Finding an online casino to play at can be a tough ask in 2019 with the amount of misinformation available. This article will give you a clear, accurate guide on how to find a safe and reliable gambling site with suitable deposit options and the games you wish to play.
Online casinos overview
Choosing an online casino
Online casino games
Online casino bonuses
Online casino licensing
Depositing real money
Best online casinos
An overview of online casinos
Online casinos are worth billions of dollars to the global economy. While figures are hard to confirm because of the privacy policies of casinos in certain jurisdictions, they are not hard to piece together.
In 2017 regulated online casinos generated $US50.65 billion in regulated markets with this figure jumping to more than $US55 billion in 2018.
In the United Kingdom alone more than £800 million was gambled in 2014 at casinos and bookmakers, with this figure only including vendors regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Imagine how much more is wagered at offshore gambling sites and in markets such as Australia where online casino play is heavily restricted.
Many governments around the world do not allow online casinos to be hosted in their countries, but are unable to stop their citizens from gambling at online casinos hosted in regions which allow them.
Some Asian countries deny access to gambling sites via IP blocking, with more governments investigating this option, although it takes great change in legislation for something like this to be pushed through.
Some of the most lucrative markets for online casinos include England, Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Denmark, Australia, Canada and North America.
How to choose an online casino
There are many things to take into consideration when choosing an online casino. Is it legal to bet at online casinos from your home country? What deposit options are there for people in your region? Is the casino licensed? Do they have the games you want? What is their reputation like? Are there any reports of slow cash-outs? What type of platform are you playing on?
As you read above, there are many different laws for online gambling in different nations. If you are unsure about the status of gambling in your country, do some research. It pays to be aware of the rules.
Again, do your research regarding licensing. The worst thing you can do is play at a casino run by shady characters. The casinos in certain jurisdictions get the plaudits for a reason: because they are forced to maintain high standards. Read reviews of casinos before playing there.
Many online casinos allow you to browse their games before you sign up, which gives a fair idea of what they have to offer. Some casinos will use multiple software providers and have more than 700 games, while others will stick to one platform. If you’re looking for 3D pokies, for instance, it pays to know NetEntertainent has one of the better selections.
Generally the instant-play casinos will use multiple providers, while there are hundreds of casinos in various jurisdictions which have Microgaming as their provider and have software available for players to use, as long as they are on a Windows PC.
Online casino games
While nothing quite matches the thrill of walking on to the gaming floor at one of Las Vegas’s many casinos, the online game selection is improving all the time. The selection of live dealer games is a welcome addition and has heralded the true arrival of online casinos. Some of the more prominent games played online include:
Slots: Known as pokies in some quarters, slots are one game which is genuinely better on your computer. The 3D games are life-like (or magical) and the progressive jackpots available on the internet can sometimes top $US10 million. Popular slots providers include Betsoft, Microgaming and Net Entertainment. Explore the history behind slots as well as different strategies and types with our informative guide.
Blackjack: Perhaps the No.1 casino game in the world is readily available to online players. There are various versions from many different software providers. Several of our favourite blackjack titles include Ezugi Live Dealer, Microgaming Live Dealer and many of the RNG titles by the same software provider. More about online blackjack.
Roulette: The Devil’s Wheel is one of the all-time classic casino games. Online you can play a large selection of live titles, including some you wouldn’t find at a land-based establishment. Roulette at online casinos, while catering for high rollers, also has games which don’t price out low-limit players, unlike some land-based gaming venues.
Poker: If you want to play casino poker you can, including games against the dealer such as Casino Hold’dem. There are also options such as casinos with the Microgaming Poker Network, which was released in 2015 and provides an API client for gambling websites. Then there are obviously sole poker websites such as Pokerstars, WSOP and Full Tilt Poker. More poker here.
Baccarat: Baccarat is one of those games where it doesn’t really matter if you are playing at home or at the Bellagio. The house edge is low, the stakes are usually high and the rules are simple. Online it’s exactly the same with live dealer and RNG-based versions available. Read more about baccarat.
Craps: Craps is one of the oldest casino games and is really quite simple despite appearing busy and confusing when playing live. Without proper guidance and understanding you can lose money quickly when playing, so be sure to read our How to play Craps guide.
Online casino bonuses
This is the big advantage online casinos have over their land-based rivals — they don’t have big overheads so they can afford to give more back to the customer. And while online casino bonuses usually come with heavy wagering requirements, you can walk away a winner from using a bonus. Things to look out for include ridiculous terms like a $10 cap on winnings or anything over 50x turnover requirements. Some of the more common bonuses you will find at online casinos include:
Welcome/Matched deposit bonus: This is when an online casino gives you something for opening your account. Often it will come in the form of a matched deposit. For instance, you might deposit $100 and receive a 100% match up to the value of $100. Meaning you will have a total of $200 to bet with.
