Applicants participating in the American Place career fair this week and next may leave with an offer to work at Waukegan’s new casino when the temporary facility opens in July.
“If we like what we see, we’ll make them an offer while they’re here,” said John Ferrucci, who is overseeing the local startup operation for Full House Resorts, which owns the American Place casino coming to Waukegan.
“They need to have the right attitude,” added Danielle Strong, Full House’s corporate human resources director. “They should have a good handshake, a nice smile and a warm personality.”
American Place held its initial career fair Tuesday at the Amherst Lake Office Complex on Waukegan Road, as it begins its effort to hire and train 700 casino workers — as well as 150 more for the food and beverage operation — to staff the temporary casino.
As of noon Tuesday, Ferrucci said approximately 40 people completed applications. Additional career fairs are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and March 29, 30 and 31 at the same location.
Both the temporary casino and the permanent resort will be located on 28 acres of city-owned land and 10 additional acres Full House has under contract adjacent to the Fountain Square Shopping Center.
With a much larger permanent casino and resort planned to open approximately two years after the temporary facility begins operation, Ferrucci said there will be room to grow with the company quickly. They are not looking for ordinary job seekers.
“We’re looking for people who want a career, not just a job,” he said. “We want them to get off to a good start. We want them to apply for three different positions so we can help them decide what’s best for them and the company.
Ferrucci, who is the general manager of Full House’s Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is dividing his time between that facility and getting Waukegan open. He said a general manager for Waukegan has already been hired.
The Waukegan manager currently runs another casino and will arrive in Waukegan in May. Ferrucci said directors are selected for each department, including table games, slot machines, finance, human resources, marketing, security, surveillance and more.
Between now and the opening of the temporary casino, Ferrucci said the hundreds of people hired will be from entry level to a form of manager. Those openings include more than 250 table game dealers and 15 pit managers. There will also be more than 35 slot technicians.
Not all the jobs are directly operating or supervising gambling. More than 30 people will be involved with sales and marketing, nine with information technology and more than 80 with finance, which includes working with chips and cash.
Dealers will be starting a lot sooner than opening day. John Darnold, part of the American Place startup team, said there will be an eight-week school for dealers, where they will learn how to operate blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat.
“We don’t expect there are a lot of experienced dealers in the area,” he said. “We’ll have a dealer school to teach them how to do it.”
With approximately 1,800 people expected to work in the permanent resort, Darnold said there will be opportunities for quick growth with the company. None of the jobs are temporary.
Not everyone who came to the career fair was looking for a new job. Some like Norma Arizmendi, a Beach Park resident and landscape designer operating a 45-year-old family business — Arizmendi Landscaping — wants to be involved with the new casino in a different way.
“I want to be part of this casino,” she said. “This is one of the best things to happen in Waukegan, and I want to help make it happen. We also do retaining walls, patios and sidewalks. I would like to be a subcontractor.”
With Full House already committed to hiring minorities, Margaret Carrasco of Waukegan was there to learn as much as she can to let community members know about the opportunities at American Place.
“There are over 100 Latino organizations in Lake County. I want to be a bridge to get the word out,” she said. “Why not?” she added, when asked if she would consider a new job. “This new casino is something very big.”
Though Ferrucci said a start date is not yet set, everyone will receive at least 30 days advance notice of when their new job will start, so they can make a smooth transition to their new career. Everyone must also be registered with the Illinois Gaming Board.