With the introduction of the World Wide Web back in the early 1990s, sportsbooks found a way to offer their services remotely.
Early online sportsbooks presented no threat to land-based bookies, as not everybody had the internet or a basic understanding of how betting over the web works.
Today, however, the roles are much different. Online sports betting sites are popping up left and right while land-based bookie shops are slowly but surely dying out.
Nevertheless, punters still have both options available. So, if you only played online thus far or you just visited physical sportsbooks and want to know what other options are available, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will talk about the differences between online and offline betting and try to determine which one is better.
First, we are going to take a look at online betting, by far the more dominant of the two today.
Online sportsbooks allow you to place wagers over the internet using your computer or mobile device. The first online bookmakers started appearing in the mid to late 90s, but it wasn’t until the last decade and a half that they truly became popular all over the world.
For many reasons, people see online betting as the future and think that land-based betting shops will soon be a thing of the past. However, online sportsbooks are not as perfect as they seem, and there are still some things in which they lag behind traditional bookies.
Without further ado, here are the main pros and cons in regards to online betting.
The most obvious advantage that online bookies have over their land-based counterparts is that they allow punters to place wagers from home or from wherever they feel like.
Online betting allows you to place wagers on sporting events without ever getting up from your sofa. All it takes is to make an online account, deposit some cash, and start creating your betting slip — a process that lasts only a couple of minutes.
With the introduction of mobile betting sites and apps, things became even more convenient. Players can now place bets on the go, which is useful in situations where you are away from home or don't have the time to visit a local betting shop.
While it is possible to bet live while in a land-based bookie shop, it’s not very convenient. You will sometimes have to wait in line, and it only takes a few seconds for the circumstances to change, meaning that the odds for your initial bet could change drastically. Moreover, some physical sportsbooks don’t feature live betting at all.
In-play betting in online sportsbooks requires no waiting in queues or having to rely on a cashier to type out your betting slip as quickly as possible. The bets are processed automatically, and all it takes is a click (or a tap).
Another massive advantage of online betting comes in the form of bonuses and promotions. This is something that is entirely left out from land-based betting shops.
Namely, all top online betting operators offer a welcome bonus to first-time players, either in the form of a cash bonus or free bets. Moreover, some online bookies also have rewards for regular customers and offer unique benefits like cashbacks.
Using these bonuses is basically like playing for free, as you will have a certain amount of bonus credits gifted to you. The money you receive in the form of a bonus is not withdrawable right away, and you will need to wager with it a predetermined number of times before you’re allowed to request a withdrawal.
Unfortunately, you can’t cash out your winnings right away when betting online. Instead, you will have to send a withdrawal request that usually gets processed within 24 hours.
However, the waiting will not be over yet. If you request a withdrawal through a credit card, you will wait a few business days more before the money reaches your card. The same thing goes for direct bank transfers and cheques.
The faster withdrawal methods are e-wallets and cryptocurrencies, but even with them, you still need to go through that withdrawal request pending period.
Another unfortunate thing is that some online bookies impose service charges on withdrawals, which is something that you won’t have to worry about when betting offline.
Most online betting sites are safe, but it only takes one mistake for you to end up on an illegitimate online sportsbook and put your personal and financial data at risk.
This is not to say that there are no scammy land-based bookies as well, but they are much easier to notice.
Land-based betting shops have existed for centuries, but it seems that for the first time, they are starting to lose ground.
With the betting industry becoming more dependent on the internet, land-based bookmakers are losing customers, and many of them are forced to close down.
Nevertheless, offline betting is still somewhat popular, as it offers a few things that online betting sites haven’t been able to match thus far.
With that said, here are the main advantages and disadvantages of offline betting.
The social aspect offered by physical betting can not be underestimated. For some, betting is only exciting if they go to the local betting shop with a few friends to watch a game and lay down a few wagers.
Modern land-based sportsbooks are filled with HD television screens where you can watch numerous games at the same time, while also keeping track of results and changes in the odds.
Some online bookies do compensate for this by offering live streams, but it can be said with certainty that their offline competitors have the upper hand here.
Unlike online betting where you need to wait days to withdraw your winnings, land-based bookmakers allow you to cash out right after your bets are completed.
When a given match is finished, the results will be automatically put into the bookmaker’s database system, and you will be allowed to cash out your betting slip.
Land-based bookies try their best to make physical betting as quick as possible, but they simply can’t match the efficiency of their online competitors.
If you place your bets hours before the match, then it makes no difference where you do it. But, on the other hand, if you haven’t made your bets on time and can’t reach the nearest bookie shop before the match begins, you will have to use an online sportsbook.
While in-play betting does exist in physical form, it’s tediously slow and simply not worth it.
If you like loud smoke-filled rooms where people scream and spit at the TV because of a last-second goal that ruined their chances of winning, then you won’t consider this to be much of a disadvantage.
However, most people like creating and following up on their betting slips in peace, sitting at home and watching the game on TV while simultaneously exploring different in-play betting markets on their smartphone.
We already mentioned bonuses when discussing the advantages of online betting, but the absence of bonuses in land-based bookie shops is something that perhaps deserves to be mentioned twice.
The money you pay with at the cashier in a physical sportsbook is the only money you can wager with. There are no free bets, cash bonuses, or any other promotions that you can take advantage of, which is another reason so many players are switching from traditional sportsbooks to online ones.
Which is better — online or offline betting?
Overall, many punters would agree that online betting is better due to its convenience, ability to bet on the move and use different kinds of bonuses. However, it all depends on the sort of person you are. If you prefer a good atmosphere, immediate cashouts, and watching the games with your friends, visiting a land-based betting shop might be the better option.
Which is safer — online or offline betting?
There are common misconceptions among punters that online or offline betting are unsafe. Those who prefer physical betting will say that online sportsbooks are a scam, while those who like betting online will say the same thing for land-based bookies. The truth is that, while you can run into scam online betting sites or land-based bookie shops, most of them are legit.
If you couldn’t figure out whether to bet online or offline, we hope that this article gave you enough information to make an informed decision.
Online betting is currently winning this battle, and it’s easy to see why. On the other hand, there are still some things in which online sportsbooks can’t compete with physical bookmakers.