Do you usually gamble at brick and mortar casinos, but are now planning to try a real money online casino for the first time?
There are many, MANY reasons why that’s a good idea. Here are just a few:
You don’t have to travel. You only have to walk to your computer. You’ll walk miles when you go to a city like Las Vegas. Yes, miles.
Online there are tons of casinos to join. And they’re all within a couple clicks of each other. You can go from one casino to the next within minutes. There’s no way you can pull this off offline (especially in a place like Las Vegas).
You can play for much lower stakes online. Most table game stakes start as low as $1.
You can gamble on your phone and tablet. You don’t ever have to leave the casino. You can play whenever you want, for as long as you want.
Real money online casinos offer tons of promotions. Far more than you’ll find in a brick and mortar casino. Which includes huge, 6 and 7-figure progressive jackpots.
We can list more, but we’ll stop there. You get the idea.
The point is there are many benefits to playing at online casinos. In many ways, they can be even better than offline casinos.
But only if you know what you’re doing. If you know what to expect. And, if you know what to avoid or beware of – like the dozens of shady casinos who sole existence revolves around scamming you.
We’re going to run through everything below. But if you’re ready to get started now, you can choose a casino or two from the following list of real money casinos.
And nothing will leave a bad taste in your mouth faster than a horrible experience with a bad casino.
So, the first thing you need to know about real money gambling online is how to distinguish the bad guys from everyone else. You need to know what to look for.
The three easiest ways are these:
Look at casino blacklists. Are the casinos you want to join listed? If yes, avoid them like the plague.
Research casino forums. If online casinos are ripping players off; not paying them, offering fair games, bonus terms or doing shady things like changing their terms on the fly, you’ll hear about first in online forums.
Doing these three things will be the easiest and fastest way to check a casino. But if you’re still not sure, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Do they have any seals of approval?
A seal of approval will tell you that someone else or another company trusts the casino you’re looking at. Or, at the very least they don’t mind being associated with them.
There are all kinds of seals you can look for. We recommend looking for seals from software algorithm testing companies (such as TST). You can also look for forum and website seal of approvals. And any kind of safety, encryption or licensing jurisdiction seals.
Are they licensed and regulated?
It’s the same idea here. Having a license means the casino jumped through the necessary hoops and paid the necessary fees before the commission in the area the casino’s doing business from would approve them. Check for their license info in the footer (bottom) of their website or on their about page.
How old are they?
How long has the casino been in business. We recommend being cautious of casinos who’ve only been in business 12-18 months, or less. Not only because most end up not working out, closing for a variety of reasons, but because you’ll simply find more background information on casinos who’ve been around for multiple years.
Does the casino accept Americans?
Real money casinos who accept Americans aren’t 100% above board. They’re not licensed from any US state, jurisdiction or commission. They take advantage of the fact the US can’t do anything (yet) to stop them. This doesn’t mean they’re not safe for you to join and play at. But not nearly as safe as an online casino who has to follow strict rules or pay consequences if they screw up.
Following these tips, and asking yourself these questions, should steer you clear of 95% of the scummiest online casinos.
But there are always some who slip through the cracks. Just keep your eyes and ears open – continue to check reviews, forums and blacklists – and trust your gut – and you should be okay.
If everything looks good to you, then you should be ready to join the online casino of your choice. And here are all the choices you’ll have when you do.
One of the perks to playing online are all the different banking options you can use to fund your account. The options available will vary from casino to casino, as will variables such as fees, processing times and completion times.
Here are the most common banking options casinos offer:
Book to Book
There are many, MANY more than this. And you’ll find this list is even longer when you look at country-specific options for European players.
Safety and privacy is no problem, either. Online casinos – the legit ones – use encryption technology like banks to encode the information you give them. This prevents hackers from stealing your information.
What’s most important to know is each banking option will have different processing times, (delivery) completion times, fees and unique challenges. And those variables will depend on where you live, the option you use, whether you’re depositing or withdrawing, and the casino.
