At first glance, stock trading and gambling don’t seem to have a common ground, but when you analyse it, on some level, they do have certain similarities. This is especially true from the perspective of the player or investor. The risks and rewards vary depending on the transaction and the environment. It is not always true, however, that casino games often have negative returns.
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The difference between the two is a matter of perception. In stock trading, we perceive that we will benefit from it in the long run but in gambling, it costs us our money instantly. But the bottom line is, both have risks.
Perception of the Society
Aside from stock trading, currency, options trading, and insurance provide positive net benefits to the society as a whole. For example, the stock market is an avenue by which enterprises may raise needed capital in a cost-effective manner. Investors have options in obtaining their needed capital for production of respective commodities. Other markets enable companies to moderate risks of price fluctuations while insurance protects the insured from harm.
In contrast, the perceived social value of gambling is generally negative. Even if its entertainment value and the employment opportunities are considered positive values, it is outweighed by the harm it causes on addicted individuals and their families, as well as the criminal activities that casino establishments tend to attract.
On a More Technical Level
On a technical level, if we define “stock trading” simply as buying and holding stocks, we can really pin point the difference. Casino games are designed to yield negative returns for the player because the odds are designed in favour of the house. In a nutshell, you are a client who’s paying them to experience risk.
The stock market as a whole should give you a positive return. For example, even if you passively hold onto a broad market index of stocks, you should still make money over time. The stock market exists to give investors a positive return in exchange for taking on risks. In the stock market, companies who issue stocks are actually the clients and they are paying you as an investor to take on risks.
The Common Ground
The stock market exists because people are averse to risks whereas casinos exist because people actually pay money so that they can experience risk.
However, the two still has a common ground. If we are to compare poker and investment, we see that both are zero sum. The difference is on the externalities created by the activities. In stock trading, some argue that traders create liquidity and other benefits for the market. In a poker game, the most obvious externality is the amount of the pot that goes around the casino and creating profits from it.
To put it simply, in stock trading, you have a better chance of making money especially if you know what you are doing. On the other hand, in gambling, you have a slimmer chance of making money and no real way to increase your odds. Both requires taking risks and if you play your cards right, you might make money. Stock trading however, is more reliable and you can positively make money in the long run and in a much safer manner.