NZ Land-Based Casinos - Brick and Mortar vs Online

Matt Bastock

Updated by

Matt Bastock


Lee James Gwilliam

Fact Checked by

Lee James Gwilliam

Senior Vice-President

Last Updated on 20th September 2023, 01:28 PM


While you can't overlook the convenience and thrill of gambling at New Zealand online casinos, nothing truly compares to the experience of playing at a land-based casino. The lights, the luxury, the atmosphere, the social element – there’s something about brick-and-mortar gambling that simply cannot be recreated online. So, to determine where you should play and explore the unique benefits of land-based casinos, keep reading this in-depth guide.

What Are Land-Based Casinos?

Also known as brick-and-mortar casinos, land-based casinos are physical casino premises. The term is used to differentiate between casino venues and their online counterparts. These gambling locations will hold a license to provide slot machines and table games like roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, craps, and Sic Bo. 

The first gambling house was located in Italy. Constructed in the 1630s, the Ridotto offered controlled gaming during the carnival season. Since then, the popularity of land-based casinos has spread worldwide, with tons of countries now boasting their own brick-and-mortar gaming establishments. 

Do the likes of Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City ring a bell? These locations have emerged as some of the world’s leading land-based casino markets. However, with thousands of retail casinos globally, you can find renowned gambling venues in New Zealand, Italy, Malta, Macau, Germany, Singapore, the US, and more. Local casinos in New Zealand are not that numerous. In fact, there are just six of them – one in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Hamilton, and two in Queenstown. SkyCity's Auckland Casino has more than 2,000 pokie machines, so if you're looking for a place where you can enjoy the best game variety, it's the location to visit.

Land-based casinos have come a long way since their early days. Now, alongside thrilling slot machines and gambling games, most venues offer other amenities to attract prospective players. These include hotels, bars, restaurants, entertainment, and even sportsbooks. 

Difference Between Playing Online vs. In-Person

While land-based casinos were the original home for classic slot machines and table games, they have since skyrocketed in popularity online. But which casino format is best when playing for real money? Sure, both provide plenty of advantages, but are real money online casinos all they’re cracked up to be, or will the land-based gambling format remain the best? Let’s examine how both measure up:

Land-Based Real Money CasinosOnline Real Money Casinos
Nothing truly beats the social element that land-based casinos have – you can interact with other players and dealers while placing your bets.To put it simply, gambling online is far more convenient than gambling at retail locations. You don’t need to wait for a seat at a table, and games are available 24/7.
Land-based casinos also come with other amenities, like bars, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.You get a bigger selection of casino game genres online, including games you won’t find in land-based casinos, like live dealer options, online bingo, and progressive jackpots.
By withdrawing at the casino cage, you get instant cash outs when playing at brick-and-mortar casinos. Online, you’re looking at lengthy processing speeds.Online casinos also boast a wider game selection than their land-based counterparts – you’ll often find thousands of options online!
You’ll rarely find any glitching or slow-loading games when gambling in real life.By utilizing the latest technology, online casino games often feature better-quality graphics.By utilizing the latest technology, online casino games often feature better-quality graphics.
Physically spinning the reels of slots and pressing buttons to bet is much more entertaining than clicking your mouse or tapping your mobile.You get the advantage of casino deposit bonuses and promotions when gambling online.
Playing table games like roulette, blackjack, and poker is also much more immersive at land-based casinos.Online casinos may also feature VIP programs, where you can collect points and prizes with every wager you place.
 Finally, online casinos provide a wide range of popular and secure payment methods, from traditional debit and credit cards to modern e-wallets and prepaid options.

Pros and Cons of Land-Based Casinos

Sure, gambling at land-based casinos in NZ comes with tons of advantages. However, there are still negatives you should consider. Here are some pros and cons of land-based casinos to bear in mind:

Land-Based Casino Pros:

  • Social Atmosphere: Although there are many advantages to visiting land-based casinos, the social element is the most prevalent. If you’re feeling lonely and prefer being in the company of others, physical casinos provide instant and accessible socialization. Better still – you’ll have a common interest to discuss in the games on offer. This makes it far easier to strike up a conversation and make friends with fellow players.
  • Other Amenities: Land-based casinos offer the whole package. Aside from slots and table games, you’ll find restaurants, bars, live music venues, and luxurious hotels at arm’s length. You can spin the reels while enjoying delicious food and drink.
  • Immersive Environment: There’s no denying that land-based casino games are a little more exciting in the flesh. Handling real cash and chatting with real punters can make for a more exhilarating gambling experience.
  • Best for Table Games: The social atmosphere makes brick-and-mortar casinos the best place for table games like roulette, blackjack, poker, and craps. While an online casino with live dealers recreates a fraction of this experience, it can never truly replicate the atmosphere and excitement of a real casino table.
  • Instant Withdrawals: Another key feature of land-based casinos is instant withdrawals. No need to keep your eye on your bank balance to ensure any online casino withdrawals have hit your account – your cash will be counted and then handed to you right after your win.

