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A Complete Guide to Real Money Gambling in 2017

Making the switch from brick and mortar casinos to online casinos or making the switch from play money to real money online can be a big jump for a lot of people. Anytime you find yourself stepping out onto new territory, you’re going to have questions, and you deserve answers.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an informed consumer and we actually encourage it. It’s your hard-earned money that you’re going to be playing with, so you should be 100% comfortable with every aspect of the experience. Online gaming and gambling should be fun, exciting, and relaxing, and this can only happen if you’re fully educated on the entire process.

For those of you that are ready to get playing right away, we wanted to accommodate you. Picking out a real money gaming or gambling home on the internet can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of choices and the features and benefits are all over the place. Spotting the quality sites and more importantly spotting and avoiding the garbage sites is not as easy as you might think. The old adage of “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” could not be truer in this industry.

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Above we’ve included our list of our favorite and most trusted real money online gaming and gambling sites. These sites have been fully vetted by our team and ranked according to a whole host of factors that we deem important. If you’d like to see the exact criteria we used to rank these sites, that information is included in full detail in the sections below.

Ultimately, these are the best of the best for real money gambling sites on the internet. We NEVER allow sites to pay to be on this list and we never let anything influence our decisions other than the quality or lack of quality of a site. We also frequently update this list as the industry is always changing and the winners and losers are changing as well.

As well as ranking the very best sites, we also want you to be aware of places that you should definitely avoid at all costs. Below we have listed out sites that we have blacklisted so that you don’t find yourself depositing any of your hard earned money there. If you have any questions about these types of sites, be sure to check out our page on blacklisted casinos.

No
No
Blacklisted Sites to Avoid

Rome Casino
Blacklist
  • Bad payout practices
  • Known for rogue practices
  • Poor player experiences

Casino Grand Bay
Blacklist
  • Known for not paying players
  • Inferior software
  • Poor customer support

Villa Fortuna
Blacklist
  • On many blacklists
  • Slow with their payouts
  • Cheap overall feel to the site

Real Money Sports Betting

Whether you’re a rock star genius looking to make some cash, an action junkie looking for an added rush, or just a recreational bettor looking for fun, real money sports betting online can be very appealing. Thanks to the convenience of the online platforms and the ability to access so much information so quickly, sports betting is not what it used to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about real money sports betting and how to get involved, we’ve put together a fully dedicated guide just for you. This guide is packed full of all the information you could ever want or need (and probably more). This page will turn any novice into an expert on the subject allowing you to make more informed decisions about your sports betting future.

Real Money Poker

Poker for pennies or candy around the kitchen table is a lot of fun. Poker for cold hard cash, though, can be a lot more fun. Thanks to the growth of online poker, your real money options are through the roof. While this may make getting started seem overwhelming, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a fully dedicated guide to playing poker online for real money.

This guide will cover everything you need to know from depositing to selecting a game to getting your money offline quickly. On top of this, we’ll give you some insider tips and secrets to get you moving in the direction of winning. If you’re ready to give online poker a shot with real money, click the link below to check out our guide. It will teach you everything you need to know and more.

Real Money Casino Games

If you’ve ever been to a brick and mortar casino and gambled for real money, you already know what the rush is like. For those of you that are brand new to casino games, you may have never experienced the fun and excitement that comes with winning money thanks to the flip of a card or the spin of a wheel. Regardless of which category you fall into, the ability to play casino games online for real money is a game changer.

You can now experience the fun and excitement originally reserved only for the casino from the comfort of your own home. No longer do you have to put on pants and fight the traffic and elements to make it to the casino where you’ll inevitably have to deal with crowds and more clutter. Everything is easier and more fun thanks to recent technological advancements.

The best news about playing casino games for real money online is that they have all of your favorite games and more. We’ve put together dedicated guides below for the most popular casino games. These guides will show you everything you need to know about getting started, having fun, and winning money at online casino games. Click the link for your favorite game and learn more now!

