There are different types of gambling for every risk-taker in the world—lottery, betting on sports such as horse racing and boxing, and casino games like craps and poker. Considering that winning chances in gambling are based on the players’ skills, this venture can be highly likened to sports. With this emerges the question: should gambling be classified as a sport?
Before we explore this question, let us look first at the definition of two important concepts. First, gambling is defined by Merriam Webster as the practice of risking money or other stakes in a game or bet with an uncertain outcome, whereas sports is defined as a competitive physical activity in which an individual or a team competes against others for pleasure.
Aside from being skill-reliant, there are other observable similarities between gambling and sports. For one, pleasure is an element that both activities consist of. In sports, such as in football and basketball, there is always some sort of entertainment brought about by the game experience not just to players but also to fans. Whether a particular sport or gambling activity is done online or in a physical setting, they surely give pleasure to many individuals!
Other similar factors worth mentioning are complexity and strategy. Just like how basketball players need to rehearse their moves, train on the court, lay out their game plan, and devise new strategies to bring home the trophy, players of poker, craps, and other casino games also familiarize themselves with complex rules and utilize their reasoning skills to increase their odds of winning.
Amidst all the similarities sports and gambling share, however, it is also important to note their differences. Truth is, they are not exactly the same. In sports, there is always an opponent—be it another team or an individual. In gambling, on the other hand, although there is mostly a competitor in other games, one-player games such as slot machines and lottery also exist. Another thing is that while skills are the determinant factor of winning games in sports, there are more games in gambling that you can win by chance or pure luck. Obviously, you can’t win in sports if your performance is poor and you just rely on luck.
Aside from the aforementioned differences between the two activities, there are also ethical issues that revolve around gambling. As of writing, most countries, especially in Asia, legally forbid this undertaking. Studies also show that unregulated gambling is proven to increase criminal records on a global scale. In sports, particularly, gambling has led to scandals including the bribery of athletes to lose matches intentionally. This has been the intention behind the enactment of strict antigambling policies by sports organizations and national governments.
The verdict, then, is that gambling in general cannot be completely considered a sport. Most forms of gambling share a lot of similarities with sport games, but there exist other types of gambling which are way different than the nature of sports. Legal issues are also a determining factor that help us conclude that gambling cannot legally be regarded as sports. Ultimately, by going back to the definition of the word, sports are characterized by physical demands. Gambling requires little to no physical exertion so we can conclude that it’s more of a hobby than a sport.