Online Casino FAQ

The online casino gaming market is a billion-dollar industry which continues to grow each year. Internet casinos offer most of the games played in a brick-and-mortar casino, using casino simulation software and random number generators. That was the original concept, though online gaming has grown and evolved in the past twenty years.

Online gamblers are hard to peg. One study showed 80% of online gamblers in the United States did not visit a land-based casino in a year’s time. Some consider gaming for real money to be a form of entertainment. Others consider it a hobby, or simply a way to relax after a hard day’s work. Still others view their pastime in a completely opposite way: it’s a thrill-seeking opportunity or a pure adrenaline rush.

Beginners to the online casino community are likely to have a lot of questions. Getting up to speed at this point requires the study of several forms of gambling: traditional online casinos, live casinos, instant play gaming, and mobile casinos. This Online Casino Frequently Asked Questions page covers each of those categories in their own turn. This guide to online casino games also offers advice on researching the best casinos. Take a look at the questions and categories that you want to learn more about.

No single set of online gambling laws exists in the world, because there are so many jurisdictions throughout the world. In the U.S. gambling market, players must deal with federal law and 50 sets of state gambling laws. Over 200 sovereign nations exist worldwide, so international gamblers deal with hundreds of laws. Below you will get the answer to some common questions regarding online gambling laws.

What type of information should I research about a casino?

New players should research whether a site is legitimate, safe, and secure. Part of your research process should involve the licensing authority which approved an online casino. Learn who the software providers are, because this is a sign a site is legitimate. If you can’t find which government oversees and regulates a casino’s gaming, do not make deposits there.

What types of casino games can I play?

Video slots and video poker are playable in an online casino. Table games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and craps are available. Many sites have specialty games like keno, bingo, and online scratch cards. Besides poker and sports betting, most games found in a brick-and-mortar casino are playable in an online casino.

In some jurisdictions, it’s legal to gamble online. In other countries, online gambling is a banned activity. It is the responsibility of players to know whether online gambling is legal in their home country, as well as states and territories within their home country. Our site provides detailed information on gambling laws in the United States and around the world.

Is it safe to play at casinos?

It is safe to play at legitimate online casinos with the proper licensing, software support, and ownership. If you play at a popular casino, they have the resources to provide cutting edge encryption technology like 128-bit SSL certificates. The best online casinos protect a player’s privacy, have a customer support staff which verifies every transaction, and uses advanced technology to foil identity thieves. It is unsafe when players choose a less well-known casino or a rogue casino, so do your due diligence.

All of the research we have done suggest that playing at online casinos from the United States is legal. We are not lawyers and we do recommend you check your national, state and local laws to determine if playing at online casinos is legal in your area. Many USA residents believe the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) made playing at online casinos illegal however we (as well as many others) do not interpret the law in that way. There are many criticisms regarding this law and you can see more on the UIGEA here where you can draw your own conclusions.

What are the State gambling laws?

Besides its confusing federal gaming laws, the U.S. has 50 sets of state gambling laws. Fifty different legislatures wrote these laws over several generations, so gaming laws are much different from state-to-state. For instance, Nevada legalizes, regulates, and taxes a wide variety of gambling. An adjacent state, Utah, bans all forms of gambling. Read our state gambling laws to see what the statutes in your region are.

Is it legal to wager at UK online casinos?

Yes, it is legal for residents of the United Kingdom to wager at UK online casinos. The United Kingdom has a well-regulated online gambling industry, so the UK Gaming Commission allows most forms of gambling. Those same UK casinos might ban players from other countries.

Is it legal to bet at Canadian online casinos?

The 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada enforce Canadian gambling laws within their borders. While the Canadian parliament allows online gambling, players need to learn the laws in their home territory. Even certain cities ban online gambling in Canada, though it is rare.

Can I play at Australian online casinos?

Under the Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 (IGA), it is legal for Australian gamblers to bet online at the casinos of offshore operators. The government of Malcolm Turnbull is considering an update to the IGA law at this moment, so Australian online gambling laws could change in the near future. Keep reading Online United States Casinos to get the latest information on gaming laws throughout the world.

Are the online casinos listed here licensed?