Online Casinos vs. Brick and Mortar Casinos

For those of you that are accustomed to brick and mortar casinos, the move to an online casino, gaming site, or sportsbook can be a big leap. We have good news, though. Online casinos bring a whole slew of great benefits that are just not possible in a brick and mortar setting. Now, to be fair, there are aspects of the brick and mortar experience that can’t be replicated, but as technology continues to grow, they get closer and closer.

We want to cover some of the benefits, differences, and similarities between the two different casino experiences. This information is important to help you make a decision on which venue is the best for you and can also help those that are switching to online casinos to have a much better experience.

The Benefits

Thumbs Up

Probably the biggest benefit that online casinos offer over brick and mortar casinos is convenience. No longer do you have to get in your car or board public transportation and make the long haul to the casino. No more paying for gas, tolls, parking, and wear and tear on your car. No more waiting in lines to bet or fighting through crowds to try and get a seat at a table to gamble.

You have the ability to play all of your favorite games from the comfort of your own home. This is not only a check mark for convenience, but it saves you valuable time and money. If you’ve got a 30-minute commute to the casino, that’s an hour total you’re losing in transit. You’re also spending a bunch on transit costs as we mentioned above.

This is only one of the benefits of switching from a brick and mortar casino to an online casino. If you’d like to hear more of the benefits, we’ve put together a dedicated page that is a must read if you’re on the fence about making the switch.

The Limits

Arrows In

Since online casinos don’t have to pay for dealers or a lot of the other costs of brick and mortar locations, they’re able to offer games at lower limits. The reason that brick and mortar casinos have much higher minimums is it is the only way they’re able to cover their costs and hopefully turn profits. If they ran the limits any lower, they would most likely be losing money every hour the table was open.

Online casinos will have dramatically lower limits on most every game you play. For example, the minimum limit you might be able to find on blackjack at a brick and mortar casino in Las Vegas is $5 or $10 per hand. Online casinos will allow you to play as low as a few cents per hand. This is a big plus if you’re looking to learn the games and don’t want to be playing for play money. It’s also a big plus if you don’t feel like investing a lot of money into your gambling and enjoy the lower stakes.

The Game Choices

Note Taking

People are genuinely surprised when they find out that the game choices are very similar between the two different venues. Most, if not all, of the games that you can play in a brick and mortar setting, will be available for you to play online.

A lot of times, thanks to technology, these games are enhanced online and have a lot more features and bells and whistles. In addition, online casinos will offer more game choices as they don’t need physical space to “put in the tables or machines”.

Rewards and VIP Programs

Reward

While this one could be cataloged under the benefits section above, we felt it was important enough to warrant its own section and write up. There are significant differences between the VIP programs and rewards offered at brick and mortar casinos and online. The main reason we kept this out of the benefits category is that it may be considered a positive or a negative depending on your personal preferences.

Brick and mortar casino VIP programs have changed immensely over the past few decades. They used to greatly benefit players of all levels and comps were easy to come by even with a small amount of play. As the corporations took over the casinos, though, the programs have grown to heavily favor the big time players and neglect the smaller players.

Most brick and mortar casinos will have VIP programs available for all player levels, but the benefits at the lower levels just aren’t what they used to be. Frankly, they’re nowhere near where they used to be and aren’t that enticing to get people to play. As you move towards the top of the spectrum of player level, you’ll start to see the big benefits that you’re used to. This is a big plus if you’re a big time player, but may be off-putting if you’re a small fish in a big pond.

Something the brick and mortar locations can offer that online casinos can’t are the “classic” promotions. These are things like hotel room stays, free buffet comps, and other things that require you to, well, have a physical location.

Online casino VIP programs tend to be a lot more incremental and friendlier to players of all levels. They like to pay out bonuses and other perks as a percentage of the amounts you’ve bet. This usually does also increase as you bet more, but they still have systems and programs in place to reward the smaller players.

VIP Casino Program Chart

One of the perks as well is that you don’t have to worry about making sure a pit boss is seeing you play or wondering what you have to do to achieve a certain reward. It’s not up to the line of sight and discretion of an individual person but is tracked by computers. The requirements to reach new tiers of rewards are clearly spelled out. This ensures that you will get every penny of every bonus that you deserve for your play and ensures you know exactly how close you are to unlocking more rewards.

