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Online Gambling vs. Live Gambling: Which is Better?

Which is better, online gambling or live gambling?

Do you even have a preference?

If not now, you certainly might by the time you’re done with this page. Because over the next 5-10 minutes we’re going to share all of the pros and cons we could think of based on our experiences gambling both on and offline.

By the time you’re done you should have a pretty good idea which option is best for you. We’ll even tell you our thoughts on the whole this vs. that argument.

You might be surprised at what we’ve got to say about it.

Live Gambling Pros & Cons

Let’s start with the live gambling pros and cons. Below you’ll find – in no particular order – a staggered list of pros and cons based on our experiences traveling to Las Vegas – sometimes for as long as 1 week at a time.

Here we go…

Pro

It’s tough to beat the experience of going to a place like Las Vegas. They do everything big, fancy or expensive here. Between the buildings, the food, the shows, casinos and attractions, just walking through Vegas – not gambling at all – is an experience all its own.

Con

Going out of town is expensive. You have to pay for travel, car rental, hotel, food and entertainment. Not to mention everything is far more expensive on The Strip. You can easily spend $3,000 to $4,000 for a week there, not including your gambling budget.

Pro

You can do more offline. You can see shows. You can try different restaurants. You can stay in fancy hotels. You can do things outside of a casino, such as go on a helicopter tour or . None of this is possible online.

Con

Gambling costs more offline. This depends on what you’re playing, of course. But take table games – most table games online will set you back $1 per round/hand. Offline, you’ll spend a minimum of $3 to $5 per round/hand. This adds up fast, and can quickly consume a modest budget.

Pro

Many casinos will give you free drinks when you gamble. So long as you’re sitting at a table, or in front of a slot machine – even if you’re not playing – they’ll usually offer to grab you a (free) drink. This is far cheaper than paying for them at the casino at $3-$10 per drink.

Con

You may have to walk a lot. Sure, you can take a taxi, but this is UBER EXPENSIVE. And if you’re drinking and having a good time, you shouldn’t drive yourself. Not only for safety reasons, but because there are TONS of cops floating around.

Anyway, walking is pretty standard. But there’s at least a couple blocks between each casino, because of how big they are between their casino, hotel and shops. It’s not difficult to walk 30-50 miles in one week. Not everyone will enjoy the exercise.

Pro Tip:

There are trams that run along one entire side of the strip. It only costs a few bucks for an all day pass. You start at the MGM and ride it all the way down to the Stratosphere. And from the MGM you can cross The Strip to New York, New York, for when you’re ready to tackle that side of the road.

Pro

You can drink cocktails outside of casinos – down the strip, in and out of stores, and so on. It’s a nice touch of freedom most people don’t have at home.

Con

There’s a good chance that, if you win a large sum of money, you’ll have to pay taxes on it. At least in the United States.

Pro

You can find casinos all over the world. Some are very small Indian casinos, on the beach or reservation. Others, like Las Vegas, are in cities where gambling is the core reason why people visit (and where the city and/or state make the bulk of their revenue).

Con

There’s a lot of salesman in Las Vegas. Random people try to sell you water or mixed tapes on the street. Inside employees are trying to sell you tickets to a show. Outside at night you have smut peddlers trying to get you to go to a strip club.

Pro

You can smoke just about anywhere in the casino (except for designated non-smoking areas). This is something many people can’t do back home because of newer state laws banning smoking in buildings.

Con

If you’re not a smoker, best case scenario you’ll come home smelling like an ashtray and only have a mild case of 2nd hand smoke. Worst case scenario – and I’m speaking from experience – all the smoke will bother your sinuses and you’ll pretty much have a head cold your entire trip there.

Pro

Every casino you will ever go to will be licensed and heavily regulated. If you win money, you will be paid. Period.

Con

Some of the more popular slot machines, such as The Wizard of Oz or Monopoly, often have people playing them all day. So, you might not be able to play the machines you want, or have to wait patiently for people to leave and then RUN over to the machine before someone else takes it.

Online Gambling Pros & Cons

So now let’s look at some of the pros and cons to gambling online. Remember, this is all from personal experience.

Pro

Online gambling is portable. All you need is an internet connection and a compatible device, which, nowadays, means just about any computer, laptop and Android or Apple smartphone and tablet. You can gamble from literally anywhere you can access the internet.

Con

The industry is still largely unregulated, especially when it comes to gambling sites targeting US players. That means there’s a lot of risk – the games might not be fair, you can have your information stolen, you might not get paid your winnings, and so on. Basically, things that would NEVER happen in a brick and mortar casino COULD happen online.

Pro

Online gambling IS regulated in many parts of the world. For example, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. The US is slowly getting there, too – though it’ll be years – maybe even decades – before we see online gambling regulated in (almost) all 50 states.

Con

The US is taking a long time to regulate online gambling. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a state make it legal, much less any state launch a new casino or poker room. This is crazy to think about considering most states offer an online lottery, keno and bingo games. Which more or less makes them look like hypocrites.

