There are a lot of X versus Y opinions out there: Coke versus Pepsi, Mac versus PC, manual versus automatic, mayo versus tomato sauce, Nando’s versus Chicken Licken.
While some people think they have the inside info to make an educated and passionate call on what makes one thing better than another, it’s the fact that these two things are so similar and so popular that there are a group of fans out there who would go to battle to prove their choice is superior that makes these dialogues so intense – and so interesting.
For gambling fans, the perennial question is all about which is better: physical land-based casinos or online (and we are including mobile here) casinos?
The biggest benefit of a land-based casino is that unique feeling of opulence and the electric undercurrent of tension and anticipation that is part and parcel of the casino experience. The lights, the sounds, seeing the gamblers go about their play and the dealers spinning the wheels and laying out the cards – it all makes the atmosphere incredibly difficult to recreate online.
That’s not to say that your online casino atmosphere is terrible, after all, you’re in your safe place, your chosen environment. You get to choose your music, your seating, your comfort. You can wear what you want, eat and drink what you want, do whatever you want without getting disapproving looks from anyone else (except maybe your cat who really thinks you should be paying it more attention right now!).
There’s no substitute for the opulence and extravaganza of a land-based casino so we’re going to have to go with – land-based!
Gambling can be quite a social hobby when you’re playing against other gamblers, especially in games like craps, roulette, blackjack and poker. Land-based casinos definitely have the social aspect down pat and they’re quite often very busy and full of punters looking to have a good time. This aura of excitement and opportunity is incredibly infectious and puts you in a great gambling frame of mind.
But sometimes you don’t want the crowds, you don’t want to wait for a free seat at a table, you just want to take some time out of your hectic day and enjoy your favourite casino game. This is where online casinos come to the fore – it’s just you and the game with no noisy, drunken, obnoxious, irritating people to distract you.
From a purely social point of view, land-based casinos take the prize. But for those who prefer to avoid mobs of ‘tourists’ and who prefer the gaming to the socialising, online is the way to go.
And online also has a social aspect for when you want to interact with others in the form of Live Dealer games so…
Seeing as we are talking about social gaming, we’re going to call the winner – land-based!
Land-based casinos don’t offer much in the way of convenience (unless you’re staying at a casino resort or have a room in a hotel attached to a casino complex). You have to get in your car or catch transport, sit in traffic, navigate all the other road users, find parking, pay for parking, make your way through crowds if it’s a busy time, and then hope to find an open seat at your chosen slot or table. And while you can get a drink at the tables or machines, you will need to take a walk away from your game to find food.
Online makes everything instant and easy. You can hop onto your favourite game at your chosen casino whenever and wherever you want. There’s no travelling involved, no road rage or time wasting while you sit at a traffic jam, no getting your blood pressure up dealing with muppets who don’t know how to drive and definitely no having to pay to use a casino’s parking services. Whether you’re in your office or comfortably set up at home, everything you need is within reach. And you can quite happily sit with a bowl of noodles, a packet of crisps, a take-away meal or a home-made cordon bleu dinner on your lap while you play.
Online with absolutely no doubt!
Land-based casinos come with a host of extra costs that could be better used on your games: fuel, parking, food, etc. These are obvious costs but there is also another cost that is a big factor – time. The time it takes to get there, to find parking, to wait for a table, to go and find food. And also, the time you spend waiting for other players, for dealers to shuffle, for pit bosses to change out the decks or the dealers.
Time as a cost has another drawback in the pace of a table game or slot that means you burn through your bankroll much faster.
Online is far better in terms of cost, monetary as well as time. You control the pace of your game and the time you spend playing. This could be as simple as taking a break whenever you want so that you can stretch your legs and know that when you get back your game will be waiting for you just as you left it.
Monetary cost can also be much higher at a land-based casino where minimum bets are a bit pricey. Online allows you to choose and play games with very low minimum bets while land-based casinos sometimes have very costly ones, especially on popular table games.
