By Lynda L. Jones
Who would ever picture Milwaukee being a place where a casino career would be a reality? Yes, a career. Well, here are three individuals who are African American, two males and one female that are thriving and enjoying their casino careers.
Shay Bolden is a Box Office Supervisor for the Northern Lights Theatre in the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Bolden got her start at the casino working in what is called the cage, which is actually a cashier.
Consistent standing after a couple of years became a health challenge and the casino found another position for her, working the Theater Box Office, and today she is the supervisor.
This position has brought its perks, such as meeting many entertainers who have performed at the casino. And she says that she just enjoys the atmosphere at the casino. And where else could Bolden have began as a cashier and advance to a position where she oversees a theater box office. The fact that she was not able to continue at a particular position, and the casino found her another position demonstrates the team work effort that makes up this work atmosphere.
Potawatomi employs more than 2,600 team members, and of that people of color make up 53 percent of the workforce. African Americans are the largest group for people of color at 28.98 percent, Latinos are 9.12 percent, Native Americans are 8.82 percent and Asians are 6.73 percent.
There is no other private employer in Milwaukee that can produce this level of employment diversity.
George Ewing, who works as a Pit Boss for Table Games began his career at the casino not long out of high school. He attended a job fair years ago, and actually began in housekeeping at the casino.
How did he move out of housekeeping to being a pit boss? Well, that seems to be one of the perks at working at Potawatomi Bingo Casino, once your in the door, there are many opportunities to advance and move upward, thus making it a career.
Brian Hairston, who is actually Ewing’s immediate boss says,”George is one our success stories.
He has always been a hard worker and has seen his efforts pay off in the form of several promotions to a position with more responsibility.
He is just one of the shining examples we have of an employee who has been promoted from within and has the opportunity to continue building his career at Potawatomi Bingo Casino if he chooses.”
Hairston has a similar career path that Ewing began on as his casino career also began through housekeeping. However, unlike Ewing and Bolden he is not from Milwaukee.
Brian who has been in the gaming industry for more than 20 years began working in a New Jersey casino in a housekeeping position.
Like Ewing, it didn’t take him long to develop an interest in table games. He says that the excitment on the casino floor was appealing and he saw an opportunity to advance. From there, he made it a point to learn all the different table games, which prepared him for his next position as a floor supervisor.
Brian eventually left New Jersey and moved to Louisiana where he pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees at LSU. For him, education was a key component in helping him up the ladder.
At Potawatomi Bingo Casino, he started as a shift manager and eventually was offered the position of Assistant Table Games Director, he current position.
Hairston says that he enjoys working with such a diverse group of people, and all three agree that working at the casino is more than a job. There is a reason why they are referred to as team members, not co-workers.
The casino environment works to provide a positive experience of adult entertainment, and working as a team is what helps to achieve this goal.
Hairston encourages a casino career at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.
For individuals who may be interested all of the casino’s current openings are posted on its web site, www.paysbig.com. The pre-employment process includes interviews, background checks and drug testing and all hired employees will need to obtain a gambling license.
Once all the pre-employment steps are complete there is an orientation class designed to get them acquainted with the casino.
This is also the first opportunity that team members have to show new hires how committed they are to their success.
Hairston says that he is proud of the fact that more than half of the casino’s team members are people of color.
“We understand the importance of employing a cross section of the community and empower them to take the initiative to advance their careers with us.” Hairston said.
Yes, a casino career path that can not only advance an individual here in Milwaukee, but a career that can take you across the country with the ability and experience to move, just like Hairston did.