For players who are new to online casinos, selecting an online casino can seem like a complicated task. In reality, though, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Picking the right online casino for you shouldn’t be a lot of work – it’s just a matter of figuring out what you need in a casino, and picking the online casino that meets your needs.
With that in mind, Online Casino Games has put together a step-by-step guide to selecting an online casino. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be started at an online casino that’s perfect for you and playing your favorite casino games before you know it!
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Figure out what you want from your online casino. Every online casino has something different to offer. Some have a wide variety of games, while others are more specialized. Some have more flash, others are more understated. Maybe you want a special feature available, like a Mac client or a no-download casino option. Make a list of the things you want from your casino, and find an option that has everything you need. For help with this step, check out our casino reviews page.
Compare bonuses to see where you can get the best value. Most online casinos offer bonuses, but they’re not all the same. Not only that, but it’s not always as simple as comparing numbers and picking the biggest bonus. You should take into account the amount of money you would like to deposit, how much you’ll have to play to clear the bonus, and whether you can play your favorite games to clear the bonus. There may even be loyalty programs that add additional value to your play at some casinos. For more information on the bonuses offered at some of the top online casinos, see our casino reviews page.
Make sure the casino wants your business. Not every casino accepts players from every country on their site. When choosing a casino, one of the most important things to look for is whether or not players from your country are eligible to play there. American players need to be especially careful about this, and should check our country guides before attempting to pick a place to play.
Download the software and open an account. When you go to the online casino’s website, you should find a link for downloading their software client. In most cases, you’ll be able to set up a casino account from inside that client. This will get you all set to play on the site.
Deposit money using the method of your choice. Most casinos, including the ones recommended by us, offer a variety of deposit methods that range from credit cards to bank transfers to online e-wallets. Simply select the deposit method of your choice and follow the site’s instructions to fund your online casino account. When you make your deposit, make sure to use any bonus codes you’ve been given so that you’ll be credited with your deposit bonus!
That’s all there is to it! Follow these steps and in just minutes, you’ll be able to play at the online casino of your choice.
On this page, I’ll make a checklist of factors to keep in mind while making a decision. None of these factors should be negotiable. If a website fails to live up to one of the factors I list below, you should find another real money casino. Whether you’re a high roller or a low roller, this is your hard-earned money and these are high-dollar transactions to you.
Playing Online Casino Software
The software is how you interface with whatever casino game you prefer. If you don’t like the software used by an online casino, you’re not going to enjoy that casino’s games. It would be like playing at a brick-and-mortar casino and sitting in uncomfortable chairs in bad lighting and being serviced by disagreeable dealers. You wouldn’t continue to play at that venue, so you have to like your online casino environment, too.
That is one of the reasons companies which spend more on software become popular. Always look at the software support before signing up. Leading developers include Net Entertainment (NetEnt), Microgaming, Aristocrat, Bally, Nuworks, and International Game Technology (IGT). For American players (and Bovada players), the leading provider is RealTime Gaming (RTG) and Betsoft. Aristocrat Leisure and Bally Technologies are gaining more of an online presence. Meanwhile, 888 Holdings and Bwin.Party are going to use their own proprietary software.
Online slots players should pay special attention to the software designers. All sites are going to offer blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat. They might not offer your favorite slot machine, though. One of the reasons you’ll see many sites list multiple software support companies is their need to license video slots from multiple companies. Learn who makes your favorite slot machines and seek out casinos which use their software.
Live Dealer Games at Real Money Casinos
Players who really don’t enjoy video blackjack and video craps need to research whether a site offers “live casino” options. A live casino on the Internet is going to use live streaming technology to allow players to interact with real live dealers, who are broadcast from a casino studio somewhere. The dealers often are situated in Riga, Latvia or Tallinn, Estonia, but other locations exist. These people deal real cards and talk to you through cutting edge technology similar to the Skype interface.
Every inch of the table is visible to the player, but best of all: you have no random number generators. RNGs are reliable and fair, but some people prefer live action versus computer-generated outcomes. Live casinos generally offer blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette.
Good Customer Support is Vital
Companies which take the trouble to offer live casino gaming understand one thing: any casino you choose needs to support your style of play. The best online casinos know that the in-game player experience is only half of the puzzle, though. Your native language and currency need to be supported. The payment options you prefer need to be supported. When a technical issue happens, the casino needs to offer toll-free assistance to people who are fluent in your language. If you prefer to communicate with the site’s representatives through email or live chat, this should be available.
In particular, people who prefer online communications should make certain the casino offers live chat because this is how you get real-time assistance. Those who prefer Skype-style communications should expect to have this option, as well. These are the basics, which should be non-negotiable.