For example, you can go to one casino and they will not charge you any fees. It doesn’t matter if you’re depositing or cashing out, the banking method you’re using, any of that. And you’ll have payment within 72 hours.
But if you go to another casino, they’ll charge you for all banking methods, no matter if you’re depositing or cashing out. They’ll take 48 hours to process your payment. From there, you won’t get your money for another 3-5 days.
We’re serious. It can be that big a difference from one casino to the next. So, it’s real important when choosing what casino to join that you:
Figure out which banking options you can, and want to use.
How long each option takes to hit your player and/or bank account.
The steps you need to take to start the deposit or withdrawal process. For example, do you need to go to your bank to send a transfer? Do you need to get a special transaction number, then go to a 3rd party’s office, such as Western Union? Every casino will have instructions on their website.
How much it will cost you.
The currencies you can deposit / cash out in. USD is most common (worldwide), but if you play at European, Asian or United Kingdom casinos, you’ll find they let you bank in many other currencies. Another thing to check for is if you can play in those currencies. Otherwise you’ll have to worry about conversion rates.
Ultimately, Americans will have more to worry about than other countries because banking is difficult and options are limited (thanks to the UIGEA). They need to be prepared for card declines, longer processing times and longer completion times on cash outs.
But so long as you keep our checklist above in mind, most players should be okay.
A Brief Overview of All the Games You Can Play
You’ll have tons of choices for what you can play. Some casinos will offer more games than others will.
Slots will no doubt make up the majority of whatever casino you join. Online casinos are like brick and mortar casinos in that sense.
But you will have at least a small selection of table, video poker and misc. games wherever you decide to sign up.
One of the most unique things about online casinos is how many of them work with multiple software companies. There are dozens of them, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. When you find a casino that works with 2-3 software providers, or more, you’ll find an online casino with 150+ unique games you can play.
Here’s a general idea of the games you’ll find online:
Play games dealt by a human dealer, which is then streamed to your casino. The most common live dealer games include blackjack, sic bo, roulette and casino holdem.
Just like offline, right? But there are some differences you’re sure to notice.
One of the biggest differences between brick and mortar and online casinos are all the variations you’ll find online. Especially for games such as blackjack, video poker and roulette. This does depend on the casino (and the software providers they use), which is just another reason to read casino reviews before you sign up somewhere.
Another big difference you’ll notice are stakes. Offline you’ll be hard-pressed to find a table game for less than $5 per hand or round. Sometimes you can find one for $3, but only off the strip or during off peak hours.
Online, though, you can find table games for as little as $1 per hand. And you’ll still be able to play for as much as $100, $200 or $500 per hand/round. Depending on where you play, you can even find stakes as high as $1,000 to $25,000.
Offline casinos never let you play their games for free. They only have so much floor space for their games, which means the amount they can earn is somewhat limited.
But not online casinos. They have as much space as they need, which is easy to expand because of the internet. So, online casinos let you play their games for free. They know a percentage of free customers will eventually turn into real money players.
This is a great opportunity for you. You can use this chance to check out all their games (do they have what you want?), check for quality (are the games fun to play and look at?) and check out their promotions, banking options and compatible tech.
The bottom line – you have tons of games to choose from, multiplied over and over again because of all the different combinations of casinos and the software companies they work with.
Tons of Promotions
Brick and mortar casinos offer promotions. They offer progressive jackpots, tournaments, and comps. Comps can be exchanged for perks like meal vouchers, hotel rooms, cash back, show tickets, and more.
Online, you won’t find perks like meal vouchers and show tickets. Not often, anyway.
But what you will find are full-blown, extensive VIP programs, cash back and bonus offers. In fact, here’s a list of the most common promotions online casinos offer:
The most common is a match bonus. The casino will match a percentage of your deposit. For example, they might offer a 100% match up to $500. This means for every dollar you deposit the casino will give you another dollar – up to a max of $500. These are usually offered to first time customers only.
