Gambling Vs. Betting: Simple or Complex

Gambling Vs. Betting: Gaining as a Simple or Complex Opportunity

Both gambling and betting consist of predicting the result of a specific event or game. Should the prediction be correct, a prize would be delivered.

The prediction is often made by staking something valuable. Or most of the time, a specific amount of money.

Depending on the game or event, the combination between the predicted result and the stakes made often determines the type of wager.

As this is the case in both activities, betting is often considered a form of gambling. Looking at how it all started, it is easy to understand why many mistake one for the other. But it also becomes apparent how the two have developed into significantly different activities.


In the very beginning, gambling was done with sticks, stones, and other handy materials. It did not always involve money, but it was based on the ability to predict the future. Later, it was associated with good fortune.

Types of prizes

Today, gambling involves real money in most cases.

However, one thing that differentiates it from betting consists in the prizes awarded to fortunate players. These can vary according to the context of the game.

Cash prizes

Cash prizes are the most common rewards in gambling. Usually, these are larger than the amount wagered.

They are given out in all land casino games, as well as in online gambling. Many online bonuses offered by online casinos offer cash prizes according to the deposits made by players and the game rules.

Chips and collectables

Chips are used in land-based casinos on most table games like Blackjack or Poker. They are given to players for a specific amount of money paid and earned. Each chip is worth a particular amount in regular currency.

After winning a specific number of different types of chips, players can exchange them for money in the casino.

There also are physical types of games that award players valuable items such as collectible marbles. These games are not strictly traditional gambling.

Holidays and items

These are usually awarded to VIP players in both land-based and online casinos. To reach VIP levels, one must play consistently, generally with large sums.

Players can also win holidays or specific items of value if they participate in tournaments or gambling contests.


Gambling prizes are won instantly. It only takes the Roulette to spin the right way or the dice to land with the favourable side up.

Even in poker games or other lengthy card games, players know if they walk away with a prize at the end of the session.

Wide range of games

Gambling activities introduce players to many different types of games:

  • Slots
  • Card games
  • Roulette
  • Dice games
  • Spin the wheel
  • Lottery
  • Bingo, etc.

Each game also presents variations that follow some standard rules but are wildly different in other aspects.


There is an apparent discrepancy between the European and American types of Roulette.

It is represented by the different numbers of green pockets or, as they are called, zeroes. The Roulette wheel in the European version has only one green pocket (zero).

However, the American Roulette wheel provides two green pockets.

This determines a difference in the house edge. The chance of winning on the latter example is lower than the in the first version of the game. These are 1 in 38 and 1 in 37, respectively.

So, the gambling experience becomes one of many facets.

Technical elements

Given the variety of games available, it is only natural to deduct that gambling includes many technical elements. We will name a few examples below.

House edge

A house edge is a number that represents the profit made by the casino after a player’s original wager. This profit is usually expressed as a percentage.

Return to player rates

The return to player (RTP) rate shows how likely you are to win when playing a specific game.

For instance, slots can have a 95% RTP. This means that you are likely to hit a winning combination 95 times if you play 100 sessions.

Other elements

According to the specifics of the gambling context, players may encounter other different elements, such as:

  • Wagering conditions for bonus funds;
  • Game contribution to wagering requirements;
  • The volatility of a game (the risk of experiencing a loss);
  • Random number generators used for online gaming, etc.


Betting is the act of staking that an outcome will happen. It generally does not require any strategy, unlike other forms of gambling, like card games.

While players can also have immediate wins when betting on a winning horse, there can be more extended time frames. This is usually the case when betting on sports contests or entire seasons.

While betting happens within the context of gambling when playing any of the games mentioned above, it is also a stand-alone activity. It has its regulations and typologies.

Betting rules

There can be many rules to placing a bet, according to the bet type and its context. For instance, players can merely bet that an event will or will not happen. These are called lay bets and back bets.

At the same time, players could bet on the specifics of an event.


When you bet that a football team will score two goals within 40 minutes of a match, your win is determined by:

  • Whether the team scores two goals exactly, less, or more;
  • If the goals are scored close to 40 minutes.
  • Any extra/missing goal, and any minutes passed before or after your predicted goal, will determine how much you win.

This is called spread betting.

Sports betting

The most general stand-alone betting category is sports betting. This is popular in almost all countries around the world.

People bet on their favourite sports: basketball tournaments, football leagues, etc.


In the UK, football pools are played almost every weekend.

Virtual sports

Virtual Sports betting is a lot like sports betting. But they do not take place in reality. The fantasy is that a virtual team plays in a game event construed by a software developer.

The outcome should also be obscure, as the results of Virtual sports cannot be known before the betting is done.

Fixed-odds betting

Fixed-odds betting also takes place at sporting events, but it often relates to political elections as well. Bookmakers will provide fixed odds on outcomes of unexpected facts, like:

  • Financial indices;
  • Reality show winners;
  • Other newsworthy matters, like elections.

In this type of betting, the bookmaker is the one who sets the odds of an event’s outcome. The bettor will wager for or against those odds.


Let’s say that the bookmaker says a horse will win at 5/1 odds.

Also, someone bets on these odds and the horse wins accordingly. In this case, the bookmaker must pay the bettor five times the value of their bet and the original payment they made.

If, however, the horse loses, the bettor will also lose the payment they made on the bet and will not receive anything. In this case, the bookmaker wins.

The main difference between gambling and betting

Generally, the main distinction between placing a bet and performing a gambling activity lies in the structure of these two actions.

While a bet can be a stand-alone action with its own rules and outcomes, it is also the main component of broader gambling activities. Then, it is influenced according to the game played and casino restrictions.

Gambling is a wider concept that sometimes includes strategy and many other technical elements, proving much more versatile than betting.

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