CINCINNATI - When Comair closed for good on Sept. 29, Julie Piper was rightly worried about her future.
After all, she'd worked as a flight attendant for the commuter airline for 14 years.
"It was awful. It was awful. It was devastating," she said Tuesday. "Seventeen-hundred crew members were put out of a job."
However, Piper feels blessed these days, thanks to an advertisement she saw seeking applicants for jobs at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.
"I was offered a position in the training academy the same day that my job was terminated at Comair," she added. "I'm one of the fortunate ones."
Piper is among 750 people now experiencing the 12-day, 240-hour Table Games Service Academy at the downtown facility, which opens next spring.
All were chosen from 5,600 applicants and those who finish the rigorous coursework will be offered jobs running roulette, blackjack, craps and other games.
"I love people. I love interacting with the public. I like being front and center and I think it's going to be a great move," said Piper.
The training is being conducted in what will be the casino's warehouse and is designed to mimic what life on-the-job will be like next year.
Loud music plays throughout the sessions. Motivational warmup exercises are part of the daily routine. Smiles are encouraged.
"Quite frankly, we want them to be very energized and energetic, but we also want them to match really the level of the customer experience," said Assistant General Manager Chris Albrecht. "Every customer has a different expectation when they step up to the game, but primarily we want our folks to be welcoming, inviting, upbeat and positive and we want them to adapt to the customers, know them and really make them, part of our family."
Clifton resident Garrett Belle, 19, is training to be a roulette game operator, but wants to climb the ladder to one day be in upper management.
"Oh, it's beautiful. It's excellent," he said. "All the staff here is very welcoming. You know, it's like a second family."
Belle said the toughest part is the math -- not numbers per se, but the speed with which it has to be used.
"You've got a lot of people that want their money, so you've got to make sure that you get that added up quick," he said.
Hiring for food and beverage workers begins next month. Overall, the casino will employ 1,700 workers, 90 percent of whom are slated to come from the Cincinnati area.
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