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Instant Play vs Download Casinos

S. Stoynova (editor)

The advancements in technology have affected almost every aspect of our lives, with online gambling being one of the fields to undergo significant improvements over the past few years. New online casinos are constantly emerging as a result of this technological progress, making it possible for players to conveniently gamble from any device they choose, be it desktop or mobile.

Two main modes of access are available to online casino players. Some gambling operators offer desktop casino clients that players can download and install on desktop computers and laptops running on compatible operating systems. This downloadable format is gradually giving way to instant-play mode, which offers greater convenience and more flexibility as it allows players to access their favorite gambling sites directly in their browsers. Instant-play casinos are also commonly optimized for direct browser play on smartphones and tablets based on Android and iOS.

The question arises which format is better, instant play or download? We attempt to answer it in the following article by drawing a comparison between these two types of online casinos and hopefully, you will be able to make an informed decision by the time you finish reading this. We walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each format and provide information about the most popular software platforms instant play and download casinos run on. We finish off with listings of the top 3 downloadable and instant-play casinos that cater to players with rich gaming collections, swift withdrawals, generous promotions, and responsive customer support.

What are Instant-Play Casinos

omni slots jackpotInstant-play casinos, or web-based casinos as they are also known, enjoy an overwhelming popularity among online players largely because they spare them from going through the hassles of dealing with bulky software clients. This results in greater convenience and freedom since players can access their favorite casino lobbies from the browser of any desktop or mobile device without worrying about compatibility issues or limited hard drive storage. Succinctly put, there is no need to waste storage space on your desktop computer or laptop when you gamble at an instant-play casino.

Since the installation of additional software is unnecessary, instant-play casinos provide gamblers with greater flexibility since all the features of their favorite gambling sites are conveniently available right at their fingertips, from banking and live chat support to promotions and games. What is more, avid casino fans are not confined to using a single device when accessing their preferred casinos since they can easily log into their accounts with their existing credentials from any desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. What further increases the appeal of instant-play casinos is their ease of use. With that in mind, it is also worth mentioning a stable and speedy internet connection is required for the games to run smoothly without any interruptions.

Earlier instant-play casinos required installing an up-to-date version of the Adobe Flash plug-in which was officially discontinued at the end of 2020 due to its security flaws. Software developers and gambling operators now rely on the more advanced HTML5 technology which comes with multiple benefits, including shorter page loading times and cross-compatibility with all devices and modern browsers.

Speaking of which, instant-play casinos are accessible via a mind-blowing range of mobile and desktop browsers. Players can load them in Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Firefox, to mention a few available options. The only requirement is to consistently update your browser of choice to its most current version as otherwise, you risk running into issues like slow loading times, lagging, and game crashes. One last thing players should check prior to joining an instant-play casino is whether they have JavaScript installed on their browsers as the HTML5 canvas often requires Java to run certain games.

What are Download Casinos

Online Slots GraphicDownload casinos are definitely older than their instant-play cousins as they date back to the very dawn of the online gambling industry. The first online casinos launched in the mid-1990s and were all accessible via downloadable desktop clients.  They were hugely popular at a time when internet speed was desperately slow and most people relied on dial-up connections. Downloadable casinos were preferred back then since they offered considerably faster loading times and better graphics compared to browser-based games.

Gambling operators that offer this option commonly run on software provided by a single supplier, usually either Microgaming or RealTime Gaming. Players interested in trying this mode of access will perhaps be delighted to hear that the download and installation process are relatively quick and hassle-free. Most desktop casino clients require approximately one to five minutes to download, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

You must launch the executable file once the download is complete and follow the prompts to install it on a compatible desktop computer or laptop. The software will then ask you to register an account so that you can access all functionalities of the casino lobby. Keep in mind that your initial download will give you access only to a limited range of games. However, you can download additional games in the background after you sign up and start playing. The software client will also give you access to the casino’s cashier system, the built-in chat facility for customer support, and all promotions currently on offer.

Desktop casino clients are gradually becoming obsolete as modern online casinos prefer to partner with multiple software suppliers rather than offering games from a single vendor as was common back in the day. Additionally, the greater flexibility associated with the HTML5 technology instant-play casinos rely on renders them a more appealing option for an increasing number of players. Compatibility is another important aspect that should be factored in. Your device must meet certain system requirements for you to install a downloadable computer and enjoy seamless gaming sessions.

Also, the desktop clients of Microgaming and RealTime Gaming are designed to run on Windows-based computers since their installation wizards use the .exe file format. However, this is hardly a setback for Mac users as they have the option to conveniently play in the no-download versions of their favorite online casinos. Last but not least, some online casinos develop native mobile applications for iOS and Android that function similarly to desktop casino clients, the chief difference being the former are intended for installation on modern tablets and smartphones.

Instant-play and Download Casinos Compared

video slots casino softwareBoth instant-play and download casinos have pros and cons that should be taken into account before you decide which option suits you the most.