Free spins: These are redeemed on the slots and most online casinos have ongoing promotions surrounding these games. Many casinos will give new players 100 free spins over the first five days they have their account, as a way of getting the customer to come back and play again after the initial deposit.
No-deposit bonus: As it sounds, the no-deposit bonus is when the casino gives you some cash to try out the games. Often the wagering requirements will be unrealistic on this type of bonus, but they can be a great way to get the vibe of the casino before depositing real money.
- MORE ABOUT: ONLINE CASINO BONUSES
We have seen it with sports betting for years but as devices such as iPhone and Android phones reach new heights, mobile casino gambling is growing. One leading casino told the World Gambling List 30% of their turnover had come from mobile.
Games on mobile phones are more restricted than when you’re playing on a computer, but there is still a good selection and now with many live-dealer feeds being based on html 5 you can play on your smartphone or tablet. The pokie selection is usually top class at mobile casinos, while RNG table games are extremely functional. As the mobile market grows, expect the game selection to become stronger and stronger.
Depending on which country you are in you may be able to download market apps for various online casinos from places such as the Apple App Store and the Google Plus store, which is for Android users. Some countries, such as Australia, have legislation against real money gambling apps. If you use Android and want to download an app in a country where they are banned you may be able to download a non-market app directly from the casino.
Online casino licensing jurisdictions
Gambling at online casinos is done by millions of people, with most of them safely and securely enjoying their gambling experience at a website licensed in a respected jurisdiction.
What this means is there are countries which license and regulate online casinos, the vendors forced to abide by certain restrictions to operate. For instance, online casinos based in the United Kingdom must be audited by eCOGRA, which is an independent regulatory body which tests games for fairness and resolves disputes.
If an online casino is based in Malta it does not necessarily mean it is restricted to serving this country. Many of the biggest online casinos are based there and serve countries including England, USA, Australia and many others.
Some online casinos do restrict their services. For instance, many casinos do not service the USA because of the strict federal laws surrounding online gambling. To confuse matters further there are casinos operating outside this somewhat confusing law.
Trustworthy casino licensing:
While there are plenty more countries providing online casinos to the world, not all of them operate from savoury licensing jurisdictions. Eventually we will have more in-depth reviews of each of the places providing casinos, but for now here are some of the more respected places they are based.
Malta: The Malta Gaming Authority is the independent regulatory body responsible for all gaming activities. There are hundreds of online casinos licensed in Malta and they stand at the front of the queue, in terms of respect.
Gibraltar: Is part of the British Commonwealth but governs itself, remaining independent from the UK in terms of tax. Gibraltar licenses more than 200 online casinos and has a strong reputation for upholding player rights.
Curacao: Has been a long-time provider of gaming licences and has a good reputation. Curacao is formerly part of the extended Netherlands region.
United Kingdom: The UK has many licensed online casinos which provide services to millions of people around the world. The UK has extremely stringent measures in place to make sure players remain safe.
Deposits & withdrawals at online casinos
The methods involved in depositing money at online casinos are plentiful, with most having full banking facilities for countries they serve. This means deposits can be made via credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club etc), bank transfers (some local, some international), web wallets (Neteller, Skrill etc) and other forms of payments specific to certain countries. In Australia, for instance, there is a company called POLi which processes payments to casinos through accessing your online bank account.
Withdrawals work in a similar manner to deposits with the casino usually processing payments within 24 hours of requesting it, mostly quicker. Depending on the method you have selected to withdraw funds it could take a few business days for the cash to be yours. If you are using a web wallet or some other withdrawal methods you may get your money quicker, or even instantly.
Banking transactions at the safest online casinos are usually safeguarded with 256-bit SSL encryption technology. This is the best encryption available for keeping funds safe; it is in line with what major banks around the world use.
Online gambling history
The online gambling industry has graduated into a multibillion-dollar industry and now stands alongside land-based casinos as their peer, and the biggest growth driver in the sector. Even countries with traditionally staid attitudes to gambling such as the USA are slowly cottoning on to the untapped potential in the industry and the tax it can generate for states desperately looking for more money. Other countries like the United Kingdom have embraced it for many years and have outstanding regulatory bodies that are constantly updating their modus operandi.
It’s crazy to think the first online gambling websites such as Royal Vegas Casino opened their virtual doors in the mid 1990s and quite frankly were horrible, glitchy creations with a handful of basic RNG games, but the seeds had been sown for a much greater future. More and more software companies, many that still exist to this day, such as Microgaming, Playtech and Net Entertainment were launched and since then the development has not stopped. As internet speeds and technology have improved, online casinos have evolved to a point where you can now play your favourite casino games via video streamed on to your computer, television and even your mobile phones.
