These days there is little need to take risks when it comes to enjoying real money online casinos. Legal options are available to enjoy slots, table games and live dealer casino games in the US and around the world.
This guide to real money online casinos shows you how to stay safe while choosing a casino, depositing plus receiving payments and staying within the law of your country. Here is what you will find below:
- How to Find a Safe Online Casino: Rules of thumb to avoid problems
- What makes a Great Casino? What to look for before you deposit
- State Regulated Casinos: Where to play in NJ, NV, DW
- Sweepstakes Casinos: How sweepstakes casinos work in the US
- Deposit and Withdraw: How to keep your information safe and secure
Finding a Safe Gambling Site
There are a lot of trusted casino brands which have been looking after players brilliantly for years. For brand new players, the problem is that these look the same as new casinos with unknown ownership and no track record at all.
Fortunately, there are some easy rules of thumb for finding a safe, trusted real money casino.
First, choose a regulated and licensed casino. Some casinos are regulated at the State level (currently New Jersey and Delaware), while many countries also have licensing bodies. For international casinos, look for a reputable licensing jurisdiction such as Gibraltar, Malta, Alderney or the Isle of Man.
Licensing bodies ensure compliance – and give you an avenue to resolve any dispute with a casino. While some jurisdictions are more thorough than others in their oversight, the lack of a license should always mean you stay away!
Second, you should make sure your casino has been audited for game fairness. Casino games are controlled using RNG (random number generator) software. This controls the spin of slots and deal of cards. Reputable 3rd party auditors test this software, to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.
Look for certification from eCogra, Technical Systems Testing or iGaming Labs (there are others too) before you play.
Finally, make sure your casino does not have any past payment issues (or are owned by anyone with payment issues in the past). It takes time to build up a trusted track record of fast casino withdrawals. Safe and trusted brands protect their reputations!
What Makes a Great Real Money Online Casino?
Once you have narrowed your search to reputable, regulated gambling sites – the next question becomes; which one is best?
Here are some of the ways you can tell a great online casino from a merely good one:
- Slot Selection: Some casinos have slots from one or two software houses, while others curate the best games from the biggest and best sources. If you are a slots fan, having the choice of the best online games and best versions of classic live slots, jackpot games and TV / Movie themed titles is an important factor.
- Table Games / Live Dealer Options: All casinos will offer you a few blackjack and roulette variations (along with other table games). The best real money casinos go a lot further. Find a casino that offers you live-dealer games, mobile friendly table games and plenty of unique and innovative game variants.
- Bonuses and Promotions: Every casino offers a welcome bonus. What makes the best ones stand out is the fairness of their bonus terms (lower play-through requirements), number of player promotions, extras like free spins and generous loyalty schemes. Make sure you compare these before you sign up.
- Payment Options: Great casinos have a wide range of payment options for both deposits and withdrawals. Look for a casino with a track record of fast cash outs. More on these below.
There are other factors, mobile friendly software, great customer service and the ability to look after high-rollers / VIPs can also be important.
Real Money Casinos USA: State Regulated
In 2012, Delaware became the first State to license online casinos (they opened the next year). This was followed in by New Jersey. Nevada license online poker rooms, though not online casinos. Several more states, including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are at various stages of their own legislation.
These online ventures are partnerships between brick and mortar casinos, and some of the biggest software houses from around the world.
For players there are many advantages. These include not only protection (you have a State body to resolve any disputes), but better payment options including credit cards, PayPal and more. At State regulated casinos like Golden Nugget, BetFair and Virgin, you can enjoy slots and know that you’re playing at a safe and fair online casino in the US.
Sweepstakes Casinos for US Players
Outside of the regulated states, there are social casinos which offer slots. These include Luckyland Slots and Chumba. They are social games, played for gold chips via apps and in your browser.
Sweepstakes gaming laws are different. You can buy ‘Sweepscash’ for real money, and then exchange this for prizes (cash) at any time. You will find a wide selection of slots games at these sites, including many unique titles not found at other casinos.
You can buy Sweepscash with your credit card. Payment back to your bank is made via an Electronic Funds Transfer (local bank transfer). These casinos are available in most States which do not have regulated casinos, with the exception of Washington State.
While strictly speaking within the law, these casinos operate in a grey area which relies on how Sweepstakes gaming is interpreted.
Regulated Casinos in Other Parts of the World
Outside of the US, casinos are licensed by two types of jurisdiction. There are many licensing bodies which give global gaming licenses. The oversight and controls vary a lot between them. Examples of licensing bodies considered reputable include Malta, Isle of Man, Gibraltar and Alderney.
The other form of casino licensing is at the country level. Bodies like the UK Gambling Commission (and equivalents in France, Italy and elsewhere) are among the best for player protection.
There are big differences in gambling oversight around the world. Here are 3 examples:
#1 UK Real Money Casinos
The UK Gambling commission requires verification of game fairness, provision of self-exclusion, dispute resolution processes and segregation of funds before awarding licenses. They also control advertising. This makes the UK one of the safest places to play real money casino games. Many of the biggest and best-known global gambling brands are located in the UK.
