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The great luxury casino debate: Who does it better – online or off?

By LLM Reporters on 29th March 2021

For centuries, casinos have been associated with opulence and luxury, and there’s nothing quite like getting dressed up for an evening at the roulette table and watching the world’s highest-rollers play and win big.

Many of the earliest European gaming houses, such as the Casino di Venezia in Italy, were located in grand stone buildings that wouldn’t look out of place in the grounds of royal palaces and even today, casinos in Europe, Asia, and North America continue to work hard to build venues that are attractive and ooze luxury. These physical casinos, it seems, offer an allure that their online counterparts simply can’t – at least, they couldn’t until recently.

Movies like the James Bond franchise  helped to cement the association between luxury and casino games throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In countless films, 007 is seen in a tuxedo, looking suave, and playing craps, baccarat, or poker, and it’s an image that has since become synonymous with the glamour and sophistication we know casinos for.

Today though, you don’t actually need to wear a bow tie or a cocktail dress to visit a casino. For starters, most have relatively relaxed dress codes when compared with times gone by – and provided you’re not wearing sportswear or sandals, and cover most of yourself, you’ll likely be allowed in. But that’s not the only reason you no longer need to get dressed up to the nines to play, and with the surge in high-tech online casinos over recent years, many are now just as happy to play from the comfort of their own home.

It’s a trend that has been further accelerated by the current pandemic, with people required to stay at home and find new ways to stay entertained. The online casino industry, it seems, has come out of the situation far better than most, and some might even say that business is booming – so what does this mean for the lavish bricks-and-mortar casinos we know and love once things return to normal?

The allure of UK luxury casinos

Close up view of Roulette and piles of gambling chips on a green table in casino. Man hand over casino chips on roulette table

The answer to this question remains to be seen, and with social distancing restrictions set to remain in place in some form or another for some months yet, we might have to continue playing online a little longer, whether by choice, or otherwise.

Even so, the allure of some of the world’s finest luxury real-life casinos – and in particular, those in the UK – remains as strong as ever, and for some, even more so having gone an extended period of time without their fix.

The Hippodrome Casino, which is housed in the historic Hippodrome building in the West End, London, is a shining example of why we might not be ready to say goodbye to physical casinos just yet. 

Inside, the opulent decor draws on the Hippodrome’s history which saw it operate as a circus, theatre and nightclub throughout the 20th century.  Loyal customers can take advantage of its Hippodrome Rewards programme, which lets you earn points whenever you spend money on games, food, or drink, with multiple tiers that each offer bigger discounts and more ‘comps’ than the last. For example, customers holding the Platinum Card receive free nights in certain US hotels, free parking in London, and a £250 contribution towards a birthday party at the Hippodrome. Black Card members, meanwhile,  get the same –  plus two free beauty treatments a year and a dedicated customer relations manager at the casino. 

Although most UK luxury casinos can be found in London, this isn’t to say that the capital has a monopoly on them, and there are plenty of high-end hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues found in northern cities such as Manchester, too. The Manchester 235 Casino, for example, has an exclusive VIP area where customers get a personal service designed to make them feel very special indeed, which includes perks such as a private bar and free parking in the city centre. 

The rise of luxury online casinos

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Online casinos have done a great job at recreating much of the experience players get at a bricks-and-mortar venue in cyberspace, making it possible for customers to enjoy all of the same great games but with the added convenience of being able to choose when and where to play.

This is especially appealing to the cash-rich, time-poor individuals that tend to make up the majority of casino ‘whales’,  as they can play their favourite games on their own terms and in their own time – and is one of the biggest reasons online luxury casinos have won themselves a legion of elite fans.

Like physical casinos, online operators have also succeeded in creating VIP features to offer their loyal customers in a bid to upgrade their overall experience and ultimately, keep them coming back for more. Rewards and loyalty programmes, exclusive games and personalised service all come as standard, with some also offering faster processing times for withdrawals by letting these special customers skip wait times and enjoy them priority. 

The best VIP experiences come from live games, which work by having a human dealer control the gameplay instead of a computer, just like in a land-based casino. Players watch a video feed of the dealer and the cards and/or table and place their bets by pressing buttons on their screen, making for a simple yet thoroughly engaging way to play.

Members of the exclusive clubs created by online casinos are invited to enter giveaways and prize draws for the latest gadgets, weekend getaways and designer goods. There are also VIP-only events like annual Christmas parties and special trips to cities like Miami and Paris

888casino is a leading brand for VIPs thanks to its exclusive Elite Lounge live games like Opal Blackjack and Ruby Roulette, with live dealers guaranteed to make you feel appreciated and valued as a high roller. These top games are controlled by the company’s best dealers, who are highly trained to provide a more personalised service. The VIP Casino Club, meanwhile, organises all-expenses-paid trips and parties for loyal customers, making it one of the best live casino in the UK for high rollers.

The winning hand

It’s clear that when it comes to rewarding loyal customers, online luxury casinos are giving land-based casinos a run for their money – but why exactly do high-rollers get showered with gifts from both? The simple answer is that the casino industry is incredibly competitive, meaning players have a lot of choice. Of course, market leaders have a strong advantage in this area, but they can’t rest on their laurels. 

They need to continue to push the boundaries to offer their most loyal players an experience that they’ll struggle to find with another casino, and the way to do this is by offering a personal service and perks that the customer will truly value. Ultimately, such benefits are designed to keep high-rolling customers coming back for more – and both online and bricks-and-mortar casinos do a great job.

So, when it comes to the great casino debate, who does the overall experience better? The answer comes down to personal preference. But while there is no denying that traditional casinos hold all the cards when it comes to creating an opulent atmosphere for a night to remember, online casinos know exactly how to hold their own. Thanks to the added convenience of being able to play from anywhere, any time, we can expect to see their popularity continue to surge – but we’re still not prepared to wave goodbye to our real-life favourites just yet.

Please gamble responsibly (18+ UK) – check age restrictions before participating