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Avoid Feeding the House by Staying in Your House

Mar 21, 2014

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Online casinos usually offer lower houses edges than land-based establishments.

We know that casinos need to stack the deck against gamblers to make money in the long-term. The longer you play, the more likely you are to lose, even if you are a casino strategy expert. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gamble recreationally. Just be careful to choose games with the lowest possible edge, thus maximizing your chances of winning.

Another thing you should know is that online casino games usually carry smaller edges than what you’ll find in brick-and-mortar establishments. The exact same game will generally be more favorable to the player when played online, so financially-interested players are advised to look around online. This piece will tell you why, and introduce you to some great low-edge options.

Why the variance?

Simply put, competition is fiercer on the online market than the traditional casino market. Aside from gambling hub cities like Macau, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, in most regions casinos are few and far between. A gambler will generally go the nearest casino. If they don’t like the house edge offered, it is unlikely that they will get into their car and drive hours to the next one.

For this reason, casinos can get away with keeping high house edges and still keep gamblers coming in. In addition, operating a brick-and-mortar establishment is more expensive than an online casino. Operators have to build the casino itself, maintain the facilities and pay employees. They have to pull in a higher hedge in order to make ends meet and take home profit on top of it.

By contrast, the online market is much more saturated. Think about yourself logging on to an online casino. You can choose from an infinite amount of internet casinos until you find one that you like. Rather than drive around for hours looking for the right casino, all you have to do is punch in URLs.

Thus casino sites have to bend over backwards to attract gamblers. This means special user-friendly promotions like free bonuses. More importantly, it means lower house edges across the board. Online casinos can afford to do this for two reasons:

• They serve more players, so don’t need to make as much revenue off of each individual gambler
• Their overhead costs are much lower than a land-based casino, so they don’t need to bring in as much total revenue to turn a profit

The same forces are at play in the mobile casino game sector. Tech innovations make it very easy to access a variety of games via mobile devices. While the market is not yet as competitive as online, new sites are being launched each day, increasing the offerings available to players. And again, it’s relatively inexpensive to offer games via mobile. Providers don’t have to make a large amount of revenue off of each individual gambler.

Snapshot: online blackjack

In the previous piece we learned that table blackjack carries a theoretical house edge of .5 percent, which in reality comes out to 2 percent because of the unpredictability of players. Even if you are an excellent player, the only good way to tip the scale in your favor is to use a card counting system. While these take some skill and don’t always work, it is estimated that if done correctly they can reduce the house edge of 2 percent. By our math, that means you should take money from the casino over time, instead of the other way around.

But there is an easier way of doing this. Online casinos offer blackjack with smaller edges than any land-based casino. These sites are required by regulators to periodically publish their house edges, so players who do their homework can shop around for the best places to wager their money. The average margin for online blackjack is .8 percent, significantly less than that of table blackjack. Put a skilled player at an online blackjack table and they have a chance at maintaining a long-term edge over the house. And as card counting can reduce the house edge by up to 2 percent, playing online can theoretically be very lucrative.

Best places to bet online

Betfair has a promotional blackjack game called “Zero Lounge” which they claim offers completely neutral odds. That isn’t exactly true, but the game does have features making it more player-friendly than in traditional rule. Zero Lounge pays double for a suited blackjack. This leads to higher payouts and in the long-run, a lower house edge.

Blackjack aside, countless online casinos have great promotions and low edges on a variety of games. Take slots for example. Casino slot machines carry some of worst odds for players in the entire gambling industry; edges typically reach 15 percent. Some online slots favorably contrast that awful figure with edges as low as 1 to 2 percent. This comes from a combination of random number generators (RNGs) being programmed to pay out more jackpots as well as promotions offering everything from free spins to sign-up bonuses. 888Bet offers an EUR 88 “welcome package” of bonuses as well as low house edges on all games.

Bet the better bet

It’s not that land-based casino operators are greedy sleazeballs and online operators sincerely care about the well-being of gamblers. It’s simply that the market forces in the industry put online casinos in a better position to take care of their customers. Higher competition coupled with lower overhead costs means that online casinos can take lower house edges on everything from roulette to slots and still turn a hefty profit. It’s truly a win-win for players and internet gambling operators.


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