Defining Gambling

In this section

All gambling involves the risk of loss of something of value that’s been put up or bet on an outcome influenced by chance. Something of value can be money or possessions like an iPod, a sports card, or a bike or car. A game with an outcome influenced by chance can be poker, slots, a hockey game, scratch’n wins, keno, etc.

Read on to review the three elements of gambling. Remember, if any of these three elements are missing, the game isn’t gambling. If you read something in a book or online or hear something from a friend about gambling with certainty, it can’t be true. Get educated about gambling so that you can protect yourself from getting into trouble with gambling. Understanding gambling can help to keep gambling safe and fun.

The Three Elements of Gambling

1. Wager

A bet or stake (something of value). This is the cost of playing.

Poker Example:
You pay first to play the game, then you may bet more to stay in the game, based on your cards.

2. Uncertainty

The outcome of the game cannot be predicted or guaranteed.

Poker Example:
You don’t know if your cards are better than the other players’.

3. Risk

The value of the wager is risked because it is made on an uncertain outcome.

Poker Example:
If the wagered outcome does not happen, the wager (or a portion thereof) is lost.


To learn more about gambling games and odds, check out If you are gambling in a casino, talk to a GameSense Advisor.


If you or someone you know is in trouble with their gambling, free support services are available by calling the Gambling Support Line (24/7 toll free): 1.888.795.6111. Free, flexible support and counselling is available to British Columbians; find out more at Getting Help.

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2012