• Since 1996 online casinos have been growing in popularity and are now in heavy competition with their pre internet counter parts. Some like online casinos and others prefer the traditional land-based casino environment. 
  • Each variation has their positive and negative aspects. I’ll approach the each evaluation from multiple angels; the casual player, the aspiring professional and the seasoned pro.


Online casinos can be played from the comfort of your own home without distractions. Online casinos players do not have to worry about dress codes or dinner reservations. Everything they need or want is just a few steps away. They can take a break when they want or play as long as they want in a familiar environment.

The online casinos offer rewards in the way of bonuses and other promotional play. They know that they can’t compete with the land-based casino promotions and comps, so they do this in other ways. The bonuses and promotions that online casinos offer are the kind where you can earn free money and credits. The biggest difference that online casinos have is that they actually give you free money to start a new player playing. This comes in the form of a no deposit bonus. Just by creating a new user account you are given money to play with. The standard bonus is $200, but you might have a chance to win even more dollars. This free play comes with stipulations. Typically the online casino sets a minimum number of hands that must be played before the online player is permitted to withdraw the funds. Once you play for a while the online casino will periodically send you additional free play dollar in the form of promotional codes via email.

Woman play live casino with her pajamas, sitting on a comfortable sofa

In an effort to keep players, the online casinos offer players free casino money to play with when the hit predetermined thresholds. Free online casino bonuses can range from $10 to $2400; offering regular players these bonuses in the form of credits or match-play. This presents a tremendous incentive for new players to sign up and regular players to continue playing with a specific online casino.

Online casinos can be played from anywhere and at anytime. They are open for business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whether the player is playing at 3.00 am or 3.00 pm. And with the introduction of casino apps for smart phones and the increased capability of LTE networks they can even be played while in transit from one place to another. As long as there is an internet connection, a player can play day or night.

While the games are pretty much the same as far as the basic rules are concerned in both land-based and online casinos. In some online casinos you will be playing against an automated computer program in a heads up manner. In other online casinos you will play against a live casino dealer via video stream in a heads up manner or at a table with other players.

For Poker Players, the online environment gives them a great opportunity to increase their win rate exponentially. In live poker, the player is limited to only one hand at a time. The online poker player can play up to 24 tables at one time. This benefits the player because a skilled poker player only plays about 20% of the dealt hands, this increase the hourly win rate of the poker player by a factor of 24. Even a 1-2 no limit player with a win rate of $3 an hour is now making $72. There is a variety of statistical tools that a player can use to calculate probabilities of winning, along with seeing the hand history of the player you are playing against. This converts online poker into a game of predictive analytics rather than a game of skill. It’s nearly impossible to become a world class poker player without an online component to your game.

Land Based Casino with rows of Blackjack tables and slot machines


For most players who walk into a casino their objective is to have fun and socialize. When you play at land-based casino in a gaming centric town like Las Vegas you are over whelmed by the sights and sounds of the environment. Just being there is an experience. This setting allows you to play in a real place where you will hear the sounds of the slot bells and the cheers and jeers of celebration and frustration that fill the casino’s space. The flashing neon lights and pretty cocktail waitresses are all around you. The gaudy atmosphere screams excess and you will likely catch a glimpse of a celebrity perusing the gaming floor. It is recess for adults, and grown-ups always socialize at recess. Some like this because they enjoy taking in the whole atmosphere that comes with those land-based casinos. 

Land-based casinos offer a player benefits for playing that are not available from an online casino. The perks that a land based casino offers are vast and include free lodging accommodations, free buffets, free show tickets, and more. The comps can be asked for while you are playing, and when you have a decent average wager - in the neighborhood of $50 or more, you will likely get these comps from a host. Another added benefit from a land based casino is that once you are in their comp system they will send you regular promotional offers to get you back into their casino. These offers include free multi night stays, free food, free bets and match play or free slot play coupons. For casinos that cater to local player’s you can expect a variety of house ware or other leisure items.

Left: massive traffic on the way to the casino. Right: people having fun at the casino, smiling and drinking

A negative for land based casinos is proximity. When the closest land based casino is located in another city the player needs to take into account transport, accommodation and meal costs.  While a person living near a casino would have to take into account only transportation costs.  Depending on how far away from the casino the player is, the costs can run into thousands of dollars.

Lastly, in a land-based casino you will be playing against a real life in person dealer and you will be playing along-side other players. Expect to be engaged in the land based casinos by a variety of interruptions: cocktail waitress, chatty pit bosses and empathetic losing players are all norms in the land-based casinos. 

live casino table with a dealer on a tablet device


  • When you are looking at the advantages of online casinos vs. land-based casinos there are a lot of things to consider: Expenses, travel and time all come to mind. 
  • You have to consider your objective for engaging in play. Are you looking to just have fun or are you trying to make money? 
  • For the former the obvious choice is a land based casino. For the true seeker of a social interaction and a full assault on your senses nothing beats Las Vegas. But for the low key stay at home player online is the way to go.

More Articles By Nicholas Colon:

Nicholas is a 17 year veteran of the casino gaming industry. He is former player manager with the infamous MIT Blackjack teams and is a regular attendee of the Blackjack Ball, a gathering of the world’s top professional gamblers.

He is the Managing Director of the Alea Consulting Group, a leading gaming consultant company with a focus on gaming economics and, is a frequent contributor to world class business publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines’ and over 15 gaming trade publications. He is also the founder of Casino Exploits a player centric casino gaming site.