Yes, all the online casinos listed here on our website are licensed in a regulated jurisdiction. See our individual Casino Reviews to see where each online casino is licensed. Every online casino we recommend also undergoes third party audits to ensure fair play and proper game payout percentages. In many cases this third party audit is a stipulation of their license and they must be audited annually or bi-annually in order to renew their casino license.

Choosing the Best Online Casino

Find out what to look for when trying to find the best online casinos to play at. Whether they accept US players or not, as well as how you can play and bet on the many different games available.

How do I choose the best casino?

Find honest reviews of the casinos you’re considering. Many online review sites only want to drive signups, so they make outrageous or exaggerated claims. The best online casino reviews provide straightforward, honest reviews based on the fact helpful to players: bonus offers, wagering requirements, software summaries, download information, and VIP programs. These reviewers might recommend certain sites, but it’s based on helpful criteria. Use these reviews, then doublecheck your research with ratings from player communities like Ask Gamblers.

How can I “Instant Play” at casinos?

Most online casinos offer a link on their homepage which says “Instant”, “No Download”, or “Flash Casino”. Each of these is a link to the instant play casino games page. Click on this link, find the game you want to play in the instant lobby, and click the game link. Wait a few seconds while the game loads in your web browser and you’ll be playing a no-download game in a few instants.

Can you still download a casino?

Yes, though more casinos are converting to instant-play sites all the time. Even though it is 2017, most casinos still offer a downloadable software package.

Can I play games from a mobile casino?

Yes. Most online casinos have a mobile version. Designers optimize their software for Android and iOS devices, so iPhones, iPads, and most other smartphones and tablet computers are compatible. Some casinos even provide gaming apps for Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Symbian (Nokia) operating systems. Google Play and the iTunes Store do not allow real money gaming apps, so the only place you can find real money mobile games is at a mobile casino.

Live Dealer Casino Games

With online casinos becoming more technological, they offer games with live dealers. This has brought an entirely new experience to online gmabling. Players receive a real casino experience by being able to have the live dealer shuffle the cards, toss the roulette ball, and interact with the players.

How do I find live casino games?

Online casinos which offer live dealer casino games have a link to them in their games menu. Search the banner at the top of the homepage for “Live” or “Live Casino”. Once you find the live dealer page, visit the lobby to see the playable games: blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are common. Live dealer games are compatible with desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones.

What is the difference between live dealer and online casino games?

While you’re gambling on your computer either way, live dealer casino games feature live dealers and live cards, wheels, or dice. As the game happens, it’s streamed live to your screen. Live dealing gambling is a more social experience.

Live blackjack, live roulette, and live baccarat are the most popular games in the live dealer industry. European and North American players prefer blackjack and roulette played with live dealers, so any casino is going to offer these games. Baccarat is popular anywhere, but especially with Asian players.

What games do live casinos offer?

Live dealer craps was a popular choice in early years, but requires four employees, so it is not found everywhere. Asian games like Keno, Sicbo, Mahjong, and Baccarat: Dragontail are available on some sites. Evolution Gaming supports Casino Hold’em, also known as Caribbean Hold’em on some sites.

What are the benefits of Live Dealer games?

Playing casino games with real dealers and real equipment is an advantage over virtual online gambling. Interacting with dealers and other players in real time creates a social experience which doesn’t exist with traditional online games. If you’ve ever wanted to combine the convenience of online casino gaming with the look and feel of live land-based gaming, then you’ll love live dealer games.

Casino Games

You can find the same online casino games you would find at regular casinos, with a few differences. Find out more about these differences below.

Is card counting allowed in online blackjack?

Yes, but it does no good to try it. Most forms of online blackjack have an automatic reshuffle between hands, so card counters receive no advantage. It’s a waste of time. Online blackjack players should search for the blackjack variant with the lowest house edge and study basic strategy for that variant, because you won’t find an advantage game.

Who plays the banker in online baccarat?

The player always has the option of placing the banker bet in online baccarat. The software handles the deal and the casino covers the bets, so the game plays must like mini-baccarat would on the Las Vegas Strip. Live dealer baccarat has the dealer handle the cards, but you can find versions which allow a more traditional role for the banker, where the player banks the games.

What versions of online video poker are available?

