Gambling draws a negative emotion and is considered an indulgence in most cultures. At best it is seen as a recreational activity. In gambling most of the time the odds are known and are decided by the market maker (or the house as often referred to). Statistically over a long period (i.e. extended run of plays) the house always wins.
Trading the financial markets too involves speculation and is a game of probabilities where one needs to develop an edge which gives consistent positive result over time. However as a pursuit, I think trading is much more serious than most types of gambling, it is more than just a recreational hobby. It is a profession which involves buying and selling various asset classes from or to other traders that value them less or more. It requires disciplined work, and is the career choice of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
In trading the financial markets the traders associate a value to the underlying asset class at any given point in time with a view of profiting from price movement in their favour, which is like any other commodity driven by demand, supply and laws of economics. By participating in the markets, traders provide liquidity to the market which keeps money flowing. It is not any different from traditional form of buy-and-hold investing, in which the time periods in between and opening and closing a transaction tend to be longer terms.
Trading as a profession gives you a lot freedom and flexibility, but it comes with a lot of responsibility and accountability. In trading there is no scope of pretentions, it keeps you honest all the time; it keeps you accountable for your losses or gains as they happen. You cannot pass the buck to someone else in case of losses, nor is there anyone who will steal your thunder by just manipulating the situation and taking credit for your successes. One has to be extremely disciplined and demonstrate patience to be consistently successful trader.
Above all trading is one of those few pursuits in life that brings you in close touch with yourself – one gets to know more about one’s inner person beyond the shallow layers of facade which people often create to protect themselves from hurt, but often end up believing those layers of facade to be the real self!