Bingo callers run bingo games. They have a variety of duties that include:
As well as calling games in their own club, the main caller may be responsible for calling linked games. This is where two or more clubs are linked by computer and play a game together. The numbers are called from one club, with the sound being relayed to all the other participating clubs. The National Bingo Game, which is played in most venues, is a linked game involving clubs all over the country. Participants play for substantial sums of money.
During quiet times, callers may be expected to carry out other tasks, such as preparing bingo tickets and promotional materials.
Bingo callers work with ushers, bar and catering staff, who all report to a floor or club manager.
Bingo callers work up to 40 hours a week, including weekends and bank holidays. The opening times of bingo clubs vary, but most have afternoon and evening programmes.
Most clubs are open every day of the year (except for Christmas Day), so callers are needed seven days a week, for example from 11am until the last game, usually at 10pm. Bingo callers mostly work an afternoon or evening shift, but must be prepared to take on a varied workload. Part-time work is available.
Depending on the employer, work may be seasonal. For example, in clubs centred in holiday destinations, there may be more work available during the summer.
Bingo callers operate from a stage and are expected to stand for long periods. Many clubs can get very busy and conditions can be crowded, noisy and hot. Callers are expected to be smart and well presented. Employers may provide uniforms.
A new trainee bingo caller may earn around £10,000 a year.
An allowance for unsocial hours may be provided. Food and drink is often available, sometimes at subsidised rates. Bingo callers working on a cruise ship, or in a holiday park, could be given free accommodation. Larger employers offer holiday entitlement, a pension, employee share schemes, and, sometimes, annual bonuses.
Bingo is one of the most popular leisure activities in the UK, with 680 licensed bingo halls employing around 18,500 staff. Employment opportunities exist in most large towns and cities.
Bingo callers could work:
- For a large or small bingo chain
- At an independent bingo club
- At a holiday camp
- On a cruise ship
There may also be opportunities to work as a bingo caller in some large or regional casinos when the Gambling Act 2005 takes effect in September 2007.
Bingo halls usually have two or more full-time bingo callers, and many part-time callers. Jobs in holiday parks and on cruise ships, may combine bingo calling with many other tasks. There may be opportunities to work abroad with some companies.
The main operators advertise positions locally in their premises and on their websites. Vacancies are also advertised in local newspapers, Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices, magazines such as Bingo Link and Leisure Opportunities, and on specialist leisure recruitment websites such as www.leisureopportunities.co.uk.
There are no formal entry requirements, although employers may prefer GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in English and maths. Ability in numerical work is useful. Key or Core Skills in communication and numeracy may be helpful.
Licensing and gambling laws restrict the opportunities for 16 and 17 year olds, and there is no set route into the work for people in this age group. There is scope to work on the hospitality side, e.g. as a catering assistant, or as a slots person or general assistant.
Talented entrants can progress to bingo calling at the age of 18. However, the new Gambling Act will prohibit people under 18 from tasks that are related to gambling. This includes working with gaming machines, selling bingo tickets and paying out winners, as well as bingo calling. For cruise ships, the minimum employment age is usually 21.
Many employers offer comprehensive in-house training programmes, focusing on customer service. In most cases, entrants learn from practical experience under the supervision of skilled bingo callers and floor managers. A few large employers have calling schools, where trainees can master skills and practice in a safe environment.
The SVQ in Bingo Operations at Level 2, available in Scotland, is the only professional qualification for this industry. It includes four mandatory units, including customer service, health and safety, supporting bingo games and working as a team. Candidates also complete three optional units, one of which includes bingo calling. Funding for this course is usually arranged through the employer or local enterprise company.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Bingo callers should:
Internal promotion is usually on merit. Once experienced, the most talented bingo callers can become regulars on the national game links. They may be given more responsibilities, such as training and assessing callers.
They can also move into floor management, and potentially club management. Those who want to manage a bingo club need to go through the Criminal Records Bureau disclosure procedure to get the necessary licences.
The Bingo Association, Lexham House,
75 High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 1JF
Tel: 01582 860921
The National Bingo Game Association,
Lexham House, 75 High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 1JF
Tel: 01582 860900
People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
The Springboard Charity & Springboard UK Ltd, Coopers' Hall,
13 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4TH
Tel: 020 7497 8654
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.