There’s been a great deal of discussion about online gambling recently with legislators, operators and the global community of gamblers trying to fathom complex matters such as Internet “locality”. In the midst of these deliberations, many players have been wanting to assess the relative merits of gambling online or at land-based casinos.
Through all of this there has been a lack of focus on the experience of the person who actually plays money at a casino. How about the gamblers who are central to any issues concerning casinos? We pose the sensible opening question – which are better, online or land-based slot machines?
Land-based slots are the world’s most popular casino game. They pay more winnings to gamblers than all of the other casino games together. But how well does this cherished form of land-based gambling adapt to online play? The vast majority of slots enthusiasts believe it has made the transition splendidly. The online versions of slots have become the most-played form of online casino games, owing in part to the ease of finding slots on the Internet (they’re also easy enough to find and play at land-based casinos) and in part to the fact that the game play is so simple.
Slot machines at land-based casinos have been controlled by computers for many years, so it’s relatively easy to adapt the game to play online. Some players are puzzled when you tell them a land-based slot machine is no more than a computer in a fancy case, but this is exactly what it is. These slots are driven by a microprocessor with a built-in random number generator. They work just like the online versions because the operating software is hard-coded in the microprocessor.
This means there is not much of a difference between the way the game works and how the odds compute for online or land-based slot machines. But there are some differences.
The most obvious difference, the one that will forever separate the two forms, is that you can’t physically put your hands on an online slot. Similarly, land-based machines have much bigger and more spectacular light and sound displays, although the graphics on the virtual slots are sophisticated enough these days to emulate reality pretty well.
There are numerous less evident advantages of playing online slots. For a start, you choose the time, place and the most comfortable seat in the house. You can play with your own refrigerator, DVD music system and other personal comforts close to hand. This is one of the great appeals of online casinos – you can visit them and experience all of their excitement without stepping outside your own home! And you can interrupt play whenever you like without worrying that some other gambler is going to annex your place at the machine.
Possibly the most telling difference between playing slots at an online compared with a land-based casino is the nature of the comps you receive. At a land-based establishment, the keen slots player may receive a coupon or some similar small comp as a reward for slaving away at a machine for several hours. It’s quite different online because the competition among casinos is so intense.
With the Internet it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, every online casino would love to lure your custom. As a result you can get a comp simply for deciding to play at a given casino regardless of how much you’ve gambled there. The sign-up bonus is a common online attraction. It gives you a substantial value in real credits at the casino and you can exploit this bonus to swell your bankroll, spend more time playing the slots and experience more opportunities to be a winner.
Many slots players find it genuinely gratifying to receive a comp in advance rather than after having to earn it by achieving a certain level of play. If you add the comps to the other advantages of online slots, it should be easy to see which version best meets the needs of the players.