Gambling meccas such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City have long been destinations of choice for casino players worldwide but the recent rise in online casinos is starting to give them a real run for their money.
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The ability to play in online casinos for real money – regardless of where in the world you happen to be at the time – is tempting many players to open accounts and start wagering significant cash.
In this article we’ll cover what you need to know when playing in online casinos for real cash, review the points to be on the lookout for in your casino provider, explain how to stay on the right side of the law and provide a quick breakdown of the different types of online casino that are out there.
Let’s start with a quick note on the difference between playing for free and gambling for real money in an online casino.
Real Money Online Casinos: Practice First
Most online casinos these days will offer free versions of their table games that you can play purely for fun rather than for real money. This can be a good option to start off with when you’re still trying to get a feel for a particular casino and before you put any real cash on the line.
Here are some quick points to bear in mind about the difference between free and pay-to-play options:
- Risk: Playing for free removes risk from the equation entirely when you are betting. The only thing you are spending is your time.
- Earning potential: Following on from the first point, you obviously won’t be able to cash out any winnings. This is in stark contrast to real money casinos where what you win is yours to take home.
- Testing: Playing for free is a good way to test out a new betting strategy or kick the tyres of a new online casino you are thinking of registering with.
- Account requirements: You’re often able to access online casinos’ free play options without having to actually register an account.
- Game features: Free versions of popular games such as blackjack or poker may not include all the features available in the real money versions of the games.
Let’s move on to examining what you should look for in your casino of choice when you’re playing for real money.
Online Casinos For Real Money: What To Look For In Your Provider
The world of online casinos is an incredibly competitive one so the odds are very much in your favour as a gambler when it comes to making a choice.
All casinos are actively trying to recruit new players so be sure to shop around to take advantage of the best offers. Don’t worry, we’ll get on to specific promotions to look out for in the next section.
In general terms, there are a number of positive signs you should look for in your online casino when weighing up the alternatives. Ideally you want a casino with an established track record online that offers a full range of table games including obvious favourites like roulette and poker.
The casino should also have a positive online reputation and be known for prompt payouts. Be sure to do your due diligence in this regard by searching reviews on casino forums and googling the casino’s name along with search terms such as “scam”, “review” and so on. When you’re playing in a casino for real money, you want to be certain you’re dealing with a legitimate operator.
On the negative side of the equation, you should avoid any online casinos with excessive account fees, hard to understand terms and conditions, limited account funding methods or a lack of customer support options.
Bear in mind when you’re signing up that you’ll often be asked to verify your identity as part of the signup process and prove that you’re of legal age to be able to gamble in your jurisdiction.
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Another thing to watch out for is the payout ratio. As a general guideline for you to use, most online casinos offer a payout ratio of between 95%-98%. We’ve put together a detailed article on the subject of payout ratios if you’re looking to explore further.
A pleasant side effect of the competition in the world of online gaming that we previously mentioned is the range of enticements on offer to players to get them in the virtual door. Remember to check the terms and conditions carefully when taking advantage of casinos' bonuses!
Here’s a brief rundown of the type of bonuses and special offers you can expect to find when you’re wagering real cash online:
- Deposit Bonuses: These generally come in the form of the casino matching either your entire initial deposit or a percentage thereof. They’re a great way to get off to a good start on the tables.
- No Deposit Bonuses: With this variation, you’ll be offered an initial amount to wager with before you’ve even deposited any real cash of your own. Amounts on offer tend to be less than with deposit bonuses but every little helps!
- Free Spins: If you’re a fan of slots or the roulette tables, then keep an eye out for free spin offers from your online casino.
- Ongoing Promotions: Most casinos will also provide ongoing special offers and promotions throughout the year to keep existing players coming back for more. Make sure you’re following your casino’s blog and social channels for news of promotions.
Real Money Casinos Online: Keeping It Legal
If you’re looking to play online for real money, you’ll naturally want to be certain you’re staying on the right side of the law at all times.
Here at ChipAnalyst.com, we are strong advocates of responsible gambling and urge you to make sure you playing in a legal environment for the jurisdiction that’s applicable to you.
The legal situation for playing in online casinos varies from country to country and the rules and regulations governing banking in relation to online gambling transactions are also far from consistent. Here are some general pointers:
- USA: The rules and regulations in America are still stricter than in most countries but each state can decide for itself whether to allow it. New Jersey and Nevada are the two obvious candidates who have opted to make it legal. Sports betting is however illegal online across America.
- Europe: Playing for real money in online casinos is legal in the vast majority of European countries.
- Asia: The situation in Asia varies dramatically from country to country so it is hard to give any general advice. Be sure to check the legality of online gambling in your particular jurisdiction if you are based in that part of the world.
