A person shrugging their shoulders looking confused with question marks of various sizes surrounding their head.

Gaming and gambling are words that are often used interchangeably in reference to internet gambling, also known as iGaming. This has led many to assume that these two terms mean the same thing when referring to gambling in a digital context. However, this isn’t true and it’s important for an existing or potential iGaming business operator to know that these two terms refer to very different activities. Here, Casinnovate will provide you with the necessary gaming vs gambling details, including their differences, similarities and overlaps, to help clear up any confusion you may have.

What is Gaming?

A person in front of a computer wearing a gaming headset and/or a person on mobile playing a puzzle game and/or a person in front of a TV holding a game controller

What is gaming? Gaming refers to activities that involve a person playing interactive digital games or video games via a computer, gaming console (e.g. PlayStation, Xbox, etc.), mobile or tablet device. Games that fall under the gaming category may simply be a form of casual entertainment or they can be based on skill or strategy.

How gaming differs from gambling

Although a player may win if they get lucky, unlike gambling, video games typically involve gameplay designed to present different challenges to the player. Players must solve these challenges using knowledge and skills to win, complete missions or to progress further in the game. Gaming may be enjoyed as a single player or it can be a multiplayer experience (teams and/or competition) either via local couch co-up or online multiplayer. It all depends on the game.

Another way that gaming differs from gambling is that there are some video games designed specifically for children or that are appropriate for people of all ages. Also, while not all video games are legal or available in every country, most countries do not have strict laws imposed on video gaming.

Types of gaming

Gaming includes many types of video games. Popular video game genres include:

  • Sandbox games – e.g. Hitman, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, etc.
  • Realtime Strategy (RTS) games – e.g. Age of Empires, Warcraft, Command & Conquer, etc.
  • First Person Shooter (FPS) & Third Person Shooter (TPS) games – e.g. Call of Duty (FPS), Halo (FPS), Gear of Wars (TPS), etc.
  • Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) – e.g. League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, etc.
  • Battle royale – e.g. Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds, Fortnite Battle Royale, Apex Legends, etc.
  • Role-playing games (RPGs) & Action role-playing games (ARPGs) – e.g. Final Fantasy VII (RPG), Fallout (RPG), Witcher 3 (ARPG), etc.
  • Massively multiplayer online role-playing games – e.g. World of Warcraft, Runescape, Elder Scrolls Online, etc.
  • Simulation games – e.g. The Sims, Farming Simulator, RollerCoaster Tycoon, etc.
  • Sports games – e.g. FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA2K, etc.
  • Puzzle games – e.g. Tetris, Candy Crush Saga, The Witness, etc.
  • Action-adventure games – e.g. Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, etc.
  • Survival horror games – e.g. Resident Evil, Layers of Fear, Evil Within, etc.
  • Platformer games – e.g. Super Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, etc.
  • Party games – e.g. Super Mario Party, Overcooked, Among Us, etc.

What is Gambling?

A slot machine, roulette wheel, poker chips, playing cards, dice

What is gambling? Gambling refers to wagering real money on events or games – online or in the real-world – that have an uncertain outcome. In essence, gambling activities are classified as those on which money is wagered, there is an element of risk or chance, and there is a possibility to win a prize.

How gambling differs from gaming

Gambling relies mostly on probability and luck. Even games where skill can play a factor, such as blackjack and poker, still predominantly rely on probability and luck. Unlike most video games, the final outcome of gambling activities is not pre-determined/pre-programmed before it is played. Results are unknown and random. The fun for the player is in taking a risk on the chance that they might win a prize.

Another way that gambling is different from gaming is that each country has its own strict laws, regulations and bans pertaining to gambling. Moreover, these rules may vary from one activity to the next and differ from one jurisdiction (state, province, city, etc.) to the next. Furthermore, in most countries, it is illegal for children or minors (e.g. anyone under the age of 18) to take part in real money gambling.

Types of gambling

Common types of gambling include sports betting, casino games, poker, lotto and bingo. More specifically, popular gambling games/activities include:

  • Slots & Video machines – e.g. Fruit Machines, Video Slots, Video Poker, Slingo, etc.
  • Table & Card games – e.g. Roulette, Craps, Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, etc.
  • Lotto games & Bingo – Bingo, Scratch Cards, Keno, Lottery Draws, etc.
  • Sports betting – e.g. Betting on outcomes of Football/Soccer, Tennis, Baseball, Horse Racing, etc.
  • Event betting – e.g. Betting on outcomes of Politics, Reality TV Shows, Awards Shows, eSports, etc.

Casino gaming software providers

Just as is the case for developing video games, the iGaming software companies behind casino games employ teams of professionals to create them, such as game programmers, designers and developers. These professionals produce the online slots, table and card games, bingo, scratch cards, etc. that are provided by the software companies to their clients who, in turn, offer them to their casino customers for real money play.

These professional programmers, designers, developers and editors must possess the creative and technical skills to make premium casino games. Like video game creators, they often have degrees in computer science to be able to meet the necessary requirements to conceptualize, create, develop and produce the content. The goal is to make interactive casino games with interesting themes, high-end graphics, character animations, rich audio, and engaging gameplay mechanics and features that will deliver a compelling and satisfying gaming experience.

