How many times have you been discouraged from investing by being told that it is just another name for “Gambling”? For some of us if we had a dollar every time we heard that we’d have to classify it as a source of income. we take a closer look at the century-old myth and debunk why investing in stocks is NOT gambling.
But before jumping into their differences let us understand what the two words investing and gambling mean.
What is Investing?
The basic purpose of investing is directing your liquid capital towards companies that need it. This however is done with the intention of generating income or profit. But along with this while investing one’s money into a company one also boosts the wealth of the economy as it helps them commit that capital to assets to increase productivity, aid growth, hire more people, etc.
This leads to an increase in the value of the company and an increased value of our investment in it. Investing is not devoid of risk which depends on the factors like the level of research, the period of investment, etc.
What is Gambling?
Gambling, also known as betting is wagering money or something of value on an event whose outcome is uncertain. This is done with the aim of winning the prize money. Some examples of gambling are Lotteries, Card games(poker, blackjack), Slot machines, etc.
Differences between Investing in Stocks and Gambling
Although both of them include a series of decisions, risks and are done with the aim of profitability they have a lot of key differences.
1. Level of Control
Investors and gamblers have varying possibilities of mitigating their losses. After deciding how much they want to invest, investors can choose the asset class they want to invest in which have varying levels of risk. For example assets like bonds have low-risk low returns whereas stocks have a high risk with the possibility of a higher return.
In addition, the size of the companies also offers varying risks, eg. blue-chip stocks have lower risk in comparison to small-cap stocks. In addition, investors also have the option to save their capital. If they find out that their investment has begun making losses they can always decide to sell their investments.
Gambling on the other hand is a sum-zero game. Out of all the money pooled it is only a few or in some cases only one person who wins big at the expense of others. It also diminishes the possibility of you winning your capital back or limiting losses. Take the lottery ticket for eg. if you do not win the lottery you have lost the complete Rs.1000 capital you poured into the ticket.
The environment differs massively between the two. Investing has been made so accessible that one can pursue a career in trading from the luxuries of their homes and investing can simply be done through smartphones.
Gambling on the other hand is a completely different ball game. Although there are online means and lotteries casinos still occupy the greater share. Casinos bring shows, food, drinks, and a lot more to the table. Most casinos are designed in order to play on the weaknesses of human psychology. These include glittering lights, music, and free drinks, all these set at dulling your senses, weaken your decisions, and most importantly keep you there all night long.
3. Stock Exchange vs. The House
For investors stock exchanges simply serve as a medium or platform for investing to take place. They charge minimal amounts for every trade and strive for increased efficiency.
The house in gambling refers to casinos, bookmakers, slot machines, etc. It is a common term in gambling that the house always wins. The games generally have different varied edge over the players with benefits going to the house. In card games, the advantage for the casino might only be 0.5%, but certain types of slot machines might have a 35% edge over a player—other games fall somewhere in between.
4. Time Factor
In investing the longer you stay the lower your odds become of making losses. This is the exact opposite of gambling. it does mean that the more you play, the more the math works against you. There are greater chances of you walking out of the casino with less money than when you came in. Take the examples of slot machines, they have odds ranging from one in 5,000 to one in about 34 million chance of winning the top prize when using the maximum coin play.
The period of participation also differs here, when investing your participation can actually span decades. At the same time even if the shares may not increase significantly in value investors are still rewarded for staying invested in the form of dividends. When it comes to gambling once the game or race or hand is over, your opportunity to profit has gone.
Knowledge is power! Information is important for both investing and gambling but it is available in varying amounts. Investing is abundant with information that is ready to use. Company earnings, financial ratios, research analyst reports, can be easily found online before investing. When it comes to gambling the information available is extremely limited and worse it is not always quantifiable.