Types of Gambling

Definition of Gambling

A gamble is the intent to carry out an immediate and risky act with the hope that the future consequence of the action will be favorable. Thus to gamble is to take a present risk in the hope of future reward. However, the term ‘gambling’ does not so easily lend itself to the above definitions. Why so? The meaning of the word ‘gambling’ has more to do with its implications than its application.

A gambling activity can be considered to be any activity involving a wager on an expected outcome. The outcome usually has an unknown level of uncertainty. Furthermore, a gambling activity typically has a monetary or other gain as motivation to the gambler. There is generally more than one participant in a gamble, but participation is not central to the definition of gambling. For an activity to qualify as gambling, it must thus possess three key elements. These elements are:-

Types of Gambling

The Stake

The stake or wager is usually in the form of cash, but items of indisputable value are in gambling activities. A future obligation can also act as a stake.


Uncertainty refers to the unknown probability of the expected outcome coming to pass. Even if such a possibility was entirely fair such that an outcome is 50% likely, the actual result is still unknown. Thus wagering on 50/50 outcomes can still be considered to be gambling.

Furthermore, in some types of gambling, it is common practice to provide gamblers with the probabilities of all possible outcomes. As such, these probabilities are known as the ‘odds’ of the game.

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Finally, motivation refers to the tangible gain that the gambler hopes to realize from participating in gambling activity. The most straight-forward motivation for gambling is usually in the form of monetary gain.

You should also note that almost any event involving an uncertain outcome can be the basis of gambling. Furthermore, not all gambling activities are dependent solely on chance, and some require the gambler to master specific skills. For example, many gambling activities involving cards do require memory, observation, analytical skills if one hopes to succeed in the games.

Types of Gambling

There are primarily three main categories into which the vast multitude of gambling activities are grouped. These categories and the subcategories of gambling are discussed below.

Casino games

The Casino games category encompasses the gambling activities offered in the typical land-based casino. The subcategories of casino games are

Casino Table Games

The main characteristic of casino table games is that a dealer or croupier conducts gameplay. A dealer or croupier collects bets before the beginning of gameplay. He/she is also charged with the disbursement of winnings and the collection of losses. Their primary responsibility is to guarantee fairness in the game.

There are different types of casino table games with differences determined by how gameplay is conducted.

Card Table Games

As the name suggests, the gameplay of card table games revolves around playing cards. Thus the goal of gameplay might be to attain a particular sequence of cards to realize card set with a high game value or other similar objectives.

The three principle card table games are blackjack, baccarat, and poker. However, people have made modifications to fundamental gameplay rules resulting in different variants of the three main card table games.

Dice/Tile table games

Gameplay in dice/tile table games is centered on results obtained from throwing a pair dice or on an accepted sequence of tiles. The outcome of a throw or series can influence the next move in gameplay. Thus dice/tile table games can have continuous gameplay featuring multiple small losses and wins.

The best-known dice/tile games are craps and dominoes. Alteration of critical gameplay rules has also lead to the creation of other distinct games within this category.

Random Number Table Games

There is essentially one random number table game, and this is roulette. In this game, a gambler has the option of betting on a single number or a group of numbers ranging from 1 to 38. Players can also bet on the likelihood that a number will be red or black or whether low (1-18) or high (19-38).

The dealer or croupier then spins a small ball on the outer edge of the wheel in the clockwise direction. The center of the wheel spins in the opposite anti-clockwise direction. As the ball loses momentum, it descends towards the numbers and finally settles in the slot containing the winning number.

Electronic Games

Electronic games are played on electro-mechanical consoles, which are operated using a lever, pull-stick, or push-button. Before gameplay, a player must deposit coins, bills, barcode-bearing tickets, plastic tokens, or metal balls. Gameplay then commences and involves the constant operation of the lever, push-button, or pull-stick.

There are several electronic games available in most casinos. These games include:-


This electronic game is a popular Japanese game that is played using metal ball-bearings. The ball-bearings are shot around a board with multiple targets using the pull-stick. By varying the strength of one’s pull, a player can land a bearing into the desired target. Some of the targets prompt the release of set number similar balls.

Landing a ball on other targets initiates a mini-game on the screen at the center of the console screen. The overall goal of the game is to end up with more balls than those fed into the console. These balls are exchanged for cash.


This is a game with rotating reels containing symbols with different monetary values. Most slots machines feature a set of three reels that rotate at varying speeds. The gameplay is centered around matching the symbols on all three reels. Play is initiated using a side lever or push-button.

The goal of the would-be player is to have all three reels displaying the matching symbol. Different combinations of matching symbols have different payouts, which the player receives instantly.

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video poker

Video poker is identical to card poker in terms of gameplay rules. The critical difference with video poker is that gameplay occurs within a 2D or 3D simulated environment. Video poker also offers a simulated croupier or dealer who conducts the simulated game.

video bingo

As with the previous case, video bingo is identical to live poker in terms of gameplay rules. The key difference is also due to gameplay occurring within a 2D or 3D simulated environment. Video poker also makes use of a simulated game host.

Miscellaneous Casino Games

Other gambling activities take place in casinos but do not fall into the first two categories. These games deviate from games in the previous categories in that they offer simultaneous multiplayer participation. The miscellaneous casino game category has:-


This is a game of chance allowing multiplayer participation. The gameplay involves finding a number sequence in a 5×5 number matrix printed on paper. The gameplay is initiated and conducted by a game host who conveys a random number sequence to a hall full of players. The numbers values range from 1 to 75 and are picked by a ball machine. When a player finds a matching sequence, he/she call out ‘bingo’ to receive a prize.

Ticket Lotteries

A ticket lottery and a game of bingo mostly make use of the same gaming principles. The two games make use of sequences of random numbers that are generated by ball machines or random number generators. Winning lottery tickets have random number sequences announced after a daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual, or annual draw.

Fixed-Odds Betting

In fixed-odds betting, the probabilities relating to specific outcomes are made available to would-be participants before-hand. Thus a gambler can vary the size and number of wagers based on the likelihood or odds. Examples of fixed-odd betting include

Pari-Mutuel betting

This is one of the oldest gambling activities and was initially centered on horse racing. However, pari-mutuel betting has grown to include grey-hound racing, camel racing, and other more exotic animal racing. Payouts in pari-mutuel betting depend on odds given before placing a wager.

Sports Betting

Sports-betting is an increasingly popular form of gambling and has gained considerable momentum in the last decade. Wagering in this type of gambling is based on the outcome of sporting events. Current sports-betting is centered on football due to the sport’s extreme popularity. However, sports-betting does include other sports, including basketball, American football, rugby, and other games.

Online Gambling

Online gambling is no different from other types of gambling in that gameplay for the different games does not change. All the different types of gambling and their specific examples are available on the online gaming platforms. Thus due to the ease-of-implementation and virtually unlimited user-access, online gambling is set to overtake all the other types of gambling put together.