Online vs Highstreet Casinos: 2021 Edition

by Karina Chen Last Updated
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One of the growing questions among people looking to join the gambling community is ‘what is better: online casinos or highstreet casinos?’

It’s a tricky question to answer. Both have their merits and provide great entertainment to players, offer a wide range of games and tables, and boast the prospect of winning a life-changing jackpot in an instant.

During the past decade, land-based casinos and online casinos have lived together as relative equals. While highstreet casinos are more famous for the glitz and glamour associated with Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, the online community has thrived with the invention of top casino apps.

But the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns during 2020 means that mobile casinos have now become the No 1 choice for many UK gamblers. Just four years ago online casinos were still way behind land-based betting establishments for revenue generated. But between April 2019 and March 2020 – almost exactly a year before the first lockdown – it was revealed online gambling accounted for almost 40% of the market.

This has only increased since highstreet casinos were forced to close during UK lockdowns, with betting on online slot machines increasing 25% over the course of the pandemic.

So, with more people turning away from real-life casinos to try their hand at online gambling, TMC took a deep dive into the differences between the two in 2021…

Online vs Highstreet Casinos

There are some very clear similarities between online and highstreet casinos that players should be aware of. The first is the fun factor. Whether you’re sat in person at the blackjack table or entering a virtual game at home, there’s nothing more thrilling than playing against the dealer and testing your luck on the tables. What’s more, having the freedom to then leave and move over to the next spin of the roulette wheel is just as easy to do in a real-life casino as it is online.

However, there are also major differences between the two. For a start, real-life casinos provide far more table games than they do slot machines. In fact, many UK casinos won’t offer slots at all but are instead focused on games such as blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. Indeed, roulette and blackjack are the two most popular games played in UK casinos thanks to their relatively straightforward rules and the potential to win big.

Yet when it comes to online casinos slots are the king. Of the £3.2bn generated from online betting last year, the majority came from slot games. Why slots are so popular is largely down to the jackpot sizes people can win online compared to those in real-life casinos. The decision by the UK government to restrict Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) bets to £2 means you can bet much larger sums online than on the highstreet, and thus chase bigger payouts.

Slots aside, the beauty of online casinos is the sheer choice available. There are 156 highstreet casinos in the UK as of 2021 but these, naturally, are dotted across the country. It means if you live in, for example, Glasgow then your choice of casino is restricted to those in that city.

In 2021 casino gaming is all about choice and freedom to find the best UK casino for you. And so it’s no wonder players are gravitating towards online options, where the number of slots, table games and bingo cards aren’t restricted by the size of a casino hall. In fact, some online sites have an almost unlimited number of games!

Are online casinos safer?

A big question about online casinos is their safety. After all, online payments have only been around for the last 20 years or so, compared to millennia of ‘in-person’ payments. But in recent years online casinos have proved to be much safer than real-life establishments.

For a start, all online casinos must be registered with the UK Gambling Commission and adhere to the 2005 Gambling Act. License holders have a duty to uphold complaints and good online casinos will welcome the chance for auditors to check their compliance.

Crucially, many online casinos and banks have safeguards in place to highlight and prevent problem gambling. This is not something that is easily done in highstreet casinos, where players are less likely to have their spending tracked.

What’s more, details of payment methods such as debit cards and eWallets must be securely saved within online casinos and adhere to strict online data protection laws, which were amended as recently as 2018 in the Data Protection Act.

Benefits of online casinos

As we mentioned above, online casino players can be assured of their safety when playing on legitimate, licensed websites. Here are just some of the other reasons why players love to bet online…

Wider choice of games, slots and tables
Freedom to play when and where you like
Safety guarantees and problem spotting
Bet alone or with friends via chat features
Fit your gaming around your busy lifestyle
Download casino apps for ease of use

Online casinos are becoming increasingly popular among players with a busy lifestyle as websites grow safer and more lifelike. The live casino offering at most casino sites means you don’t have to waste time traveling to a highstreet casino and can instead enjoy playing games from the comfort of your own home.

2021 is expected to see an even greater increase in app-based casino betting as players turn away from the highstreet – thanks in part to coronavirus restrictions.

And like in the real world, there are some bad apples online. Being able to spot unlicensed online betting sites can often be tricky, but TMC has a list of reputable, regulated websites that use the latest casino software to adhere to Gambling Act legislation.

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