Rhode Island casino lures Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun workers

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Lincoln, R.I. — Twin River could take more than business away from Connecticut's casinos.

The slots parlor, now on a fast track to full-fledged casino status, also could divert table-games dealers now working at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, particularly those who live in Rhode Island.

"It's purely an economic thing," a Foxwoods dealer from Lincoln said Wednesday after dropping off an application at a Twin River jobs fair that drew more than 2,000 people over a six-hour period. "This is so much closer. I like it at Foxwoods, but the commute is killing me."

The man, who said he's been working at Foxwoods for nearly 20 years, declined to give his name, as did others who spoke to a reporter outside the job fair. More than one said they saw many of their Foxwoods co-workers at the fair as well as dealers they recognized from Mohegan Sun.

"It's like a family reunion in there," said a woman who identified herself as a Foxwoods dealer from North Kingstown, R.I.

Twin River had announced the job fair late last week, just days after Lincoln residents and Rhode Island voters statewide approved the facility's introduction of such table games as blackjack, craps and roulette in Nov. 6 referendums.

Statewide voters also approved table games for the Newport Grand slots parlor, but Newport voters rejected the measure in local balloting.

Twin River management has said it hopes to have 65 tables up and running by July 1. The facility wants to hire "a mix" of experienced and inexperienced dealers. Applicants without experience will be required to complete a training program and an audition.

No interviews were conducted at Wednesday's job fair, which Twin River said was the first in a series of such fairs. It said all applications would be reviewed at a later date and selected candidates would be contacted for interviews.

Available positions at Twin River also include table games floor supervisors and table games managers. Support staff positions are available in such areas as accounting and finance, security, surveillance and food and beverage.

All Twin River gaming employees must pay for a state-mandated gaming license, which costs $150 a year.

A job seeker from Providence who said he's been a dealer at Foxwoods for nine years, said the prospect of shortening his one-hour commute by landing a job at Twin River was the main reason he applied at the Rhode Island facility. But, he added, protracted contract negotiations between Foxwoods management and the union for Foxwoods dealers, Local 2121 of the UAW, also motivated him.

He said he did not support the unionization of Foxwoods dealers.

Earlier this year, the UAW began organizing efforts among dealers at Mohegan Sun.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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