Easy Payment Methods
Since we’re talking about real money gaming, I want to focus in-depth on your experience with deposits and withdrawals. People who live in countries where the national currency is the Euro, the British pound sterling and the U.S. dollar should have no issues. These three currencies are used in virtually any English-language casino you’ll find. Those who prefer to use the Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, or South African rand need to check before they sign up for an account. These are becoming standard with the leading companies. If you choose to go with a second-tier online casino, it’s not a given your currency will be used.
Bettors also need to be certain a site uses VISA and MasterCard. Most sites accept these credit cards for payment, but a different withdrawal method often needs to be found. American Express is often not available. More likely than Amex, Diner Club International or JCB are going to be offered.
Among the web wallets, Neteller and Skrill (Moneybookers) are the most common deposit methods. Many sites support alternative e-wallets, but be certain they accept your favorite payment type, if you use one I haven’t listed by name. Increasingly, the PayPal payment service is used, but this is by no means universal. In local regions, native payment services are allowed. An example of this is POLi Payments, which Australians and New Zealanders can use at Aussie-friendly and Kiwi-friendly websites.
Convenience and Trust
The two words real money players need to consider are convenience and trust, though not necessarily in that order. To this point, I’ve discussed your convenience or comfort level while playing. A person can never be comfortable at a casino site if they don’t trust that site to pay their winnings when it’s time to make a withdrawal. Fast withdrawals without excuses or delays are a must. Let’s discuss that in greater detail.
An online casino is like any other business, maintaining the trust of customers is the cornerstone of the business. Reviewers throw out words like “legitimate” and “legit” when discussing online casinos, hoping to confer that sense of trust on a casino. At the end of the day, this means offering a fair game and paying winnings in a timely manner.
Most people are going to play at offshore websites, which means you put a great deal of trust in people who are under no obligation to pay you. Having a good reputation is essential in that case, so you should read reviews before you deposit money in an account. When I say “reviews”, I’m not suggesting you should read only pages just like this, either. Go to player forums and see what the actual customers have to say. Understand a certain amount of disgruntlement follows any casino because some people can’t stand losing. Instead of focusing on any one review, get a sense for the consensus opinion about an online casino.
One way to gain a sense for the legitimacy of an online casino is to see which agency provided licensing for the casino. If you see no licensing authority at all, that’s bad and I cannot suggest you playing at the site. Many legal authorities license operators around the globe, so any casino which cannot get licensing should be avoided.
Some of the leading licensing jurisdictions are Gibraltar, Malta, Antigua & Barbuda, The Netherlands Antilles (Curacao), the Kahnawake Gaming Authority out of Canada, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, and Alderney. Most of these (besides Curacao and Cyprus) are either British Crown Dependencies or members of the Commonwealth of Nations. In either case, they were once part of the British Empire and have legal systems based on English common law. They tend to promote fairness.
Non-Licensing Watchdog Groups
Industry-led watchdog groups exist which provide non-governmental oversight, too. Groups like eCOGRA, which was founded by Microgaming back in 1998, audit and report on the business practices of their members. The idea is to assure fairness and transparency on a voluntary basis, so governments don’t have to provide greater oversight themselves.
That idea has worked for nearly 20 years. Each month, members of eCOGRA have their winnings audited. Their payout percentages are posted for the world to see. If an online casino is not a member of one of these associations, it is difficult to know what their house edge really is, even if they publish it themselves. Thus, membership in an industry association is an important way to verify.
Third-Party Testing to Ensure Real Money Games are Legit
Another form of third-party testing is available–and equally important. Legitimate online casinos hire third-party services to audit their operations to test both for fairness and for security.
A company like the Australia-based Technical Systems Testing (TST) is an example of one of these sites. They go over the accounting for an online casino, making sure their games maintain fairness and accountability. A few scandals happened in the first 10 years of online gambling, so greater safeguards now exist to assure a fair game is offered. Also, Internet security, privacy issues, and identity theft are important issues, so a company like TST assures a website operator maintains a safe environment for its customer’s credit card and banking information.
Don’t Forget Mobile Casinos
Real money online casinos need to provide support for traditional desktop computers, as well as mobile support for smartphones and tablets. When you’re selecting an online casino and expect to be playing with an Android phone or iPhone anytime, be sure to test the casino’s mobile site too. Today, most of the leading iGaming companies have a native mobile app or use HTML5 to make their site responsive to mobile devices. Any cutting-edge casino brand is going to have an Android casino app and an iOS casino app for iPhone and iPad, at the very least.