If you are a new online casino player who’s looking for a place to play casino games for real money online, then you have to realize that there is a lot more to the exercise than what most people expect. For one, the space offers such cash windfall that not every company out there is trustworthy.
And so, to offer you fair bit assistance in finding an online casino that you can trust and enjoy playing games at, I’ll be discussing the critical thinking process that gamers need to be aware of in order to make good decisions about online gambling sites and where to play.
In trying to impart significant lessons about choosing between online casinos, I always point to an age-old saying that says, “if you give a man a fish, you’ve fed him for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, you’ve fed him for the rest of his life.”
I’m here to teach you how to fish. Let’s get started with the very basic: your goal as a gambler.
1) What is Your Goal?
The first step to picking an online casino that fits your needs is being completely aware of what your needs are. In simple terms, it’s ideal that you already have a fair grasp of what you’re hoping to get out of your online casino experience. Some of the common questions that gamblers need to ask themselves are:
- Are you looking for a place to play blackjack?
- Do you want to practice playing video poker?
- Are you hoping to get in a lot of real money play without investing a lot of your own money?
- Do you want to play live dealer games via webcam?
- Do you want to play Texas Holdem and bet on sports in addition to playing casino games?
Knowing the answers to these can greatly help you pick between many different appealing options. Fair warning though, if your objective is to find a surefire way to win money with little to no effort, no online casino is going to be able to do that for you. Sure, they have payouts and odds that are akin to most live casinos. However, all online casinos do a damn good job of foiling would-be advantage players.
For example, you can’t count cards at an online casino. All online casinos have very stringent betting requirements that make it nearly impossible to get an edge by taking advantage of their signup bonuses.
And, like any casino, virtual or not, all the games come with a mathematical edge for the house installed into the games. In the long run, you just can’t one-up this mathematical advantage.
In spite of that, knowing what your goals are from your online gambling experience is always the very first step in making a suitable decision about where to play. As a matter of fact, I recommend taking out a legal pad and a pen and making some notes about what you’re hoping for from your online casino experience.
2) Take a Look at What’s Out There
This nascent space is growing bigger and bigger by the day, with a lot of online gambling sites popping up. But you must know that not all online gambling guides are created equal. It is best if you look at a fair number of online gambling guides first before you settle on your favorites. When you do go and peruse the Web for these sites, here are some things to keep in mind:
The first is this: most online gambling guides are fuelled almost solely by money. Online casinos cough up huge advertising dollars to get their brand in front of possible players. Sometimes this comes in the form of referral fees, sometimes it comes in the form of a commission from player losses, and sometimes it’s just a flat monthly fee for a banner.
At any rate, when money’s is the matter, people’s principles suddenly become as flexible as a yoga instructor. And the more money that’s involved, the bendier those principles become.
In fact, have you ever come across an online gambling site that lists the top casinos in order of their overall payback percentages? I have it on good information that those are almost always just made-up numbers.
Another thing to be on the look out for is how even-handed and objective a writing on such a website seems to be. If the reviews are too slanted and list no problems to playing at an online casino, it’s quite possible that you’re just dealing with a shill for the casino, who might not have even tried a game at that particular site!
Also be on the lookout for content with a byline. Anonymous content is less reliable than content that’s credited to a particular author. A website with a robust “about us” page is often more trustworthy than a website that has little to no content on that particular page.
But take everything you read on every online gambling guide with a grain of salt. You still need to take responsibility for your decision-making when it comes to choosing an online casino.
3) Consider the Software Options
There are at least 4,000 different online casinos that are more than willing to take your money. Only a small percentage of them accept play from players in the United States, though. Of those, most are powered by one of a dozen or so software providers.
Most online casinos actually don’t use proprietary software. They lease software from a company called an online casino game software company. Some of these software programs produce better games than other games of similar ilk. Some of these software programs are downright horrendous, while others are good for specific games and bad for others.
One infamous example is Amigotechs. Several years back, a player said that he played close to a thousand hands of video poker and not once saw a winning hand. The odds of this happening with a truly random video poker game that’s working correctly are off the roof.
Luckily, casino software providers who cheat are few and far in between. In fact, I’m not sure why an online casino software company would even want to cheat. The math for all these games is already tilted in favor of the casinos in the long run!
Another thing to remember is that some software options don’t accept players from the United States. Microgaming is one of these, and it’s too bad, because they offer some of the best games and graphics in the industry today. Playtech is another software that doesn’t accept U.S. players.