As the years have progressed from the first online casino more countries have legalised it as a legitimate business and now many states in the USA allow their land-based casinos to also host an online portal. Most countries in the European Economic Union have also regulated gambling although many of them fall back on Malta as their licensing body and receive their tax kick via the Malta Gaming Authority — the biggest jurisdiction in the world. Other countries around the Caribbean like Curacao and Antigua and Barbuda have also established regulatory bodies and are big players in the industry.
Countries such as Australia and China have completely outlawed online casinos although the nature of the internet is that even if it’s illegal there are still companies willing to take your money — and, yes, they are still regulated. Some licensing jurisdictions like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Gibraltar and Malta abide by each country’s laws and won’t allow their products to be used in places who have outlawed online gambling. However, if a country fails to address online wagering they will happily allow their licensees to operate in these places — known as grey zones. A prominent instance of this occurring was in Australia where casinos based in the UK and Malta operated there until late 2017 when the government effectively banned poker and other forms of online gambling.
As with any new industry there have been teething problems. Two of the main ones have been the expanded potential for problem gambling and money laundering.
Problem gambling has been around since the first card was flung in anger, but now with an online casino literally at the tip of our fingers at any time of the day there is a much greater threat. This means respected casinos take an active interest in betting patterns and things like large deposits. Their licensing bodies will put in place checks to make sure the operators are acting responsibly towards their patrons. Having said this a UK study, British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010, reported that up to 75% of gamblers online could be pathological or problem gamblers, in comparison to just 20% of land-based punters. Online gambling companies poked holes in the report at the time with some claiming it was funded by land-based casinos trying to protect their turf, but without a doubt the added privacy and availability of online gambling means the risk of problem gambling has never been greater.
Online casinos have long been a hotbed for money laundering and as recently as 2018 casinos licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority have been accused of poor practices surrounding their accounting. Basically organised crime is using the industry to clean their money, much like land-based casinos operators have been found to do. Many licensing bodies, and online casinos for that matter, have integrity departments looking into every transaction that is made at an online casino with more and more resources being poured into stopping the practice of money laundering.
Online casino languages and currencies
With the global online casino landscape rapidly evolving, one of the biggest pros has been that they are catering to specific or multiple markets. This means that often a casino will be hosted in multiple languages and cater to many different currencies. While the World Gambling List is written only in English at this point, we will point you in the right direction if you are searching for a certain language to do your gambling in. For instance, most European countries that do feature regulation will have casinos “facing” in their direction which means they will be in Swedish, Dutch, Spanish or many of the other languages spoken. You can read our casino reviews for further information on what languages are supported by each casino.
Most online casinos will outsource their payment processing and receive a global solution, which means they will have a stack of currencies available to choose from during the sign-up process. In short, all this really means is that your account balance will be displayed in your chosen currency, often corresponding to the country that you live in. However, if you are from a country without regulation or a smaller nation you may have to deposit and convert your money to another currency. Often there is a small conversion fee to do this, but it usually is less than a few per cent, or a small set amount, and then you will see the balance of your account in a popular currency such as the USD or Euro.
Online casino laws
Laws surrounding online casinos vary greatly from country to country which means it is hard to determine whether you specifically are legally allowed to play at an online casino. Even if you legally are not allowed to play at an online casino, it doesn’t mean you can’t. There are very few cases globally of a punter receiving the raw end of the stick from authorities for playing at an online casino; generally it is the operators themselves who are targeted. In the few cases where players have been prosecuted it has been in countries such as the United Arab Emirates where religious beliefs are backed up by stringent laws. Even now though casinos based “offshore” operate and accept players from countries who have strict gambling laws. You could break the countries’ laws down into three categories:
White market: Countries like the UK and Malta are considered white markets and have regulated, legal gambling options. Often countries classified as grey markets will also be targeted by white market operators because there will be no sanction for accepting players from here.
Grey market: Countries like Canada and New Zealand are considered grey markets, which means that there are no laws stopping offshore companies from targeting casino players, yet there are few or no regulated casinos by the specific country. Grey markets are like gold for gambling companies because they don’t have to pay tax to the country the players is from.
Black market: The illegal online casino industry is booming and worth billions of dollars. Countries like the USA, Australia, China and Malaysia are black markets and have thriving online casino scenes. Licensing bodies such as Curacao and Costa Rica allow their operators to target black markets which often forces the hand of governments around the world to take action and offer regulated gambling themselves.
Staying safe & customer service at online casinos
If there has been a theme in this article it is to do your research before committing a lot of money to a casino. It pays to query customer service before you deposit to make sure there is someone there. You can always make a small deposit and then withdraw it to make sure the process works smoothly.
Customer service at online casinos can be reached via several methods (obviously depending on what casino you are playing at). There are options such as email, live chat, Skype and sometimes even local numbers for players to call. This is definitely one area of a casino to have a look at before you commit real money.