One of the strongest points of instant-play casinos is that they provide gamblers with greater flexibility by enabling them to place real-money bets from any desktop device, smartphone, or tablet. In other words, you will not be restricted to wagering only on a specific device if you decide in favor of the instant-play format. Things are slightly different when it comes to download casinos simply because players are compelled to use the desktop device they have downloaded the casino client on. They must download and install the client repeatedly on multiple devices provided they use more than one desktop computer.

Another thing that distinguishes instant-play from downloadable casinos is their internet speed requirements. If you are struggling with a slow internet connection, chances are you will not enjoy your gaming experience at an instant-play casino. Your gaming sessions are likely to be spoiled by screen freezes, high ping, and the lags that come with it. Download casinos have a decided advantage in this respect as they are not as demanding where internet speed is concerned. This makes them more suitable for players with subpar and unstable internet connections, who will enjoy improved graphics, better sound effects, and considerably smoother gameplay.

As for the number of games, downloadable casinos usually provide a more limited choice of titles supplied by a single software provider that has developed both the desktop client and the games that run on it. By contrast, modern instant-play casinos rely on game aggregators that enable them to plug in titles from multiple software suppliers. Said aggregators allow gambling operators to bring together thousands of enticing games and software studios together, making them all accessible via a single website.

Last but not least, download casinos require some memory space which definitely renders them unsuitable for players struggling with limited hard drive storage. Microgaming’s desktop client, for example, requires no less than 20 GB of hard disk space for optimal performance.

Instant-play Casinos Software Providers

As instant-play casinos are gaining more and more popularity among online players, gaming studios are going all out in order to deliver avid casino fans with outstanding gaming solutions. Most software suppliers have embraced the HTML5 technology that enables them to deliver instant-play games, but NetEnt, Playtech, and Pragmatic Play are largely considered leaders in this field.


Screenshot of NetEnt

NetEnt is one of the software providers with the longest experience in the iGaming industry as the company was established back in 1996. Being one of the most renowned providers of gaming solutions, NetEnt is responsible for the gaming selections of some of the most reputable casino operators. Currently, the provider is collaborating with more than 200 gaming websites and delivers over 200 exhilarating titles that will draw your attention right from the bat. The gaming selection of the provider covers various popular genres, including video poker and classic table games, although slots reign supreme in the studio’s portfolio. The company used to provide live dealer solutions but discontinued them after it was acquired by Evolution Gaming in 2020.

Key Instant-Play Games from NetEnt to Check Out:

*Gonzo’s Quest
*Mega Fortune (with progressive jackpot)


Screenshot of Playtech

Playtech is another well-known software developer that is highly recognized for the quality of its instant-play releases. The provider has almost twenty years of experience in the iGaming industry as it was established back in 1999. The outstanding success of the gaming studio can easily be attributed to the fact that the company is focused on designing only best-of-breed titles. One of the main things that make Playtech stand out from the crowd is its extensive portfolio of superior content, which comprises more than 600 titles. The provider is praised mostly for the marvelous slots it creates and the seamless gameplay it delivers to both desktop and mobile users. Playtech runs one of the largest progressive jackpot networks in the world that encompasses over 20 titles from the Age of the Gods series. The company is renowned for the quality of its live dealer products, with games like Unlimited Blackjack and Age of the Gods Bonus Roulette enjoying a particularly high popularity among players.

Key Instant-Play Games from Playtech to Check Out:

*Age of the Gods (series of progressive slots and table games)
*Buffalo Blitz (Online slot)
*All Bets Blackjack (RNG)
*Mega Fire Blaze Roulette (Live and RNG)

Pragmatic Play

Screenshot of Pragmatic Play

Pragmatic Play has established itself as an undisputed leader in the provision of instant-play games, boasting a vast portfolio that comprises north of 250 premium titles available in multiple currencies and more than 30 languages. The Malta-based company specializes in the provision of enticing online slots bursting with additional features like wilds, scatters, free spins, and bonus games. Pragmatic Play is renowned for its trademark Drops & Wins line of slots that encompasses numerous releases with appetizing weekly and monthly jackpots. The acclaimed supplier launched a suite of live dealer games in early 2019, catering to fans of the genre with various authentic table games hosted by professionally trained dealers. Apart from table games and slots, Pragmatic offers a host of other gambling products, including virtual sports, bingo, and sports betting.

Key Instant-Play Games from Pragmatic Play to Check Out:

*Big Bass Bonanza (Online slot)
*Gates of Olympus (Online slot)
*Power Up Roulette (Live dealer game)
*Kingdom of Atlantis (Drops & Wins jackpot slot)

Download Casinos Software Providers

When it comes to downloadable casinos, Microgaming and RealTime Gaming are among the very few software companies that have developed proprietary desktop casino clients. One of the most important things online casino players should take into account is that both software clients are intended for installation on desktop computers running on the Microsoft Windows operating system.


Screenshot of Microgaming

Launched back in 1994, Microgaming currently provides some of the leading casino operators with its award-winning gaming software. The software provider has undoubtedly laid the foundations of the iGaming industry we all know today as it was responsible for the launch of the very first online casino called the Gaming Club. Its portfolio remains unmatched as it comprises more than 800 high-grade offerings and continues to expand on a regular basis. Still, one of the things Microgaming is best known for remains its wide-area progressive Mega Moolah jackpot network that has turned many players into multi-millionaires over the years. The company’s desktop client requires Windows 7 or higher and at least 4 GB of RAM and 20 GB of hard drive space to perform optimally.

