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Why Play Online?

31 December 2002

By Mary-Ann Dick

One of the major challenges for online casinos is convincing gamblers to play online in preference to land-based casinos. Operators must overcome a number of obstacles to achieve this goal.

Obviously, not all gamblers have Internet access or choose to access the Internet for leisure activities. Additionally, there are factors inherent to online gambling that may discourage gamblers from gambling online. Many of these perceived disadvantages can be corrected by operators if they can increase awareness in the general community about the true state of affairs.

Online casinos are aware that Internet gambling offers a unique gambling experience for all gamblers, as well as many benefits that land casinos simply cannot match. The task at hand for online casinos is to accentuate these favourable differences and get the message across more widely to the community.

Figures show that online gambling is becoming an increasingly large industry with high growth rates and earning potential. As Internet access has become more widely available, Internet casinos have received a corollary benefit because there are more gamblers online. Online marketing has become more sophisticated, and in general it is fair to say that gambling has a much bigger presence on the Internet now than in any time in our industry's brief history. There is substantial evidence that the online casino industry is doing many things right to attract players. However, online gambling has not yet reached the great heights in dollar terms that land-based casinos have attained, admittedly over a much longer period of time.

One major advantage of gambling online is that payout percentages are significantly better in comparison with land based casinos. On the Internet, online casinos commonly have a payout percentage over 95 percent, with percentages above 98 percent not unheard of. In comparison, land-based casinos usually offer a payout percentage of only about 89 percent or so, as the following table shows:

State Slots Payout Tables Payout Average Payout
Nevada 94.65% 84.81% 90.71%
Colorado 94.37% 80.86% 88.96%
Illinois 93.97% 82.86% 89.52%
Iowa 93.42% 78.00% 87.25%
Indiana 93.29% 80.29% 88.09%
Connecticut 91.91% N/A N/A
New Jersey 91.63% 83.45% 88.36%
US Average 93.32% 81.71% 88.82%

Source: Casino Journal, June 1999

I wouldn’t mind betting that most of the gamblers who frequent land-based casinos are unaware that their patronage is costing them about 10 percent as soon as they walk in the door. Sure, people are always going to visit land-based casinos, but they should be aware if they are serious about making a profit they should consider gambling, at an online casino instead.

Another major attraction for online casinos is their ability to offer additional incentives for gamblers. Online casinos have significantly less overhead costs than land-based casinos and those savings can be passed on to the gambler. Land-based casinos are encumbered with salaries for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of staff, security, dealers and supervisors as well as expenditures related to their land, equipment and buildings. Online casinos can operate with relatively few staff and the casino exists virtually, eliminating costs associated with operating a land-based casino. As to sign up bonuses, no land-based casino has ever given away money to its patrons just so they can "Try before you buy." Online casinos reward new patrons with hundreds of dollars and invite them to join in a myriad of online casino promotions and special deals.

Another advantage offered by online gambling is the provision of privacy and security. Gamblers can play in the comfort and privacy of their own home from anywhere in the world. There are no annoying drunks or casino staff, you don't have to dress up or worry about where you are going to park the car. You don't have to drive interstate to play at an online casino; it is available on your desktop all the time.

Plus, online casino support has become increasingly user-friendly and helpful, enabling patrons to ask questions they may be too embarrassed to ask at a land-based casino. Online casinos offer gambling with convenience. If you are playing blackjack, or indeed any other game, you have plenty of time to consider your next move. Internet casinos offer pure gaming pleasure without distractions or unnecessary intrusions.

As you can see, there are many distinct advantages to gambling online that land casinos simply cannot match. The key to capitalizing on these advantages is increasing awareness in the community about online gambling. This may involve a different marketing and promotional approach. But by working together as an industry to implement this approach, we may be able to ensure that online gambling continues to grow as an industry, and both players and casino operators benefit simultaneously.

Why Play Online? is republished from

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Mary-Ann Dick
Mary-Ann Dick