The online casino market continues its growing popularity among the UK public.
The most recent statistics from the Gambling Commission (PDF) show that the online gambling Gross Gaming Yield (essentially, how much gambling companies receive in revenue, minus what they pay in prizes) increased by a massive £229.3m (4.3%) in 2019.
Most of this growth came at the expense of the land-based model, as gamblers increasingly prefer the convenience of playing at home, rather than going out to a casino.
Playing casino online clearly is now the favoured choice of consumers in 2020, but gambling on the web also allows casinos to get away with some tricks that they couldn’t so easily exploit in a physical casino. These tricks boost their profitability and aren’t well known, even amongst the gambling community.
Here are 3 things online casinos would rather you not to know about their internet-based business model.
Certain slots pay out different amounts per provider
Slot veterans all know about the fabled Return-to-player (RTP) ratio. This value shows what percentage the slot returns to players per 10,000 spins – and it varies from slot to slot. Until recently the RTP was not set by the casino itself, but instead by the developer of the slot, and casinos had to like it or lump it. For example, Gonzo’s Quest Megaways by NetEnt is designed with a standard RTP value of 95.77%.
However, some slots are now built with a variable math model, where the casino itself can lower the standard RTP. This means that the customer receives less expected returns while playing the game at that particular casino. Now to be fair, UK licencing rules mean that every casino must state the RTP of each slot – just like in land-based slot machines. But this info tends to be hidden away on an intro slide, and very few players check it, allowing casinos to take advantage of lower RTP’s than the developer originally intended.
VIP programs are largely designed to claw your winnings back
Online casinos make a big song and dance about their VIP programs. Many of them offer bonus schemes involving trips to Ascot, Monaco and Lapland, as well as iPhones, iPads and Rolex watches, in exchange for the customer increasing his or her gambling volume at the casino. The use of the word VIP means most customer associate the schemes with the world of celebrities and multi-millionaires. And while it is true that many of the rich and famous do play at online casinos, the lion’s share of customers enrolled in VIP programs are ordinary punters who struck it rich on a slot such as a jackpot. The casinos know that the longer these customers keep on playing, the greater the odds of them giving all those winnings back to the house. Casinos’ biggest fear is a customer winning big on a slot or live casino game, and then walking away into the sunset with the money, and these schemes are designed to stop that. Incentives like VIP programs aren’t there to reward winning customers, but to ensure that they keep on playing long enough for the house edge to catch up with them.
Welcome bonus offers aren’t always as profitable as they look
Lastly, we need to talk about welcome bonuses. These offers are not available in land-based casinos and are one the main reasons why online casinos have exploded in popularity in recent years. A typical bonus would see the customer deposit £100 and then be given another £100 to play with by the casino. It sounds great, but once you dig into the terms and conditions you will quickly find something called Wagering Requirements. These mean that before you can withdraw funds won by playing with the welcome money, you must have bet this sum 40 or even 60 times over. Given that all casino games have RTP’s which favour the casino, this means that by the time you have played the number of spins required, you can expect to have given most of these bonus funds back. Of course, you might get lucky and win big during these wagering requirements. But overall, these welcome offers aren’t that big of a gift from the casino, and if you keep on playing once the deposit period is over, casinos can expect to yield big profits at your expense.
Playing at online casinos is a lot of fun and give the chance for customers to win some serious money. But the casino’s profits are built by the losing customers, not the winning ones, and the 3 tricks outlined above go a long way to boosting those profits. You can play at online casinos and have fun doing so, but the knowledge above will put you in a better position to coming out ahead of the game.