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Online Casinos Versus Traditional Casinos: The Top 5 Differences

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Land-based casinos and online casinos both offer the opportunity to gamble on your favorite games. But not everything is the same.

When you want to play at a land-based casino, you need to travel to it, and when you play online, you can just log into a site on your computer or mobile device and start playing. You’re going to learn that this isn’t the only difference.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 ways land-based casinos are different than online casinos so you can learn the main differences.

1. Speed of Play

When you play blackjack, roulette, and craps at a land-based casino the speed of play is restricted by the actions of the game and the players. But when you play online, you can play as fast as you can click a button.

Land-based slot machines and video poker machines operate almost exactly the same and can be played at about the same speed. But most other games can be played much faster online.

The increased rate of speed for most online games is a good and bad thing depending on why you gamble. If you want to lay as much as possible online play is a better option.

But if you want to conserve your bankroll by paying slower, you might be better off playing at a land-based casino. Of course, you can play as fast or as slow as you want online, but most players get bored when they play online if they don’t play fast.

Your rate of play in any casino game has a great deal to do with your long-term losses and your bankroll. Casino games are built with a house edge so with only a few exceptions you’re going to lose in the long run. The faster you play, the faster you lose.

Here’s an example:

Let’s compare playing a blackjack game with the same rules and house edge in a land-based casino at 50 hands per hour and playing online at 200 hands per hour making the same average bet. For easy calculations, the game has a 1% house edge, and you make $10 bets.

At 50 hands per hour in a land-based casino, your expected or average loss per hour is $5.

At 200 hands per hour in an online casino, your expected or average loss per hour is $20.

It’s easy to see that playing four times as many hands makes you lose four times as much money. Of course, if you’re able to play as slow online as in a land-based casino, your expected loss is the same.

One advantage that online casinos have over land based casinos related to speed of play and your average loss per hour is that most online casinos have lower minimum bets than land-based casinos.

The minimum bet at a blackjack table in a land-based casino might be $5 or $10, but you can often play the same game online with a minimum bet of $1.

If you just want to play for real money and aren’t worried about playing for higher stakes even when you play faster online, you can still lose less money on average per hour than playing in a land-based casino.

Here’s an example:

Let’s consider the same blackjack game we used in the first example but in the land-based game your average bet is $5 per hand, and online it’s only $1.

50 hands an hour at $5 a hand creates an average loss of $2.50 per hour.

200 hands an hour at $1 a hand creates an average loss of $2 per hour.

Of course, if you can play slower online combined with a lower bet average, you can extend your bankroll even more. If you play 100 hands per hour instead of 200 and only bet $1 per hand, your average hourly loss is only $1.

Online casinos give you more control of the speed of play and lower minimum bets, which is a great way to extend your bankroll. If you play at low stakes and play slow, you can gamble for hours on a small bankroll.

Where else can you find an opportunity to have 10 hours of entertainment for only $10 or $20?

2. Moving Money

One of the big differences between gambling in a land-based casino and playing online is how you get your money into and out of the casino.

When you gamble at a land-based casino, you can carry your money in, wire it to the casino and have it available for play, or arrange for a line of credit you can use to gamble with. You convert your money into casino chips when you play and then convert it back to regular currency when you’re finished playing.

Playing at an online casino requires a different system for moving your money. The easiest way to play at most online casinos is by making a deposit using a credit card. You can also use a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin at some online casinos and use an online wallet like Paypal or one of the ones designed for the gambling industry like Neteller.

Some online casinos also accept bank wires or ACH drafts. Lines of credit aren’t usually an option for online players.

Your deposit options for online casinos are limited depending on where you live. The banking industry in some countries makes it challenging to deposit and withdraw money.

The bottom line is that it isn’t as easy to move money into and out of online casinos as it is to do the same in land-based casinos. The online casinos know it’s a challenge to move money for some players and are constantly looking for new ways to help their customers.

If you have trouble figuring out how to make a deposit at an online casino send a message to the support department telling them where you live and they should be able to help you make a deposit.

Most online casinos convert your money to chips like land-based casinos, but it’s all done virtually, so there’s not much difference between playing with regular money and casino chips. Casinos figured out years ago that players are more likely to gamble more when they use chips instead of cash, so this tradition has carried over to the online gambling industry as well.

3. Game and Seat Availability

How many times have you walked into a land-based casino and had to wait for a seat at the blackjack or poker table or for a spot at your favorite slot machine or video poker game? This might not happen often, but if you play at land-based casinos, you’re eventually going to have to wait.

