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Sport & Recreation careers

Gaming

Can you really make a career of gaming?

For the majority of people, having a cheeky little flutter on the Grand National or betting the odd £3 on an eight-way Premier League accumulator is as far as betting goes. For others, it’s part of their life and some even forge a career out of it.

Of course, it’s sometimes literally a gamble to think that you can make enough money out of gaming to live a comfortable and successful life. Some manage it, some don’t. Either way, there are other jobs in and around the sport if you’re desperate for some involvement.

We’ll explain more below, covering absolutely everything from bookmakers to gambling extraordinaires .

Why get involved in the gaming industry?

Gambling is an incredibly popular recreational pastime. Millions of people visit Las Vegas every single year. They’re probably there for the night life and cocktails too, but you can bet your bottom dollar that 99% of people have a bit of a flutter whilst they are out there in the desert. It would be rude not to, right?

If you gamble in moderation, there’s no harm in it at all. Unless you’re Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man or Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover, you’ll know that you win a little and you lose a little. That’s the betting industry in a nutshell.

Of course, if you’ve ever placed a bet online, in the bookies or in a casino, you’ll know that there are certain individuals making it all happen. Casinos, for example, employ a whole host of staff, from the dealers, who run the tables and roulette machines, to casino managers who oversee all the gaming activity.

You’ll also have gaming floor staff, security and surveillance employees and accounting staff who are responsible for processing transactions and exchanging chips for cash and vice versa.

You’ve got to be a certain sort of person to run a casino. Take Robert De Niro’s words in Martin Scorsese’s film Casino and you’ll know what we mean: “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose and in the end, we get it all.” It’s a pretty tough industry, as you can tell.

Away from the whole casino scene, a lot of people do their betting in high-street bookies, such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power. Punters can bet on absolutely everything from sporting fixtures and the X-Factor results, to whether it will be a white Christmas or not.

Betting shops are run by bookmakers, who basically calculate the amounts of winnings that are won and make sure that cashiers pay out the right sums of money to triumphant customers. The cashiers work on the tills, take new bets and pay out money for winning bets.

Horse racing is especially popular with punters at live events. Events such as the Grand National and Ascot attract thousands of people, most of whom place the odd bet here or there. This is big business for bookmakers, who constantly have to alter their odds to compete with their rival companies. It’s a highly pressurised situation, but if you’ve got a passion for it, you’ll love the challenge.

Of course, these days more and more people are betting online. The main attraction of this side of the betting world is that you can bet ‘in play’, meaning you can gamble on an event that is currently taking place. These websites are highly advanced and are built by a huge team of web developers.

If you’ve ever come in from a night out, a little worse for wear, with garlic mayo on your shirt cuffs and mojito residue in your hair, but you don’t quite fancy the long walk upstairs to bed quite yet, you might have flicked on Sky Sports where you’d see a bunch of Americans wearing leather waistcoats, sporting sunglasses and playing poker. That’s right, poker on TV!

With the ever-burgeoning popularity of poker stemming from these televised global tournaments, a lot more people are beginning to play professionally in online poker competitions. You can earn a lot of money, but you can also lose a lot. This is certainly an incredibly risky career to pursue, so be warned!

How do I get into the gaming industry?

To break into the gaming industry, you will most likely need some sort of experience beforehand. It’s not a ‘must-have’, but it will certainly help you to understand the way that the industry is run, who it involves and the mentality of the people placing the bets.

For example, most bookmakers will usually have started off at the bottom and worked their way up from cashier level. To become a full-blown bookmaker, you’ll have to take on specialist management training to learn all about managing your employees, the ins and outs of gambling laws and how to expertly calculate odds.

It’s the same sort of career ladder for casino managers. The industry requires people to learn the ropes from base level and work their way up to the top. Of course, there are exceptions and if you have good commercial awareness and knowledge of the casino industry, you could kick start your career at a higher level and go from there.

Whatever route you take, you need to know the industry inside-out. For managers, this means keeping an eye on the sort of odds your competitors are dishing out. For cashiers and floor staff, this requires developing a good understanding of the way odds work.

If it’s something you want to get into, give it a shot. Odds are you’ll do alright!