Casinos have been around for hundreds of years in the traditional sense, and public areas used for gambling have existed for millennia. Could that all be changing within the next few decades?
Everything from buying a car to getting a college degree can now be accomplished from the comfort of home. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine car dealerships or university campuses disappearing.
When it comes to gambling, however, there’s a real question to be asked about whether or not a casino is necessary. In this article, I’ll argue why I think we could see land-based casinos become a thing of the past.
1 – It’s Easier to Gamble from Home
The jury is in, and people prefer doing things from the comfort of their own spaces. Whether it’s ordering groceries, buying clothes, banking, and even doing their full-time jobs, it is true what they say: There’s no place like home.
Even the games which depend on several players interacting—such as poker—have grown significantly in the online space. Games like blackjack have been popular outside of brick and mortar casinos for some time, and that trend seems like it’s only going to continue moving forward. Not that this is an editorial, but I still don’t think that you can replace the sights, sounds, and of course, the company that you’ll find at a blackjack table at a real casino.
When it comes to other games like slots, there are endless digital alternatives to the “real thing.” In fact, there’s an argument to be made that it’s the smart thing to do to play online since the odds are generally going to be better than you’ll find in any casino.
Nobody can deny the reality that operating an online casino is much, much less expensive than keeping a brick and mortar gambling establishment running. For that reason, online casinos can offer better odds to players and capture some gamblers who would have previously jumped in the car and headed downtown to the casino.
Much can be said about personal preference. But when it comes to the matchup between online gambling and physical casinos, online platforms have the edge in both their convenience and the odds they present to players.
2 – But Some People Don’t Want to Be Home
I don’t want this to sound like people who go to casinos are trying to get away from something at home, but sometimes, they might crave another environment. If a player likes gambling more for the social interaction or considers it to be a mini “vacation,” the online alternatives are just not going to cut it.
Of course, people visit casinos in their own towns, but it’s hard to imagine a place like Atlantic City or Las Vegas being supported by the locals. Gambling is an exciting activity that goes well with a vacation. Even those who don’t gamble regularly are able to see the appeal in trying their luck at the casino located within the resort they’re staying at for the weekend.
If you’re looking at gambling strictly as a way to make money, then there’s a good argument for playing from home. If you’re looking at gambling as a way to go have fun with friends, enjoy some people watching, have a couple drinks, and mix up your usual weekend routine, you’re not going to find that online.
I know that I’ve mentioned a number of different things you can do at home that you traditionally could not in the past. But keep in mind, that there are still stores people go in to physically shop. There are still movie theaters and plenty of other examples that every “in person” experience has not been replaced.
The real question is: How much demand will there be for in-person casinos in the future? The idea that nobody would want to go to a casino if they can gamble online seems, at best, unrealistic.
3 – Casinos Can Adapt
All types of industries have had to adjust their strategies to fit with today’s online-first economy. Casinos have done this by actually taking more of their business online. Some of the biggest digital gambling platforms are owned by the very same companies that operate the big, ostentatious brick-and-mortar locations in a number of different cities worldwide.
Casinos are at a crossroads. It seems logical that those who determine what goes out on the gaming floor might be asking, “Do we really need all those blackjack tables?” Or better yet, “Would the space that those blackjack tables occupy be better used with something else in their place?”
I don’t think the demand for casinos is going away, but the way they’re currently laid out is probably not going to maximize efficiency in the future. Simply put (and yes, this is just my opinion), the gaming floor offers more games than it has players. Is it really necessary to have 25 blackjack tables or 200+ slot machines? In today’s world, probably not.
The great thing about the business model for casinos is that they’re not just in the gambling business, but they’re also in the “entertainment” business. That means events like concerts, acrobatic shows, and plenty of conventions are all held at the casino. Even if more people are gambling online for real money, it’s hard to imagine a world in which watching a live show online is going to become the public’s preference.
It’s not easy to predict the future of entertainment, but as it evolves I would be surprised if casinos don’t evolve with it. History has shown us that venues are always going to be in demand, and casinos are one of the venue types which have persisted for hundreds of years. They may look a little different in the future, but then again, they look different today than they did 100 years ago.
4 – Hybrid Models Are Showing Up Already
Casinos have not been shy about embracing new technology. More casinos offer digital gaming options than ever before. Whether you’re talking about blackjack, roulette, poker, or just about any other game you can think of, there’s a video version somewhere out there on the gaming floor.
Of course, casinos have recognized that although they may cost more up front, not having to pay a dealer or croupier to operate the games has a financial benefit. Nobody wants to take jobs away from the casino staff, but at a time where automation is dominating all types of industries, casinos are following suit.
You might be asking, “Why would I want to go to the casino to play a game I could get at home?” The answer goes back to the number one reason why I think casinos will always be around in some capacity: It’s a unique environment with its one quirks and entertainment value.
Casinos are romanticized in a number of different cultures across the globe as a place of heartbreak, opportunity, entertainment, excitement, and in some cases, complete debauchery. It’s hard to name another type of place where all of these words are completely and totally applicable.
Whether it’s legalized sports betting, video game offerings, or traditional casino favorites, people are always going to want to gamble. Just as people like to drink at bars instead of at home, so too will they want to gamble at a casino rather than at home. The future of casinos is still uncertain, but I look forward to seeing what solutions industry experts will come up with to combat the rise of at-home gambling.
Whether or not you believe physical casinos are going to go the way of the dodo bird, it’s a near-certainty that the growth of online gaming platforms is only going to increase in the near future. As gambling laws become more lax, the potential for growth is limitless.
Purists will say that you can’t beat the experience of going to the casino to gamble, but future generations may not feel the same. Only time will tell, but my prediction is that casinos will have to reinvent themselves to stay relevant.