New York Gambling Management Degree Withers Away as Empire State Tries to Stimulate Upstate Casinos

Posted on: December 3, 2019, 10:36h. 

Last updated on: December 3, 2019, 12:08h.

New York State’s struggling gambling climate apparently has led to the likely demise of a State University of New York Schenectady program dedicated to casino and gaming management. The campus is less than two miles from Rivers Casino.

SUNY-affiliated Schenectady County Community College is likely to drop a casino management degree. (Image: Wikipedia)

The Daily Gazette reported the Schenectady County Community College degree has had no new students enrolling in the past three years. During the 2018-19 school year, only one part-time student was enrolled. No full-time students took part.

As of last month, interested students can no longer enroll in the degree program. Any current student already enrolled can complete their degree.

SUNY officials will attempt to revive or restructure the five-year-old program, or if that fails, it will be eliminated. “I think the program will not continue the way it is currently configured,” SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono recently told the Gazette.

Current enrollment is a far cry from the interest shown in 2015, when 47 full-time and 18 part-time students were enrolled. In the 2016-17 school year, there were 35 full-time and 14 part-time students. The following academic year, there were nine full-time and seven part-time students.

Schenectady is home to Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, which opened in 2017, after the degree program began.

Developed by Rush Street Gaming and the Galesi Group, the $330 million gaming property upon launching included a 50,000-square-foot gambling floor, with 1,150 slot machines, 67 tables, a poker room, as well as a 10,000-square-foot event center and multiple restaurants and bars. In July, Rivers opened New York State’s first sports book.

It was hoped the casino would bring economic revitalization to the upstate region. But like other upstate venues, it has underperformed and failed to live up to premarket gross gaming revenue (GGR) forecasts.

“In this particular case, [college] enrollment never became as robust as we had anticipated,” David Clickner, the college’s assistant vice president of academic affairs, told the newspaper.

To train future employees at the casino and similar venues in New York State, the college created a simulated gaming floor. It provided training on table games.

Other SUNY Programs Benefit Rivers Casino

College officials and Rivers Casino General Manager Justin Moore insisted in a recent statement there is still a “strong” relationship between the community college and gaming/hotel venue, the Gazette said.

For instance, the college still has courses in food services, hospitality, business and music, which could benefit the hotel and casino. College students are given internships and permanent jobs at the venue, too.

Many of the college’s offerings are of great value to the casino for helping us develop and hire a skilled workforce, especially their world-class culinary and management programs,” Moore said in the statement quoted by the Gazette.

Rivers has over 1,000 employees. It trains new employees internally and sometimes provides instruction for future casino dealers.

Rivers Casino was opened in part to revitalize the economies of upstate New York that lost vital industries over the past decades.

New York State Gaming Study

Looking ahead, Spectrum Gaming Group of Horsham, Pennsylvania was selected recently by the New York State Gaming Commission to undertake a study on the overall New York State gambling market. A final report is expected by June 2020.

The study will look at several key questions on New York State gaming. For instance, is there a market for additional casinos in New York State, and the impact new venues may have on existing casinos, the Gazette said.

The study will also consider the impact of sports betting and online wagering, legal gambling in neighboring states, and the impact of tribal casinos on New York State commercial casinos, the Gazette reported.