Gaming Versus Gambling, And Why The Difference Matters

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Gaming versus gambling

Two people playing on a consolePeople of all ages enjoy playing online games, and the thrills can be addictive. But are online gaming and gambling the same thing?

Even the gambling industry uses the words "gaming" and "gambling" interchangeably, which makes it hard to understand the difference.

Gambling is all about betting or staking money where the outcome is uncertain. It's based either wholly on chance or on some combination of skill and chance. For example:

  • rolling a dice or playing roulette has a completely random outcome
  • betting on a horse race may involve some skill, but chance is a big component of the outcome.

Computer gaming often has features that are similar to gambling, such as skill and chance, but unlike gambling it doesn't involve money.

Here's why the terms are hard to separate

Most online video games include at least some elements of chance (similar to gambling), and some forms of gambling - say race betting and poker - include elements of skill and judgement.

Although the pokies are called gaming machines, playing them is gambling: it involves money, and whether you win or lose is pure chance.

For free, confidential advice and support, call GambleAware on 1800 858 858 and arrange to talk to a counsellor near you.

GambleAware acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the land and we pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. GambleAware is an inclusive support service.
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