something bad, but as something that was necessary or acceptable due to the circumstances. In this form of rationalization, they no longer see the bad behavior as being bad. In blackjack, it can take an “ends justifies the means” form, where the player is hurting for money and has bills that they can’t pay. They rationalize that I am only cheating because I need the money. I would never do it just to have extra money to spend on trivial things, but I have a family to support. That rationalization makes cheating not seem bad because not being able to support the family would be worse.

People also rationalize by comparing themselves to others with whom they match up favorably. This is done all of the time in the constructing and reinforcement of our self-image as a good person. We see ourselves as being good by recognizing that we are “better” than people we consider to be bad. After being accused of stealing, football player Peter Warrick protected his self-image by saying “it’s not like I shot the president.” Sure, being a thief is bad, but not as bad as being a murderer. People rationalize buying an expensive TV that they can’t afford by pointing out the average debt of American households. Sure, I might have spent too much, but not compared to those other people! Have you seen the size of our neighbor’s boat?

In this way, players can justify stealing from a casino because, compared to murder, rape, child abuse and countless other crimes, what they’re doing isn’t really that bad. Also, it’s not like the casino can’t afford it!

And that is probably the most common rationalization behind cheating at blackjack. Another way in which people resolve cognitive dissonance and preserve their self-image of a good person is by making the victim out to be the villain. That way they deserved it. Yes, I killed my wife, but she was having an affair. Yes, I lied on the witness stand, but I know that man was guilty.

Casinos are easy targets for this. Sure, they provide basically any amenity you can ask for, are a great place to have fun, and will willingly pay you when you win fair and square, but let’s face it, they’re greedy and like taking my money! People rationalize that since the casino takes everyone’s money and the games have odds unfairly tilted in the house’s favor, there’s nothing wrong with cheating them out of money. I’m like Robin Hood. I’m stealing from the rich and giving to..well, not the poor, but me! Since the games all have a house edge, people can see cheating as simply evening things out to make them fairer, ignoring the fact that anyone who gambles in a casino accepts the fact that a casino is a business that needs the revenue from gamblers to make money and stay in operation.

Though stealing something from another person is always equally bad, people are able to justify it so that it’s bad if you steal from someone poor but okay if you steal from the rich. It is much easier to rationalize stealing from a millionaire CEO than from a homeless person. Why? Because the rich person can afford it!  Look, it’s not like the casino will even miss this money. They have billions! In this weak economy, though, many casinos are losing money and some have even had to close. That doesn’t matter to the cheaters, though, who justify their actions by looking at the glitz and glamor of the casino and assume that they’re making money hand over fist. They can afford to lose this money. They have plenty of it and I’m barely scraping by.

The mind is a powerful thing. Through rationalization of bad behavior, people can resolve their cognitive dissonance and still see themselves as a good person. Sometimes they do so by justifying the bad behavior so it is no longer seen as bad, while other times they recognize that it was bad, but necessary. They hold onto their self-concept as a good person by admitting that sometimes a good person does bad things.

Guyana Opens First Casino

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana now has gambling… sort of. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Guyana is located on the northern coast of South America, bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and some country called Suriname. The country has been ruled by settlers from Spain, France, the Netherlands and England over the course of its history, but gained its independence in 1966.

Now the country has taken the first step toward joining many parts of the world in allowing gambling as a source of revenue. Guyana’s main industry is eco-tourism, with visitors coming from around the world to take in their pristine beaches. By adding casinos, they hope to bring in tourists that are currently going to Brazil, the US and elsewhere.

On Saturday, the country made history by cutting the ribbon on the nation’s first casino. The Princess Hotel houses 11 gaming tables, including blackjack and poker, and 300 slot machines. Those involved in the casino are even hoping it can host a stop in the 2011 World Poker Tour.

There is a catch, though. The new casino is only open to foreigners. Visitors from other countries can go inside the casino and gamble to their heart’s content, but locals are not allowed. This casino is for tourism only. To be certain that no locals are patronizing the casino, everyone who enters must show proof of their nationality through a passport or other means.

Honestly, I’ve never heard of such a thing, opening a business within your borders but not letting anyone who lives in your country use it. There is no ban on online gambling in Guyana, though, so the locals are free to frequent online casinos and play their blackjack there. However, there are no online casinos run out of Guyana, so locals must patronize the casinos of foreign countries to play.

