“The distinction between investment and speculation in common stocks has always been a useful one and its disappearance is a cause for concern. We have often said that Wall Street as an institution would be well advised to reinstate this distinction and to emphasize it in all dealings with the public. Otherwise the stock exchanges may some day be blamed for heavy speculative losses, which those who suffered them had not been properly warned against.”
-Benjamin Graham – The Intelligent Investor
Are you gambling with your money?
Investing is not gambling.
Gambling is exciting. Gambling is entertaining. Gambling can make you rich… or so you imagine, but the odds are against you. That is why it is called gambling. That is why casinos are such profitable businesses.
There are professional gamblers who play Texas hold ‘em for a living and do quite well. But they are not gambling, they are playing the odds, they have a system, and they know the probable outcome of their “gamble”. There is certainly a large amount of skill involved as well. Reading people, remembering prior drawn cards, and concentrating for long periods of time.
This does not apply to all games of chance, like the lottery. A friend of mine likes to say, “The state lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.” If anyone ever looked at their chance of winning the lottery, they would not waste a nickel on it, certainly not the rent money. According to the Massachusetts state lottery, the odds of winning a jackpot in Powerball is 1 in 175,223,510. I assume those odds don’t account for potentially splitting the jackpot with one or more people.1