A study by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recently reported that per person gambling in Vegas was down by $16 on average in 2010 over 2009, with gamblers wagering lower amounts on slots, craps, and blackjack. The amount of time spent gambling per person in casinos also dropped in 2010 over 2009, from 3.2 hours per day to less than 3 hours per day.
While part of this may be due to other attractions that Las Vegas now promotes, including sightseeing and shopping, many experts attribute the drop in per person gambling to the prevalence of online casinos. Even tourists love online casinos because of the convenience, bonuses, and frequent online promotions.
In most US online casinos, slots are the most popular game, and this is the case around the world. But other games experience surges in popularity. For example, craps is experiencing newfound popularity, particularly in UK web casinos. Considered one of the “classic” casino games, craps can nonetheless prove intimidating for the newcomer in a live casino. But web casinos offer the thrill without the intimidation factor, and many of them offer bonuses.
The same is true of many casino games. As another example, many people are a bit intimidated by the game of baccarat, because of its association with high rollers and the fact that in many land casinos it takes place in rooms closed off from the rest of the casino. But in reality, few games are any easier to play than baccarat, and the outcome is solely based on chance. Playing the game online allows people to try it out, and they don’t have to be high rollers to do so. Once they try it they find that it’s easy, and that house edges are quite low with baccarat.
Online wagering can be credited with boosting the popularity of old and new games, including games played live, like the many variations of poker. And particularly in Europe, web casinos are consistently gaining in legitimacy and popularity, becoming more profitable with each year. In fact, some of the larger web casino operators are starting to hammer out sponsorship deals with European sports teams, a sure sign that the industry has “arrived.”
But there is little chance that web-based gambling will stamp out live gambling at USA casinos or elsewhere. Particularly in cities like Las Vegas, with its many tourist attractions, live gambling is sure to remain popular. In fact, live gambling stands to gain from its online incarnation, as more people around the world discover games that they love.
Casinos online have thrived as economic conditions curtail vacations and last-minute weekend getaways, because they allow people to enjoy their favorite games at their convenience, without the expenses of travel and lodging. Chances are it will continue to go from strength to strength even as economic conditions improve and discretionary income levels rise.
It is hard to beat as an experience that allows the thrill of the game and the possibility of winning money at any time of day or night. And as online gaming moves to handheld mobile devices, the tie that holds online gamers to their home internet connection will continue to loosen.
By John Trodey
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