Definition: Gambling

Gambling is risking money or something of material value on something with an uncertain outcome in the hope of winning additional money or something of material value.

House Edge & Law of Averages

For anyone with experience of gambling harm the following video contains depictions of a roulette wheel and other gambling activities.  You may wish to read the transcript instead of watching the video as it may be triggering.  If you need support please reach out to one of the organisations in the signposting supporting document of this e-learning.


The House Edge and law of averages

The Law of Averages is something that allows the gambling industry to ensure they make money. And they do make a lot of money. In 2022 they made a profit of 14.1 billion in the UK alone. To demonstrate the law of averages think of a coin toss. Whether you flip heads or tails is down to chance. The gambling industry would have no advantage in this situation. The gambling industry therefore needs to put the law of averages to their advantage. Take a roulette wheel for example. You can bet on either red or black. If the table only had red and black spaces to bet on then the odds would be 50/50, a two in one chance. So to adjust the law of averages to their advantage they add a green 0. This gives the gambling industry a better chance of winning, an increase in 2.7%. This means the gambling industry has increased their chances of winning to 51.35%. This percentage is called the House Edge. This is how they can guarantee that the longer you play the higher chance you have of losing and them winning. Almost all casino games or machines have a house edge - it can be as high as 30% or more.

Many people initially think of money when they think of gambling and placing bets, but gambling can include placing something of material value on something with an uncertain outcome in the hope of winning.

Types of gambling

Hover or click each of the terms below to learn more about the different types of gambling.

Types of Gambling
Scratch cards
A card you purchase with an uncertain outcome. You scratch a section or sections off of the surface to reveal words or symbols indicating whether a prize or money has been won.
Lottery tickets
A lottery is a type of gambling game in which people buy numbered tickets. Several numbers are then chosen by the lottery operators, and the people who have those numbers on their tickets win a prize.
Gambling Apps

A mobile application that allows you to connect to betting sites to place bets, play bingo and casino games 24 hours a day.

Going to the horses
A sporting event where you watch horses and their riders take part in races. This is often a social event, and usually includes betting money on the outcomes of the races.
Going to the football
A sporting event where you watch two football teams compete against each other. Matches are often a social event, sometimes attended by families. Football betting is the activity of predicting sports results and placing money on the outcome. This can include match winner, who scores the first goal, how many red cards, etc.
Private Betting
Placing a bet for money between friends or people who know each other. This can be a bet on anything but might include results of a game the participants are about to play, or whether something will happen on a particular day. The
Gambling Act 2005
specifies that for betting to be considered ‘private,’ the public must not have access, and there must be no charge for participating.
EGM (puggies)
An Electronic Gaming Machine is a computerised gambling device which usually has a video screen and flashing lights, which individuals can use to play games of chance to win money. The machine randomly determines the outcome, win or lose. EGMs can often be found in pubs and bookies and are referred to as a puggie or fruit machine.
Bingo Hall
A venue where people can go to play bingo, often in a social setting. Bingo is a game of chance in which players mark off numbers on cards as the numbers are drawn randomly by a caller. The winner is the first person to mark off all their numbers.
A venue where gambling games, especially roulette and card games, are played for money.
A ‘bookie’ or bookmaker is a business or a person that accepts and pays out bets on sporting and other events at agreed odds. High street bookie premises may also offer other forms of gambling such as EGMs.
A venue where people can play arcade game machines such as coin pushers, pinball machines, and other gambling-style games that are usually coin-operated. Often aimed at children, young people and families, and more commonly found in coastal areas.