We’ve said this time and time again… The biggest challenge American gamblers have is finding an online casino they can trust. A casino they’re not scared to give their credit card number to. A casino they’d not hesitate to recommend to their friends and family.
This is harder to do than most people realize. There are dozens of US casinos online. Maybe more than 100. And only a fraction – a tiny, tiny sliver – is good enough to join. If you want to know which ones are truly the best, see our list right below of the top US online casinos.
Do you know which casinos belong in that tiny sliver?
Most people don’t…and they eventually learn the hard way. The casinos leave them battered, bruised, and broken. Some people are so traumatized that they’re unlikely to gamble online ever again. We don’t want that to happen to you. It’s why this site exists – to show you which casinos are safe, and which ones resemble the monkey in the movie, Outbreak – the ones that are full of viruses.
We’re going to show you which casinos are safest using two different approaches.
The first approach is to simply give you a list of the best US online casinos. We’ve already vetted them, so review each one, choose the casino you like the most, and then create your account.
For everyone else, we’re going to show you the three types of US online casinos and the core differences between each one, and then explain how to find the safest online casinos on your own.
Now, let’s talk about the different types of casinos available to Americans.
Whenever you talk about online gambling in the United States, there’s going to be talk about laws and rules and bills and all sorts of stuff only lawyers are truly qualified to talk about. So, we need to point out that none of the following is ‘legal advice.’
Three Types of US Casinos
There are three types of online casinos that accept US players.
Now, these ‘types’ are based on our own definition and perception of this part of the gambling industry. This isn’t a ‘right or wrong’ sort of thing. All we want to relay to you is that there are multiple types of US-accepting casinos and that not everyone is a good fit for each.
With that said, let’s get to it, starting with…
Legal Online Casinos
These are casinos you’ll find in one of the states that have legalized online gambling. Right now, that includes Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada.
These casinos offer legal online gambling, but only to players located within state lines. In order to do that, they have to follow the rules set by both the US Government (with minimal interference) and the state itself. These rules vary from state to state, but often include things like:
Having resources for problem gamblers.
Having self-exclusion, limits, or stop-loss options for players.
Fees, taxes, etc. the operator must pay to operate in the state.
Physical presence already in the state to operate online.
All 3rd party companies and vendors must be located in the state to obtain a license.
And so on.
These casinos make up the minority of online gambling options. But as the legal landscape changes in the United States – as more states pass legal online gambling – they will likely become the majority.
Offshore Online Casinos
These are pretty much the opposite of legal casinos. They’re not licensed to operate in the United States, nor are any of their 3rd party vendors, software companies, payment processors, customer support, and so on.
The bottom line – they’re operating illegally in the United States.
The good news is that most online gambling laws apply to operators, not players. So, while offshore casinos are operating illegally, few states have laws that prohibit players from playing at them. You “should be” okay.
There are also dozens, if not more, offshore casinos for you to choose from. These make up the majority of US-accepting online casinos.
The bad news is that, since they’re not licensed or regulated in the United States, it’s still the wild west. Operators can do pretty much whatever they want – especially if they’re willing to torch their reputation – and there’s very little you can do about it (that’s practical, anyway).
In other words, online casinos can bend their rules, change terms on the fly, close your account and steal your money, and rarely ever have to answer for it. Many others simply get in over their head and close – often taking your bankroll with them.
We’re sure you can see how hard this makes finding a safe online casino. It also makes you want legal online gambling more, even if it means more restrictions and having to pay taxes. At least at a legal casino, you’ll get your bankroll/winnings back when you ask for them.
Bitcoin-Exclusive Online Casinos
For our purposes, Bitcoin-exclusive casinos refer to casinos who only accept Bitcoin. They don’t accept credit cards, checks, e-wallets, and so on.
In many ways, Bitcoin-exclusive casinos are like offshore casinos. They offer the same types of gambling options and games, and there’s a good chance they’re still breaking laws by operating in the US.
