Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-30-2019, 02:09 PM
boffking is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New England
Posts: 2,538

Are trading cards a form of gambling?


I know people who like to buy multiple packs of Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic cards, open them right at the counter, and trade back any rares they get. One of my friends who does this also likes to claim he has no interest in gambling, but it seems rather hypocritical to me. Is opening blind card packs to hopefully cash in on rares really that much different from dumping money down a slot machine or playing the horses?
  #2  
Old 11-30-2019, 02:42 PM
Skywatcher's Avatar
Skywatcher is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Somewhere in the Potomac
Posts: 35,377
What you're describing is similar to buying unopened packs of, say, vintage baseball cards and hoping to find a valuable one.

As long as "worthless" cards are being kept rather than going straight into the trash, as with scratch-off lottery games that don't win anything, IMO it's not gambling.
  #3  
Old 11-30-2019, 03:09 PM
garygnu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 11,537
It's more like pay to win. However, the limited number of cards available means that when competition gets to the point that money can be won or lost, access to even the most rare cars won't affect who wins.
__________________
o
  #4  
Old 11-30-2019, 03:19 PM
Quimby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: NJ
Posts: 8,499
It is basically gambling but it skirts the law very closely. That is why companies like Wizards of the Coast always talk about "trading" and almost never about the secondary market. It's also one one of the reasons the booster packs for Magic have odds for foils printed on them.
  #5  
Old 11-30-2019, 03:39 PM
RioRico is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 666
Many aspects of life are gambles, playing with odds, hoping for better outcomes. Every pedestrian crosswalk stroll is a gamble. Any casserole I bake is a gamble. Buying a used book... hay, it may be infested with disease microbes! Buying mystery bags like these card decks or those collections of jumbled electronic components are gambles.

What gambles are subject to regulation? Anything at a casino, sure. Office pools. Back-alley crap shoots. And?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambling
Quote:
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods. Gambling thus requires three elements to be present: consideration (an amount wagered), risk (chance), and a prize...

The term "gaming" in this context typically refers to instances in which the activity has been specifically permitted by law. The two words are not mutually exclusive; i.e., a "gaming" company offers (legal) "gambling" activities to the public and may be regulated by one of many gaming control boards...
Buying "trading" cards in hope of finding one that others may value looks to me more like "Is there a bad egg in the carton?" than "Can I throw snake-eyes?" or "Will the ball land on black?" Just an ordinary risk. Besides, the cards are cute.
  #6  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:36 PM
That Don Guy's Avatar
That Don Guy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,710
It's more speculation than gambling. If the seller had a sign saying, "We will pay (insert amount here) for (insert a specific card here)," then it might be considered gambling, but as long as there is no guarantee that the card will be bought back, it's not gambling.
  #7  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:42 PM
Little Nemo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 83,120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quimby View Post
It is basically gambling but it skirts the law very closely. That is why companies like Wizards of the Coast always talk about "trading" and almost never about the secondary market. It's also one one of the reasons the booster packs for Magic have odds for foils printed on them.
I can see how it can be compared to buying lottery tickets. But I can also see how it can be compared to buying stocks. The line between gambling and investing can be very thin.
  #8  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:47 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,155
Related side-note:

When Magic: the Gathering (the first collectible card game) was first introduced, in the early '90s, one of the aspects of the game was the "ante." At the start of a game, each player was to shuffle their deck, then flip over the top card of their deck -- that card was the player's ante (or stakes) for the game, and the winner of the game would receive the loser's ante card.

The ante rule was fairly quickly removed from the game, in part because some cards quickly gained value on the secondary market (and, thus, many players didn't like the prospect of potentially losing a valuable card to another player through the ante), but also in part because of concerns that the ante *did* represent actual gambling, and would potentially put players in violation of local gambling laws.
  #9  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:50 PM
gdave is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 247
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Don Guy View Post
It's more speculation than gambling. If the seller had a sign saying, "We will pay (insert amount here) for (insert a specific card here)," then it might be considered gambling, but as long as there is no guarantee that the card will be bought back, it's not gambling.
Magic: The Gathering has a very robust and well-developed secondary market, with standard price lists for every card. There basically isn't any hobby shop that won't buy back rares. Even if, for some weird reason, your local shop won't buy your rares, you can easily sell them online. Effectively, there is a guarantee that someone will pay (insert amount here) for (insert a specific card here).

Still, I'm with Skywatcher on this. It isn't really gambling, if the buyer is actually keeping the other cards in the pack. I have friends who do exactly this. They love MtG, and love playing it as a casual game, but hate competitive tournament play. So, they don't really care that much about rares. They'll buy packs, sell back any particularly valuable cards, and keep the rest to build their decks for casual play. They don't buy the packs to gamble on the rare cars, but they get enough rares to sell back that the hobby effectively pays for itself.
  #10  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:54 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,764
Although, right from the start, ante was considered an optional rule, and most players opted not to use it (in all of my time playing, I only played for ante twice). Though it seems to have been treated as the default, since the cards that interact with the ante rule all say "Remove this card from your deck if you are not playing for ante", not "you may add this card to your deck if you are playing for ante".