Regarding the types of rewards you can see from VIP programs online, they’re really all over the place. The most standard you will see are cash back bonuses and deposit bonuses. These are simple yet can be worth a lot of money the more you play. Online sites also love to run contests and giveaways for players that you do see in brick and mortar casinos but just not as prevalent.

Occasionally you will see some online casinos and gambling sites step out of the box and have some really crazy fun and creative promotions where they give away jewelry, trips, or other type prizes. These are less common than the basic promotions, but when you do see them, they’re usually run in unison with the basic cash back promotions. This allows you to take advantage of all the promotions.

The one thing we do want to point out about VIP programs for online casinos that may be unknown to you is that a lot of times you have to opt-in to the promotions. This means that you have to alert the site that you want to be a part of a promotion to begin receiving the spoils of the promo. While this may seem a bit silly, it’s the industry standard and isn’t a big deal as long as you are aware of it.

Make sure that when you pick a site to join, you check if you are required to opt in or not to promotions. If you are, it’s usually as simple as checking a box in your member area or sending a message to customer support. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to do this and miss out on a promotion you thought you were a part of.

Criteria When Selecting an Online Gaming or Casino Online

As we mentioned above, we have a lot of different factors that we look at when we’re evaluating and ranking an online gaming or gambling site. We wanted to make sure that we laid out these criteria for you clearly so you could understand how we arrived at our conclusions. Whether you take our suggestions or not, this information will help you to evaluate online sites on your own in the future.

Remember, this guide is specifically dedicated to real money sites, and therefore these criteria will reflect that.

Safety and Security

Check Alarm

When we’re looking at sites to recommend for use with real money, the importance of safety and security go through the roof. You need to be able to be 100% confident that your money and your information are safe and protected at all times at the site you choose to play at. Specifically, we look at the software and systems the company has in place to protect these things. If they are in any way, shape, or form behind the technological curve when it comes to safety and security, it’s a hard no from us.

We also look at the management company, the history of their past endeavors, and the history of the online casino. We look for any signs of shady behavior or any other potential red flags or eyebrow raisers. Companies that are too new to the market without management with prior experience are instantly out as well.

The bottom line here is that if there is anything that sets off our alarms even the slightest, the site is a no-go and we don’t recommend it. There are enough great options out there where you can be confident in the security of your information and money that you don’t have to waste your time dabbling with a site that is “probably ok”.

Integrity of the Games

Handshake

As a continuation of the safety and security criterion, the integrity of the games being offered is equally as important. You need to know that when you’re betting real money that the games are truly random, fair, and paying out what they’re supposed to be. While we aren’t able to see under the hood of the operations (and neither are you), companies will let independent third-party auditors come in and inspect their systems. We look for companies that regularly have these inspections and pass with flying colors. Any sort of ding or glitch during this audit and it’s an instant no-go from us.

Again, there are too many great options for us to take any unnecessary risks. Most sites are on the up and up with this as they’re already making plenty of money, but that is not enough to stop us from wanting confirmation from an auditor before we’ll recommend a site to you.

Gaming Options

Setting Tool

A very distant third to the above two criterion is the availability of different games for you to play and bet on. While it’s important to have a site you can trust in the security and integrity categories, those aren’t really important if the site doesn’t offer anything that you want to play. We like to look for sites that have a wide variety of options without sacrificing organization or simplicity in their design.

Too often, sites will increase their gaming options but not accommodate well how they present those options to you. Depending on the type of real money site you’re looking for and your personal betting preferences, certain sites will fit you better than others. For this reason, we’ve listed the best real money sites above that do the best job of satisfying everyone.

User Interface

Pointer Finger

We touched briefly on this one above in the gaming options section. User interface refers to how well the site and the games are set up to help you accomplish whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish.

If you’re trying to place a sports bet, it should be extremely simple for you to locate the game you want to bet on and place the bet you want. There should be no fears of making a mistake and no headaches trying to find things. If you’re trying to play a slot game, it should be easy to spin the reels, and the buttons should be far enough apart to make sure you don’t easily misclick and make a mistake.