The best online casinos offer 15 or more versions of video poker. Any good site offers Jacks or Better, Joker Poker, and Deuces Wild. Many sites have All-American, Loose Deuces, Aces & Deuces, and various forms of Bonus Poker.

Do online casinos offer European Roulette or American Roulette?

They offer both. Unless the casino has house rules, players should always play European Roulette. Many casinos also provide French Roulette, which has “announced bets”. French Roulette has the same odds as European Roulette, but high rollers prefer French Roulette, because it allows players to max out the bet limits with full-maximum bets.

Can I play Real Money Games?

Yes, the best online casinos allow real money games for the full range of table games, video poker, and slots. To play for real money, you’ll need to use a credit card, debit card, web wallet, wire transfer service, or bitcoin to fund your account. All you have to do is register and account and fund that account and you’ll be playing in minutes.

Can I try the Games for Free First?

Most online casino support freeplay games. Playing for free allows gamblers to test the software and game selection, practice strategy, and learn the gaming interface. It’s a promotional tool for the casino. Some casinos only allow practice mode before you play for real money, so keep that in mind.

Casino Deposits and Withdrawals

One of the most important aspects of playing at an online casino is the deposits and withdrawals. It is important for players to know that their money is safe, and that they can quickly and securely take money out of their account.

What are my deposit options?

Casinos want as many customers to deposit as possible, so the best casinos allow a dozen or more payment methods. Credit cards, debit cards, bitcoin, wire transfers, and e-wallets are some of the most popular deposit methods.

Is using a credit card safe?

Yes. Online casinos have software which makes credit card payments easy, secure, and safe. The casino does not store your credit card information, so only you have the key details.

How long does it take to process a deposit? A withdrawal?

Deposits are instantaneous in most cases. If a deposit doesn’t happen immediately, wait a couple of minutes for the transfer to happen. Withdrawal take 24 to 72 hours for the cashier to approve, because they verify each payment. Banks and financial institutions take a few days to a few weeks to process the deposit from their end.

What Method can I use to make a casino deposit?

Players have several key options, including credit cards, wire transfers, and bitcoin deposits.

  • Credit Cards: Credit cards are the most popular way to make a deposit. Visa and MasterCard are payment options at most sites, while selected casinos support payments with American Express and Discover Card.
  • Western Union / Money Gram: Wire transfer services are a fast and easy payment method, though Western Union and MoneyGram charges a fee. In certain countries, you’ll see these referred to as RapidTransfer (Moneygram) and MoneyTransfer (Western Union).
  • Bitcoin: Bitcoin is the online cryptocurrency which provides anonymity and ease. Bitcoin is the fastest and safest payment method, and it also is a common withdrawal type.

Casino Bonuses

Players can always take advantage of the great bonuses that online casinos have to offer. There are many different types of bonuses to choose from.

Why would a casino give free money to players?

Casinos give free money for promotional purposes. Casino bonuses are like comps in the brick-and-mortar casino industry, providing house money in order to get players into the casino. It is an incentive to play at their casino. If you enjoy the gaming experience, the casino assumes you’ll deposit more money in order to keep playing.

What is a no-deposit bonus?

A no-deposit bonus is freeplay money given to players before they make a deposit. To receive this cash, a player must register an account. Players have no risk and no obligation when they accept a no-deposit bonus. A no-deposit bonus is cashable after the gambler meets the wagering requirement.

What is a wagering requirement?

Wagering requirements are terms placed on a bonus offer which stipulate a player cannot withdraw winnings immediately. This protects a casino from losing cash without the benefit of promotional play.  A wagering requirement, termed the “playthrough” or rollover requirement, suggests how much money must be wagered (in multiples of the bonus) in order to withdraw the bonus money. The requirement ranges from 12 times (12x) to 90 times (90x). Many stipulations exist, including a rollover requirement involving the bonus plus the deposit amount (20x the bonus+deposit). Read these terms and conditions closely in order to understand your obligations.

What is the Best Casino Bonus?

