Gaming and casino management students travel to Las Vegas

April 30, 2010

Steve Durham, instructor in hospitality management at Penn State, accompanied 14 students on a field trip to Las Vegas during the first week of March. The students performed research for a class assignment by conducting an extensive property profile, and they also had the chance to tour various facilities in Las Vegas and learn about different aspects of the casino industry.

“Penn State is establishing a presence in Las Vegas,” said Durham. “In just three such field trips, a strong relationship with several top-tier companies has been established so that students are guaranteed a welcoming reception when inquiring about internships and jobs.”

Rosemarie Hibbler, coordinator of career placement and advising for SHM, and Jeff Heim, internship coordinator, joined the trip to find placement opportunities for graduating seniors and internships for continuing students.

“Everyone came home with a better understanding of the Las Vegas market and some came home with summer internships and jobs,” said Durham.

Kaitlin Riggio, hotel manager at Caesars Palace, coordinated tours of the suites, the high-limit table games area, housekeeping and the casino. Several managers took the students’ questions about the logistics of running a 3,346-room hotel with 45 food and beverage outlets and a 129,000-square-foot casino.

Bobbi Hart, guest services manager, hosted a tour of the brand new Aria Resort and Casino, which received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. Eric Zawid, director of VIP Services at the Light Group, showed the students the night spots of Aria including the night club, Haze, and two lounges.

Scott Redding, a 2006 graduate of Penn State's Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) Program, assistant manager of the Tea Lounge, showed students around the Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter, an upscale brand with an international clientele.

The trip also included a reception for alumni and industry professionals. Dan Entenberg, a 2001 graduate of HRIM, director of operations at Palms Place, and Tom Losch, also a 2001 graduate of HRIM, assistant manager at the Simon at Palms Place restaurant, hosted a reception on the 30th floor of Sky Villa. More than 40 alumni and industry professionals joined the students for drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Representatives from Caesars Palace, the Venetian, the Mirage, Hard Rock Cafe, Pinnacle Entertainment, Harrah’s, Planet Hollywood, Boyd Gaming Corporation, and Hospitality Valuation Services were in attendance. Alysa Fritz, a junior, was offered internships at Caesars Palace and the Venetian. Other students obtained contact information that proved fruitful in their pursuit of internships and jobs.

Outside of the official activities, Hibbler, Heim and Durham met with industry professionals to strengthen existing relationships and to reach out to prospective partners.

SHM faculty are planning another trip to Las Vegas during the Global Gaming Expo from Nov. 16 to 18. Alumni and friends interested in attending the reception or getting involved can contact Steve Durham at

Last Updated May 04, 2010