Gambling in a casino can be an enjoyable time no matter how much experience you have gambling or how often you go.
I think that both newbies and experts alike love going to the casino for a variety of reasons, but that being said, there are plenty of reasons why people AVOID going to the casino.
Rather than talk to you about the obvious problems that drive people away from casinos—the drinking, the smoking, the lack of windows, things like that—instead I’m going to talk you to specifically about the disadvantages to gambling in a casino in terms of how it can affect your ability to play and win.
Not All Casinos Are Created Equal
This is a big problem that I don’t think many people really understand, but there can be a significant difference from one casino to the next in terms of the rules of each game and how well the machines and games payout.
Now that being said, there are certainly differences between online gambling sites when it comes to rules and payouts, but they tend to be particularly good about telling you what those rules are on each page of the site.
Here’s the difference, I think. When you walk into a physical casino, the rules are certainly available, but they can be hard to find or hard to understand in a loud, crowded room. When you’re gambling online from the comfort of your own home, it’s a completely different experience.
You have the ability to concentrate, and you’re only searching on a website (and not a crowded room) for instructions that you can read at your leisure.
Apart from this obvious difference, it’s actually the case that physical casinos can be vastly different when compared to each other.
You’ll find that casinos owned by Native American tribes, for example, don’t have to follow the rules that the surrounding states set for gambling. This means they can use rules for certain types of games that the surrounding state may have outlawed, or they can change their payouts to be worse than you’d find at another casino.
Even casinos in the same state may have different rules and payouts, and casinos in other countries certainly can operate differently than in the US. What that means for you is that your money isn’t going to go nearly as far in some casinos as in others, and you might not even know it.
Distraction is the Name of the Game
This is a much more obvious disadvantage to gambling in a casino—the distractions. When you’re lying in bed with your laptop in front of you and gambling at home, at your own pace, with nothing more than a cup of coffee nearby, your skills are probably going to be pretty sharp.
At the very least, you’re going to be paying close attention, and you probably won’t be making silly or stupid mistakes.
It’s very different when you walk into a physical casino. We all know what that experience is like, even if we’ve never been (there are plenty of movies out there that paint quite the picture).
First, you have the lighting situation. The lights are kept bright in most casinos, and there are generally no windows. This by itself can be disorienting to some people.
The goal is to keep you in the casino, but the ambiance can actually get to you and make some people feel like they’re claustrophobic.
Then you have the smoking and the drinking. These can both be huge distractions, especially drinking. If you’re drinking while gambling, after probably 1–2 drinks, you’re going to start playing worse than if you played sober.
Smoking can be a distraction whether you’re actually partaking or not. If you are smoking, you have something in your hand that’s on fire while you’re trying to concentrate, and if you’re not, you have smoke in your face and in your eyes.
If you’re not used to the smell (and really, even people who smoke know that smelling someone else’s smoke can be gross), then that can distract you and keep you from playing your best.
Next we have the sound issue and the issue of other people. Casinos are noisy and crowded. There are a ton of games (and even more people) packed into a tiny space. There’s a constant stream of winners and losers.
People are yelling and screaming and crying (depending on if they win or lose), and it’s a general mess. If you’re the type of person who gets easily distracted, you’re not going to perform well in a casino environment.
You’re More Likely to Overspend
One of the oldest tricks in the casino playbook is to replace real money with chips. When you’re playing with chips, it’s hard to look at the cash as actual cash, especially when all chips, no matter the value, have the same size.
This is done deliberately to take your mind off how much you’re actually betting. We all have an innate, visual sense of how much a pile of cash looks like. If instead of seeing a little chip in your hand you instead saw a pile of 20s that spilled over the table—$5,000—would you really bet it all on one number in roulette?
But that’s exactly what happens time and time again in physical casinos. You’ll see someone win a few bets in a row, turning $20 into a few hundred or thousand. They bet again and win, and now they have some serious change.
This is the point where they need to walk away, right? They have all this cash—why bet it?
Because psychologically, they don’t feel like they have that much cash. They don’t see the pile of bills in front of them. They don’t feel the need to stuff it into their pockets. Instead, they see a handful of little chips.
It seems like such a small thing, when you’re caught up in the excitement of winning and everyone is cheering, to toss the chip back in and let it ride.
Even going beyond the problem of the chips not being real cash, you run up against the problem of the physical layout of the casino. Because it’s maze-like, you’re going to have to walk a long way to get back to your vehicle. You have to cash in your chips along the way, and also along the way, you’re going to run across an ATM or two (or ten).
This is all psychological trickery, and it works. It works especially well in concert with some of the other tricks I mentioned above.
If you’ve been spending too much already, had a few extra drinks, maybe had an early winning streak and then lost, you might tell yourself that you’re done for the night, only to walk past that ATM and think, “Okay—one more time!”
It happens much more often than you think.
Online casinos simply don’t have this problem. Most online gambling sites make it perfectly clear how much money you have in your account, even if chips are being used in individual games. I admit that they make it easy to add more money to your account, but they’re not forcing you to walk a mile to click the close button on the browser.
Frankly, if you’re playing sober in the comfort of your own home and you can’t control yourself from putting more money into your online account, that’s not psychological trickery—that’s a problem you might need help for.
For the vast majority of people, playing until the money is gone and then stopping until you have more money in the entertainment account is perfectly reasonable and doable.
You’re Paying for an Experience
I think most people forget that the casino is an experience. You’re not just paying at the tables—you’re paying for entertainment.
That means you’re probably going to pay for some drinks. You’re probably going to pay for some food. You’re going to be tipping the dealers. You might be spending the night there. If you’re drinking, you’re either sleeping there or paying for a ride home.
All of this costs money.
For a lot of people, the casino isn’t the end of the night. They might go to their favorite bar after hours to wind down.
It’s very often the case that people turn a visit to a casino into one long Friday–Sunday extravaganza.
Even if you’re a professional, you still have to deal with the fact that these extra costs exist and are going to cut into your earnings.
When you’re gambling online, you simply don’t run into these problems—no overpriced drinks, no tips, no nothing. You can pay for your own drinks (at a greatly reduced cost) and play as late as you want without having to pay for a taxi ride or an Uber.
There are tons of great reasons to gamble in a casino. But there are plenty of reasons to avoid land-based venues and gamble online instead.
What are some of your reasons? Anything I left out? Let me know in the comments.
And if you decide that online gambling is the better option for you, be sure to check out the best online casinos that we recommend.