  • Deposit Bonus: Deposit bonuses are promotional money offered to convince players to test a casino. Bonuses can range from $20 to $10,000 and sometimes even more. Players receive these bonuses for their first deposit, or first few deposits. The best deposit bonus has a big bonus, reasonable wagering requirements, and a wide selection of playable games.
  • No Deposit Bonus: No-deposit bonuses tend to be $5 to $50, but some casinos offer $700 or $888 no-deposit bonuses. Freeplay bonuses exist for loyal customers, usually in the form of a freeplay bonus chip. The best no-deposit bonus has a reasonable rollover and no cash limits.
  • Reload Bonus: A reload bonus rewards loyal players who continue to make deposits. Instead of making an initial deposit, the player reloads their casino account with money. The best reload bonus should be redeemable an unlimited number of times.
  • Game-Specific Bonus: A game-specific bonus only applies to a certain game or certain type of game: slot machines, table games, or video poker. The best game-specific bonus has a lower wagering requirement for a specific game you like.

Casino Software

The best online casinos will always have the top gaming software. This software is only provided by reputable developers.

What are reputable casino software providers?

In the United States gaming market, the reputable casino software providers are RealTime Gaming (RTG), Rival Gaming, WGS Technology (Vegas Technology), and Pragmatic Play (TopGame Technology). In the international online casino niche, the most reputable companies are IGT, NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, EGT, Betsoft, Novomatic, and WMS. In the live dealer industry, Evolution Gaming and Global Gaming Labs are top companies.

What is the software used for?

  • Games: Casino software allows your computer to interact with the games on the casino site. If you download casino software, the games load on the website. If you use instant play games, the games load in your browser. Mobile casino software allows players with Android and iOS smartphones and tablet computers to gamble.
  • Banking: Software also needs to support a full range of deposits and withdrawals. Credit cards, web wallets, and bitcoin payments need to be safe, secure, and easy. Software gives the player the ability to withdraw winnings in a fast and secure process.
  • Customer Support: Casino software gives a player quick communication with the customer support personnel. Live Chat provides a way to ask questions in real time. An email address needs to exist for tech support personnel, the cashier department, and management.
  • Managing the Overall Website: Most online casinos support hundreds of games. The software needs to manage transactions like deposits, withdrawals, bonus offers, and in-play betting. Easy navigation around the site should exist, so players can see the full list of promotions, terms and conditions, and game options.

What are the top software providers in the United States?

Real money gamblers from the United States encounter a couple of software companies more than others: RTG and Rival. Both companies offer a full package of video slots, table games, and video poker. Each provides progressive jackpots, licensed games, and interactive bonus games.

  • RealTime Gaming: RTG launched in 1998 as a software developer and is now the most popular US-friendly online casino software. RealTime Gaming offers its Real-Series Slots, the biggest progressive jackpots in the US gaming market, and a large selection of table games and video poker software.
  • Rival Gaming: Rival Gaming launched in 2005 and has built a following in the 11 years since. Rival produces the HTML5-driven I-Slots Series, along with video slots which have a lot of game features: multipliers, wild symbols, scatter symbols, and bonus games. Rival Gaming’s table games and video poker selection is smaller than RTG’s, but it has 4 variations of Bingo.

What type of software do instant play games use?

Instant play casinos used Flash, HTML5, and Java to load games in the browser and does not require a software download. Browser-based gaming allows player on a desktop PC, Mac computer, and a variety of mobile devices. Most mobile smartphones and tablet computers are compatible with instant play casinos, including Android, iPhone, and iPad.

  • Flash: Adobe Flash Player is the most popular instant play software. Flash casinos handle graphics and animations seamlessly, so many casino operators prefer Flash games. Flash designers pioneered 3D animated slot machines.
  • HTML5: HTML5 is the next generation of web-based video players. The Worldwide Web Consortium backs the HTML5 technology, so many people assume this is the wave of the future in instant play casino gambling. HTML5 designers create cinematic-quality animated graphics.
  • Java: Java is a programming language supported by Oracle Corporation and Sun Microsystems. Java works equally well for downloadable and instant play games, which makes it a favorite with some designers. Java is less widespread than Flash or HTML5.

Conclusion

That is a basic overview of the online casino industry. As you can see, players have a tremendous number of options, from classic online casinos, mobile casinos, live dealers, and instant play games.

I’ve answered most of your basic questions. Hopefully, I’ve provided the resources in the last section to answer more advanced questions which might arise. Contact OUSC if you have additional inquiries and we might add your question to this online casino FAQ.