How Local Land-based Casinos Are Adapting to the Online Surge


For decades, gleaming casino complexes have dotted American landscapes, especially in gambling meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The city of Las Vegas featuring many poker rooms was once just a deserted land. Then someone imagined what it could turn into, and after the booming 1950s it took just a few decades before it turned into one of the most iconic entertainment & casino attraction you could find anywhere in the world.  Brick-and-mortar establishments offered people the glittering chance to try their luck at slots, cards, roulette wheels, and more.

However, the rapid rise of online gambling in recent years has disrupted the casino industry. Land-based gaming venues are being challenged to keep pace with digital upstarts that provide player convenience, flexibility, and even bigger progressive jackpots.

Are Online Casino Rising in Popularity?

Research shows over 100 million people play casino games online around the world today. According to Polar Market Search, the online gambling market was valued at $75.41 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow with a projected CAGR of 12.0%. This surge is fueled by the increasing allure of internet-based betting, encompassing sports, casinos, and more. The convenience of gambling from home and the rise of the ‘freemium’ model are key drivers propelling this industry forward.

In short, the popularity is definitely rising – the expansion of internet access and mobile technology has fueled massive growth for real money casino sites. Leading sites like BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetRivers and more allow registering, depositing & withdrawing, and gambling from laptops or mobile apps. These popular real money casinos draw users with advantages like:

Hundreds of slots and table games from top developersLucrative welcome bonuses and ongoing promotionsPlayer rewards programsHefty progressive prizesLive dealer table game streams


For many players, the convenience of playing anytime, anywhere trumps a night out at their local casino complex. States are also passing legislation to license and regulate online casinos, bringing them out of grey market status into legitimacy. As internet gambling keeps achieving record revenue numbers, land-based gaming venues face real pressure to retain customers.

Adapting Loyalty Programs

One area where regional casinos are fighting back against online competition is improving their loyalty programs (the equivalent of rakeback scheme in online poker). Operators like MGM are optimizing systems to integrate rewards across all their brick-and-mortar and digital platforms. This enables regular players to earn status, comps, and perks whether they play on casino floors, websites, or mobile apps. For many poker players this is an essential factor when they’re choosing where to play.

Unified programs also allow analyzing customer data in one dashboard to better understand preferences and habits. This informs personalized promotions to incentivize both online and land-based spend. For players, the convenience and recognition of status at all touchpoints increases the appeal of loyalty membership. Multi-channel programs also drive additional revenue as casinos motivate online gamblers into retail locations and vice versa.

Integrated resort casinos are well-positioned to capture and benefit tourists looking for complete entertainment getaways. Packaging gaming with hotels, restaurants, spas, retail, and events creates an immersive experience difficult for online operators to replicate digitally.

Expanding Payment Options

One major factor behind internet casinos’ momentum is facilitating deposits and cash outs for players. Top sites enable seamless funding using credit/debit cards, e-wallets like PayPal, direct bank transfers, and more. Requests generate withdrawals in times measured in hours instead of weeks.

Land-based casinos now seek to match this funding flexibility by augmenting traditional cash transactions. Payment technology lets customers use card or mobile payments on slot machines and tables, bypassing cashier windows and ATMs. Sportsbooks integrate similar digital features for handling buy-ins and payouts.

These implementations widen customer payment choices while quickening transaction times compared to cash handling. Some operators also now allow online account funding transfers directly to gaming machine credit meters. Ideally, meeting user expectations for seamless payments established by internet casinos will help regional gaming venues better compete.

Improving the Retail Experience

Even with adapting loyalty schemes and easing payments, brick-and-mortar establishments still face the limitations of operating in confined physical spaces. You can run any number of slots at an online casino, and jumping to a new one happens in seconds with a few clicks. When you go to a local casino, you might need to walk a long distance before reaching your favourite slot game.

Only so many gaming positions can occupy any gaming floor. Yet, regional casinos hold opportunities to enhance retail guest experiences using available venue spaces.

Casino resorts are building new lounges adjacent to gaming areas tailored specifically to sports bettors. These sportsbooks feature plush seating, individual betting kiosks, and panoramic video walls streaming games and odds – truly a luxurious setting for enjoying the thrill! Operators also leverage expanded in-play wagering fueled by online advances to furnish exciting atmospheres where fans cheer plays together.

Similarly, some properties are converting former dining outlets into “stadium” slot machine spaces. Banks of popular games like Wheel of Fortune surround central bars with lounge seating. Attendants take drink orders like cocktails tableside while players enjoy games without losing their seat. The environment feels more relaxed and social than tightly packed traditional slot floors. These improvements aim to make visiting retail gaming more appealing than solitary online play.

There is social aspect to gambling as well, which is somewhat hard to replicate in the online environment. You don’t get to know the player next you at the online blackjack table even if you play together for a few hours. Some online operators have tried to overcome this through a common player chat, but it doesn’t really replace real interaction that can occur in a live casino setting. Good for the brick-and-mortar operators!

Ongoing Innovation Imperative

The impacts of internet gambling represent an existential crisis for land-based casinos unwilling to evolve with consumer preferences. Bricks-and-mortar will likely never regain market shares ceded to digital operators. However, venues striving to integrate loyal programs, easy payments, and unique social atmospheres stand to thrive as omni-channel gaming destinations.

The real winners are customers embracing both online convenience and in-person hospitality. Savvy casinos will continue innovating to satisfy gamblers whether they roll the dice on screens or green felt. Multi-channel casino integration has only just begun.

Author: Dennis Williams