What we’re getting at here is that the online casino should be laid out and arranged in a way that makes your gambling and gaming experience easy and headache-free. You should never have to fret about how to find things as all games and options should be organized in a well thought out manner. Surprisingly, this is a big struggle for a lot of sites especially as they expand their offerings.

Speed and Variety of Deposit and Withdrawal Options

Money Roll

One of the biggest fears people have when it comes to switching to an online casino is always how they’re going to get paid. The good news is that online casinos offer a lot of different options for withdrawals (and deposits) that are quick and easy to use.

Regarding deposits, almost all methods are instant and will have you playing in a matter of minutes. Regarding withdrawals, the time frames vary. Many options are sent to you within a matter of hours or a few days. This all depends on the legislation in the area you live and if they require any additional compliance from the online casino. Typically, you can receive your money via check, direct bank transfer, cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), or through a lot of popular e-wallets like Skrill (Moneybookers) and PayPal.

When ranking sites, we immediately discard and blacklist any site that has big issues with paying customers promptly. We have no patience for this and don’t think you should either. Ideally, we want sites that pay quickly and also have a lot of different options for deposits and withdrawals to accommodate what works best for you.

The Differences Between Play Money and Real Money

Some of you reading this guide may be considering making the switch from play money online to real money. For those of you in this boat, we don’t have to convince you of the great conveniences that online casinos and gaming sites offer. You get to see it first hand, just with practice money.

What we do want to talk about, though, are the differences between the two and what you need to know to make the transition smooth.

Skill Games

Tools

If you’re playing a skill game like poker or chess for play money online, we can guarantee that things are going to be different when you switch over to playing for real money. While the games should still be very easy and beatable at the lower stakes, you can expect a lot less craziness. When people have zero dollars on the line, they’re willing to do anything they feel like as there is no real recourse.

Once you put even a little money on the line, people are going to take things more seriously. If you’re looking to get better at a particular skill game, this is a huge plus. You can now start working on strategies that are effective against players that are trying. For example, trying to bluff at a play money poker table is suicide. When money is on the line, though, you have a lot better chance of your bluff working because people have something to lose. With play money, they can just call because they’re curious and are risking no money.

No Re-dos

Repeat

This may sound like a silly difference to point out, but we felt it was something that should at least be mentioned. When you play for play money, and you make a mistake, it’s not really a big deal. You might lose some of the play chips that you built up, but at the end of the day, you still haven’t lost any real money.

When you play online for real money, everything is final. You can’t contact the site and tell them you made a bet that you didn’t mean to and get a do-over. Everything is final. This is not meant to scare you or put you on edge at all. We simply want you to know that you have to be a bit more careful and make sure that you only place the bets that you are sure about.

This also means that when you run out of real money, it doesn’t automatically replenish as the play money does. You will have to reload your account if you want to continue playing if you have a run of bad luck. For this reason, we recommend that you are sure on what your betting strategy is going forward. If you were betting “big limits” with play money, don’t expect to do the same right away with real money. Start small and work your way up. Never let yourself bet outside of your bankroll and the limits you set for yourself.

Tips for Gambling or Betting Online with Real Money

“Regular” Rules Apply

Judge

We wanted to lead off with this statement as it’s important to point out. The strategy tips and advice that work for brick and mortar casinos are mostly going to work for online casinos as well. Yes, there are some specific ones that will not, but for the most part, they will.

For example, blackjack advice live is the same as blackjack advice online. You’re going to hit on the same cards and stay on the same cards. The game you are playing is exactly the same.

This does change a little bit with some of the specific skill games (poker in particular), but for the most part, it’s a good rule of thumb in the absence of more specific information.

Watch for Distractions

Account

People know when they do something in person that they are going to be subject to distractions. When you go to the casino, you expect things to be loud and for you to have to focus a little harder on what you’re doing. When you’re prepared for distractions, they have a lot harder time affecting you negatively.

While online casinos and gambling keep you away from all of these distractions, they sometimes come with their own. People are not always ready for these and can start making mistakes without even realizing it.

Confused Man

All of these are distractions that can take your focus away from the games you are playing. On top of these, there are also the distractions of the internet that you have to contest with. It’s easy to get sidetracked with conversations, social media, and websites and completely lose focus of what you’re doing.

