Foschini — a natty, 56-year-old Philadelphian with a stone-serious aura and a high, raspy voice that’s straight out of casino-world central casting — had been lured to Dover by one of his best friends in the business. He liked the casino. He liked the area.
And then he left, because the Maryland Live Casino’s offer included a substantial salary increase and more potential for advancement at one of the largest commercial casinos in the country. Foschini took the money and ran, moving in mid-December to Maryland — his fourth state in roughly five years — to help train and manage hundreds of rookie dealers.
“I’m a professional casino opener,” Foschini said with a shrug one recent afternoon at the Maryland Live Casino Dealer School, where 20 well-traveled instructors have been working with gambling greenhorns since the start of the year.
Maryland’s gambling industry — previously limited to commercial bingo halls, racetracks and the lottery — has been in growth mode since slots arrived five years ago.
Seven thousand slot machines have been set up at three gaming facilities. Maryland Live, which opened June 6 at the Arundel Mills mall, is the newest and largest, pulling in an average of $1.1 million a day in revenue, according to the state Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.
Now comes a second boom. Harrah’s is building a major casino at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and another is opening near Cumberland later this year. Bidding for a sixth casino in Prince George’s County began this month.
Already, the casinos are allowed to operate round the clock; Maryland Live hasn’t closed its doors since Dec. 27. Soon, gamblers will be able to play live table games, too, with cards, chips, dice and licensed dealers.
Moving on to move up
Foschini has personally schooled several dozen students in how to deal the complicated game of craps. He’s also shared a bonus lesson with them: In the rapidly expanding casino business, a willingness to move around helps you move up as gambling management becomes an increasingly peripatetic profession.
“I really don’t like moving; I’d rather be settled in one place,” Foschini said as students gathered around three craps tables in the middle of an abandoned retail space at Marley Station Mall, a few miles from Maryland Live. “But the business has changed. Years ago, most people either worked in Atlantic City or Vegas. Now, all these new places are popping up like Wawas. And they offer you better opportunities because they need experienced people.”
Casino workers seeking promotions and pay raises have been bouncing across the country like roulette balls for nearly a quarter-century, according to David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The patternless career path became prevalent in the late 1980s as tribal gambling halls came online and demand for seasoned dealers and supervisors began to spike.