For many of us who didn’t grow up in the internet age, the concept of gambling for real money at online casinos can be a bit intimidating. After all, you tend to hear horror stories of identity theft and other security issues when it comes to other online transactions, like shopping or banking. Many people who have taken an interest in real money casino games explore the idea initially, before being stopped short by fears that their money won’t be safe.
Are Real Money Casino Games Legal to Play?
Fortunately, the online casino industry is one of the more tightly regulated arenas of internet-based commerce. When the government intervened to regulate online poker a few years ago, the intense focus of lawmakers and other leaders spilled over to online casinos as well. After a long period of study by Congress, during which time online poker and sports betting were specifically scuttled, casino games like slots were not included in the sweeping new regulation.
This means the federal government has not ruled that playing online casino games for money represents a violation of the law. And sure enough, millions of Americans currently enjoy real money slots and other casino games through internet-based casinos.
Are Online Casino Games Fair?
Computer software is, in many ways, a modern miracle. Capable of reproducing practically any tangible experience right on your screen, modern software is used to seamlessly replicate intricate processes within the world of design, commerce, construction, and more. Because a slot machine is nothing more than a series of reels designed to spin randomly upon each pull of the lever, recreating the slot experience using advanced software is actually much easier than it sounds.
Today, companies like NetEnt, Realtime Gaming, Playtech, Microgaming, BetSoft, and IGT/WagerWorks specialize in designing state of the art casino game software. Powered by random number generators (RNGs) that ensure every spin or deal produces a randomized result, one completely independent from all other previous spins, this software takes the simple slot machine or table game to the next level.
To guarantee that an online casino’s RNG is accurate and 100% random, third-party monitoring firms are also contracted to run routine tests. Scanning through every program running each game on the site’s menu, these companies work tirelessly to verify that all gaming software in use provides a fair gaming experience.
Thankfully for the pre-internet generation, signing up for an online casino doesn’t require any specialized technical knowledge. You simply search for online casinos to find the one you prefer –based on reputation, appearance, software provider, and any number of personal factors. Take your time during this search and be sure to read any independent reviews you can find for each venue. The most trusted online casinos in the world have been operating for over a decade, and they’ve worked diligently to build a strong reputation, so it’s worthwhile to do your research and make sure you join one of these respected venues.
From there, click through to the “registration” or “sign-up” page and enter a few essential items of personal information. Most online casinos will only need your name, date of birth, and a mailing address to get you on your way, but you may also need to provide one-time documentation of your identity. This safeguard is put in place to protect both players and casinos. Although it might be a hassle to scan and send a recent utility bill, this critical confirmation is crucial to the site’s ongoing fraud prevention efforts.
Funding Your Casino Account
After you’ve registered for an account on the real money casino of your choosing, the next step is to fund your account with an initial deposit. Head to the “cashier” page and read about the various deposit methods made available by the casino. You should find common deposit methods like Visa debit/credit card or wire transfers from your bank account, along with more modern tools like virtual wallets. A virtual wallet is simply a middleman of sorts or a web service that allows you to move money from your bank account to an online vendor quickly and conveniently. The most popular casino deposit options today are PayPal and Skrill, and you’ll see these names listed under the deposit options for most reputable online casinos.
Choosing a deposit method will likely be based on where you live, as local jurisdictions often impose their regulations on certain online transactions. So if your first crack at a deposit using your debit card is declined, don’t sweat it, and simply contact the customer service department for the online casino. They’ll be able to tell you which deposit method works best for your location, and once you’ve made that initial deposit, the process should never involve more than a few clicks of your mouse after that.
The amount you deposit depends on your finances, of course, but for the most part, a minimum of $20 must be met. The vast majority of online casino deposits come in between $20 and $100, and this bankroll is usually more than enough to get started – especially when playing slots. Just like in a brick and mortar casino, online casinos spread a large number of slot games with prices ranging from a single penny to several dollars per spin. So beginners can enjoy the penny slots while trying to build a bankroll, while high-rollers can enjoy the thrill of big bets leading to even more significant rewards.
The process for withdrawing funds from your account after a win is just the same as a deposit, only in reverse. Many sites offer withdrawals directly to your bank account, so receiving your winnings is just like being paid a paycheck via direct deposit. You can also request that a paper check be mailed out to your home address, although this withdrawal method is usually the slowest. In other cases, withdrawals can be handled through your preferred virtual wallet.
In any case, be sure to read the rules and regulations concerning withdrawals at your online casino of choice. Every venue has different timeframes for withdrawn funds to hit your account, so it’s important to understand how long the process will take before requesting a cashout.
Many players complain that deposits are accepted immediately by online casinos, while withdrawals can often take days or weeks to be returned. This may be a legitimate complaint overall, but when you are fully aware of your online casino’s withdrawal timelines, the occasional wait can be made much more bearable.
Licensing and Certification
When you search for online casinos, you’ll notice a wide variety of gaming commissions, regulatory agencies, and other entities purporting to have authority over the site in question. For example, eCogra claims to be a casino watchdog advocacy group aimed at protecting players. You might see the eCogra logo near the bottom of many online casino homepages. While this designation can’t hurt, the company doesn’t do anything tangible to keep players safe.
It’s best to recognize the online gaming industry’s often tenuous relationship with regulation, as the only one who can truly protect you when playing slots online is you. Because the law in the United States does not currently address online casinos, one way or the other, companies competing in this space must utilize gaming commissions put in place by other countries.
That’s why you’ll see places like the Kahnawake Reservation in Canada, the United Kingdom’s Isle of Man, or Caribbean island nations like Costa Rica or Antigua listed as regulators for many prominent online casinos. While these locales have varying levels of professionalism when it comes to regulating online casinos, their presence alone is not enough to ensure the safety of a specific site ultimately.
The best play is to take your time and research different online casino venues because, in this industry, reputation is everything. Players will mark disreputable sites as shady, and a poor reputation can never be erased from the internet, so read up before making any deposits. Once you’ve found a site with years of history, a strong reputation, and thousands of satisfied customers, you can be reasonably sure that it’s a safe place to gamble online for real money.