#2 Canada Real Money Casinos
This country has liberal gambling laws for individual players, with no restrictions on enjoying online casinos in Canada at all. What is not legal is to operate an online casino site from Canada. Many of the biggest and best global brands offer casino games to Canadians.
#3 Indian Real Money Casinos
Many big brand casinos have now started to welcome Indian players. The legal situation here is less clear than in many countries. While running a ‘gambling house’ is not legal, nothing in the statutes prevents individual players from playing at Indian gambling sites. Power over casinos has been given to individual states.
How to Deposit & Banking Works Online
Once you find a safe casino, with the right licenses for your location and a great selection of slots and games – the next step is depositing money. There are a lot of options available for this. Which you choose will partly depend on your location (which methods are offered where), and partly on how much you want to separate casino gaming from your everyday banking.
This list covers the main categories of casino payment options – with the individual brands in the description:
- Credit / Debit Cards: Depending on your location you will find Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, Diner’s Club, Maestro and Visa Electron welcomed at online casinos. Using these is exactly the same as making any online purchase.
- Prepaid Credit Cards: You will find these available from convenience stores around the world. You simply load up your card with cash, then use it like any other credit card.
- Electronic Wallets: This category includes PayPal, Neteller and Skrill. These 3rd party systems provide a secure gateway between your bank and the casino. There are small charges for sending (Skrill) or receiving money with these.
- Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, LiteCoin and other cryptocurrencies are popular outside of the United States. Where accepted this is a secure and cheap way of moving your money around.
- PayNearMe: You can deposit at some real-money New Jersey casinos via 7-11 stores, you take a barcode given to you by the casino cashier, and hand over the cash you wish to deposit.
- Bank Transfers: Old-fashioned bank wires are still a viable method of making a casino deposit. The fees make these best suited to larger transfers. Where banks do not allow direct transfers (Canada for example), 3rd party gateway systems such as Interac can be used.
Getting the Most from Online Gambling Sites
So far, this page has covered the legal aspects of real money online gambling, plus payments. Finding a reputable casino and funding your account is only the start. Once you are set up, you’ll need some tips on how to get the most entertainment for your money!
I have divided these tips into 4 categories: Finding the best games, getting the best odds, managing your bankroll and taking advantage of bonuses.
#1 – Finding the Best Games
Your first task is to find which games you enjoy best. For many players, the slot selection is top of the list. There are 1000’s of online slots available, many with amazing graphics and entertaining bonus games.
I recommend you try out a selection of games – and note which slot software (the companies that produce the games and license them to casinos) you enjoy the best. You’ll find slots with life-changing jackpots, TV and movie themed options and entertaining bonus games. You will often be able to try out these games in demo-mode. Once you find your favorites, you can play them for real money.
Table games can be enjoyed for real money in two ways. Traditionally, blackjack, roulette and other table games were played using casino software. There are some entertaining variants, including brand new games and traditional games with jackpot side bets. These days, live dealer casinos have become the go-to for real money table games. Here you will play games dealt live from a remote studio. These games add a new social level to online casino gaming.
There are plenty more real money gaming options. These include video poker, keno, bingo and novelty games like scratch-cards.
#2 – Getting the Best Odds
You can make your bankroll (and enjoyment) last a lot longer at online casinos by avoiding bets with a big edge in favor of the house. This number is expressed as a percentage – and shows the long-term ‘cost’ of playing each game.
Here is a selection of good and bad bets:
- Casino Games with Low House Edge: Baccarat, blackjack, craps (pass line / don’t pass), French roulette, video poker.
- Casino Game with a High House Edge: Caribbean stud, side-bets on blackjack games, ‘tie’ bet in baccarat, US roulette, many keno games.
You can find out more in our detailed article on the best casino payouts.
#3 – Managing Your Bankroll
If you bet too big for your gambling bankroll, then the natural volatility of real money casino games will cut short your enjoyment far too often. On the other hand, betting too small is not exciting at all for many players!
Bankroll management is all about finding the best betting level for your money. A happy medium gives you the potential to win big, without risking going bust too quickly.
For table games, your bets should be between 1/20th and 1/50th of your total bankroll. If you are a slots fan, I’d recommend betting 1/200th as a maximum. If you have a $100 bankroll, then an average spin of 50c should keep you in the game long enough to enjoy bonus rounds and have a shot at some bigger wins.
Of course, some players can reload their account easily, while others have limited funds. You can choose whether to be more flexible or conservative with your bankroll management based on your individual situation.
#4 – Take Advantage of Real Money Casino Bonuses
The casinos are competing for your business. You’ll find a lot of bonus offers available, many of them don’t even need a real money deposit.
Taking advantage of these offers is a great way to keep the casino house edge to a minimum. I recommend you look beyond the headline (welcome) bonuses. Ongoing rewards like loyalty schemes and regular promotions will have a bigger effect on your bankroll over the long-term.
Bonuses take many forms. Free spins and a matched welcome bonus make for a good starting point. Make sure that you check the terms and conditions of any bonus you accept. Casinos have widely different ‘play-through’ criteria, and some may even exclude your favorite games from the bonus clearing requirements.