But here’s why we think they’re different:
One of the (many) ways offshore operators are breaking the US law is through payment processing. Banks are breaking the law (UIGEA) by processing payments. And, often, offshore casinos are breaking the law because they have to commit charges like money laundering and fraud to send and receive payments.
You can read all about poker’s infamous ‘Black Friday’ to see how operators have done this in the past.
But Bitcoin is different. Because, as of January 2017, Bitcoin is an unregulated currency. It’s not a currency that banks or other payment processors deal with. It’s its own thing. So, Bitcoin-exclusive casinos aren’t breaking the same laws, which may make it less likely for operators to get shut down and/or players to get caught up in any (illegal) online gambling shenanigans.
But…it may not. But that’s our reason for listing it separately.
Bitcoin also comes with added perks, but none greater than anonymity. You don’t need to give anyone your personal details to set up a Bitcoin wallet, or to buy Bitcoin. And because of this, you don’t usually have to give Bitcoin-exclusive casinos this information either.
And that’s something that might appeal to some people. Especially those gambling ‘illegally’ or on ‘illegal’ sites in the US.
The Biggest Differences Between Each Kind of Casino
Before we cover the main differences between each type of casino, here’s a bit of truth for you…most people aren’t going to have all three types of casinos for choices.
The reason why is simple – only three states offer legal online gambling. And only people within those states can play at their casinos.
So, most people will be limited to one or two choices, while only a few will have all three. And we want to share what makes them unique so that you 1) know what to expect, and 2) can choose which is right for you based on the most important variables.
With that said, let’s chat about the biggest differences.
Software / Games
This is the biggest difference.
Take a look at any offshore casino and you’ll see that they probably use one of the following software companies:
RealTime Gaming (RTG)
Those are the most common.
What you’ll never see is an offshore company offering software and games from the likes of Microgaming, NetEnt, or Playtech.
Because these companies (seemingly) only work with licensed, regulated, and often public gaming companies. Offshore and Bitcoin casinos don’t fit that description.
But legal casinos do. Which is why you’ll see software and games from companies such as:
High 5 Games
…and more, at legal online casinos.
You’ll get to play all the common casinos games – slots, blackjack, craps, video poker, keno, and so on. But you’ll also get to play live dealer games, as well as licensed slot machines like Family Guy, Monopoly, and Star Trek.
You won’t find anything like this at offshore casinos. Bitcoin casinos, either, as they either use unknown games (Bitcoin-exclusive casinos) or a mix of unknown and offshore casino games (hybrid casinos).
This is another biggie.
Offshore casinos are the worst when it comes to banking. Many of them take several days, if not weeks or sometimes even months, to get players cashed out.
For many casinos, there’s not much they can do about it. It’s illegal to process payments (per the UIGEA), so they face hurdles in finding and keeping payment processors. They inevitably face delays.
Then there are casinos who suck or simply don’t care about money management. They’ll pay their winners with the money another customer deposited that morning.
This is the wrong way of doing business. They should have customer funds kept separately, as well as extra money on hand.
But they don’t, which means they may not be able to pay you right away. Sometimes they won’t be able to pay you at all. And they can get away with that, because who’s going to hold them accountable? It sure won’t be the US government.
That doesn’t happen with legal online casinos, though. It’s often a requirement for these casinos to not only have additional funds (cash flow), but to also keep player funds in a separate account. They usually have to provide proof of both, too, to be able to do business.
You’ll also have far more banking options at a legal online casino compared to an offshore casino. Since they’re operating legally, more payment companies and processors are willing to work with them.
Legal online casinos have to report winnings/losses. This means you may have to pay taxes. Offshore casinos don’t, so they don’t, which means you don’t. However, this is not our recommended course of action, as gambling winnings are considered income and still should be reported to the IRS.
Who Can Play?
We touched on this earlier, but just about everyone can play at offshore and Bitcoin casinos. But there are a couple exceptions to this rule:
If you live in a state where online gambling is legal, chances are it’s illegal for you (the player) to play at an offshore site. It’s also illegal for the operator.
If you live in a state that has harsher (online) gambling laws, such as Washington state, then some offshore casinos will prohibit players who live in those states from joining.
