At the very beginning, I will give you an answer. No, they aren’t exact synonyms, but they are sometimes used as such.
There are misleading definitions online that can make it hard to distinguish these two. What are the differences? What are the similarities? Let’s find out.
What is gaming? What is gambling? -Definitions
Gaming is an act of playing games. It may include real money bets like football betting, but it is broader than the “gambling” term. It has not only casino games but also every game in the world: card, board, computer, console or Roleplay, where all you need are dice and your imagination. Board and cards can be used, but they are not necessary.
According to Wikipedia, gaming is: “The act of playing games, as in legalised gambling, playing games of chance for money, often referred to in law as “gaming”; playing a role-playing game, in which players assume fictional roles; playing a tabletop game, any game played on a flat surface; playing a video game, an electronic game with a video interface: competitive gaming, competing in eSports, video game culture.”
Gambling refers to games for money, based mainly on chance, not a skill. You gamble using your budget to win or lose. You are not sure about the outcome because you don’t have the full impact or have no impact, like in online slots.
Wikipedia says: “Gambling (also known as betting) is the wagering of money or something of value (referred to as “the stakes”) on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods. Gambling thus requires three elements to be present: consideration (an amount wagered), risk (chance), and a prize.”
Differences between terms
Gaming is more about skill; even when placing a bet, it is based on players confidence in their abilities, not on random outcome
In gambling and gaming, a lot of money can be involved, but there are differences in what this money is spent. You may pay for additional features in games, multiplayer, premium version of the game or stuff for the gameplay. It can also involve betting who will win or lose, but the outcome is based on the players’ skill and knowledge, not only on luck and random results. If someone is better in a particular game than others, he/she will win.
In gambling, you bet who will win or lose. However, players have no impact on the outcome, and it is totally random and based mainly on luck. You can’t buy yourself stuff that can help you win a game like in video games. There is no way for improving your earns in the end, so you may only pray for being lucky while playing.
These terms are merging in online casino-like games that are free to play, so there is no money involved. Is it gaming or gambling then? That can be difficult to answer since the outcome is random, like gambling, but it is just for fun without any money involved.
Gaming and gambling both are terms that describe the act of playing games. You can play roulette for free online or play strategic board game for money if you like. It all depends on who wants to play.
An excellent example is the casino game backgammon that combines luck and skill during the play. You can state that poker requires skill to keep a poker face and don’t lose nerves, while what cards you will get are random.
Both activities are connected with entertainment. We play games to have fun and a shot of adrenaline when we fight for victory. The same is with casino games. Some people might treat them as a financial opportunity, but it is still mainly for entertaining players.
Gambling and gaming can lead to addiction. As with every addiction in the world, people lose money, dignity, and time. Players sit in front of the computer game all day and night long and spend most of their money on games, different stuff for them, or merch connected with the favourite titles. In extreme situations, they will not stand up to go to the toilet or prepare some food. They wear diapers, eat instant noodles or food from delivery if they can still afford it.
The same is with gamblers. All of the money they have, they can spend in the casino, in place or online. There were statements from addicted people who admit that they peed on the floor instead of going to the restroom and losing the winning streak.
In both of the acts, you can have a large amount of money involved. Sometimes buying an additional item in the game may cost a few hundred dollars. Additionally, if a player loses a fight with an opponent in some games, items will go to the winner equipment, so not directly, but in a way, this player won money. They are rarely exchangeable into real currencies but still give strength in the game.
Nowadays, we can gamble online, play various games, and spend money on them. Gambling and gaming are connected and merging all the time. To keep things simple, it is better to describe gambling as playing luck-based games for money and gaming as an act of playing games at all, either for money or not.