Are Trading Card Games Gambling?

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By Valerie Becker

Trading card games (TCGs) have been around for decades and have gained a massive following worldwide. These games are a form of entertainment that allows players to collect cards, build decks, and compete against other players.

However, there has been a longstanding debate on whether trading card games are considered gambling. In this article, we will explore both sides of the argument.

What is Gambling?

Gambling refers to any activity that involves risking something of value with an uncertain outcome in hopes of winning something more valuable. The outcome is determined by chance or luck rather than skill. Gambling can take many different forms, such as casino games, sports betting, lottery tickets, and even video games.

What are Trading Card Games?

A trading card game is a game that involves collecting cards featuring different characters or items and using them to play against other players. Players build their decks based on certain rules and strategies to win the game. Some popular trading card games include Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon.

Are Trading Card Games Considered Gambling?

The answer to this question is not black and white. On one hand, TCGs do involve an element of chance since players do not know which cards they will receive when opening new packs. However, the outcome of the game is not solely determined by luck but also by strategy and skill.

Many TCGs have banned certain cards from competitive play due to their overpowered nature or broken mechanics. This means that players cannot simply rely on luck but must also use their knowledge of the game’s rules and mechanics to create a winning strategy.

Arguments for Trading Card Games Being Considered Gambling

One argument for considering TCGs as gambling is the randomized nature of booster packs. Players purchase booster packs with the hopes of getting rare or powerful cards but there is no guarantee of getting the cards they want. This leads to players spending more money on booster packs in hopes of getting the cards they need to build a competitive deck.

Another argument is that TCGs can be addictive, leading players to spend excessive amounts of money on booster packs or even resorting to gambling to fund their hobby.

Arguments Against Trading Card Games Being Considered Gambling

One of the main arguments against TCGs being considered gambling is that the outcome of the game is not solely determined by luck. Players must use strategy and skill to win, which means that players who have invested time and effort into learning the game’s mechanics have an advantage over those who rely solely on luck.

Additionally, TCGs are not classified as gambling under most legal definitions since there is no monetary value attached to the cards themselves. While players may spend money on booster packs, they are not guaranteed any specific outcome or monetary reward.


In conclusion, while trading card games do involve an element of chance, they are not solely determined by luck. Players must use strategy and skill to win, which sets them apart from traditional forms of gambling. However, it is important for players to approach TCGs responsibly and not let their hobby become addictive or lead them down a path towards problem gambling.