This is identical to deposit bonus, except it’s for existing customers.
The casino will give you 50 or 100 free spins on their slot machines. Sometimes it’s for any machine you want, and other times it’ll be on a specific machine.
The casino will give you $25 or $50 cash. Sometimes you can use this however you want. Other times it’ll be for a specific game or type of game.
This might be cash back exchanged for comp points. Other times it’s a form of insurance on any losses you might have on a specific game, section or within a specific time frame.
These are multi-tiered programs where each level requires you to earn so many points before you get that level’s perks. Perks range from bigger, better or more exclusive offers. They can also include junkets, gifts, more personalized service, higher playing limits, and more.
The biggest thing to know about these promotions is that the casinos aren’t giving them to you out of the kindness of their hearts. Their goal is to encourage you to deposit and play more.
What this means is most real money casinos will require you to ‘play through’ your bonus or cash back. This is in the form of wagering a multiple of the money you deposit and/or receive.
For example, a casino might say for their 100% up to $1,000 bonus that you need to wager 30x the bonus. If you take full advantage of the bonus – you deposit $1,000 and get $1,000 – that you’d need to wager $30,000 BEFORE you can cash out.
Request a cash out sooner than that and they’ll either void your bonus money, any monies you’ve won (which may include money you’ve won without the bonus money) or just prevent you from cashing out until you fulfill their terms.
This is important to pay attention to because not only do you not want the headaches of not being able to cash out, you need to decide if the bonus or cash back is something you even want in the first place.
This is especially true for people that play table and video poker games. Because, for a variety of reasons ranging from bonus abuse to low house edges, the casino either prohibits players from playing these games to play through their offers, or they say you have to wager more than their standard play through.
How much more? Well, it varies, but you should expect somewhere between 3-10x. So a 30x play through or $30,000 becomes 90x to 300x or $90,000 to $300,000.
Casinos will let you know which games these special terms applies to. We also mention it in our reviews.
But you want to use this information to decide if the bonus makes sense for you. It won’t for everyone.
For that reason, you’ll want to make sure to read the terms thoroughly and ask any questions BEFORE you make your first deposit (which is where the first bonus, if offered, is applied).
That’s the only way to properly enjoy all the promotions online casinos offer.
Don’t Forget Technology
Another option you’ll have is how you play the casino’s games. In other words, what technology do you want to use?
These are the options you’ll have:
This is usually only available for PC users, though some casinos offer a Mac download. With some casinos, you’ll download their core software and then each game separately. With others, you’ll get everything at once. This is a great option if you plan to play at one casino from one computer.
No Download / Instant Play
This is an option many real money casinos offer for the Mac and Linux crowd, though Windows players can use it too. There’s no download – you play all the games in your browser from their website. This is a good option if you don’t want to download a bunch of files, or if you’re always changing computers.
Mobile has been overtaking desktop and casinos have finally started to take notice. Unfortunately, only a few casinos have what we’d consider a complete mobile casino. Most casinos offer only a dozen or two casinos games. Most are slots with a few table and video poker games mixed in.
You can choose one option if you want. But there’s nothing stopping you from using all three if you need to. It’s up to you.
We know. It’s a lot to take in. You have so many choices. Where the heck do you start?
Well, when you break it down, playing online for real money’s as simple as:
Finding and joining a legit online casino.
Making a deposit.
Choosing what tech you’re going to use.
Choosing what promotions you want to participate in (if any).
Choosing and playing your favorite games.
That’s it. And we’ve explained all you need to know about each of those points in this guide.
But it’s still a lot to take in, a lot to do. So, here’s what we recommend: Go through one section at a time.
Start by reviewing casinos. Find one you like.
Then move to banking options – selection 2-3 options you want to use.
Then understand each casino’s offers and which ones you’d like to have.
Then create an account, login and play your favorite game for free in the instant play casino until you get the hang of things.
Then play for real money.
And there you go. That’s how you make the switch from playing at brick and mortar casinos to gambling at online casinos.