Both betting and gambling fundamentally involve wagering money on a game, race, or other event’s outcome. While betting tends to be undertaken on an amateur basis, gambling can be practiced professionally.

Due to the fact that betting is widely considered to be a form of gambling, there is a sizeable grey area where the two activities overlap. Stick with us as we’re going to explore the differences and similarities between the two, as well as indulge in a quick dive into the origins of gambling itself: you might be surprised at just how long humans have been enjoying this exciting activity!

The Definition of Betting

Betting is an agreement between two or more parties. Typically, something of value is wagered as part of this agreement, and whichever party is incorrect in their prediction forfeits what’s been wagered to the party who made the correct prediction.

Two friends who wager an amount of money on the outcome of a coin toss is a good example of simple betting. Whoever makes the incorrect prediction must pay the agreed amount of money to the other individual who correctly guessed the outcome.

A popular form of betting is sports betting. This type of betting involves parties wagering on the results of a sports match, tournament, race, game, or other contest. Many different kinds of bets can be made on sports, including football, hockey, basketball, track cycling, and boxing, as well as on other events, such as greyhounds or horse racing.

In betting, the odds are expressed as a ratio of two numbers. These are known as the ‘odds’ and the ‘bet amount.’ So, if an individual makes a bet where the odds are 1:1, they risk one unit for every unit that could be won. Betting is generally perceived as involving less risk than gambling.

The Definition of Gambling

As with betting, gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that has an uncertain outcome. When it comes to gambling, there are usually three elements present: the amount to be wagered, the risk or chance, and the ultimate prize. The outcome of a gambling wager is typically immediate: the roll of a dice, for example, or the outcome of a hand of poker.

Casinos – both online and offline – are where gambling often takes place. Roulette, slots, blackjack, poker, and bingo are just some examples of popular gambling opportunities that can be enjoyed in a casino.

The theory of probability underpins gambling: the activity combines an element of luck with things such as permutation and number theory, which is one of the reasons gambling can be so exciting. In betting, each party can access all the information they need to place their wager, whereas, in gambling, there is a strong element of the unknown: for example, in poker, you know your cards, you know what’s come out in the flop, but you don’t know what the river or the turn will be, or the hands your opponents are holding.

What is Professional Gambling?

If you’re a professional gambler, you earn your main income from gambling activities – it’s your livelihood. Professional gamblers may derive their income from, for example, poker, blackjack, or even horse racing.

According to experts, professional gamblers tend to have a few things in common. One of these things is the insistence on having a mathematical edge when making a wager; also that they remain extremely objective and realistic about gambling and its associated risk: professional gamblers are unlikely to chase losses, for example, or go on tilt (a poker term that references an individual whose play is affected by losing – or winning – a hand).

History of Gambling

The history of gambling doesn’t just go back hundreds of years: wagering has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years! The earliest-dating dice to be unearthed by archaeologists come from Iraq and are estimated to be over 4,000 years old. These dice are thought to have been used to play a game called The Royal Game of Ur. Excavations of sites in Egypt, China, and Italy have also uncovered early dice.

Tiles from China have been discovered that are dated as being from 2300 BC and are believed to have been used as part of gambling games – specifically, lotteries and keno. The first card games are thought to have originated in Ancient China in the eleventh century, migrating to Europe by the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

And poker? An early version of the game is reported to have been played in New Orleans in 1892 and quickly gained popularity. By 1970 poker tournaments had appeared, and today poker playing can even be a profession. The nineteenth century saw the invention of the very first slot machine: it was called the ‘one-armed’ bandit and was the prototype for all the slot machines that followed, including the online slots we have today.

ancient chinese people gambling

How to Choose an Online Casino

If you’d like to try your hand at a spot of gambling in an online casino, then it’s important to consider a few points when selecting a digital establishment. These include:

  • Security. The online casino should deploy the most advanced security processes possible. Encryption should be used as standard across the platform.
  • Legitimacy. It’s absolutely vital to ensure that the online casino you’re considering is licensed and regulated by a robust, well-respected overseeing body, such as the UK Gambling Commission in the UK.
  • Ease of use. Have a look at the processes regarding depositing funds and withdrawing winnings before signing up.
  • Conditions on bonuses and special offers. Carefully look at the terms and conditions regarding this; for example, if you need to play through a huge amount of money to access any winnings generated from a welcome offer, it may not be as tempting as it first appears.
  • Customer service. If you experience a problem, you need peace of mind that it’ll be resolved swiftly. To this end, check the customer service provision, and have a look at plenty of reviews from past and present users to find out more about the service you can realistically expect from the platform.

Gambling vs. Betting: The Takeaway

There is a significant grey area regarding where betting ends and gambling begins, and the two activities share many similarities. In general, however, whereas betting involves each party having access to all the information they need to make a considered wager, gambling tends to involve the crucial element of the unknown: luck. In poker, for example, we may know that our hand seems, in terms of probability, almost unbeatable, but there is always that element of uncertainty: depending on the cards that come from the deck, our stellar hand could turn into a bad beat!

A key difference is also the fact that professional gamblers are able to make a living from their activity, while betting tends to remain in the realm of recreational pursuits. One thing’s for certain, however. If you’re thinking of having a flutter on a horse race or putting a more significant wager on a game of roulette, it’s vital to make sure that the casino, platform, or other establishments you use to do so is legit, so you can enjoy the excitement of gambling without compromises.