Key Downloadable Games from Microgaming to Check Out:

*Mega Moolah (Progressive jackpot slot)
*Atlantic City Blackjack (RNG)
*Multi-Wheel Roulette (RNG)
*Jacks or Better Power-Up (RNG multi-hand video poker)

RealTime Gaming

RealTime Gaming
Screenshot of RealTime Gaming

RealTime Gaming (RTG) also ranks among the software developers with vast experience under their belts as the company began operations as early as 1998. With a gaming selection of more than 300 premium games, RealTime gaming is celebrated for the slot titles from its Real Series, its table and card games, and video poker offerings. The only shortcoming of the well-known studio is that it has yet to release a line of live dealer games but perhaps this will soon change. The company has also achieved acclaim with its line of progressive slots, including the hugely popular Aztec’s Millions.

Key Downloadable Games from RTG to Check Out:

*Megasaur (Progressive slot)
*Aladdin’s Wishes (Real Series slot)
*French Roulette (RNG)
*Match Play 21 (RNG blackjack)

Best Instant-Play Casinos

Currently, online casino players have nothing to complain about when it comes to instant-play casinos as they can pick from a host of gambling sites that deliver a truly exhilarating and captivating gaming experience.

  1. Yako Casino

    Yako Casino Logo
    • $99 Bonus
    • $10 Min. Deposit
    • 1200 Games

    Yako Casino is undoubtedly one of the most alluring gaming websites as it allows gambling aficionados to access its portfolio directly in their browsers. The portfolio of the casino is courtesy of acclaimed providers like NetEnt, Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and Microgaming.

    New customers only, min deposit $10, wagering 40x, max bet $5 with bonus funds. 99 Yako Spins for on Book of Dead and a 100% bonus up to $99 on first deposits. Welcome bonus excluded for players depositing with Skrill or Neteller. No max. cash out on deposit offers. T&Cs apply.Read More

  2. PlayOJO Casino

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    • ⋆50 Bonus
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    • 50 NO Wager Free Spins

    When it comes to some of the top-tier flash casinos, we should not forget to mention PlayOJO. The gambling operator has paid special attention to online casino players seeking the freedom to make real-money bets, irrespective of time and location. It gives its patrons an easy access to its amazing portfolio, which is overflowing with instant-play games.Read More

  3. Karamba Casino

    Karamba Casino Logo
    • $50 Bonus
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    • 100 Additional Free Spins

    Karamba Casino is yet another renowned gambling operator that delivers a superior instant-play gaming experience. What distinguishes Karamba from many rival instant-play casinos is its excellent selection of games that features everything from slots and live dealer tables to progressive jackpots and scratch cards.Read More

Best Download Casinos

As stated above, download casinos have been on the iGaming scene since the birth of online gambling in the mid-1990s, so it should not be much of a surprise that avid casino fans are presented with such a range of options. Download casinos boast varied gaming selections, fast-loading times, and first-class gameplay, which explains why they are so well-liked.

  1. Golden Tiger

    Golden Tiger Logo
    • $1,500 Bonus
    • $40 Min. Deposit
    • 500 Games

    Perhaps, Golden Tiger Casino is one of the first names that spring to your mind when it comes to download casinos. The oriental-themed casino is powered by the well-known provider of downloadable gaming solutions Microgaming and it is a home to more than 550 titles. It covers favorite genres of casino games such as slots, video poker, classic games such as baccarat, roulette, and blackjack. Another thing which will also make you enjoy your stay at the download casino is the bountiful Welcome Bonus the operator has prepared for its patrons.Read More

  2. BoVegas Casino

    BoVegas Casino Logo
    • $5,500 Bonus
    • $25 Min. Deposit
    • 200+ Casino Games

    If you are looking for a lot of fun and entertainment straight from your personal computer, BoVegas Casino might be the right place to stop by. Avid casino fans who prefer making real-money bets from the comfort of their homes are enabled to avail themselves in a myriad of top-shelf games delivered by RealTime Gaming, which is celebrated for its second-to-none download casino offerings. What awaits you at BoVegas Casino is a broad variety of slots, specialty games, video poker variations, as well as a host of exciting table games. Read More

  3. 32Red Casino

    32Red Casino Logo
    • $150 Bonus
    • $10 Min. Deposit
    • 150% Bonus

    Another Microgaming-powered casino which has turned into a draw for gambling enthusiasts is 32Red. The download casino will draw your attention straight off, thanks to its amazing gaming selection which features more than 550 marvelous games, designed by the renowned software provider. Avid casino fans who sign up for an account at 32Red are enabled to revel in more than 200 different slot titles, a host of blackjack, roulette, and live games. And what is even better about the gaming library of the casino is that its patrons can give a try all the games they wish directly via their desktop device.Read More