Is Trading Gambling?


Cody Huelster

Nov 14th 2022  .  5 min read

Is Trading Gambling?

A standard comparison of trading that is made by the public is gambling. Many assume that trading in any form is gambling, and in some cases, they may have a point when considering some similarities. On the other side, many vital differences factor into trading standing. We should not stay on the fence, so let’s dig deeper into the concept and decide together. 

Define Gambling

To get to the root of the comparison, it is essential to define gambling. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Gambling (noun) is “the practice of risking money or other stakes in a game or bet.” To add to the definition, gambling is also often referred to as risking money on an uncertain outcome for potential financial gain. On the surface, this does sound a lot like trading, by definition.

What is Trading?

Now that the definition of gambling has been established, what is trading, and how does it compare to it? Trading in the stock market is allocating defined risk at a high probability setup giving yourself more edge over the market if done correctly. In trading, there are also many ways to diversify a trader’s edge. For example, you can use strategies such as a credit spread or a very wide iron condor to have the probability of profitability in your favor. Pairing a probability-friendly approach with proper technical analysis can maximize the likelihood of profitability. Another beneficial option that you have as a trader is to withdraw the money at risk at any time if the market conditions have caused you to change your mind. Skill is also a huge part of trading that will account for the profitability you can achieve through trading. Working hard on developing your skill set, style, and emotional control are all ways to become a better trader.

What is the difference between Gambling and Trading?

Some key differences between trading and gambling include edge, control, and skill. When crafting a successful trading strategy, you stack the odds in your favor creating an edge. Typically the casino has the advantage, but in trading, a proper system allows you to be the casino to increase the probability of profitability. Edge can come in trading from several factors; the edge can be created through the strategy and proper risk reward. The second significant difference is the constant control of the money “on the table.” During a trade, at any point, there is an opportunity to exit the trade and take risk off the table. When looking at a casino game, such as roulette, soon as the ball is spun, the risk is no longer in your control. Lastly, trading is very skillful. Yes, there are some ways to be a capable gambler, like in blackjack, but in many games, only a little skill is involved. 

Food for thought:

In the case of a casino, the house always wins. This is different when it comes to trading. It is well known that trading is complex and requires a lot of time and effort to succeed, but being profitable is achievable over the long haul. The longer you trade, the more likely you will figure the game out.


The honest answer lies within what you mean when you say gambling. When referring to the definition, it is hard to argue that trading is not gambling. If you are comparing trading to the practical ways of a casino, then that is where the most significant difference occurs. In any casino game, the house always wins because the edge is in their favor. You may win in the short term, but the casino is designed to always win statistically over the long haul. In trading, there are many ways to optimize your strategy so that you have the odds stacked in your favor. To the trader without a proven system, yes, trading is very similar to being a gambler, but with a proper strategy, you are more likely to be the casino. The final synopsis is that the more you know about trading and perfecting the craft, the less trading is like gambling. 

No matter your conclusion, there is an undeniable risk in trading, and your main priority is managing that risk. As always, trade responsibly. 

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Is day trading the same as gambling?

Some comparisons are fair to make, correlating the two. By definition, day trading and gambling are very similar. However, the differences become apparent when digging deeper into the techniques of each subject. In gambling, the house will always have the edge, whereas a proper trading system can put the edge in your favor in day trading.

Is Investing a form of gambling?

To say that it is a form of gambling is more accurate than to say that it is definitively gambling. By definition, gambling is risking something, hoping the probability will go in your favor to achieve financial gain. Yes, that does sound like trading. The critical difference is that you can have the edge in trading rather than the “house.” Inherently there is risk in investing, but if done correctly, the odds may shift in your favor.