On the other hand, Realtime Gaming casinos tend to provide gamers with a wide variety of fast-playing games, and they’re extremely U.S. friendly. Rival is another U.S. friendly software option.
If you have no experience with any of these, try finding some of the casinos using this software and play their free games to see if they are up your alley. After all, if you’re going to be playing casino games online, you should at least play casino games that are amusing to play and worth both your time and money.
4) Take a Close Look at the Cashout Policies at the Casino
When you see gamblers on forums air out their concerns about online casinos, the top legitimate complaint they have involves cashing out.
And cashing out at online casinos has a number of different factors to account for. For one, most online casinos let you reverse your pending cashout. The longer that option is available to you, the worse.
This is the reason why: you win $300 at the casino. You cash out. When that happens, your payment is now in “pending” status while the casino takes care of your cashout.
At most casinos, you have a specific amount of time to change your mind and cancel the pending cashout. This moves the money back into your casino account, where you can lose it playing slot machines, blackjack, or whatever game you enjoy.
The nastiest online casinos make this option open to gamers for 48 hours or more. You’re better off finding a casino that has a reverse time of less than 12 hours. If you can find a casino where there is no option to reverse your cashout, that’s the best situation to find yourself in.
The reverse time is linked to the amount of time it takes to process your cashout. The faster a casino processes your withdrawals, the better—for apparent reasons. When you’ve won some money gambling, you want to get your hands on that money as fast and as hassle-free as possible.
The worst casinos take 72 hours or more to process your withdrawals. This is processing time for the casino, by the way—this doesn’t mean you get your money right away after 72 hours. It means the casino starts the transfer 72 hours after you have made your request.
Any casino that processes your cashouts in less than 24 hours is doing a heck of a job. Anything beyond 72 hours is far too long. You’ll need to make your own choices regarding any lag time that falls in between those two ranges.
And finally, some casinos have restrictions to the amount of money you can withdraw each week or each month. The best situation, obviously, is a casino that has does not have any maximum withdrawal amount. After all, if you win a $10,000 slots jackpot, it’s better to just go ahead and go get your money in one go.
The worst casinos have cashout limits of $2,000 or so per week. They’re largely catering to low rollers, but the issue with a casino with such a low cashout limit is that it might not have enough capital. A casino with a policy like that might not have enough money to pay victorious gamblers if they win big! And the last thing winning gamblers need is to win money from a casino that can’t afford to pay winnings.
5) Inspect the Casino’s License
Online casinos that accept players from the United States are often licensed and regulated by governments that are not necessarily as defensive of the casinos’ clients as some governments might be. The quasi-legal nature of the online casino business, especially as it pertains to United States players, is what triggers this phenomenon.
Nations like Antigua, Costa Rica, and Cyprus provide licensing with little supervision. This shouldn’t keep you from opening an account at such a property.
On the other hand, if a casino is licensed by a place like the Isle of Man or the United Kingdom, you should definitely feel at ease. Getting a license in such jurisdictions actually costs a lot more money, which takes the weeds out of the running from the start. But those jurisdictions also provide more oversight and player protection than some of the other countries that license online casinos.
Also, some states in the USA have began regulating online casinos. New Jersey, for one, has online casino action available to its residents. Those are the cream of the crop. As a matter of fact, if you reside in a state that has legalized and regulated online gambling, the best thing you can do is keep to those local casinos and elude the offshore casinos entirely.
6) Be Mindful of the Site Reviews
There are a lot of forums and other sites that post player feedback about online casinos. You should definitely read through this feedback, but don’t instantly take their word for it. Some of the more positive commenters might be planted by shillers. Some of the most negative feedback can also be from sore losers.
The crucial thing to watch for are grumbles about the time it takes to cash out your money. If someone is having difficulty getting their money from a casino, and the casino appears to have little reasonable explanation for it, you might think twice about signing up for that property.
You’ll also find some casinos where its customer service team is engaged in the forums. This is a point in the casino’s favor. In fact, you can get a good feel for how a company treats its customers by evaluating the demeanor of their representatives in the forums. Go with your gut feeling here, but read judiciously and with thoughtfulness to how genuine these observations appear to be.
Picking an online casino is a lot easier when you have a solid jump-off point to begin from. You should, of course, have your own catalog of must-have’s when assessing an online casino. This might be as particular as the availability of a specific game or game type. And when you do settle on an online casino, I recommend depositing only a small amount of money there to begin with. Check how things go with the property as a customer, and slowly increase the amount of money you trust the site with over time.