It’s now over 25 years since the first casino games appeared on the internet. There is, in fact, some dispute over who created the first real online casino game, as is often the case in the Wild West days of the web, but most agree that it was Microgaming that programmed the first ‘true’ real-money casino game in the mid-90s.
Of course, those nascent days of the world wide web also gave us the first examples of digital disruption. Most people are aware of the concept – a traditional industry being disrupted (and replaced) by a digital rule-breaker. Digital disruption is the reason we talk about Netflix today and can’t go to a Blockbuster video store.
But when it came to the casino industry, the disruption didn’t really occur. Now, online casinos are hugely popular worldwide, but they haven’t been seen as a threat to the existence of physical casinos. In fact, the two sectors of the industry seemed to co-exist peacefully over the last quarter of a century. If anything, they tended to complement each other.
However, could that be about to change? There are some who believe that the time has come where the old guard of casino resorts will finally be replaced. Yes, revellers might still go to Las Vegas for an EDM festival or to catch a Raiders game. But the gaming tables are not the main goal. Below we want to set out four reasons that online casinos will eventually succeed in replacing land-based casino resorts:
1. Limitless Options
If you were to head to Vegas or Atlantic City to play some blackjack, you might find a couple of casinos offering different variations of the game. If you were to log on to play blackjack online at a top casino, the options are vast. You can play all the traditional variants, but also games like Blackjack Surrender, Progressive Jackpot Blackjack, Double Attack Blackjack, Spanish 21– whatever you like. And, you are no longer limited to virtual games as online casinos now have live casino games as standard. The choice is tremendous, and it’s getting better with time.
A couple of years ago, Forbes published an article about the decline of blackjack in Las Vegas. It talked about the things that drove players away from the game, including lower payouts for blackjack (in some places, odds being cut from 3/2 to 6/5) and rule tweaks to the house’s advantage. Casino bosses will point to tight margins and overheads for salaries, taxes, and so on. That problem doesn’t exist online. And, it’s not just blackjack either. If you research the payback amounts for typical physical slots machines versus online ones, you will see how the low overheads make for potentially better player returns.
Over the last decade, the thing that worried casino bosses the most was millennials. An age group that did not embrace casino games like the previous generation. We don’t need to explain that millennials are more comfortable in a virtual world than previous generations, but there are also different types of games offered by online casinos that you would not find in physical casinos. A recent report published by EGR found that millennials are the biggest spenders on online gambling of any generation.
4. Changing Regulation
One of the biggest seismic shocks to the gambling world in recent years was the historic 2018 Supreme Court Decision on sports betting. This allowed states to make up their own rules on sports betting (and online casinos). New laws have also been created in countries like Germany and India. The point is that it makes legal gambling more readily available than ever before, and it takes away the ‘special’ status of the casino resort. Someone who lived in Illinois before 2019 (when the state passed a wave of new laws) might have gone to Vegas to gamble, but now they can do it online.
For some, a trip to the casino will always be seen as a special occasion. It’s for that reason that resorts are still popular in spite of having a better choice (and odds, in some cases) online. However, many believe that the dam could burst sooner rather than later with casinos being digitally disrupted. Will they cease to exist? Probably not entirely. But they might have to adapt to new challenges thrown up by a digital rival.