Top casino game providers in the iGaming industry that are well known for producing top-notch and innovative games include:

  • NetEnt – (Gonzo’s Quest, Guns ‘N Roses, Starburst)
  • Microgaming – (Mega Moolah, Immortal Romance, Game of Thrones)
  • Playtech – (The Matrix, Da Vinci’s Vault, Cosmic Disco)
  • Play’n GO – (Book of Dead, Reactoonz, Moon Princess)
  • Scientific Games – (Raging Rhino, Zeus, Elvis: The King Lives)
  • IGT – (Cleopatra, Wheel of Fortune on Tour, Balloonies Farm)
  • Yggdrasil Gaming – (Vikings Go to Hell, Gem Rocks, Ozwin’s Jackpots)

You can learn more about these and other great providers of iGaming content in our game provider reviews.

Wait…why is it called iGaming?

You might be thinking, if gaming and gambling are different terms with different meanings, why is internet gambling referred to as “iGaming” and not ‘iGambling”? That’s an excellent question. Perhaps its because when the term “iGaming” was coined in the early 2000s (as the popularity of online casino and other gambling platforms grew) most tech-based games at the time were video games. Or maybe it was because the word just rolled off the tongue better.

Whatever the reason, iGaming (sometimes – though rarely referred to as eGaming) is the term that is used today in reference to any activity that involves betting online. This includes wagering real money on the outcomes of games like slots, poker, blackjack, roulette and other card and table games, lotto games, and bingo, as well as betting on sports or other events.

Additionally, it should be noted that legalized gambling is sometimes referred to as gaming in law.

Similarities and Overlaps of Gaming and Gambling

A balance scale with one scale holding cards and poker chips and the other holding a game controller

Now that you know the main differences between gambling and gaming, here’s a look at the similarities these two activities share and how they can sometimes cross into each other’s territories.


  • Both have rules on how to play – No matter if it is a video game, gambling game or gambling activity, they all have rules on how to participate. Knowing the rules in video games helps to increase a player’s understanding of gameplay and their objective, which can improve their performance. This can also be true of certain skill-based gambling games, such as poker and blackjack, where understanding the odds can help improve a player’s strategy on when to stay in the game, raise a bet, or fold.
  • Both are available on computer and mobile – Gambling and gaming are both available on desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet devices. Casino sites and sportsbooks can be accessed without download via the web as can some video games via streaming. Both video game and real money gambling apps are available for download in the App Store and Play Store.
  • Both are multi-billion-dollar industries – The market size of the global casino and online gambling industry was valued at US$261.79 billion in 2019. Meanwhile, the global video game market size was valued at US$151.06 billion in 2019.
  • Both can be addictive – While it is more widely known that gambling can be addictive and take an emotional and financial toll on the gambler and their family and friends, gaming addiction is becoming an increasing problem across the globe, particularly among young people. In a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis on the global prevalence of gaming disorder*, it was found that 3 – 4% of gamers are addicted to video games, which means there are as many as 60 million or more people suffering from the disorder worldwide.

*Gaming disorder is a pattern of gaming (digital gaming or video gaming) behaviour characterized by impaired control over gaming in which the effected person increasingly prioritizes gaming over other activities to the point that gaming takes precedence over other interests, daily activities and responsibilities, and gaming prioritization continues to escalate regardless of occurring negative consequences. The World Health Organization (WHO), classifies gaming disorder as a behavioral addiction.


  • eSports & eSports betting – eSports, also known as electronic sports, Esports, and e-sports, is a form of video game tournament competition. Common types of video game genres featured in eSports tournaments include MBOA, FPS, and RTS, with the most popular eSports games being League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2, StarCraft II, Fortnite, Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), and Overwatch. Although eSports itself is not a gamble game, it is a popular gaming activity on which many people like to wager real money. When people place bets on the competition (e.g. Tournament Winner, Match Winner, First Kill, etc.), it becomes a form of gambling. Today, eSports betting is one of the fastest-growing markets in online gambling and can be found at most online bookmaker sites.
  • Gambling and gaming are sometimes combined –Some video games can feature gambling elements, such as loot boxes, token wagering and social casino spending. This “gamblifiction” of games allows players to win virtual currency and/or other items of value at random. Some gambling sites feature gaming elements, such as tournaments and missions (e.g. playing a specific game or spinning the reels of a slot a certain amount of times, etc.) to advance levels, earn virtual currency they can spend in the casino/sportsbook store, or other rewards. Gamification is becoming increasingly popular at gambling sites as it helps to keep players engaged and interested. It creates the potential for new interactive games and activities to further retention.
  • Additionally, another area of overlap is the cross-selling of internet gambling sites to social gaming players.

Gaming vs Gambling Conclusion

Person giving a thumbs up

We hope the gaming vs gambling information and explanation we’ve provided has helped to clear up any confusion you may have had about these two terms. Though there are certain overlaps between them, having a clear understanding of the differences between these activities helps you define the type of experience you intend to offer your customers. With that said, for more information about iGaming business solutions, products, and services, you can check out our reviews and articles. Trust Casinnovate to help you to get in touch with the right info and partners.