The Pros And Cons Of Illinois Retail Casinos Vs. Online

Written By Matt Boecker on September 20, 2022 - Last Updated on November 3, 2022
Online and retail casinos in Illinois are very different gambling experiences, but they are actually complementary to each other.

If you crack open a history book, you’ll see that people gathering in a centralized location to gamble dates as far back as the stone age. But with the advent of the Internet, some people consider retail casinos to be obsolete as you can now play online casino games from the comfort of your home.

Online casinos in Illinois are not yet legal. But we expect they are coming soon to the state.

We already know that online casinos do not cannibalize retail casinos.

And is iGaming a bad thing, otherwise, for the 11 retail Illinois casinos located across the Prairie State?

Let’s take a closer look at the positives and negatives of retail vs. online casinos.

Positives of retail casinos: an exciting atmosphere

Despite those that think in-person casinos are going the way of the dinosaur, there are still a lot of things retail locations offer that online casinos can’t match.

The first is atmosphere. Going to bet in-person can be a fun way to get out and socialize with friends while wagering some cash. Many casinos have sportsbooks with walls of TVs for you to track all your bets without having to flip through the channels on your TV or constantly update your score tracking app.

Retail casinos offer live entertainment, too. For now, Hard Rock Casino Rockford only has its temporary casino open, but the permanent casino will feature a Hard Rock Live venue that will play host to live music and a variety of other entertainment options.

One other pro of retail casinos is the rewards offered to frequent guests. Brick-and-mortar casinos offer things like free nights at the casino hotel, free tickets to live entertainment events, free tickets to food buffets and various gifts if you go to the casino on a certain day.

Negatives of retail casinos: it can be an expensive outing

There are some negatives when opting to attend in-person casinos as opposed to gaming with online casinos.

The first is that guests are limited to the gaming options offered by a casino. If you want to play a particular slot machine or table game and the casino doesn’t offer it, you’re out of luck. When gaming online, you can simply make an account with a a variety of licensed gaming operator’s websites if you want to find games that are to your liking.

Another con is the price of visiting an in-person casino. If you want to make a trip to a casino and stay for a weekend, some of the costs you’ll run into include the cost to get there, the price of staying in the hotel and the price of each meal. Compound that with the amount of money you’ve budgeted to gamble with and it can be a fun but pricey weekend.

Positives of online casinos: convenience is second to none

The convenience of iGaming (online casinos) is unparalleled by retail casinos. To bet on the go, all you need is an Internet connection and be located in a state that offers legal gambling to be able to wager anywhere in that state by using a mobile device.

Betting from home, you can also avoid some inherent costs of going to a brick-and-mortar location like the price of gas money or an Uber to get there. If you’re looking to save money, online casinos are the way to go.

Mobile casinos also offer a wide variety of gaming options at the touch of a button.

The instant payout options offered by online casinos are also quite convenient. If a bet hits, those winnings will instantly be transferred to your account. No need to wait in line for a teller to transfer casino chips for cash. Or if you bet on a future sporting event and it’s a winner, no need to go back and collect your winnings at a retail location.

Negatives of online casinos: too easy to gamble, some sports options unavailable

The easy access to mobile betting can be too much of a good thing. It’s important to bet within your limits, but that can be hard when you have constant access to a variety of table games and sports to bet on just by picking up your phone and going on an Illinois sportsbook app.

You also miss out on the socialization and live entertainment options offered by retail casinos if you opt to stay home and bet online.

Another con of online betting in the Land of Lincoln is that you can’t bet on in-state colleges online. Illinois sportsbooks can’t take action on schools such as Northwestern or Northern Illinois if you bet online; you have to bet at a retail casino to wager on those schools.

Retail and online casinos are the perfect ying and yang

Bottom line, retail casinos and online casinos complement each other very well.

If you’re looking to have a relaxing night at home, you can log onto an online casino and bet from your couch. But if you feel the urge to get out and socialize, there are plenty of retail casinos in Illinois that would welcome you with open arms.

The beauty of the debate between retail casinos vs. online casinos is that you can utilize both depending on your mood.

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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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