Land-based casinos want you to get through your bankroll as fast as possible to free up space for the next gambler, and no one wants to travel for hours and then wait for a game only to be rushed into losing all their cash.
Online casinos allow you to set your own time and your own wagers and this is why we choose – online!
The modern land-based casino is less a gambling den and more a multi-sensory extravaganza. Most casinos have a mind-boggling number of extras attached to the gambling floor, from restaurants to theatres to shows to cinemas to activities like bowling or arcade games or laser tag.
Some casinos are part of a resort complex that offers all the enticements of a luxury hotel with shopping and swimming pools and bars (the Vegas casinos like Wynn’s and Bellagio are perfect examples of this). There are casinos that are built in areas of outstanding scenic beauty (like Atlantis in the Bahamas with its miles of unspoilt Caribbean beaches and ocean views). There are even casinos that are part of amazing theme parks (Resorts World Sentosa with an incredible Universal Studios theme park).
Online just can’t offer the same extras.
If you are looking to go out and spend a little time gambling and a lot of time doing all sorts of other things there’s only one winner – land-based!
There are some truly massive land-based casinos out there: WinStar World Casino, Venetian Macau, Foxwoods. There are some South Africa casinos like Sun City and Montecasino that look like you could spend days wandering the gambling floor.
But if you actually spend some time looking, you’ll notice that most of the size comes from the extras like restaurants and such and the game floor is maybe not quite as vast and opulent as you first thought.
The biggest hindrance to gaming selection at land-based casinos is floor space: there’s only so much area that you can use to set up slots and tables for players.
Online casinos do not have this issue. There is no floor space on the internet, only available server space and data storage. This is why online can offer players so much more variety – and also some pretty awesome tech innovations – delivered straight to your device. Online casinos can offer thousands of slots, hundreds of table games and specialty games that appeal to a select audience that land-based casinos just can’t afford to cater to.
Online all the way!
This is one area that is very contentious. Land-based casinos can offer instant cash outs. When you’re done playing you take your chips or card to a cashier and you walk away with cold, hard currency in your sweaty fists instantly.
Online casinos are often lambasted for how long it takes to get money from your casino account back into your bank account.
While there are reasons for the delay in cashing out at online casinos (reasons related to licensing, regulations, fraud, money laundering and legalities) it can be incredibly frustrating for the player. The vast majority of complaints against online casinos are around the delays when it comes to cashing out but most online casinos really have no control over the financial legalities that are required.
Nevertheless, for cash outs there is only one possible winner – land-based!
This is where online truly stands out. Land-based casinos offer loyalty programmes and incentives to regular and high-roller players (and what incentives for the whales!) but these are not offered to any Joe who walks in off the street. You need to be a pretty regular player at that particular casino to get the good deals and these are usually for things like hotel stays and meals.
Online is built on the bonus system where you get perks from the minute you sign up: welcome bonuses, loyalty bonuses, VIP bonuses, daily, weekly and monthly bonuses.
And the online and mobile casino bonuses affect the player where it truly counts – gameplay and bankroll. Most bonuses are geared toward getting players to try new games and extending their play time with ‘free’ cash in their accounts or free spins.
Online by a mile – but don’t get caught up in the bonus hunting trap! Make sure you understand what is required from you before you click that ‘redeem now’ button. Bonuses invariably come with wagering requirements (Jackpot.co.za is one online casino for South African players that has a new and refreshing approach to bonuses, check out their no wagering requirement offers) and these wagering requirements must be read and understood if you don’t want to lose your winnings.
By a very small margin:
Yes, we know, the official scores are tied at 4 each BUT, the variety of games and the ease of getting into our favourite casino and onto our favourite games swung the vote in a hotly contested debate between the CasinoPlay crew.
We play for fun. We play for the thrills and the joy. And we get all of that and so much more online.
Wherever you decide to play, always remember to gamble responsibly, always choose a trusted partner and always, always remember that this a FUN hobby.
Walk away when you need to. The games and the casinos will be there waiting another day.