Staying at Home or Going to the Casino?

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What’s more popular in the world of gaming?

Since the birth of the internet, countless new digital services have taken rise over the past two decades.  The impossible became a reality, and innovation soared.  Such things like being able to play games for cash and gamble from your couch, have been made much simpler and infinitely more accessible with the advent of the internet.

Yet with so much online gaming, casinos are still in business, still thriving even.  Some may have seen some slight decreases in their numbers in recent years, and that may have more to do with the economic downturn of 2008 than anything, but the question remains, what’s more popular: online casinos or physical casinos?  We will attempt to answer that question and clarify that answer in this article.

Online Gaming Around the World

Internet gaming, since its introduction in the late 1990’s, has been one of the fastest growing online industries in recent years.  So fast in fact, that it out paces legislative action.  Meaning, governments and law makers are having a tough time keeping up with the ethics and rules of online gaming, initially just slapping all online based gambling with a glaring ILLEGAL notice.  However, legislation has permitted online gambling in many countries throughout the world, and in some areas, online gaming has outgrown land based gambling.

In a statement issued by Great Britain’s Gambling Commission, recent research shows that online gambling is more popular than casino gambling.  Online gaming, including casino games, betting, and bingo, accounted for the highest earning sector in Britain’s gambling scene.  More money was generated by online gaming than gaming in a casino, more than was earned through the lottery, and more than was earned by high street betting.

Australia has some of the highest, if not the highest, rates of gambling and online gaming.  Australians spend the most amount of money gambling per person than any other country.  Online gaming has become a huge industry in Australia.  Statistics show that as much as 80% of Australian adults gamble online or visit a casino every year.  It is also evident that in recent years, online gaming has become the preferred option as opposed to gaming in an actual place.

Other countries do not demonstrate the trend of online gambling outweighing land based gambling.  That’s not to say that physical casinos are more popular or make more money, it’s more a problem with a simple lack of data.

In the United States, the 1990’s proved to be a booming couple of years for land based gambling.  At the time, Las Vegas was the fastest growing city in the world.  Indian casino gambling was the fastest growing industry.  Very powerful and important entities, such as Harvard University and the State of California’s Employee Retirement Fund, own stock in gambling companies.  The gambling industry has driven state legislation and has become heavily relied upon for income.  However, recent years have shown a downturn in the number of casino visitors, according to a 2014 Forbes report.  As a result ofthis loss of revenue, which in some states has been severe, states are turning toward online casinos for help.  Statistics for online gamers vary from state to state, but the overall consensus is that the younger people, ages 21-35, more often frequent the online casino, and the older population, ages 55 and up, prefer going to a physical casino.

Canada is one country that shows a different outcome of online gaming.  Perhaps due to some stricter legislation regarding online gaming and gambling in Canada, only about 2.5% of its population participates in online gaming (as of 2007).  Laws allow Canadian’s to participate freely in online casinos. However, in order to open a Canadian online casino requires extensive government oversight, and there are presently few operating online casinos based out of Canada as a result.

Pros and Cons of Online Gaming

Researches cannot come to an agreement on the topic of addiction.  Which is more addicting?  Online gambling or going to a casino?  Some argue that the roots of gambling addiction stem more from the social aspect of being in an actual casino or playing at a real table.  Humans instinctively crave companionship, and as such, the draw and the appeal of land based gambling is often more addicting than online gambling, according to research conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction.  From that aspect, it can be argued that one major pro of online gaming is that it’s less addicting.

Another pro of online gaming is its convenience of accessibility.  No longer do you have to plan a special trip to the casino, you can play from anywhere you have internet access… which is virtually anywhere.  There is also the added benefit of saved time not having to drive and park, as well as saving gas money.  The ease of online gaming has made it accessible to people who may have had to drive hours away in the past.

Online gaming is also as secure financially and protects the privacy of its users equal to, if not more in some cases, than land based casinos.  There are also a number of protocols in place to keep the online games fair in lieu of having an actual card dealer.  One risk you take with some of the newer online casinos, that don’t have much of a reputation built up, is the potential threat to your privacy or money actually being stolen.  While instances of this are low, joining newly established online casinos always prove a bit more risk than joining in already established ones.

Online casinos are not without their drawbacks.  Recent years in the U.S. specifically, many casinos have had to close their doors.  Now while the cause of the closures remains speculation, perhaps in part it was due to the increase in popularity of online casinos and online gaming, and maybe the slowed economy was a contributing factor.  As stated, the cause for such closures is at this time speculative.  However, with the closing of so many casinos, thousands of employees lost their jobs.  That’s full-time employment with benefits and retirement savings… gone.  And since many of the employees reportedly do not have a college education, that’s going to make it harder for them to compete in today’s highly competitive job market.  A market that’s so competitive that even the bachelor’s degree holds little weight.  The good news is, that according to a recent article published by The Washington Post, unemployment rates are thankfully decreasing in the United States, and the minimum wage is starting to increase.

One final remark about the pros and cons of online gaming is the highly social aspect.  The atmosphere of casinos and poker tables provide a comforting environment for those who love the thrill of gambling.  So without that environment and the camaraderie, some people may be less likely to participate as extensively in the online casino as the physical one.  From another person’s perspective, this aspect of online gaming may be a huge plus! They no longer have to site in the densely smoke-filled rooms alongside strangers.  They can now enjoy the game by themselves at home or elsewhere, anywhere that makes them feel more comfortable.  Also, many poker games can still be multi-player, so you are able to play with other people virtually, you just don’t have to leave your home and be among strangers to do so.

What’s Next for the Future of Gaming?

Will casinos become an ancient thing of history?  Will physical betting locations cease to exist?  What about the other gaming options, such as video games, with trends quickly shifting towards digital, will there be any game stores left?  The answers to these questions will have to wait, only time will tell us. Years, maybe even decades will go by before we can predict the fate of casinos and similar gaming industries.  People will always crave entertainment, and as long as there still even a little spare change in the bank, people will spend it.

Humans need other human interaction to feel safe and happy, and that holds true as well for the entertainment industry.  People need that release, that little getaway from the stresses and burdens of everyday life.  Gaming and gambling are some of the most popular forms of prolonged entertainment that can be engaged with friends and literally at any time (and anywhere).

The trends are definitely shifting towards online gaming, as the online gaming community will undoubtedly grow and continue to be the more popular than gambling in a casino or betting through a physical location.

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