Most gamblers in the world have more real money online casino options these days than ever before. A certain paralysis-by-analysis happens when confronted by so many opportunities. To make your choice a bit less stressful, this site has built a comprehensive guide to the online casino industry. As you read the site, you’ll find many reasons to choose one brand over the other. Undoubtedly, you’ll find a product which meets all your need.
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.
This page offers some guidance on making your selection.
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Online Casino Software / Gameplay
The software is how you interface with whatever casino game you prefer. If you don’t like the software used by an online casino. 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.
The more popular online casinos tend to have the best software. 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). Aristocrat Leisure and Bally Technologies are gaining more of an online presence. Meanwhile, 888 Holdings and Bwin.Party is 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.
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Live Dealer Games at Real Money Casinos
Those real money gamblers 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 life 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 randomness to be arrived at the old fashioned way. 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 with 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 a whole host of 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 watchwords 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 site if they don’t trust that site to pay their winnings when it’s time to make a withdrawal. Fast withdrawals without bickering or sales tactics 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” to discussed sites, 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 saw “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 of the consensus opinion about an online casino.
One way to gain a sense of 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 is a bad business.
Some of the leading licensing jurisdictions are Gibraltar, Malta, Antigua & Barbuda, The Netherlands Antilles (Curacao), the Kanhawake 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 in 2015 need to provide support for traditional desktop computers, as well as mobile support for smartphones and tablet computers. When you’re selecting an online casino and expect to be playing with an Android phone or iPhone anytime in the near future, remember to check on an online casino’s mobile sister site, too. In 2015, most of the leading gaming companies have a mobile casino side of their business. Not all do, though. 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.