Is Playing Pool Considered Gambling? Everything You Need To Know

You have likely seen a pool table at a bar, restaurant, recreational center, or even at a friend’s house, and you may have even played a game or two. While understanding the actual game is important, many people also wonder: Is playing pool considered gambling? 

The game of pool is not technically considered gambling as the rules of the game do not require betting or a monetary transaction. However, you can gamble on a game of pool, and many people make bets while playing or watching. 

In this article, we are going to discuss why so many people assume playing pool is considered gambling, what defines a game as a gambling sport, and even whether or not people usually bet when playing pool. So keep reading; everything you need to know is right here! 

What Classifies Something as Gambling?

Before we dig into whether or not playing pool is considered gambling, it’s important to understand what actually classifies a game as gambling. 

The definition of gambling is to play games of chance for money by making bets, or the act of wagering or betting money or something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the intent to win more money. 

Sometimes gambling is done at home or private locations between friends, on online sites, or even through bookmakers; however, you should know that gambling is illegal throughout the United States, with the exception of inside regulated casinos. 

Now that you understand what gambling is, let’s talk about how it relates to the game of pool. 

Is Playing Pool Considered Gambling?

Playing pool is not a gambling sport unless you bet or wager money or something of value on the game in the hopes of receiving more than you put in. 

People play pool at their homes with friends and family, at rec centers and bars, and in professional tournaments without any money, betting, or gambling of any kind. 

However, on the other hand, many people do bet on games of pool whether they are playing themselves or if they are watching the professional and amateur players

Whether a bet is small or large, in private or on an online site, gambling on pool is common, but illegal. 

Do Most People Gamble on Games of Pool?

It’s tough to say whether most people gamble on games of pool, but overall, it is extremely popular to make a bet either when playing or watching pool. 

For amateur games, often bets are made between friends and family members on which player will win the game. While this is technically gambling, usually, the stakes are not that high and it is not public or transcribed anywhere, no one can really get in trouble. 

On the other hand, at professional tournaments, often people make big bets with each other, through bookmakers, and sometimes online on gambling websites, in the hope for big wins. 

That would mean that, either way, people are often gambling on pool, but remember, the actual game is not considered a gambling game as betting is not included in the rules of the game. 

Is Gambling on Pool Illegal?

It’s important to understand that while gambling on pool is quite popular, technically it is illegal in every state. 

Usually, you won’t really get in trouble for making a small bet with friends; however, you certainly can for betting on professional games or online. 

As well, if you do gamble on a game of pool and do not receive your winnings from someone you know, you should remember that you have no legal leg to stand on as betting on pool is always illegal. 

Can You Play Pool in a Casino?

When it comes to gambling, there is one location in the country where it is actually legal: In casinos! 

Card games, slot machines, and a variety of other games are available in casinos on which you can make legal bets, so you may be thinking that you can also gamble on a game of pool at casinos as betting is legal on their premises. 

Unfortunately, gambling on pool is illegal, even in casinos. You can play pool at a billiards table at several popular casinos, but if you are caught betting, you may be asked to leave. 

The Bottom Line

So, is playing pool considered gambling? No, the rules of a game of pool do not include betting or gambling, which means playing pool is not considered gambling. 

However, betting or gambling on games of pool is extremely popular for both players and viewers. 

Remember, even though it’s popular and a widely accepted part of the game, it is not a part of the rules of the game, and more importantly, betting on pool is illegal in all 50 states, even at casinos.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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