Online vs. Land-Based Casinos: Where Should You Play?
Both land-based and online casinos have their pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look so you can decide which one is right for you.
Thanks to the wide variety of online casinos, you have so many options for playing your favorite casino games from the comfort of your home and in-person at your favorite land-based casinos. But where you play can depend on your personal preference, the kinds of games you like to play, and where you live. That’s why we’ve broken down your gaming options to help you determine which one you should choose.
The Differences Between Online and Land-Based Casinos
An online casino is a website where you can play all sorts of casino games while betting (and winning) real money. These sites have been around since the 1990s but have become much more popular (and advanced) over the past two decades. Many land-based casino companies run their own legitimate online casinos where you can play slots, poker, video poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, keno, specialty games, and others. The key features of an online casino include:
You register on a legitimate website, and you play from that website or from the site’s desktop or mobile app.
You add money to your site wallet and withdraw your winnings digitally, too.
You can take advantage of sign-up and play bonuses.
You play games on your computer, smartphone, or smart device (like a tablet or iPad).
You can play solo games, like slots or video poker, or at tables with other players, like live game tables and online poker.
A land-based casino is the traditional casino experience you think of: a collection of physical gaming tables and machines with servers walking around to get you drinks or food. The games available at casinos can vary by location. For example, some casinos are also racinos, where you can bet on horse races, too. Some only have gaming machines, while others offer machines and live tables. Some of the features of a land-based casino include:
You can play as a guest, or you can register with the casino to join its rewards or membership program in which you earn special bonuses for signing up and playing often.
You can often play machine games with cash, though some may offer specials for converting your cash into tokens.
You have to buy chips to use for playing table games.
You must cash your chips in before you leave to withdraw your winnings.
You may have to pay for other accommodations, such as parking, valet, and food and drink.
Pros and Cons of Playing at an Online Casino
There are many benefits to choosing an online casino over a land-based casino, including:
Play whenever you want: Online casinos are open 24/7, 365 days a year, so you can play when it’s most convenient for you. All you need is a consistent and strong internet connection to play when and for how long you want.
Stay in the comfort of your home: Playing at an online casino means you don’t have to go anywhere or get ready for the day. If you want to play in your pajamas, you can. If you don’t feel like driving, you don’t have to travel anywhere else but to your home computer (or your smartphone).
Game wherever you are: If you play at an online casino that allows mobile play, which many of them do, then you can play wherever you are. However, you must still be playing in a state that allows online gambling.
Play a wide variety of games with various betting minimums: Online casinos tend to offer a better variety of games, including multiple versions of crowd favorites like slots. In addition, online casinos often have even lower betting minimums for their games, meaning you can play on less money for longer.
Practice for free: Many online casinos also offer free versions of their games you can play. You can use the free versions to practice playing the game or to test if you’ll like playing it before betting any real money.
Forget about having to accommodate other players: At an online casino, there is an unlimited number of “seats” for each game. That means you don’t have to wait for other players to get off of a machine you want to play or feel pressured to give up a seat you’ve been in too long.
Take advantage of regular bonuses: Online casinos offer fantastic bonuses regularly, from free play to cash bonuses and more. Many offer first-time registration bonuses as well as loyalty program bonuses.
Feel safe while playing: There’s no need to worry about whether the games you’re playing are rigged or if your data is safe. Legitimate online casinos take a lot of precautions to keep financial and personal data safe. They also get their games from third-party gaming companies that produce the games and program the random number generators (RNG) that keep the games random and honest.
However, there are a few cons to playing at an online casino, such as:
Playing alone: Online casinos don’t offer much in the way of socializing with other players, with the exception of some that have chat rooms. While playing alone can be great at times (or most of the time for some), it can also be good to get out to a brick-and-mortar casino to talk to real live people.
Lack of other amenities that make the experience: In addition to lacking in the socialization department, online casinos don’t come with the other amenities that make going to the casino a full experience. For example, you don’t have servers to bring you food and drinks, you don’t have amazing restaurants or shopping under the same roof (or right down the street), and you don’t get all the bells and whistles that create an exciting ambience. However, online casinos are programmed with some of those sounds so it does feel like the real thing.
Only available in specific U.S. states: There are only a handful of states that allow online gambling, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and a few others. That means you have to live or travel to these states in order to register and play at an online casino.
Takes a little time to get your winnings: When you withdraw your winnings from an online casino, it can take one to two weeks of processing time for that cash to hit your bank account.
While there is a lot of convenience with playing at an online casino, you aren’t necessarily limited to these sites and can still visit land-based casinos in your area (if they’re available) and around the country.
Pros and Cons of Playing at a Land-Based Casino
When you play at a land-based casino, you get some of these awesome benefits:
Socialize with other players and casino staff: A brick-and-mortar casino provides you plenty of opportunities to chat with other players at the machines, the tables, or the bar. You can even socialize with servers and dealers, too.
Enjoy other amenities: Land-based casinos tend to have upscale restaurants, shopping, and entertainment under the same roof. For example, you’ll find plenty of spectacular fine dining establishments, live performances, bars and nightclubs, and a hotel within the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The town has a dozen more casino-hotels with similar setups.
Travel to different locations: If you don’t live near a casino, you can make a vacation out of traveling to another city or state to visit one. Even if you live in or near a state or city that has a casino, it can be fun to make the trip, stay the night, and even try out other casinos in different locales.
Cash out your winnings instantly: You can get the money you’ve won in minutes as opposed to weeks. Depending on how much you’ve won, you may be able to cash out small amounts at a kiosk, or you can head to the teller desk and cash out there.
Consider these cons of playing at a land-based casino, too:
Limited games: Land-based casinos don’t offer as many different games because they have limited space and must cater to what’s most popular to their players. Also, less space means a limited number of machines and tables.
Extra spending: It’s proper etiquette to tip dealers and servers when you’re at a brick-and-mortar casino. If you order food and/or drinks on the floor, you’ll have to pay for those. You also spend more if you visit an on-site restaurant, bar, or nightclub. You may also need to pay for parking or valet service. All of these awesome amenities come at a price that can eat into your winnings (or what’s left of what you brought).
Higher betting minimums: Brick-and-mortar casinos have higher betting minimums, meaning a game of slots that would start at 10 cents online may start at 50 cents in person.
Waiting times: You may encounter lines and wait times to get a seat at a table or a machine (especially one that’s popular). Also, other players, live dealers, and dealer shift changes can all impact your play pace, too.
Can be inconvenient to travel to: If you don’t live near a casino, it can be quite the trek. While that is part of the experience, it may not be economical for you to pay for transportation and accommodations when you arrive.
The beauty of casino gaming is you don’t have to choose online over the land-based casinos (or vice versa) because both offer fantastic opportunities to have fun, improve your skills, and win money. And if you live in New Jersey, then you definitely have your choice of playing your favorite games at an online casino or at a land-based casino in Atlantic City.