Explore the pros and cons of online and offline casinos today
Casino gambling has never been easier or more accessible. More and more legalized land-based casinos are appearing across different countries and players now have the opportunity to gamble on desktop, mobile or tablet, wherever and whenever they please.
And in 2023 with more players joining the revolution, it means the bonuses and jackpots are growing and growing. Let's compare and contrast the online and live experience to see which one offers the biggest advantages.
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Gamblers can now get their fix of video slots and progressive jackpots online. But the traditional brick and mortar setting still offers plenty for players willing to travel. Is a venture out to a land-based casino worth the effort? Here, we look at the pros and cons of ditching the laptop and heading out to a live setting.
If you live in a large country with no close access to a land-based casino, gambling can be difficult. That's where online casinos have the upper hand. With a few clicks you can log on to a gambling site and pick from thousands of games. And online casinos never close, either.
Online casino sites are great too if you live in a legally gray area. Perhaps your jurisdiction still doesn't support internet gambling but land-based casinos are OK. If that's the case, playing at an overseas online casino may be the answer.
Pros: Log on at home and play when you like.
Cons: Legality of online casino gambling may be in question.
Online casinos generally have a much larger range of slots and games than your local casino. With the scope of an internet casino limited only by its hard drive space or license, players can enjoy hundreds of slots where a local casino may only offer a dozen. You will also find huge progressive jackpots and game variants that are online exclusives.
Pros: Thousands more games available online with larger jackpots possible.
Cons: Some online casinos deal exclusively with one or two developers.
Nothing can beat the thrill of a visit to the offline casino. Dressing up and making a night of it is great fun. You also get to gamble alongside friends and cheer each other on when you're fully involved in the casino action.
Pros: Have a night out, get dressed up and enjoy the glamour of the casino.
Cons: Costs go up and some travel may be involved.
It's important to judge your surroundings before getting dressed up. While a tuxedo and bow tie is great if you want to portray James Bond, it will look a little silly if you are only playing $1 roulette and some video slots.
It's best to dress according to the casino dress code. If a land-based casino specifically says 'NO dress code', then go for something more relaxed. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in, whether that's a pair of comfy jeans or your Sunday best.
Offline casinos rarely let you test out games for free before you commit a bankroll. That's one huge benefit of an online casino site. Players can try out unfamiliar games with play credits first on demo mode before putting down any real money.
Pros: Get used to the rules and try out online exclusives without risking cash.
Cons: You can't win real money with free play games, so potentially less exciting.
Larger land-based casinos often reward loyal players with free drinks and meals if they gamble regularly. You don't even have to be a high roller to take advantage, either. Even casual slots players will earn freebies if they play long enough. Online gamblers will have to make do with a drink from their own refrigerator.
Pros: Possibility of free drinks all night when you gamble at a land-based casino.
Cons: Gambling and drinking often don't mix well.
When it comes to slot RTPs (return to player percentages), you will find slightly higher ones online. Land-based slot machines are programmed with set RTPs, and these tend to be legally a lot lower (around 87-91%). Now compare this to the RTP values you get online (93-99%). Need we say any more?
Pros: Returns are theoretically higher at online slots.
Cons: The house still has a statistical edge over players.
Internet casinos tend to have a wider range of bets than offline casinos. Casual gamblers can enjoy slots bets from as little as 0.01 per payline when playing online. Slot machines in an offline casino can be many times that. Similarly, table games will have higher minimum stakes in a land-based game than online.
Pros: Low stakes online are perfect for casual gamblers.
Cons: Can limit your chances of winning huge jackpots and earning VIP points.
While offline casino games are great fun, a popular table can be a pain if you are left waiting for a chair. In blackjack, standing players can bet on seated players' hands, but the experience isn't the same. With online games, you decide when the games begin. And if you are playing online slots, there's no waiting for a reserved placard to be removed. All you need to do is open a slot in a browser window and get spinning.
Pros: Play when you want and stop the action any time.
Cons: There isn't the same social interaction when gambling online.
One benefit of online casino play is that you don't even have to play on a computer. Mobile gambling lets you play slots and table games on a smartphone or tablet. You can even play on mobile in a land-based casino if you have internet access - the best of both worlds!
Mobile slots are specially adapted to work on your portable device. The reels shrink to fit the touch screen, and players can make deposits in the usual way. Most games are played through a mobile web browser like Google Chrome, or can be played through the operator's mobile casino app.
Gambling online on your favorite slots is simple and available any time. You can try out new games or high-volatility titles with play money, or a no deposit bonus, without risking a dime. And if you have access to free spins, you can work off a lovely promotion.
If you are worried about your gambling habits, online casinos allow you to set 'stop loss' or 'stop win' limits on your gameplay. You can also stop your slot spins when you reach a certain number.
Pros: Online games are quicker than offline so gamblers can fit in more spins.
Cons: The downswings can therefore be much larger online.
The biggest benefit of playing slots online is the range of promotions available. Online casinos offer players the chance to earn free cash, just by playing their favorite slots and games. Gamblers can enjoy free spins or a deposit match bonus, and the offers aren't restricted to high-limit players.
Pros: Lots of online promotions, whatever your stakes.
Cons: The wagering requirements can sometimes be unachievable.
Online casino play is great for gamblers who live miles from their nearest land-based casino. But how do the differences really stack up? Let's compare and contrast with this handy chart.
|Dress Code||Smart/casual, although most Las Vegas and Macau casinos have no dress code||Wear what you like|
|Welcome Bonus||None||First deposit matched 100-200%. Free spins may be offered too on popular slots|
|Membership||Some casinos require membership. Casinos in the US, UK, and Australia now need no prior membership sign-ups||Valid home address and email address needed.|
|ID Checks||Yes||Yes - ID needed for withdrawals|
|Free Slot Spins||No||Yes|
|VIP/Loyalty Scheme||Yes||Yes - regular customers will be offered regular reload bonuses, cashback on losses, and quicker withdrawals. Access to a VIP manager will also be offered.|
|RTPs on Slots||Varies from country to country and developer to developer. Land-based slot RTPs can be as low as 87 percent||90-99 percent|
|Number of Slots per casino||10-500||100-500|
|Typical Slots||Classic slots, video slots, progressive slots, branded slots||Classic slots, video slots, progressive slots, branded slots|
One of the main advantages to online play is that gamblers are usually given a generous online casino bonus when they first open an account and make a deposit. This helps to kickstart your bankroll and increase your chances of making more money.
You might be lucky enough to get free drinks in a land-based casino if you play there long enough, but online you'll be given free cash as soon as you sign up! It's important to check the terms and conditions before you do, though, to make sure you're happy with the playthrough requirements. We only ever recommend sites that offer players great, fair bonuses. If you'd like to take advantage of these, head to our best bonuses page here.