This may or may not be a big deal depending on the type of game you’re playing. If you’re playing slots, you’ll probably be ok with some distractions. If you’re playing blackjack or poker or a game like that with a lot of decision making, the distractions could be detrimental to your bottom line. Sports bettors have been known to make mistakes as well and put the wrong bets in because they were distracted. There’s also the tendency to get distracted and forget to put a bet in altogether. Missing out on potential profit is just as bad as a losing bet.

We’re not saying that you need to lock yourself in your room or office whenever you want to gamble online for real money. All we’re saying is that you need to be aware of the potential distractions lurking down the hallway or on the computer screen in front of you. Make sure they aren’t affecting your bottom line, and you’ll be all set.

Fill Out Cashout Forms Early

Green Note

Something that most online players aren’t aware of before their first cashout is that the sites will require you to prove your identity before they will release funds to you. This is not to send your information to tax bureaus or report it to government officials; it is for your protection. This way they can ensure that they are releasing the money to the actual account holder (you).

It’s not a big deal at all, but it tends to annoy players because they don’t find out about it until they request a cashout. This creates a slight delay in the first cashout while the identification forms are completed. The good news is that this will only have to be done once and you can actually complete the process at any point in time.

What we recommend doing is taking care of it as soon as you open your account. Contact customer support and ask them what forms will need to be completed for your first cashout. They will send them to you, and you can submit them back at your convenience. They usually only take a few days to complete the verification process which is no big deal when you aren’t actively waiting for a cashout. If you wait until it’s cashout time, those extra few days will feel like an eternity and will put a bad taste in your mouth.

Understand What You’re Playing

Thinker

While this could be classified as a tip for brick and mortar casinos or for online casinos, it seems to be a bigger issue sometimes for players making the transition from live to online. Yes, the games online are going to be the exact same games that you are used to in the casino with one big caveat. Online casinos will typically have a lot more variations of the popular games than brick and mortar casinos. This is because they are servicing clients all over the world where other variations may exist.

This means that it is more important to make sure that the table or game that you select is the correct variation that you want to play. While there isn’t going to be a dealer at the table you can ask, there will be information posted in the lobby that tells you everything you need to know. Don’t fret over this tip; just take a few extra seconds when you’re getting started and make sure that you are at the correct table.

Utilize Customer Support

Customer

When you’re at a brick and mortar casino, you’ll usually have dealers and pit bosses to ask when you have questions or need help. Sometimes they’ll be helpful, and sometimes you won’t get much assistance. People tend to forget that online casinos also have great systems in place to help when you have questions.

Make sure before you start playing that you know how to access the customer support. Most sites are going to offer telephone or live chat support which will get you connected with a live agent in a matter of seconds or minutes at the very slowest. While the quality of support will vary greatly from site to site, you should still be able to get adequate assistance if and when you need it.

Opt-In For Bonuses

Gift

We touched on this one earlier but want to reiterate as it is one of the most important tips we can give you. Online casinos run some fantastic promotions that you’re definitely going to want to take part of. That’s not the tip though – The tip is that most online sites require you to opt-in to promotions to be included.

This means that you have to let the site know that you would like to receive the benefits of the promotion. Shouldn’t everyone be automatically included in promotions if they qualify? We think so, but it is an industry standard that you must opt-in or else you won’t be included in the promotion.

The good news is that opting in is not a hard or lengthy process. A lot of the time it is as simple as checking a box in your member area or sending a message or email to customer support. This should only take a few seconds, but must be done if you want to be a part of the promotion.

This also means that you need to stay on top of the new promotions and be periodically checking what the online sites are running. If you don’t know a promotion is going on, you can’t opt-in to it, and therefore can’t take advantage of it. You don’t need to check the promotions page every day or become obsessive, though.

All you need to do is make sure that you’re part of their mailing list, follow them on any social media sites they are on, and every now and then take a quick peek at their promotions page. This should be plenty to keep you up to speed on all the promotions. Don’t worry; the sites aren’t trying to hide the promotions from you.

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