This site is an information / encyclopedia site about gambling and gaming. It is intended to provide a useful resource if you want to find out about a particular aspect of gambling or gaming. The site also contains a good selection of fun, safe, casino-style games to play online.
With no money at stake, there's nothing to fear in browsing around this site, and the only thing you stand to lose is a bit of pride perhaps! If you want to gamble online for real, there are plenty of high quality, responsible, casino sites out there for you to try.
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Caution: Although this website does not use real money, there are adverts and links on this site that, when clicked, take you to real online casinos and other types of gambling sites that do use real money. We have no control over these sites, so please proceed with caution. If you are under 18 years of age, you are perfectly safe whilst using this site, but seek advice from an adult if you click on one of the links to another site.
What is Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money (betting) or something of material value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome, the primary purpose of which is the hope of winning additional money and/or material goods. Typically, the outcome of the wager is evident within a short period of time. For example, if you place a bet on the outcome of a horse race, the result is known as soon as the race is over.
People do sometimes place bets on events or outcomes that will not take place for many months or even years. For example, you could place a bet on Andy Murray winning four Grand Slam tennis titles. As of November 2012 he has won one, but it may be several years before he wins four - or maybe he never will - in which case you would lose your bet.
What is Gaming
The term gaming in this context typically refers to instances in which the activity has been specifically permitted by law. The two words are not mutually exclusive; i.e., a "gaming" company offers (legal) "gambling" activities to the public and may be regulated by one of many gaming control boards, for example, the Nevada Gaming Control Board. However, this distinction is not universally observed in the English-speaking world. For instance, in the UK, the regulator of gambling activities is called the Gambling Commission (not the Gaming Commission). Also, the word gaming is frequently used to describe activities that do not involve wagering, especially online.
Gambling is also a major international commercial activity, with the legal gambling market totaling an estimated $335 billion in 2009. In other forms, gambling can be conducted with materials which have a value, but aren't real money; for example, games like Pogs or Magic: The Gathering.
Origins of Gambling
Many popular games played in modern casinos originate from Europe and China. Games such as craps, baccarat, roulette, and blackjack originate from different areas of Europe. A version of keno, an ancient Chinese lottery game, is played in casinos around the world. In addition, pai gow poker, a hybrid between pai gow and poker is also played.
We often think of places like Las Vegas when thinking about casinos, but they exist all over the world of course, and with the Internet and online gambling, casinos can be truly global. For example, click here for casino information and tips in German.
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Many jurisdictions, local as well as national, either ban gambling or heavily control it by licensing. Such regulation generally leads to gambling tourism and illegal gambling in the areas where it is not allowed. The involvement of governments, through regulation and taxation, has led to a close connection between many governments and gaming organizations, where legal gambling provides significant government revenue, such as in Monaco or Macau.
Because contracts of insurance have many features in common with wagers, insurance contracts are often distinguished under law as agreements in which either party has an interest in the "bet-upon" outcome beyond the specific financial terms. For example, a "bet" with an insurer on whether someone's house will burn down is not gambling, but rather insurance - as the homeowner has an obvious interest in the continued existence of his/her home independent of the purely financial aspects of the "bet" (i.e., the insurance policy). Nonetheless, both insurance and gambling contracts are typically considered aleatory contracts under most legal systems, though they are subject to different types of regulation.
There is generally legislation requiring that the odds in gaming devices are statistically random, to prevent manufacturers from making some high-payoff results impossible. Since these high-payoffs have very low probability, a house bias can quite easily be missed unless checking the odds carefully.
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Online casinos have existed on the Internet for many years, with new ones appearing all the time. By visiting Online Casino Reports or other online casino review sites on a regular basis you will be able to keep up-to-date with any new online casinos as they appear. This will enable you to assess which sites are suitable for you: which ones offer the best bonuses, the best variety of games, whether they offer free games, keep up on all the latest gambling news and views, and so on.
While almost any game can be played for money, and any game typically played for money can also be played just for fun, some games are generally offered in a casino setting.
The players in a casino game gamble casino chips on various possible random outcomes or combinations of outcomes. Casino games are available in online casinos, which have become very popular over the past few years. You can find out more about casino games, and also play some free, safe games, on our games page.
Fixed-odds betting and Parimutuel betting frequently occur at many types of sporting events, and political elections. In addition many bookmakers offer fixed odds on a number of non-sports related outcomes, for example, the direction and extent of movement of various financial indices, the winner of television competitions such as Big Brother, and election results. Interactive prediction markets also offer trading on these outcomes, with "shares" of results trading on an open market.
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One of the most widespread forms of gambling involves betting on horse or greyhound racing. Wagering may take place through parimutuel pools, or bookmakers may take bets personally. Parimutuel wagers pay off at prices determined by support in the wagering pools, while bookmakers pay off either at the odds offered at the time of accepting the bet; or at the median odds offered by track bookmakers at the time the race started.
Betting on team sports has become very popular and has developed into an important service industry in many countries. For example, many Britons still play the football pools every week. In addition to organized sports betting, both legal and illegal, there are many side-betting games played by casual groups of spectators, such as NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracket Pools, Super Bowl Squares, Fantasy Sports Leagues with monetary entry fees and winnings, and in-person spectator games like Moundball.
In recent years sports betting has become a very popular feature of many online gaming sites. As with many forms of gambling, the Internet has made sports betting accessible to everyone. Online gaming sites provide the opportunity to bet on the outcome of tennis matches, American Football games, boxing contests, etc.
Arbitrage betting is a theoretically risk-free betting system in which every outcome of an event is bet upon so that a known profit will be made by the bettor upon completion of the event, regardless of the outcome. Arbitrage betting is a combination of the ancient art of arbitrage trading and gambling, which has been made possible by the large numbers of bookmakers in the marketplace, creating occasional opportunities for arbitrage.
Other Types of Betting
You can also bet with another person that a statement is true or false, or that a specified event will happen (a "back bet") or will not happen (a "lay bet") within a specified time (will it snow on Christmas Day 2012?). This occurs in particular when two people have opposing but strongly held views on truth or events. Not only do the parties hope to gain from the bet, they place the bet also to demonstrate their certainty about the issue. Some means of determining the issue at stake must exist. Sometimes the amount bet remains nominal, demonstrating the outcome as one of principle rather than of financial importance.
Betting exchanges allow consumers to both back and lay at odds of their choice. Similar in some ways to a stock exchange, a bettor may want to back a horse (hoping it will win) or lay a horse (hoping it will lose, effectively acting as bookmaker).
Studies show that though many people participate in gambling as a form of recreation or even as a means to gain an income. Gambling, like any behavior which involves variation in brain chemistry, can become a psychologically addictive and harmful behavior in some people. Reinforcement schedules may also make gamblers persist in gambling even after repeated losses.
The Russian writer Dostoevsky (himself a problem gambler) portrays in his novella The Gambler the psychological implications of gambling and how gambling can affect gamblers. He also associates gambling and the idea of "getting rich quick", suggesting that Russians may have a particular affinity for gambling. Dostoevsky shows the effect of betting money for the chance of gaining more in 19th-century Europe. The association between Russians and gambling has fed legends of the origins of Russian roulette.
Evolutionary psychology suggests that women more than men tend to select mating partners based on their resources. Thus, from an evolutionary perspective men may have had more to gain from a large increase in resources than women have had, which may be one explanation for why men, and especially poor men, tend to gamble more than women.