With more than 140 casinos and 94,600 employees, the UK gambling industry is a vibrant facet of the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector. As well as classic casino venues, bingo halls and online gaming make up a significant proportion of employment in the field which means it has a variety of career paths on offer. So if you don’t fancy dealing cards yourself, there’s still an arena of logistical and back-office opportunities that keep the roulette wheel spinning on a day-to-day basis.
For the majority of entry-level positions in the gambling field, there are no industry-specific academic requirements. However, customer service experience, team-working skills and a hard-working manner are all important for such jobs.
Progression within the industry is possible, and usually comes with experience in the area. However, if you’re looking to enter at a managerial level, then knowledge of running and motivating a team will be crucial.
As well as roles that are specific to the gambling and gaming industry, there are also an array of more general positions such as banking, administration and call centre work. The transferable skills required for such roles mean that applicants need not have had previous experience within the gambling industry.
The IT crowd
The advent of online gaming and gambling has revolutionised the industry and opened up a new demand for skilled employees. The Gambling Act 2005 allowed casinos to operate online from the UK and in The Gambling Commission Annual Report 2008/2009, there were more than 320 online operators of betting and gambling sites employing almost 8,000 people.
Fluency in a range of languages, for example, is a skill that is highly sought-after in the world of online betting, with people logging onto websites from all around the globe. And not surprisingly, all of these online gaming sites require a highly skilled IT, web and digital team – especially as data protection and internet safety are so critical to the online industry (and this is where programmers come into play).
The web team is responsible for designing new interfaces as well as maintaining sites to ensure they are fully functioning at all times. After all, many users enjoy online gambling in the evening after work and even in the middle of the night.
And, hand-in-hand with web developers come graphic designers, heading up graphics, art work and any design that the sites require – ensuring that the websites look as attractive and appealing to customers as possible. So for those with experience in the IT and digital sector, the online sphere of the gambling industry could prove to be your ideal next move.
The gaming industry is not simply about the process of placing bets. It’s also about the atmosphere and the entertainment that are so much a part of the whole experience at the more traditional venues – the casinos and bingo halls, for instance. For this reason, every employee of a casino – from the croupiers to the cleaners and the bar staff and waiters – is critical to its running, and ensures that the whole process moves along smoothly.
This culture of entertainment and luxury is generated by the level of customer service provided, and thus attention to detail is a crucial attribute for any employee within the industry.
Fine food and drink play a significant part in the infrastructure of a casino. There are a variety of positions in catering, from kitchen porters to head chefs. However, a high standard of hygiene, presentation and, of course, taste are essential attributes for a successful member of the catering staff. Bar tenders who have a flair for friendly customer service and drink-serving are always welcome in an industry such as gaming.
If you’re interested in a role that’s more hands-on in the gaming industry, then a job as a dealer or inspector may suit. A dealer – sometimes known as a croupier – conducts table games and is responsible for their running and for ensuring that they are carried out efficiently and fairly, and in accordance with company regulations and procedures. Inspectors tend to assist dealers and customers as required. Confidence is paramount in these types of role, where you are constantly interacting with customers, as is the ability to stay calm and focused during busy games. You will also need to be familiar with the table games, learning in detail the mechanics, maths as well as the rules behind them.
Many dealers start out as trainee croupiers and, although wages aren’t high to start off with (£6 to £9 per hour depending on location), tips are frequent and an incentive to be friendly. As with the majority of positions in casinos, shift work is par for the course. Broken up into eight-hour shifts, they can fall at any time and on any day of the week, so be prepared.
Leading the way
Tracey had a career goal which she was determined to achieve…
Tracey Collins, GM of the Grosvenor Casino in Southampton, has just been crowned Grosvenor GM of the Year for the second time. This is in addition to the Leader of the Year award she received at the prestigious Women in Gaming Awards in 2010.
Trained as a chef, Tracey joined the gaming industry when a family friend saw an advert in the local paper. At the time, she thought that to work in a casino, you’d have to be thin, beautiful and prepared to wear a provocative uniform! She also assumed it would be an unfriendly environment in which to work.
However, after some gentle persuasion, Tracey applied for the job. That was 27 years ago and now aged 48, she’s proud to say she’s never looked back. After a few years spent working as a dealer, Tracey decided to pursue a career in gaming as she felt her leadership skills would enable her to make a real difference. At that time dealers were not expected to show any personality – and this was a change Tracey was keen to make.
In 2005, she reached a major career milestone when she became a general manager. She explains: ‘I developed my style by experiencing bad management and realising how I didn’t want to be when I got my opportunity. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry made me even more determined to succeed.
A combination of my personality and a female perspective makes me very empathetic with both customers and my team. ‘I’d say experience, along with the training I’ve received from the company, has helped improve my leadership skills. I’m now great at influencing the team to achieve our common goal which is ‘to give the best experience in gaming, but have fun along the way.’
Not one to rest on her laurels, Tracey is one of the first to study for a unique gaming-based management diploma, Leaders in Leisure, which is developed by the Rank Group with Birmingham City Business School.
[This article was originally printed in at home magazine's 'Just the Job' careers supplement in April 2012.]
Words: Jessie Bland