‘Time waits for no man’. Given the changes experienced by the casino industry over the past couple of decades, most operators would agree with that sentiment.
It does not seem too long ago that anyone who wanted to play casino games had to jump on an airplane to visit Las Vegas or Monte Carlo.
Fast forward to today and the landscape looks very different, with many cities around the world boasting a vibrant land-based casino scene.
One of the primary drivers for growth in the sector has been online casinos, which have introduced millions more people to play iconic games such as blackjack and roulette.
They have also sparked a massive rise in the number of people playing slots, with all the top sites offering hundreds of different games to suit every budget level.
All of this has sparked plenty of debate about which is the best way to play your favorite games – online or in a brick-and-mortar venue?
For instance, many people love to play online slots with Wink Slots. They can find there an amazing portfolio of themes and play at the comfort of their home.
While others prefer the thrill of getting ready for a night out and visiting a land-based establishment.
Read on as we look at some of the differences between playing slots online and in a traditional casino setting.
Slots: The Basics
When slot machines were first created they were mechanical rather than electronic, but the basic concept was the same – place a wager, spin the reels and hope to win!
Mechanical slots are now largely redundant, with land-based operators filling their casinos with row after row of exciting modern machines.
These use random number generators (RNG) to determine the outcome and generally feature immersive bonus levels to keep players engaged for hours on end.
It is a similar story online, with the games effectively replicating what you would find in a real-life casino but in an online environment.
They key difference is that a physical slot machine is housed in cabinet, while online slots are played on digital devices such as laptops and smartphones.
Choice of Games
There is a common perception that brick-and-mortar casinos offer players more slots than online casinos, but that viewpoint is slightly misguided.
Some of the top casinos in Vegas and New Jersey have endless rows of slots, with some venues boasting more than 1,000 machines on their floor.
However, it is worth noting that this figure often includes the same game on multiple machines, meaning that the choice of games isn’t actually as high as it seems.
By contrast, if an online casino advertises that it has a few hundred games, each of those will be a unique title, thus giving players a greater selection.
It is fair to say that both land-based and online casinos offer players the chance to win staggering amounts of money.
However, traditional casinos perhaps have the edge when it comes to big wins, particularly those that are tied in to a progressive jackpot network.
For instance, there have been several examples of players winning more than $30 million on slot machines in land-based venues.
By contrast, the biggest online slots payout from a single spin was the €19.4m scooped by a Belgian player on Microgaming title Absolootly Mad Mega Moolah in 2021.
One of the biggest advantage online casinos have over their land-based counterparts is the difference between their overheads.
While the cost of setting up a casino site is not cheap, it pales into comparison against what it costs to run a traditional casino establishment.
On that basis, online casinos are generally more generous when it comes to the return to player (RTP) rate on their slot games.
The RTP is expressed as a percentage which tells the player how much they can expect to be paid on a slot over a sustained gameplay session.
Many land-based venues don’t advertise the RTP on their slots and often set the figure to give the house a much higher edge than their online counterparts.
Licensing & Regulation
Improvements in legislation and regulation have helped to make the casino industry a much more reputable sector than was once the case.
Whether you play online or in a traditional setting, the operator must be fully licensed and regulated to offer their services in that jurisdiction.
There has also been a greater push towards responsible gaming practices in recent years, to ensure that people don’t step over the mark with their gambling.
This is perhaps more noticeable online, with operators able to implement greater controls in the online environment.
Bonuses & Promotions
Online casinos clearly have an advantage over land-based venues when it comes to offering players bonuses and promotions.
For instance, if you are a slots player, signing up for a new account on a site is likely to get you a matched bonus on your first deposit and free spins.
For regular players, many sites have rewards schemes such as free money or even more free spins to thank you for playing the games.
Unless you are a high roller, the most you are likely to be offered for a long playing session in a land-based venue is a cup of coffee.
The Final Word
Visiting a real-life casino is unquestionably a thrilling experience, but online sites offer an increasingly enticing alternative.
With many operators incorporating live casino games into their online offering, the shift towards this mode of play is likely to increase further in the coming years.
Developers are already working on new innovations such as Virtual Reality (VR) slots, which will replicate the experience of playing in a real-life casino.
All things considered online slots just about have the edge, but land-based casinos still have an important part to play in the industry.