Ready to train you: Pictured yesterday at The Spinning Wheel, from left; Noel Hodgson, Steve Simons, Careen Tucker and Bruce Simon. For more information, visit: www.bermudagamingschool.com or phone 516-2611. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
Ready to train you: Pictured yesterday at The Spinning Wheel, from left; Noel Hodgson, Steve Simons, Careen Tucker and Bruce Simon. For more information, visit: www.bermudagamingschool.com or phone 516-2611. *Photo by Raymond Hainey

A businessman is to take a gamble on training professionals for the casino industry – before a decision is made to legalise gaming on the island.

Steve Simons, who runs the Spinning Wheel complex on Court Street, is pushing ahead with the Bermuda Hospitality Gaming Training Centre to help give Bermudians a fair deal on jobs if gambling gets the go-ahead.

Mr Simons said: “Our aim is to train Bermudians to work in that industry, be hospitable and embrace it. People have to know the etiquette and the culture.

“it’s another economic pillar of our society and the training centre means we will not be dependent on everyone else.”

He added that he was confident that a referendum would back gaming on the island.

He said: “If we educate people, show them how something will benefit them or not, I believe Bermudians will make the decisions that will benefit them.”

He added that, in addition to preparing Bermudians to international standards, so they could work abroad as well, the school could also take foreign students for training before they take up posts elsewhere in the world.

Mr Simons – who has worked in casinos across the US in a variety of roles, including as a croupier – said a proper licensing system and training schemes were the norm elsewhere.

And he added that Bermuda needed to get ahead of the game by having a reservoir of qualified talent ready to go if casinos are backed in an upcoming referendum.

Mr Simons said: “Our objective is to get Bermudians to work and be first class when they do go to work. If we don’t do that, the people who get leases will bring their own people in and that will knock Bermudians right away.”

He added that, in addition to training front-of-house staff, the school would also offer training in areas like security and working in cash cages.

And he said: “We will train Bermudians to train other Bermudians. We will learn then we will teach ourselves. We can even have foreigners coming here to the school.

“We will be offering Crown & Anchor as well – foreign students will be leaving with a smile on their faces and be ambassadors for Bermuda as well. We hope that experts in the field from overseas will also help trainees to spot problem gamblers and to assist them in getting help.”

Mr Simons added he and his partners had been working on the training centre for around six years and even started classes in part of the Spinning Wheel complex seven years ago.

But he said: “We had to stop because people didn’t have the vision to see gaming was imminent. I envisage that gaming is coming to Bermuda and it’s very important we educate the indigenous inhabitants so they can take advantage of the industry.”

Mr Simons added he expected his business plan for the training centre to be ready by this weekend and to begin looking for funding immediately afterwards.

Business partner Careen Tucker added that, when international business started in Bermuda, there had been no training for Bermudians to assume positions in the new industry.

She said: “We have an educational process for gaming – we are trying to get ahead of the game. In terms of educating Bermudians, we need to be able to get started. If we start wrong, we’ll end wrong – we want to make sure there are qualified Bermudians in place when this part of the entertainment industry takes off.”