The online casino industry has grown rapidly over the course of the last ten years. While at the end of the 20th century there were only several dozen online casinos available to gamblers, over the last ten years their numbers have grown exponentially and today gamblers have a choice of over a thousand online casinos.
Land-based casinos, especially in the US, have always promoted themselves as fun-filled places where men, and later on also women, can gamble and have a good time and if they gamble enough their hotel rooms will be comped by the casino to encourage high rollers to come and wager at their establishment.
In Las Vegas, Nevada the casinos have realized, soon after their establishment that if they want to attract the men to gamble they need to provide entertainment to women. Free drinks were offered to the ladies waiting for their husbands or lovers who were at the tables playing.
When slot machines were introduced the game mainly drew bored women who had nothing better to do in the casino. The casino owners have quickly identified an additional source of income and started heavily promoting the game to women.
During the late 20th century Las Vegas got revamped from a mobsters-run town and turned more corporate. Huge casinos were built and offered non-gambling related entertainment to attract vacationing families and also started hosting large conventions which turned Las Vegas to the convention capital of the US.
Tourism flourished, but profits from gambling have slowly started declining and places like Macau have started competing with Las Vegas as the city whose profits most from gambling.
The introduction of online casinos in the late 90’s have served as another blow to places such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Monte Carlo. Suddenly people were given the option of gambling from the comfort of their own homes with a click of a button.
However in those years not everybody had a personal computer and those who did had to surf the internet using dial-up connections which were slow and patchy. This proved to be a problem and in retrospect we can see that these two factors caused a delay in the burst of online casinos.
Over the course of a few short years more and more people have gained access to personal computers, as mass production of personal computer have caused prices to decline, this corresponded with vast improvements in internet connections and the increase of internet surfing speed.
At this point it became much easier for the average Joe to own a computer and surf the net at a reasonable speed. Once this was possible online casinos could not be stopped. It became easier and quicker to download and install casino software, and later on with the development of Flash technology many casinos could offer players to play their favorite casino games directly from their web browsers without the need to download any heavy software on to their computers.
The rapid growth in the gaming industry of software providers and gambling brands has created a welcomed competition between the companies and have forced online casino to take a different approach from land-based casinos to marketing and promotion.
Online casinos were not able to offer their patrons free drinks and hotel rooms therefore they had to come up with other means of promotion in order to attract gamblers. This signaled the birth of online casino bonuses and merchandize promotions.
Online casino have started competing with land-based casinos and other online casinos by offering free cash bonuses to new players joining them. They have also developed players’ rewards programs that awarded top players with expensive branded merchandize.
Land casinos still hold an appeal with many as great holiday resorts to have fun as a couple or a family and still attract a lot of gamblers, especially high rollers. While a lot of smaller gamblers opt to stay at home and play online as they do not need to travel to any city or country that has land casinos, nor do they need to spend large sums of money in order to enjoy a few hours at the tables.
Both land casinos and online casinos have their own unique appeal to various players and as such would both still be with us in the years to come.
By Gil Galperin
An expert in online casino industry, running numerous online casino sites and consulting online gaming companies.