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Three casino school graduates promoted at Kansas Star

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, March 3, 2013, at 8:14 p.m.

The Kansas Star Casino has started producing is own home-grown supervisory talent.

Three graduates of the casino’s first dealers school, which started in Mulvane in fall 2011, were promoted this week to oversee gaming tables on the casino floor.

“It’s pretty exciting for us,” said Mike Dickson, the Kansas Star’s director of table games. “We chose them, trained them and now we get to see them take the next step.”

All three graduates are from Wichita, and none had ever worked at a casino before enrolling in the school.

Peter Schmidt was a former real estate agent, Tifanie Brown was a telemarketer for a cruise line, and Darren Dziewulski was a Fed Ex contractor.

They were among the 80 people who attended the dealers school that started several months before the Kansas Star opened its temporary casino in December 2011.

After a year of dealing blackjack and other table games, each will supervise dealers and players at four tables.

Schmidt said his previous casino experience amounted to 10 minutes playing slots in a Las Vegas casino. But he saw an opportunity for long-term employment when the Kansas Star launched its first dealers school, he said.

“I thought it was fun. You get to learn how to tell people how to have a good time while they’re sitting around playing games. And you get to do that for eight hours.”

Brown said she had spent her career in a call center and wanted to interact with people.

“Because I’d been in a call center, I’d never looked at somebody and had a conversation – it’s been strictly over the phone,” she said. “But I’m a people person, so it wasn’t that hard to adjust to. I’m excited to learn new things and move on.”

Dziewulski said he enrolled in the school on the recommendation of his twin brother, who works in a casino in the Chicago area. His mother also is a dealer at the Kansas Star.

“It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s not just flipping cards and saying, ‘Blackjack.’ It’s interaction with the customers. There’s so many challenges to dealing,” he said.

The three were selected for their new positions based on their proficiency as dealers, maturity, respect from others and customer-service skills, Dickson said.

They still must pass state requirements concerning transaction reporting and receive training in alcohol awareness and responsible gambling.

Their new jobs will allow them to be mentors for new dealers, just as they had mentors. The Kansas Star has held several dealers schools since the first one, operating them in a trailer on the casino site rather than in a building in downtown Mulvane. So far, there have been 180 graduates. Dickson said more than 70 members of the original dealers school continue to work at the Kansas Star. The casino employs about 900 people.

Supervisors can climb the ladder to pit manager, assistant shift manager and then shift manager.

“There’s plenty of room in this business to grow,” Dickson said.

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Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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