Online casinos have opened up a whole new world of gambling to people who may not have even set foot in a land-based casino. With games and slots available in minutes via a PC or mobile, it's never been easier to bet online.
But are online gaming sites better than their offline cousins, and if so, how? Let's compare and contrast the two arenas to see who comes out on top.
1 - Bonuses and Promotions
When was the last time you earned cash back on losing spins or a huge match bonus at your local casino? Simply, online casino bonuses beat their offline equivalent hands down.
With fewer overheads, online casinos can offer tonnes of great real-money bonuses to players. Welcome bonuses draw in new blood, and reload bonuses keep them playing. Meanwhile, generous VIP schemes are great for high rollers wanting plenty of freebies and faster cash-outs.
It's true that land-based casinos often run loyalty cards where you can earn points and claim free food and drink. But if you are only visiting a few times a year, how fast can you realistically clear those points?
2 - Range Of Video Slots And Games
Even the biggest offline casinos in the UK only have around 150 slots terminals, and usually from just one or two developers. Online casinos are much more varied: you can enjoy the latest video slots from several of the big manufacturers and take your pick from hundreds of classic, 3D, or bonus slots.
Table games are equally varied. Why settle for just European/American roulette when you can log on to your favourite casino site and play Multi-Ball, Premier Roulette, or a cool blackjack variant like Surrender?
Progressive jackpots tend to be bigger on UK casino sites too. With so many players across the world linked to the same game, the potential jackpots can be huge. And with mobile players able to join in the fun, the slots progressives keep on rising.
3 - Different RTPs and Stakes
RTPs (or 'Return to Player percentages') are the average payouts each game makes to players. Online slots tend to have slightly higher RTPs than land-based equivalents.
Often too, you can play for much smaller stakes online than you can at a land-based casino. If you're on a small budget, roulette online can be played for 25p per spin. Now compare that to the £1 or £2 you will need to gamble in an offline casino.
Similarly, online slots let you spin from as little as 1p per payline. That's often lower than on the same game in a land-based casino. There may even be slight variations in RTP on the same slot from online to offline casino. RTPs can be found on the online casino sites.
4 - No Need To Travel
If you live miles from a land-based casino, gambling can turn into a major mission. Often, ATMs will charge to withdraw cash so a detour to a cash machine somewhere else to get your funds might be involved.
With online and mobile gambling, there is no need to travel - unless it's a trip upstairs to your study or bedroom. Setting up an account is free, and there will usually be no charge made for making a deposit. Your only costs come in internet connection and electricity bills. How does that compare to your hefty petrol bill to get to and from a casino, though?
5 - More Jackpots, More Of The Time
Land-based casinos might offer a handful of progressive jackpot slots - often pooled within that one casino. At best, you're looking at games linked across just a few casinos.
Online is different - you can find dozens of progressive jackpot slots linked on multiple casino websites. The best UK online casinos will also spread plenty of bonus slots with features like free spins, wheels of fortune, or instant-win bonuses.
While slots tournaments are making an appearance in UK land-based casinos, they are a regular occurrence online in 2017.
6 - Try The Best Games For Free Online
A small handful of land-based casinos offer lessons to show you the basics of roulette and blackjack. Most of the time, however, to learn a game in an offline casino you're going to have to gamble real cash.
Online casinos, however, let you try out most games for free so you can learn the ropes. Even most video slots can be tried with "play money": check if that bonus round triggers a lot or see if you are going to be interested by the theme.
And with online casinos offering lots of unusual table game variants like mini Punto Banco, Casino Hold'em, or Blackjack Switch, play-money games are great for brushing up on the rules.
Nothing beats a land-based casino for a good night out: you can get dressed up, have a drink, and enjoy the real-life thrill of gambling with friends. But compared to online sites, the range of games, stakes and offers is severely limited. Give both a try and come out the other side a winner.
Offline vs Online FAQs
What's the Difference Between An Offline And Online Casino?
An offline casino is a land-based venue that must be visited to play games. Online casinos can be enjoyed on computer from anywhere. Stakes are often lower at online casinos than their land-based cousins. The range of games can be massively different as well.
Why Are Online Casinos So Good For Players?
Online casinos allow players to bet on a range of slots and table games from anywhere. Often, online casinos will have hundreds more slots and games than even the biggest land-based casino in Britain.
What Are The Advantages Of A Land-Based Casino?
Most land-based casinos have a great atmosphere, and players can interact with the dealers and earn free meals and drinks when they play. Some casinos also have excellent restaurants or shows attached.
What Games Will I Find In a UK Offline Casino?
Most UK casinos will offer blackjack, European Roulette, Three Card Hold'em, and Casino War. Dozens of slot machine terminals may also be available, as well as electronic roulette terminals. Stakes tend to be lower on electronic terminals than the physical tables.
Can I Claim Any Bonuses?
Online casinos can offer everything from a welcome bonus for new players to reload deposit matches and free slots spins. VIP schemes reward regular play. Land-based casinos often have loyalty schemes too, but the terms might be worse than an online counterpart.
Are The Prizes Better In A Land-Based Casino?
It depends on the venue. Online casinos are able to offer much bigger progressive jackpots, for instance, due to the increased 'visitors' that are logging onto the site. Land-based casinos rely on visitor numbers to keep their jackpots high. As for table games, the odds are the same for both platforms. However, some land-based slots may have lower RTPs (Return to Player percentages) than online versions.
Do I Need Membership To Visit?
No. Some regional casinos will require photo ID and a membership card to grant entry. Larger casinos allow players to walk in off the street to gamble.
Are There Any Restrictions?
Players must be over 18 to enter and play. Some casinos operate a dress code (usually smart-casual and no trainers) but larger casinos in London will be more relaxed, unless you turn up in shorts and sandals!