The world of online casinos is booming – thanks to technical innovation, better bandwidth and an ever improving selection of slots and table games. When you first look into this area, it can all seem confusing. Questions such as ‘are all the casino sites legitimate?’, ‘where can I find the best games?’ and even ‘can I legally play at online casinos?’ are common.
Here at CasinoGamingStrategy.org we provide resources which empower readers to make the best choices. We only feature trusted brands and show you the different options for software, game types and payment methods.
Casinos which allow US players are based offshore, usually out in the Caribbean – though some are located on tribal lands or in Central America. In order to deposit and withdraw your cash, you will need to resort to international credit cards and other money transfer options. Worldwide things are a little easier, with the regulated European-based casinos able to accept PayPal and other convenient payment options.
This page will answer the key questions that come up about online casinos – and point you in the right direction to our in-depth guides and reviews which cover individual topics and sites.
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Are Online Casinos Safe?
This question can be answered in two parts. First, whether your deposits are safe from the hands of rogue casinos. Second, whether the games themselves are fair.
While there are occasional bad apples among the 1000’s of online casinos, the online casino industry is actually very safe overall. Sites rely on their reputation for fair treatment of players and fast payment processing – and it is very difficult for a casino to survive once any issues arise. I recommend you stick with casinos that have been around at least a few years, and always double check online for any major payment issues. Many casinos have been in business since the end of the 1990’s, and have solid reputations as fair and safe operators.
All casino games have an in-built edge in favor of the house. Many of these are tiny percentages, which add up over 1000’s of hands (or spins) to make the profits for the casino. While some players believe that online casinos rig the deal or spins in their favor, the evidence of 3rd party testing companies does not support this. Sticking with well-known casinos, running popular software (for example RealTime Gaming or PlayTech) with certification from 3rd parties will ensure that your games are fair.
Casino Software and Casino Site Operators
Players are sometimes surprised to see the same games at different casinos which appeared to be branded differently. This highlights the distinction between the casino operators and the software houses that create the games.
It is very rare that a casino creates their own suite of game or payments platform. The usual setup is that these games are leased from a 3rd party specialist. This leaves the operators of the casinos to focus on payment handling, rewards and promotions – and the customer service side of their business.
Software houses include some big names and many smaller and niche outfits too. The biggest worldwide are PlayTech, MicroGaming and Net Entertainment – along with slots specialists like IGT. The software powering US friendly casinos needs to be out of the reach of the US authorities (offshore in the Caribbean for example). Big names here include RealTime Gaming, WGS, Rival Gaming and BetSoft.
Online Casino Platforms
Until a few years ago, the main way to access casino games was via a dedicated download for your computer. Advances in technology now mean that you can access a lot of the games through your browser window with no download required.
This has liberated the casino site operators from having to select just one software partner. Now it is possible to combine 2 or more types of software with the same cashier and log-in information – giving players a wider choice. This also allows the games to be accessed via mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones (though the phones still rely on developers adapting the games for the smaller screen sizes).
Some of the big European casino brands integrate the games from 7+ providers, including some up and coming slots developers that might not have had the opportunity in the old world of download-only games.
There are casinos that create dedicated apps for iOS and Android, for example the 888 Casino. You will find these are in the minority, with most casinos going for responsive browser technology instead.
Our comprehensive Casino Site Reviews section includes reviews which outline the platform and device compatibility of some of the best online casinos around.
Live Dealer Casino Games
Another advance in online casinos concerns the live dealer casino genre. Faster machines and better bandwidth has enabled games served by real croupiers to be streamed in real time. There are studios dotted around the world which provide non-stop action for fans of Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and some Casino Poker variants.
These allay the security fears of many players (you can see the shuffle and deal happening), and also include a more social element. You can chat (via text) with the dealers and with the other players. You can find out more on this entertaining area of casinos in our Live Dealer Casinos section.
Online Casino Bonuses
If you have already checked out a few online casinos, you cannot have failed to notice the big headlines offering you a 100%+ match on your first deposit – often to the tune of $1000+.
Before you jump in and take advantage of these deals, make sure you read our detailed Casino Bonuses guide. The fine print can make a huge difference – easily ruining a great bonus or making a seemingly average one a lot better than it first appears. Critical factors include the play-through requirement, whether certain games are excluded (or weighted) and whether you can withdraw the bonus at all.
One more thing to keep in mind is that the welcome bonus will be relatively short lived compared to the other rewards. Reload bonuses, loyalty point schemes and regular promotions will usually have a far bigger impact on your bottom line than the initial ‘headline’ amount.