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Kim Otis

Between Classes With...

Kim Otis, School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism

Kim Otis

Casinos are a hot topic right now and at SUNY Schenectady, Kim Otis is our resident expert as the principle faculty member in the new Casino and Gaming Management degree program. We asked her to share some of her thoughts about the industry.

What are your hopes for the new A.A.S. degree program in Casino and Gaming Management?

There's so much potential for our program to be a huge supplier of qualified job candidates. With the legislation that just passed in New York state and the influx of business, the degree program, and our division at large, are preparing our students to be job ready. We're working toward having these students focus on responsible gaming, current industry practices, and the broad picture of hospitality as their foundation.

What kinds of things are covered in your gaming classes?

We cover everything, starting with the fundamentals. We are going over the history and evolution of gaming. The issues we face today are the same as the issues we faced in the 1700s and 1800s. Even then there was a connection between the government and gaming, a fascinating social scene, and certainly cheats, which have led to the advent of the amazing technology we have now in security and surveillance.

What's the advantage to having a degree in the casino/gaming management field?

Just like the restaurant business has its own rules, regulations and technology, the same is true of this specific field of study. There's a lot to know about the casino industry that is completely different from any other branch of hospitality. Licensing, training, game play, quick mental math skills, and detailed focused attention are all extremely important.

Can you tell us about some specific employment opportunities?

There are hundreds of jobs for someone going into the industry. An entry level employee with a degree is coming in with far more knowledge and educational experience than somebody without that. Additionally, our students are required to complete an internship as part of their study. Graduates will have first-hand experience in an official capacity that will allow them to explore different positions that could appeal to their strengths. This advantage will provide them the opportunity to work towards careers like a pit boss, floor manager, slots manager, or a casino host. Other critically important fields within the casino industry are marketing, accounting, food and beverage management, lodging, and human resources. Our students will have instruction on varying levels of current practices and innovation.

What do you like about gaming?

As with hospitality in general, it's a very exciting and challenging environment. Every day is different. Every contact opportunity is the chance to win somebody over and to provide great service. We live in an experience-based culture, and our guests are more educated than ever before. Creating a service-centric experience is incredibly important to us.

What's your favorite game?

I would say craps because it is fun and exciting, but it's also really mentally and mathematically challenging. There are so many different options on how to play. It gets the whole table involved. It is fun to see the interaction of the guests, and be a part of that energy. The "people watching" alone is entertainment in itself.

About Kim Otis, Assistant Professor

Kimberly Otis has been a professional in the hospitality industry for many years and has served as an adjunct at SUNY Schenectady for close to 20 years. She holds an M.S. in Service Leadership and Innovation from Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.A. degree in English/Communications from Springfield College.