How Real Money Online Casinos Compare to Land-Based Casinos

Casino Slot Machine, Woman Sitting Using Laptop
At the risk of creating a false dichotomy, I’m going to analyze the pros and cons of gambling real money at online casinos as compared to traditional, land-based casinos in this post.

But let me get one thing out of the way from the start—you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Most of the gamblers I know play at online casinos AND in land-based casinos. Each type of casino has its uses, and this post delves into those uses in detail. Read more about the pros and cons of online casinos in comparison to land-based casinos below.

Learning How to Play Real Money Casino Games

The biggest advantage online casinos have over land-based casinos is their use as a learning tool.

All online casinos offer free, play-money versions of their casino games. These are useful to help you learn how to play a casino game BEFORE risking any money on it. You just can’t do that at a traditional casino.

Online casinos offer free games are used as a marketing tool to encourage players to sign up for a real money account at the casino. They’re also there to give the online casino gambler something to do when their bankroll has been lost and they’re waiting for payday to roll back around.

These free versions of the casino games have the same odds and payouts as the real money versions. The casino just gives you play money chips to wager with. These play money chips have no actual monetary value.

They’re just a way to keep score while you’re enjoying the free games. Most casino games are easy to learn. In fact, that’s a requirement at most casinos. They won’t even offer a game if it’s too difficult for a player to learn the rules.

But different gamblers have different learning styles. For example, I’m a big fan of Let It Ride, but one of my closest friends isn’t.

I’ve been playing poker since I was a little boy, so I have a good grasp of how poker hand rankings work. Learning Let It Ride was easy for me. I just sat down at my local casino and started playing.

My friend, on the other hand, never understood what was going on at the table. On top of that, he couldn’t decide what to do at any point in the game.

There was nothing particularly difficult about the game. He just lacked some of the basic understanding behind it and needed some extra time to learn how to play.

I found him a knockoff version of the game at an online casino called “Let ‘em Ride.” After an hour or two, he understood the game well enough that he couldn’t wait to get back to the casino and try again.

You can’t learn to play casino games for free in a land-based casino, even though most of them do offer free classes.

But those classes only last for a few minutes, and when they end, you have to risk real money to play. You might get a hand or two or a free bet or two, but you can’t get a feel for the game without risking money at a land-based casino.

The Comfort of Your Own Home

You can play at an online casino from home using your desktop or laptop computer. At most modern online casinos, you can even play using your mobile phone.

If you know someone who isn’t comfortable walking around a casino or being in one, they can still enjoy the occasional game of real money blackjack on the computer or on their smartphone.

Laptop Displaying Poker Cards, Cat and Coffee on Desk

Other people might have other reasons for gambling online instead of at a land-based casino. Some people suffer may from crippling anxiety or agoraphobia.

Or maybe they just hate having to get dressed up and leave the house. Maybe the nearest casino is over an hour away.

Either way, being able to gamble from the comfort of your own home is an undeniable advantage that online casinos have over traditional casinos.

The Loneliness of the Online Casino Gambler

One person’s advantage is another person’s disadvantage. If you enjoy the socializing that goes along with gambling in a casino, you’ll probably find online casinos lacking.

But there are some exceptions. If you enjoy the social aspect of casino gambling, you should definitely consider online poker and live dealer casinos.

At any site offering online poker for real money, you can play with other poker players from around the world. Socializing and chatting with these other players is easy and, for many, it’s a big part of the fun.

Bingo is another gambling game where the chat on the internet is a big draw.

Live dealer casinos are casinos which have real table games available with real dealers. The action happens via webcam.

And you’re not the only casino gambler playing with these dealers. At many (if not most) of these live dealer casinos, you can chat with the other gamblers while you play.

For many, this emulates enough of the casino gambling experience that they don’t feel the need to ever set foot in a traditional casino again. For others, there’s nothing that compares to actually interacting with live people and other gamblers in real life.

My best advice? Try both and see what scratches your particular itch better.

Dealing With Offshore Companies

The biggest drawback to playing at online casinos, especially if you’re from the United States, is the necessity of dealing with offshore companies.

If you live in one of the few states with legalized, regulated internet casino gambling, you don’t have to worry about this.

But if you live in the other 47 states, you must find an online casino willing to accept your wagers. And because of the gray area of the legality of online casinos, these companies are both located outside of the country and sometimes less than trustworthy.

This isn’t to say that all offshore casinos are dishonest. They’re not. It’s just that some people might prefer to do business with a company in their own country. After all, if you have an issue with a company headquartered in Antigua and Barbuda, you might have a tougher time taking them to small claims court.

Laptop on Table Displaying Craps Game

You don’t have to stress out much over whether such companies deal a fair game. For the most part, offshore online casinos have no incentive to actually cheat. After all, these games are designed to have a mathematical edge over the player regardless of what the players do.

In that respect, offshore casinos have no more incentive to “cheat” than land-based casinos.

What players occasionally seem to run into, though, are online casinos which don’t pay out winnings at all or don’t pay out winnings in a timely manner.

If you’re dealing with a land-based casino, you just trade in your chips for cash. With an online casino, you have to worry about stuff like deposit and withdrawal methods.

The best idea for most casino gamblers is to find an informational site they trust like this one and sign up at a highly-recommended online casino.

If they’ve done their job correctly (as this site has), they’ll have vetted their casino recommendations with research into reputations and actual experiences playing at the casino in question.


That covers—in broad strokes, anyway—the perks of playing at an online casino as compared to playing at a traditional, land-based casino.

After thinking about the differences, have you made a decision about playing at one over the other?