Pro

It’s far cheaper to gamble online. You can make a deposit of as little as $10 or $20. Then you can play $1 table games, .01/line per spin slots, .05 per hand video poker, and so on. You can also play $.01/$.02 poker hands, $.05 poker tournaments and make $1 sports bets.

Con

It’s easier to be cheated when you play games like poker. Poker sites have algorithms and other things in place to catch cheaters. But it’s still tough to spot colluders or multi-accounters.

Pro

Sports betting is limited offline. Online sports betting, while unregulated and in many cases unlawful, is 100% possible. There’s at least a half dozen sportsbooks that accept bets from US customers. So, you can make a bet on your favorite basketball or football team without having to make a Vegas trip.

Con

No exercises. You’re sitting at the computer playing an adult version of a video game.

Pro

Fantasy sports is still exclusively played online. AND it’s legal in most, if not all US states.

Con

There’s not much socializing. You’re not surrounded by people like you would be if you gambled offline.

Pro

You don’t have to socialize with people if you don’t want to.

Con

You can’t count cards online. It’s not possible at the software-based games, and it’s forbidden at every casino I can think of that offers live dealer games.

Pro

You can play most games for free. This is great if you’ve never played a game before or want to practice strategy. It’s also great if you enjoy playing slots or blackjack, but don’t feel the need to gamble for real money (while acknowledging that you won’t win any money either).

Pro

It’s fast and easy to change casinos. You can even have multiple casinos open if the programs tolerate it. If you’ve ever walked from one Las Vegas casino to the next, you know how much of a time saver this can be.

Pro

It’s much easier to develop skills at certain games, such as blackjack, poker, baccarat, video poker, and so on. You have access to an abundance of knowledge between communities, websites, blogs, forums, books, coaches and videos. You also have access to various tools – think calculators, heads-up displays, data mining tools, and more.

Pro

The software online is excellent. You can take notes on players, have access to calculators, play several (poker) tables at once, and more.

Pro

It’s far easier to become a pro or to make a decent (side) income online between sports betting, blackjack, poker and other skill games. In addition to the lower costs, you have access to tools and help. You can get to pro status faster too, only taking months or years, as opposed to years or even decades offline.

Pro

Online gambling sites offer promotions and perks you simply won’t get offline. For example, deposit bonuses and cash back, all the while you still get offline promos like progressive jackpots and tournaments. These offers aren’t entirely free (there is a catch), but it’s still money you’d not get gambling offline.

Pro

Rumor has it you don’t have to pay taxes on your online winnings since online casinos – except for those in regulated states – don’t report winnings or losses.

Pro

With (maybe) the exception of live dealer games, you NEVER have to wait for a slot machine or seat to be free. You can play any game you want, whenever you want.

Which One is Best for You?

So, with the pros and cons to both live and online gambling laid out, let’s summarize the type of person each one is best suited for.

Live gambling is for you if…

  • You’re extroverted – you like to socialize with others.
  • You want to do more than just gamble. You want to see shows, eat out and do touristy stuff. You want to have a vacation.
  • You have a large enough budget to both travel and gamble live. We live in WA state and usually figure $1,500 to $3,000 for our Las Vegas trip. This includes airfare, food, shows, car rental and eating out for 2 adults. This DOESN’T include hotel costs, though, and our gambling doesn’t usually exceed 10% of our overall budget.
  • You don’t mind the additional walking, crowds, waiting for games, etc.

Online gambling is for you if….

  • You’re introverted. You prefer your company over being around other people.
  • You’re on a smaller budget. You only have a couple hundred dollars or whatever, and don’t want to spend any of it on anything not related to gambling.
  • You have no desire to travel or deal with any of the costs or inconveniences that come with it.
  • You want to gamble for free (while, again, knowing you won’t win anything).
  • You don’t want to wait in line for games/machines.
  • You want a large variety of games without having to make the trek from one casino to the next.
  • You’re not interested in non-gambling entertainment.

Here’s Another Suggestion

Here’s something else to think about….

Why not do both? Why not gamble offline AND online?

If it’s a money thing, you can save all your money to gamble offline. Take one or two trips a year – or whatever you can manage. The closer you stay to home (unless you call Nevada home), the cheaper your trip is likely to be, which means the more trips you can take.

And as far as gambling online, you can play for free. That’s the cheapest way to do both.

If you can swing both in terms of money and time, but maybe money will be tight, places like Las Vegas always have deals going between airfare, hotels, shows and food. Especially if you go during offseason, like late fall and during the winter months.

Pro Tip:

For a lot of people, the ‘winter’ months in Las Vegas will feel like spring or summer if you’re used to rain, wind, sleet and snow, like we are in the Pacific Northwest.

The point is, it doesn’t have to be a one or the other situation, if you don’t want it to be. You can have the best of both worlds.

Of course, if you’re a technophobe or hate people or traveling, then perhaps the list of pros and cons above make it absolutely clear which of the two is best for you.

And the good news is, because of how accessible the internet is and how easy it is to find deals, to travel or do things online, you truly do have the option of choosing the gambling medium that suits you (and your family) most. You can do what you most enjoy.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?