What Could the Success of Online Casinos Mean for the Physical Casino Market?

According to historical records, the very first casino was likely founded in Venice in 1638. Initially called the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, this casino would connect already popular gaming culture into one central hub. With an upmarket environment and convenience unlike any that gamblers had seen before, it’s little surprise that this casino would set a precedent for centuries to come. Today, casinos play an important part in the economy of many countries, with a total value of over 200 billion USD. Yet despite the massive momentum these physical casinos employ, they’re no longer the only name in the game as online play becomes an alternative.

In their modern incarnations, online casinos are almost unrecognizable when compared to their ancestors of just a few decades ago. The best online slot casinos in the UK, for example, have hundreds of titles like Starburst, Raging Bison, Gold Shot, and Fruit Lines. These aren’t just reflections of physical machines; rather, they leverage software to allow systems and bonus features that entirely mechanical systems can’t emulate. Going above and beyond with additions like table games, live casinos, and more, the selection and convenience of online systems can’t be matched by traditional avenues.

Arriving around 1996, the first online casinos were limited by modern standards. Reflecting on the early online technology of the time, the improved convenience and novelty of online casinos led them to quickly become some of the biggest businesses of the early online age. Surviving the dot-com crash of the era, these online casinos would go on to grow, building more and more as average home computing technology improved.

Today, online casinos are valued at around $67 billion, a feat achieved mere decades after their inception. Though these online casinos leveraged the popularity of existing casino systems to reach this point, there’s no denying that such rapid expansion indicates a significant industry shift. This shift has left the market wondering, could the rise of online casinos hurt more traditional options, and what relationship could the two arms of the market have going forward?


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Cooperation vs Competition

With these truths, it might seem like online casinos will naturally usurp the popularity of physical ones, but the relationship here isn’t quite as simple or zero-sum as it might seem. There are parts of brick-and-mortar casinos that can’t quite make the jump to the online realm, and this is likely to always be the case. The biggest illustration of this idea comes from the whole concept of getting dressed up and going out. Spending time in a nice casino with friends is an experience that online systems can’t match, and never will.

Similarly, the convenience of online casinos is not something that physical casinos will ever approach. Easy access, great selection, and no dress code in online systems all combine to give advantages only possible through digital infrastructure, no matter how far brick and mortar casinos develop.

For these reasons, it’s unrealistic to expect that online casinos could ever completely take over, or that online casinos will fade out of popularity over time. In the new market, casinos need both systems to appeal to everyone, and this effect can be more incidentally cooperative than competitive. When a player tries out an online casino for convenience, for example, they might be much more likely to try a physical casino next time they’re nearby. Likewise, somebody who becomes a fan of physical casinos while out on a trip can be more likely to then try an online experience later.

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Image Source: Flickr

This does leave some questions, however, over whether there will ever be more direct integration between physical and online casino systems. Account sharing, gamification systems, and streamlined access could all see major advantages over combining both sides of the industry. Yet, despite this promise, there aren’t any real major efforts to combine the biggest online casinos with their offline cousins.

Ultimately, it might be too early to tell if this idea is viable or not, especially given the legal complexities of both online and offline casino operations. Still, the idea illustrates what could be a natural relationship between the physical and digital casinos in a way that could benefit both players and producers. As for when concepts like these might be implemented, we’d guess the first trials, if they ever come, could be closer to 2030 than 2020.