Back to gambling explained

How gambling works

Like with any game – knowing the rules and understanding the concept is key to having fun responsibly in gambling. Here we’ve provided some information about the basic concepts of gambling, so you can make informed choices.

How does gambling work?

Gambling can only be “responsible” if the person playing fully understands what they are doing. Here we explain the basic principles of gambling to allow you to make an informed choice.

Your role

The first part of gambling involves choosing what you want to bet or wager on. (e.g. a certain horse to win a race). The choices you make is matched to odds (e.g. 2/1, 5/2), which will decide how much money you could take home if you win.

The event

The next part of gambling is the event itself; the outcome of the event will be determined (at least in part) by the randomness of chance. You can only gamble on something that no-one knows for certain what the outcome will be – which is why players and operators take the chance of staking money!


What happens next will depend upon the outcome. If you have won you will be paid back your bet plus any winnings, as determined by the odds. If you have lost; then you do not get your money back.

How do gambling operators make a profit?

You may wondering: if the results of events are random, how do gambling operators stay in business?

The key is that they get to choose the odds that are given. A simple example would be on the flip of a coin. The chance of flipping one coin on one spin on heads is 50%. 50% represented as odds would be evens or 1/1.

If a gambling operator was offering a bet on a coin flip they would likely offer 10/11 for both heads and tails. Now, if you bet on £10 heads and I bet on £10 tails the gambling operator would receive £20 in bets. Whatever the outcome the gambling operator will only have to pay out a total of £19.09, meaning that they would make a guaranteed 91p each time the coin is flipped.

Operators exist to make profit from each game; meaning some people have to lose for them to stay in business.

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Responsible gambling

As we said before, we are not here to tell you not to gamble, just to help you understand the choices you make and to support you if you want advice. To make it easier for you we’ve explained some of the key terms here

How to gamble responsibly

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