Spending a night out at the casino is a more popular form of entertainment than ever across the USA, and is not restricted to the well-known casino hotspots like the Las Vegas Strip or the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. At the last count, the US had more than 2,100 casinos spread across 44 states. But these are supplemented by hundreds of casino platforms online.
There was a time when visiting a casino was seen as the domain of millionaire playboys, mafia bosses and Hollywood stars. These days, casinos are far more accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy a sophisticated evening’s entertainment. When US casinos started to arrive in cyberspace, they became even more accessible. The events of 2020 and 2021 saw land-based casinos either closed or operating under severe restrictions – the images of Las Vegas with its streets deserted remain among the most eerie from those strange times.
All that is in the past now, but industry statistics show that the global iGaming industry continues to grow at a CAGR of more than 11 percent in terms of monthly revenue. Land based casinos are gradually returning to 2019 levels, but are not showing anything like this kind of growth. The message is clear. In the new normal of 2021, the majority of casual casino players access online casinos from their phones as opposed to taking a trip to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or their local First National reservation. The question is why are online casinos continuing to out-perform their land-based rivals so comprehensively?
The 21st century gambling mindset
Today, there is, quite rightly, plenty of awareness about problem gambling. One point that regulators, counsellors and even the gambling companies themselves stress is that gamblers should play casino games for entertainment, and without the expectation of reward.
The mantra of “only bet that you can afford to lose” is a good one. But still, we play to win, even if we know the odds are against us, just as we buy a lotto ticket with hope but not expectation. The draw of online casinos is that those odds are not stacked quite so unfavorably at a casino in cyberspace.
Lower house edge
Table games like blackjack, baccarat and roulette have a house edge that is hard wired into the game. It doesn’t matter whether you play online or at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, American roulette, for example, will always have a house edge of 5.25 percent, while a banker bet in baccarat has a house edge of 1.09 percent.
With slots, it is another matter. In a land-based casino, slot games typically have RTP in the region of 80 percent. This means they pay out 80 coins on average per 100 coins wagered. Online slots typically have RTP around the 96 percent mark.
This disparity is because online casinos can afford to operate at far tighter margins than land-based ones. After all, the operating costs for an online platform are vastly lower than those incurred when you run a land-based casino and have to pay property taxes, staff salaries, utilities and so on.
Bigger and better bonuses
Online gamblers are also more likely to be offered special promotions and bonuses. Again, this is partially because web-based platforms can afford to be generous due to their lower operating costs. Secondly, cyberspace is so crowded with online casinos, practically all of them offer some sort of special deal as they battle one another for market share. You can visit gambleonline.co to get a feel for just a few of the real money gambling sites available to US players.
Bonus cash and free spins do not increase the likelihood of beating the house. However, they do give you some extra opportunities to try your luck without having to lay down any extra money from your own pocket.
It’s not just a better chance of winning that is continuing to attract players to online casinos. The choice of games they offer is significantly more varied than most land-based casinos, as they do not have the physical constraints of a casino floor measuring a certain square footage that can accommodate a limited number of tables, terminals and cabinets.
If a land-based casino wants to offer an extra hundred games, it will likely involve construction work that takes months to complete, costing tens of thousands and creating a certain amount of business interruption. For an online provider, it might mean they need an extra gigabyte of disc space.
Online casinos are also far more flexible in terms of the payment methods gamblers can use to deposit into their accounts or withdraw winnings, from wire transfers to digital wallets to crypto. In this area, land-based casinos are mostly stuck in the 20th century, and cash remains king.
Land based casinos will endure
From a pragmatic perspective playing casino games online makes more sense than visiting a physical casino. An online casino is right there at your fingertips, and involves no hassle regarding driving or parking. The online slot games are there in their hundreds or even thousands and tend to have a superior return. Better still, you are more likely to be offered a bonus deal.
Having said that, pragmatism isn’t everything. Online casinos make a lot of sense, but so does ordering in instead of eating out, but the restaurants industry is in no danger of collapse. The point is there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a real casino, and each casino resort is unique. Las Vegas is about more than trying to win a card game or get three bells on the penny slots, and the same applies to the many other casino resorts across the US.
Far from causing their demise, online casinos could ultimately aid their survival. After all, more people playing roulette and blackjack online means more people with the confidence and incentive to try these games out in a traditional casino environment. We won’t be entirely abandoning land-based casinos any time soon.