But when you log into an online casino, a seat is always available. The software that runs online casinos is designed so you can start playing as quickly as possible. The casino knows that players want to start gambling immediately. And if they don’t have a game available, you might just find somewhere else to play.

Online casinos can also offer a wider variety of games because they don’t have limitations based on the size of the gaming floor. If you want to play Pai Gow poker or Sic Bo, it can be hard to find a table in a land-based casino.

These games aren’t as profitable as slot machines and blackjack to the casino so when they have to decide which games to offer they need to offer the ones that can make them the most money.

Online casinos don’t have this problem. They can offer more variety because once the software is made, it doesn’t cost more to have a game available.

4. Bonuses

Online casinos often offer bonuses on deposits. They do this to try to get more players to try their games. Land-based casinos don’t offer bonuses in the same way, but sometimes you can get coupons and comps for your play. Some online casinos also have comp programs available, but they aren’t as common as in land-based casinos.

When you start looking for an online casino, you’re going to see a wide range of bonus offers. Many of these look like a great deal but remember that online casinos are in the business of making money, not giving it away.

Every online casino bonus comes with strings attached. You can learn about these strings by reading the terms and conditions.

The two main types of bonuses are cashable and non-cashable or sticky bonuses.

A cashable bonus is one that you can cash out once you meet the play through requirements. A sticky or non-cashable bonus is only for play and is deducted from your balance before you make a withdrawal.

Certain bonuses are only available for play on certain games. Most online casino bonuses can be used to play slot machines and keno, but many of them restrict your play on blackjack and video poker and other games. You can find this information in the terms and conditions as well.

Each bonus offer also comes with a set of play through requirements. This is usually stated in terms of needing to gamble a multiple of your deposit and bonus. When you see 25 times or 25X it means you have to risk at least 25 times the total of the bonus and deposit before you can request a cashout. You can find playthrough requirements of 25 times, 30 times, 40 times, or 50 times or more depending on where you play.

Bonus terms and conditions can be confusing, but you need to make sure you read and understand them before making a deposit. The bonuses are designed to entice you to play, but most of the play through requirements are designed so you still can’t win in the long run.

If you like to play slots bonuses are a great way to extend your bankroll and playing time. Most slots players play until they run out of money and rarely cash out so if you play slots consider finding a big bonus. That way you can take a shot at a progressive jackpot or big payout.

But if you play blackjack or video poker or most table games look for a smaller bonus with less restrictive play through requirements.

One trick that some online casinos use is letting you play blackjack or video poker with a bonus but only counting a small percentage of your play against the play through requirements. Only 10% or 20% of your play may count toward the play through requirements.

Realize that is only 10% of your play counts that it’s the same as making the play through 10 times as big. So if you need to wager $1,000 to clear a regular bonus, you now have to wager $10,000.

This is why it’s so important to read all of the terms before making a deposit.

As I mentioned above, a sticky or not cashable bonus is deducted from your balance before you can make a withdrawal.

Here’s an example:

If you deposit $500 and receive a $500 sticky bonus, you have $1,000 to gamble with. If you meet the playthrough requirements and have $600 left the $500 bonus is deducted from it when you cash out. This means you can only withdraw $100.

5. Restrictions

When you want to gamble in a land-based casino, the only restriction is usually your age. Depending on where you play as long as you’re 18 or 21 you can gamble if you have money.

Online casino play is restricted in some countries. The laws change all of the time, and it becomes quite a challenge to keep up with them all. You need to check your local laws before you play online to make sure you can legally play.

Most of the laws concern moving money, which I covered in an earlier section. And many laws about online casinos are vague, so it can be difficult to determine exactly what you can do.

And even in areas where it’s believed online gambling is illegal, you can still find casinos offering games online. If this is the case where you live you can probably still play, but I don’t recommend breaking any laws that clearly state you shouldn’t play or play with money that you can’t afford to lose.

Of course, it’s always good advice not to gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.


Are online casinos or land-based casinos better? The answer depends on how you gamble, which games you want to play, and your gambling goals. Now that you know 5 ways land-based casinos are different than online casinos, you can decide which is a better option for you.

Of course, many gamblers play both online and at land-based casinos, so you’re not restricted to one or the other. Use this guide to help you figure out the pluses and minuses involved in both online and land-based play.