Other than that, you can play at an offshore or Bitcoin-exclusive casino.
Legal online casinos only accept players located within the state lines of the states they do business in. For example, New Jersey online casinos only allow players located in New Jersey to play there for real money.
Now, this isn’t only for residents. Anyone can have a real money account; you just have to be within state lines to play for real money. (It’s sort of like visiting a brick-and-mortar casino.)
The one caveat is casinos or poker rooms who make interstate deals with other states, like Delaware and Nevada. This means players in Nevada can play at rooms that also accept Delaware players. You can be in either state and play there for real money.
Those are the biggest differences we see. Now, let’s talk about how to choose the best US online casino.
How to Choose the Best Online Casino
Okay, so let’s talk about how Americans should go about choosing an online casino. The following is our advice, but just keep in mind that, while this advice applies to all online casinos, it’s written with offshore casinos in mind, since they’re the riskiest of the bunch.
In order of importance, here are four things we recommend you think about:
You want to see what others think about this casino. Is it good? Bad? Are they just so-so? This applies to everything about them – their software, games, banking, support, terms, and so on.
The best way to find this information is to read reviews, then forum posts. Just make sure to keep your BS goggles on, as some people like to complain about nothing or scream that so-and-so is rigged. Don’t mind that stuff.
One other thing – this doesn’t just apply to online casinos. You may also want to look at who the casinos work with, too.
For example, recently BetSoft was in the news for not paying out a jackpot winner (after the casino decided not to pay them out). Up until this point, we thought BetSoft was a solid company. But now, maybe not so much.
The point – the company that the casino keeps is reflective of their reputation, too.
Banking (Options + Time Frame)
Americans need banking options – the more, the better. Not only that, but you want to see how fast the casino is processing and completing payments. Cashouts are far more important than deposits, too. You want to see how long it’s taking the casino to process checks and wires. Days or a few weeks is okay – months are not.
Most offshore sites offer the same stuff. So, you want to see if you can find a casino that offers something unique. Even something as simple as working with an obscure (but trustworthy) software provider can add just enough uniqueness to make having an account there worthwhile.
On top of that, you want to see how compatible their software is. Can you play on a Mac or Linux OS? What about mobile? Android? Apple? BlackBerry? Windows? Check for whatever applies to you.
Bonuses (Offer + Terms)
Most casinos are going to offer deals, VIP programs, and cash back. It doesn’t matter where you play or the casino type. You want to check for a couple of things:
Find offers with higher percentage matches. That way you can still have a large deposit bonus (if you want it), but you don’t have to risk as much to get it.
Check the rollover requirements – the lower, the better. Make sure to check if the rollover is just on the bonus (preferred), or on the deposit and bonus. You also want to see which games you can play to clear the offer.
How long do you have to clear the bonus? The longer you have, the better.
Other than that, check for odds and ends, such as any winning limits from bonus money, games you can’t play (like progressive jackpots), or anything else that might dissuade you from accepting an offer, much less signing up.
These are the things we look for. We feel that they’re the most important because they’ll impact your experience the most.
Last thing – we recommend finding two or three sites to join. It’s not a good idea to deposit your whole bankroll at one site in case something goes wrong. Nowadays that’s rare, especially with the pulse we have of the industry. Not to mention the public shaming that happens when an online casino screws players over.
But bad things do happen. And if it happens to you, you don’t want to get caught with your pants all the way down. You want to lose as little as possible.
And the best way to do that is to spread your bankroll over two or three accounts.
That’s US online casinos in a nutshell. Those are the casinos available to you and the biggest differences you’ll find each one. We also explained how we recommend finding the best US-accepting online casino.
You know what the crazy thing is, though?
US online gambling is one of those topics that’s always developing, thanks to the legal landscape here in the United States. The laws are always changing, as are the best practices and the best sites to join.
Which means this advice will serve you well…for now. But we recommend signing up to a few forums, as well as bookmarking this page, just so you can see if anything’s changed in the past three to six months.