Different Types Of Online Casinos For Real Money
Newcomers to the world of online casinos are often surprised to find that not all casinos are the same. There are two basic categories of casinos in terms of interfaces:
- Real Money Download based Casino: With this variation, you’ll be downloading the casino’s software directly to your machine rather than playing in browser. The advantages here include speed and, typically, better graphics capabilities.
- Real Money Web based Online Casino: With the web-based casino option, you’ll be playing directly in browser so no additional software is required although you will typically need a Flash or Java-based plugin. Bear in mind that Apple mobile devices do not support Flash.
There is also a further distinction to be made in terms of gameplay:
- Live Online Casinos / Live Dealer Casinos: With this option you are participating via a streaming link with a real human dealer. It’s literally like being at the casino and there are usually options for interacting with the dealer via chat on offer. Due to the expense involved in providing these games, the amount of games on offer here is typically limited, but it's a great way of upping your playing game and learning the real nuances of the experience.
- Virtual Online Casino for Money: Far more common is the virtual online casino option which is purely software based and relies on a computer algorithm called a Pseudorandom Number Generator (PRNG) to decide the outcome of the games. The performance of these algorithms is regulated by independent third-party auditors to ensure that they are fairly implemented.
Depositing Money To Your Online Casino
When you’re playing for real cash online, you’ll obviously need a way of getting money in and out of your account. Most online casinos will support some or all of the following funding methods:
- Mastercard and Visa: The two big beasts of the credit card world are the most popular funding choice for gamblers worldwide due to their flexibility, global acceptance and high standards of security. Both Mastercard and Visa should be on offer in virtually all online casinos.
- Paypal: Paypal’s low fees, speed of funds transfer and general convenience as an online wallet make it a favourite with many casino players.
- Skrill: The last number of years have seen a new wave of eWallet solutions emerge to challenge Paypal’s dominance. Skrill is the leading contender here and is particularly popular in Europe.
- Bitcoin: Though still in its infancy as a payments platform, Bitcoin has caught the eye of tech savvy players worldwide and is one to keep an eye on for the future.
Types Of Games You'll Find At Online Casinos
We’ve gotten this far without actually mentioning the types of table games you can expect to be betting real money on. Unless you’re dealing with a specialist site – a poker-only setup for example – you should expect to find all of the following on offer:
- Online Poker: Nothing quite beats the thrill of playing online poker for real cash. It’s a chance to pit your wits against the best in the world and have a chance of coming away with some truly sizeable winnings.
- Real Money Roulette: Improvements in 3D graphics have made online roulette a genuinely immersive experience these days with just as much excitement as the real thing.
- Online Blackjack For Real Money: Blackjack has long been a favourite in casinos worldwide due to its unique mixture of strategy, skill and chance. All serious online casinos will offer a full range of blackjack games.
- Online Slots for Cash: As we all know, a casino just wouldn’t be a casino without some slots action to hand for a relaxing side-bet when you’re taking a break from the tables. Expect to find a full set of games from popular makers such as Betsoft on offer.
Tips On Playing For Real Money
Though it’s an exciting and potentially rewarding option, we do encourage you to exercise a degree of caution when playing in online casinos for real money – particularly if you are new to the game. Bear the following points in mind to help you play safely and sensibly:
- Begin with a budget: Always start with a fixed budget in mind and stick to it. This helps avoid getting into the potentially dangerous habit of chasing losses. You can always increase this budget as you go on and learn more about the games.
- Consider using a debit card: If it’s on offer as a funding method, consider starting with a debit card so you do not have unnecessarily tempting access to additional credit and can limit your spending.
- Schedule playing time: Rather than playing whenever the mood takes you, schedule your table time in advance to bring some discipline to your overall approach.
Before we close things out, let's take a minute to reflect on some major developments in the world of real money casinos in 2016, and look ahead to what we might expect in 2017.
Real Money Casino News In 2016 (And What We Can Expect In 2017)
The biggest casino-related story of the year has undoubtedly been the unexpected ascension of one of the world's most flamboyant casino owners to the White House. While Donald Trump had a great year politically, his gambling empire didn't perform so well. That's a story we saw repeatedly throughout 2016 as the gambling industry came under attack from all sides.
Though their offline counterparts have been in the wars, online casinos continue to be a growth industry – a trend we can expect to continue well into 2017. With a casino proprietor in the White House, there's also an excellent chance that the online market in the US may well finally be fully legalised. Meanwhile, ongoing mobile penetration and increasingly friendly regulatory environments worldwide mean that there's never been a better time for most gambling enthusiasts to follow their passion whether they're at home or on the move.
We hope this brief overview of playing in online casinos for real money has been helpful in getting you up to speed on the options involved. There’s a huge range of casino providers out there to choose from, many of them with excellent offers for new players, so be sure to look around and lock in the best deal.
We wish you the best of luck on the tables!
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