Land-Based Casino Cons:

  • Travel Time: Traveling to your favourite land-based casino takes time, whether in your city, a few towns over, or even in a different country. When playing online, you can get up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • Travel Costs: You’ll need to factor in travel costs when playing at your preferred casino venue. Whether it be a dollar or two in gas or plane tickets, that’s still cash you could have put toward your online casino deposit.
  • Waiting for Tables: While playing free casino games and real money online casino games are available 24/7, you’ll have to wait for a seat/space to free up at brick-and-mortar locations. You might be frustrated by any waits or time restraints on tables, so in-person entertainment can be bittersweet.
  • Lower RTPs: Most of the time, land-based casino games like slots have a lower RTP percentage. This is because casinos must pay rent on every machine, so venues will often lower the RTP to cover some of the cost. Although, if you’re in-it-to-win-it on table games, this is probably an irrelevant ‘con’ to you anyway!

What Makes a Good Casino?

When it comes to land-based casinos in New Zealand or elsewhere, a few elements set them apart from their online counterparts. The most obvious is that you can see and touch the games and casino equipment. This hands-on experience is one of the reasons why land-based casinos continue to be popular with players all over the world. 

  • Location: While you’ll usually find that bigger casinos are city-central with multiple public transport links, a great online casino should be easily accessible.
  • Design: While you want a land-based casino to be appealing, you also need it to be functional. Is your retail venue clean? Does it have an efficient layout? Is there room to walk around?
  • Games: You’ll want to find a decent variety of pokie machines, table games, and more at land-based casinos. Retail gambling establishments that offer both quantity and quality should be at the top of your list.
  • Customer Service: Ideally, there will be friendly, professional, and helpful staff on hand to assist with anything from gameplay to cashouts.
  • Events: A casino should provide the opportunity to enjoy special events, tournaments, and other exclusive rewards as part of its membership. Since best live casinos frequently treat players to lucrative promotions, land-based casino perks are great for attracting visitors.
  • Amenities: The likes of bars, restaurants, hotels, live entertainment, and even cash machines add to the land-based casino experience and separate a good land-based casino from a great one.

Tips When Playing at Land-Based Casinos

Land-based casino gambling is much different from playing games online at a casino online using the best online casino apps. With so much to discover, from immersive slot machines to inviting table games, knowing where to start can be challenging. That’s why our experts have compiled a list of top tips to help you make the most of your brick-and-mortar casino experience: 

play responsibly

Gamble responsibly

Firstly, you should always gamble responsibly, no matter if you spin the reels or try your hand at casino games online or in person. We understand that it’s easy to get carried away with the adrenaline rush that land-based casinos can cause. Yet, by controlling your gambling habits, you can help your bankroll last a little longer. Check out our top responsible gambling tips below:

  • Only ever gamble with disposable income you can afford to lose.
  • Consider any cash lost as the cost of entertainment and any money won as a bonus.
  • Set a cash limit and stick to it. Only take a certain amount of money with you to the casino and stop playing once you make a win or it runs out.
  • Set a time limit and stick to it.
  • Never borrow cash to gamble.
  • Never chase losses.
  • Don’t use gambling to cope with life.
  • Seek professional help if gambling becomes a prominent part of your day.

Follow casino etiquette

Land-based casinos can be confusing places for first-time visitors. Full of bright lights, noise, and plenty of players who seem to know exactly what they’re doing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Before you head to your local casino, here are some tips for adhering to land-based casino rules:

  • Understand game rules before taking a seat. Although casino staff is usually happy to talk you through rules before a game begins, you don’t want to put other players’ noses out of joint by causing delays by asking questions during a tense tournament.
  • Don’t get very drunk. This one seems straightforward, but with the amenities and bars often available at land-based casinos, you don’t want to get carried away. Staying sensible will also allow you to make smarter bets.
  • In some casinos, you may be expected to tip the dealer. Be aware of this before the game begins so you’re not caught short at the end of the game!
casino games

Find the best game for you

Traditional table games are top-rated at land-based casinos for their social aspect and popularity but don’t be afraid to explore your options. With plenty of gambling games to try, you’ll never find a dull moment when gambling in person. Let’s take a closer look at your options:

  • Slots: Why not play pokies for real money? Whether you go for the traditional 3-reel fruit machine variety or the updated and impressive video slots available now, spin your chances into potential slot success. Often with significant jackpots, you could land some big wins.
  • Roulette: This exciting table game comprises a wheel with an outer dial divided into red/black alternated slots. Once the dealer spins the roulette wheel, a ball falls randomly on a pocket when the wheel stops spinning, which will determine your payout. Whether you play it safe with outside bets or risk your bankroll on inside bets is up to you, but you’ll have plenty of different betting options to pick from.
  • Blackjack: Your main aim in blackjack is to beat the dealer. To do that, you’ll need to collect cards and build a hand with a higher value than the dealers, all without going over 21. While this classic blackjack casino game is easy to learn, its complex bets make it popular with experienced players.
  • Baccarat: This casino staple features a low house edge and speedy gameplay, making for an exciting land-based gambling game. Regular baccarat games use six to eight decks of cards, and you’ll need to wager on whether the “Player” or the “Dealer’s” hand will have a total closest to 9.
  • Poker: Poker has become one of the most popular land-based casino games, and tables are available at most brick-and-mortar venues. In its basic form, poker is a card game in which you’ll need to build the best hand from the cards you have and community cards on the table. Logo is a new project from Group.

Meet The Author

4 Years
Matt Bastock
Matt Bastock
Editor Editor

Matt Bastock is a Content SEO at He has years of experience researching, writing and editing articles about sports and gaming, including the world of online casinos and sports betting. Matt enjoys playing many casino table games, especially poker and blackjack. He also loves watching professional sports, particularly English and European football, as well as US football, rugby and cricket.

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