They do still have tournaments with entry fees and prizes for the winners, though. If ante games are gambling, it's hard to see how those aren't (both being based on the outcome of a game of skill).
  #11  
Old 11-30-2019, 05:28 PM
Novelty Bobble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 9,280
Definitely seems like a form of gambling to me. It is clearly a "roll of the dice". You pay money and you may end up with something worthless or a potential windfall. The plausible deniability is that the seller can say that whatever happens you do end up with a material item in your hand.
Just like the "loot boxes" in some games. If you don't know what you are going to get for your cash, and if you can't even calculate the odds of a potential outcome then it seems like an even more opaque propostion than a roulette wheel.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
  #12  
Old 11-30-2019, 05:35 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
Just like the "loot boxes" in some games. If you don't know what you are going to get for your cash, and if you can't even calculate the odds of a potential outcome then it seems like an even more opaque propostion than a roulette wheel.
My experience with CCGs like Magic is that, once the list of cards and their rarities is known, it'd be pretty straightforward to calculate the odds of getting a particular card in a particular pack, since each pack has a set number of cards of the various rarity levels.
  #13  
Old 11-30-2019, 05:58 PM
TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 41,198
Are the sellers in any way obligated to engage in these trade backs? If that's gambling it's the worst casino on earth. I tend to stay away from casinos that only pay out on wins if they feel like it.

Last edited by TriPolar; 11-30-2019 at 05:59 PM.
  #14  
Old 11-30-2019, 06:13 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Are the sellers in any way obligated to engage in these trade backs?
I do not believe so. Though, if one decides that one wants to trade / sell back some rare cards immediately upon opening packs (as per the OP), one would likely be choosing to buy packs at a store which deals in "singles," and is willing to buy back at least certain (i.e., more popular/valuable) rare cards.
  #15  
Old 11-30-2019, 09:14 PM
Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 12,321
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Every pedestrian crosswalk stroll is a gamble.
I think the fact that the pedestrian can strongly influence the odds (by looking for traffic) argues against this.

Yes, the chance of a favorable outcome is never 100%. But the fact that with the right approach you can expect to go through your whole life without a single "loss" means it's probably outside the realm of gambling.
  #16  
Old 11-30-2019, 11:16 PM
Little Nemo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 83,120
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Many aspects of life are gambles, playing with odds, hoping for better outcomes. Every pedestrian crosswalk stroll is a gamble. Any casserole I bake is a gamble. Buying a used book... hay, it may be infested with disease microbes!
I would tend to disagree. I think these things are better described as risks rather than gambles.

If I am crossing the street or baking a casserole or buying a book, I have a reasonable expectation that I will achieve the goal I am striving for. I acknowledge there is some chance of failure but it's generally negligible. And I really don't expect to achieve more than I set out to do by these actions.

A gamble is when I recognize I have a good chance of failing. But I also have some chance of coming out ahead of where I started from. So I am willing to accept the chance of failing in order to have the chance of gaining.
  #17  
Old 12-01-2019, 09:52 AM
TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 41,198
More importantly, gambling has a winner and a loser, somebody comes out ahead according to an agreed upon rule. If you get hit by a car crossing the street nobody comes out ahead, nothing is agreed upon before hand.

In some circumstance 'gamble' and 'risk' are used synonymously but that's obviously not what the OP is talking about.
  #18  
Old 12-01-2019, 11:04 AM
Novelty Bobble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 9,280
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
My experience with CCGs like Magic is that, once the list of cards and their rarities is known, it'd be pretty straightforward to calculate the odds of getting a particular card in a particular pack, since each pack has a set number of cards of the various rarity levels.
Sure, if the rarity is published and the odds can be calculated then it is a straighforward gamble. My question would be, are the rarities known and published? or are they just assumed? Can the manufacturers alter that rarity at will?
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
  #19  
Old 12-01-2019, 11:19 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,764
The rarities of the individual cards are not only known, they're marked directly on the cards themselves in color-coded symbols. And the packs are advertised as containing certain numbers of common, uncommon, and rare cards (with a chance that the rare card might instead be an even rarer "mythic rare"). The fact that all cards of a given rarity are equally likely, and the odds of a rare being instead a mythic rare, might take a little more searching, but neither is exactly a secret.

A card might be reprinted in a later set with a different rarity, but in that case, the new rarity will likewise be known, and any given pack will only contain cards from one known set.
  #20  
Old 12-01-2019, 02:07 PM
Atamasama's Avatar
Atamasama is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 4,754
https://definitions.uslegal.com/g/gambling/
“A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. Gambling does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.”

Buying Magic cards seems to fall under the umbrella of “bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts“. Legally speaking it doesn’t resemble gambling.
  #21  
Old 12-01-2019, 02:25 PM
DigitalC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Obamatopia
Posts: 11,199
It's the same concept loot boxes use to get around gambling laws, as long as you get "something" with every purchase its not considered gambling as you always "win".
  #22  
Old 12-01-2019, 03:21 PM
Jophiel's Avatar
Jophiel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Chicago suburbia
Posts: 19,502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Although, right from the start, ante was considered an optional rule, and most players opted not to use it (in all of my time playing, I only played for ante twice).
Yeah, I assumed the reason the ante cards were dropped was because most people hated playing for ante, didn't play for ante and were subsequently annoyed by the ante cards in their pack.
  #23  
Old 12-01-2019, 03:55 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
Yeah, I assumed the reason the ante cards were dropped was because most people hated playing for ante, didn't play for ante and were subsequently annoyed by the ante cards in their pack.
That was certainly a major factor, as well as the concern about ante causing tournaments to be seen by legal authorities as gambling. As per the MtG wiki:

Quote:
Ante was intended to introduce an element of gambling to Magic, but it proved unpopular as many players did not like risking the loss of their cards, and rarely played for ante. There were also concerns within Wizards of the Coast that playing for ante might result in official tournaments being legally recognized as gambling. Were that to occur, tournament venues might require gambling licenses, or be forced to meet other requirements that would vary with jurisdiction. As a result, playing for ante is now classed as an unofficial variant format, cards referring to it are no longer made, and all older cards referencing ante have been banned in every sanctioned format. The last card to mention ante was Timmerian Fiends, printed in the 1995 Homelands expansion.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:10 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017