GamCare Logo
Back to News

Gambling and Trading - Blurred Lines?

14th January 2019

Following the launch of new series Cleaning Up, we’re thinking about the ways in which gambling and trading may overlap.

New ITV drama ‘Cleaning Up’, featuring Sheridan Smith as Sam, a mother of two who has built up debt due to her gambling problem and stumbles across an insider trading ring while at her zero-hours cleaning job. She believes this will be the answer to her money worries, without at first addressing her issues with gambling.

Looking at the theme of the show, we wondered how closely trading might mimic gambling, and what are the risks of this activity?

Gambling is defined as playing games of chance for money, or taking risky action in the hope of a desired result. Investing money in the stock market is indeed a risky action – you are not guaranteed a return, just as you are not guaranteed a return when you place a bet with money or something else of value – in fact, the more you bet over time, the more you are likely to lose.

There’s a key difference between day trading and longer-term investments though, and that is the element of immediacy. When you invest money with the expectation of the value of shares gradually growing over time, even if it doesn’t work out for you, it’s very different from having a erratic market presented to you each day and having to weigh up the odds of whether value will shift up or down according to multiple variables in quick sharp time.

The speed and anticipation felt when day trading could be likened to the ‘buzz’ people describe when gambling – most people comparing gambling activities to trading are thinking about the activities that happen on the trading floor, rather than those who have held stocks and shares for months or years.

That buzz may be deceptive though. Whatever the activity, it’s always important to understand the risks before you dive on in. Not just the risks to your finances, but the risks to your relationships, your work-life balance and how this can ripple out to the rest of your life and even potentially affect your mental health.

We’re intrigued to see where the rest of the series of Cleaning Up will go, but in the meantime if you would like to talk to someone about your gambling, or if you are worried about someone close to you who may be negatively impacted by gambling, talk to us.

Our Advisers available every day from 8am – Midnight, on Freephone 0808 8020 133 or via web chat on our NetLine. We’re free, we’re confidential and we will never judge you. Tell us what’s going on for you, and we can help you figure out your next steps, whenever you’re ready.