It is estimated that approximately 10 million Americans gamble in online casinos on a regular basis. And this number is increasing every single year. In short, Americans love online casinos. But what is it about the virtual slot or the video-based live blackjack and roulette table games that capture the imagination?
There are obvious reasons that come to mind. Convenience is an easy one; you can gamble online in your pyjamas from home or on your smartphone during your daily commute. Then there’s the sheer quantity of games, with hundreds being available from a wide selection of providers. Land-based casinos offer a few dozen options at most. But there’s more to it than that. Americans love online casinos for reasons that go beyond the easy answers.
Until just a few years ago, online casinos were unavailable to most Americans. After the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, however, individual states have been able to pass laws to regulate (and thus allow) online gambling. This has made it possible for millions of Americans to finally place legal bets online.
The result? A sudden rush to their nearest (virtual) casino. The pent-up demand for placing a wager had been long-standing, with gambling being incredibly popular in the United States. There’s a reason why Las Vegas and its casinos have such a strong presence in American popular culture.
At the time of writing, there are four states where online casinos can legally operate: Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, the restrictions are still greater than those in Europe; in their guide on gambling in the US, CasinoTopsOnline writes about it and offers a more comprehensive run-through of existing laws.
Higher (and Transparent) Payouts
Slots are fun, sure. But ultimately, you want to win some money along the way. When it comes to winning, the RTP percentage is key. This stands for Return To Player, in other words, the average % that the casino returns to each individual player.
It’s essentially the house edge. However, contrary to card games or roulette, the RTP can’t be worked out from the game alone. The software that slots use implement what’s known as an RNG (Random Number Generator), which corresponds to the individual symbols that players hit on the slots. Providers can alter this figure, within pre-programmed limits, depending on the needs of the client.
When it comes to online casinos, the RTP is transparent. You can Google the RTP easily, and it’s often available directly from the software developers behind the slots. NetEnt, for example, has a catalogue for all of its games. You can clearly see that Mega Joker, a very popular online slot, has an RTP of 99%. The house edge, therefore, is a relatively low 1%. This number is fixed no matter which online casino you use.
But what about land-based casinos? The answers are a little murkier. Casinos don’t usually publish the RTP for a given game, and promotional material in casinos themselves are not transparent. Employees will usually not be able to answer if asked for the RTP, because it’s not something they are usually trained to know.
Higher (and More Frequent) Jackpots
And then there’s the progressive jackpot. It’s called progressive because the amount you can win builds up as more people play the game. Considering millions of people can be playing an individual game at the same time, that number can build up pretty quickly.
There are many games online that offer millions of dollars in jackpots. In Aberdeen, Scotland, a lucky gambler won a staggering £6.3 million in his very first time using an online casino. Others have won huge jackpots placing small bets, something that just doesn’t happen in land-based equivalents.
Online Casinos Will Only Get Better
In many ways, the online casino experience is still in its infancy. Games have only recently penetrated the smartphone market, and live casinos are only just maturing. Considering the growing popularity of online options, especially in light of Covid-19, we expect the market share of land-based brick and mortar casinos to steadily drop in the coming years.