Emily M. Kochanek – News Editor
As Massachusetts nears a decision to grant three casino licenses for vying entertainment companies, Lasell has intuitively added the first casino management major in the state to the hospitality department. Lasell hopes the connected learning approach will better the program and set it apart from other two-year programs, according to Vice President Jim Ostrow via an interview on WBUR.
Assistant Professor Dr. Melissa Van Hyfte said adding the new major was a decision made by the faculty due to the new licensing agreement set forth by the state. The major will prepare students to work in the industry, according to Van Hyfte. “It’s timed very nicely within this next year,” said Van Hyfte.
While the casinos will bring several thousand jobs to the state, these jobs will not be immediately available in Massachusetts, as building the casinos will take about three years, according to Van Hyfte. Many of the jobs available will be hourly wage jobs. Van Hyfte said that students who graduate with the degree “should not be going into dealers and house keepers” jobs. The program is designed to prompt managerial jobs and eventually executive opportunities within the industry.
The major will add five new courses to the hospitality department: resort and casino management, casino regulation and security, law and ethics in hospitality, technology in casino operations, and advanced resort and casino management.
Lasell hopes a four-year program will ready students for an industry that hires many of its managerial and executive staff from other industries. “There are only a handful of programs that have casino management,” said Van Hyfte. The major will give students direct experience from the casino and resort industries.
The major, going into its first year, has yet to fully admit students into the program. Before Lasell officially allows students to transition into the new major, Van Hyfte said the department wants to see how the semester progresses. There are a few students who have expressed interest, however, and have been granted the opportunity to change majors.
Joseph Schweizer, a junior, has been accepted into the program. Originally majoring in events management, Schweizer was not interested in his decided major. “I want to eventually work on a cruise ship,” said Schweizer. “Since there’s a casino on [a] ship and it’s basically like a resort, I figured this major would benefit me more in getting closer to my dream job as a cruise director.”
The reception from faculty about the change has been mostly positive. There were concerns, however, about possible ethical issues that would arise from the gaming industry, said Van Hyfte. Students will be trained in all aspects of the industry, including ethical issues they may encounter.
“[Students will] understand what gambling addiction looks like and appropriately targeting our organizations to the right people,” said Van Hyfte. The goal is to instill marketing principles, ensuring that students will learn ethical reasons to not market to addicted gamblers, said Van Hyfte.
Within the near future, Lasell hopes to add a masters in business with a concentration in hospitality. A casino and resort masters has not been decided, but it is in discussion.
In addition to casino management, the hospitality department will feature event management and hospitality management, as well as casino and resort management.
Shannon Pasco, a junior hospitality major, is excited about the changes as a whole. “I think that the expansion of the major is awesome for moving forward,” Pasco said. “I believe that all of these specialized majors will help in our careers after our time at Lasell.”