Gambling by it’s very nature is a risk. This is an inherently true statement even if the odds favour you overwhelmingly. Consider the following example: one football team is three nil up with five minutes remaining in the game, the odds for that team to win that match will be perhaps at odds of 1/50; i.e. you place £50 on that bet and get £51 back. This might seem like a sensible bet – after all it compares to an interest rate of 2% on that sum wagered, better than most banks currently offer.
However there is a slight chance that the game will not end in a victory for the team that is winning and in that case you will lose a considerable amount of money in your quest for a tiny profit. Football fans everywhere will be able to point to matches where comebacks such as this have happened. In the case of this wager the risk was tiny but a large loss is still possible.
Our point is that while it is possible to gamble for profit, there is always an inherent risk because you are betting against organisations (or, in the case of betting exchanges, other people) who know how to set odds profitably for themselves.
Before we go on to discuss online slots, there are of course punters who do make good livings from full time gambling; talented poker players can always win against other players, blackjack players can use ‘basic strategy’ and perhaps even card counting to minimise the house edge while professional sports gamblers can make money from horse and greyhound racing.
Slots are a different kettle of fish altogether though and what makes them different from the example discussed above is the largely static odds. It’s true that in general you know what the theoretical return to the player is and so you can play the games with the highest figure but that’s never going to more than about 97%. It’s just not generally possible to use any type of strategy to overcome those odds in your favour in the same way that you might when sports betting.
So are we playing for profit or entertainment? Of course it’s the latter but when we spin the reels we know that there’s just a chance that we might land a big win. We play for entertainment but we hope for profit and that’s the way to get the most from your gaming time.