City’s first casino attracts job-seekers in droves

    Hundreds of people flocked to the Pennsylvania Convention Center yesterday in the hopes of getting one of the most controversial jobs in the city.

    Hundreds of people flocked to the Pennsylvania Convention Center yesterday in the hopes of getting one of the most controversial jobs in the city.

    [AUDIO:100427LFCASINO.mp3]

    Some of the women in the line for jobs at SugarHouse casino sported t-shirts and jeans — others wore dresses and heels. The men were a mixed bunch too: some dressed casually while others had clearly spent a long time fussing over their suits and binders full of resumés.

    But they all have one thing in common: they want a job at the city’s first casino.  SugarHouse is hiring about 800 people in preparation for its grand opening this year.

    East Falls resident Vicki Wilson – number four in line – clutched a black binder and waited patiently in a dark maroon suit and shiny purple earrings.

    Wilson says when she was getting ready this morning, she was thinking about one thing: “To look my best, and hopefully an opportunity will present itself.”

    Wilson has applied for dozens of jobs since she was laid off as a social worker in November. She says she’ll accept any position SugarHouse offers — no matter the pay.

    Near the end of the line, Kevin Ragen is looking for a job in Maintenance. Ragen says it has been tough since he was laid off a year and a half ago.

    “Medical bills. Regular electric and gas. Bill collectors, they want their money too,” says Ragen. “They just keep calling and calling and calling. So, hopefully, if I get in here it’ll be a sign of relief for them. I can pay them.”

    If Ragen gets a job at SugarHouse, he could walk to work from his house in Fishtown.

    Many of his neighbors oppose casinos, warning of gambling addictions and a spike in crime and traffic.

    But for Ragen, as for many in the long line, the casino means jobs.

    Back at the front of line SugarHouse officials usher small groups inside to look at jobs from accountants to valets.

    “I play blackjack. I shoot craps. I play the slots.”

    Southwest Philadelphia resident Marissa Ross applied to be a card dealer at SugarHouse.

    “I love to gamble,” says Ross. “I’ve been playing cards for 20 years and I’m good with cards. So it’s perfect. Plus, I get to meet people and have a great time. I enjoy it.”

    Ross says she lost her job as a mental health/mental retardation counselor three months ago. She wants to get a job at SugarHouse, so she has more money to gamble.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.