How to Become a Bookmaker

The job of a bookmaker is to coordinate and manage the gambling activities of patrons. Most commonly working from a central betting office or sporting location (horse/dog racing track etc.), it is an occupation which tends to draw individuals who possess a personal interest in sports- and more-so in the act of betting.

Combining a finessed knowledge on gambling culture and customer service, a good bookmaker will have an outgoing personality as well as a flawless grip of basic-intermediate mathematics. Attainable as an occupation through working ones way up from the level of cashier, there are also a host of trainee management schemes available through established companies - the purpose of which are to condition candidates for the role by transforming their interest into a workable skillset which translates to this unique and enthralling job.

The ins and outs of the role

Bookmakers work to coordinate all of the gambling activities which pass through their office of employment.  The key divider within the field is just where that ‘office’ is; or rather whether the bookmaker works ‘on course’ or ‘off course’.

Whereas on course bookmakers work at the venue of the particular sporting event to take bets, off course bookmakers, or betting shop managers, run licensed offices elsewhere. There is little difference with regards to the tasks each perform, some of which include:

  • developing and Training a Team of Cashiers
  • handling Money, Placing Patrons Bets and Paying out Winnings
  • dealing with Complaints (Common within Gambling!)
  • settling and Reaching Sales Targets
  • balancing Accounts
  • displaying High Levels of Customer Service at all Times- and conditioning cashiers to do the same

Pay rates

As is common within most professional areas, bookmakers receive a significant rise in their pay once they've accumulated some legitimate experience.

Level of Experience

Salary Band


£13,500 -




£30,000 -



Source: National Career Service

Personal requirements

Becoming a bookmaker is a largely vocational process. In other words, there is generally no specific route you can take with regards to education to land a job of this kind. Given that it is a role which requires a mixture of technical knowledge and communicational/customer service skills, it is best mastered on the job.

That is not to say there aren’t one or two qualifications available that will improve a candidate’s prospects; a Level 3 NVQ in Gambling Operations, for example, provides an obvious advantage to the chances of any individual working their way up from the role of cashier. Alternatively, those with previous experience in store management may even be able to enter directly at this level within a bookmaking business - depending on their personal skillset.

Essential qualities, as outlined by the National Careers Service, include:

  • an understanding of different sporting events and conditions that can affect a result
  • a lively, confident and outgoing personality
  • good communication, negotiation and customer service skills
  • the ability to manage and lead a team of staff
  • the ability to understand betting regulations
  • an awareness of security issues
  • the ability to make calculations quickly
  • time management and good organisational skills
  • basic keyboard and computer skills
  • honesty, integrity and trustworthiness

Typically, trainee management posts are only available to those with A-C GCSE’s in English and Maths. Some off-course bookmakers might even ask for candidates with BTEC’s or HND’s. Subject wise, those with an undeniable business or math element are the most applicable.

It is common for bookmakers to be required to pass a basic maths test before they are allowed to work in the field, with an obvious emphasis on percentages and the calculation of odds/payments. Additionally, further tuition on the subject is sometimes provided by employers on-the-job. 


Image Source: Telegraph