New Chipless Blackjack Game at CA Casino

Friday, February 5th, 2010

If you walk into Barona Resort & Casino in sunny San Diego, California, you may notice something odd about the blackjack tables. There are no chips. The casino has added new electronic i-Tables (no word on if Apple plans to sue over that name).

To speed up the game and give the players instant verification, the wagers are done electronically at the blackjack i-Tables. The game still has a live dealer and physical cards are still dealt by the players, but instead of the players placing chips in the betting circle and having them taken or being given more chips by the dealer, it is all done electronically on a touch screen (no word on whether their touch-screen device is cooler than the iPad).

By using the electronic transfers instead of chips, players can more easily track how much money they have any how much they win or lose on each hand. Also, the touch screen allows for various side bets. One popular side bet is the “odds bet,” where players wager on the probability of winning or losing that round. Once the players are dealt their hands, they consider their chances and simply place the odds bet on the electronic device. Other side bets include “Bet the Set 21” and “Royal Match 21.”

Because the game moves faster without having to wait for the dealer to collect and hand out chips, the more rounds are played at the table than at traditional tables. For that reason, the game allows for lower minimum bets than traditional tables.

Though the chipless i-Tables are new for blackjack at the Barona Resort, they already offered i-Tables for roulette and baccarat. In addition, the casino has 75 traditional table games, including blackjack. The chipless i-Tables were designed by Shuffle Master, a gambling hardware designer based in Las Vegas.

Casino College to Train the Unemployed

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Blackjack is a great game and by far my favorite casino game. It has the lowest house edge when played with the proper strategy and if you count cards (which of course I’m not telling you to do) then you can actually flip the odds in your favor. But even so, most players will lose…a lot. That’s why they call it gambling.

Blackjack is a game that has a combination of skill and chance. Therefore, even if you’re the most skilled player and play perfect strategy, you can lose if you are dealt bad times. It can be frustrating, especially watching the dealer win hand after hand. You might be thinking, I wish I was the dealer, since they seem to win a lot.

Well, good news, a casino college can help with that. The ABC School of Bartending and Casino College has been gaining attention as employment in most states is in double digits. In particular, the school located in Farmington, Michigan has been getting some press as it trains laid-off workers in the Great Lakes State as well as those in neighboring Ohio.

Students at the college learn a variety of casino skills, including dealing cards, counting chips, managing the games, and more. Gambling in Michigan was expanded in 1996 and Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment in November 2009 allowing casinos in four of their major cities. With so many people out of work, learning new skills is a good idea, if you can afford the enrollment. Learning to be a croupier is certainly a marketable skill.

Don’t Be Like This Guy

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

My readers, please, don’t be like this guy. Seriously.

Pennsylvania State Police have reported an act of vandalism occurred at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. According to the police report, an unidentified man was playing a game of video blackjack when he suddenly slammed his fist into the machine, breaking the glass faceplate. The man left the casino a few minutes later and did not return. It is estimated that his temper tantrum caused $400 in damage.

Sometimes gambling can be frustrating. Even if you employ perfect strategy, sometimes you will lose. If there were any guarantees, they wouldn’t call it gambling. There is no excuse to ever act like this man, though. Gambling is supposed to be something you do for fun, so if you’re not having fun, if you won’t be able to take losing well, then do everyone a favor and don’t gamble.

Not much is known about this man or his situation, but many times people who react negatively in casinos do so because they are breaking the number one rule of gambling: Never wager money that you can’t afford to lose. Every game in the casino has a house edge, even blackjack, which means you are more likely to lose than to win. If you know that and choose to play anyway, you are accepting those odds and accepting the fact that you may lose money. A wise gambler is certainly capable of losing less money at a casino than at Disney World, though. It’s all about playing it smart. Whatever that man at the video blackjack game was doing, one thing he was not doing was being smart.

Maybe he was one of those kids that when playing football with his friends would take the football and go home if his team was losing. Remember that annoying kid who knocked all of the pieces off the board game and walked away when they were losing? I’m sure this way was one of them. For a kid, though, it’s more acceptable. Once you’re an adult you’re supposed to behave like an adult. That means being responsible and being a good sport. You should be gracious in victory and defeat. Also, he probably broke some bones in his hand.