Real Money casino gaming is a huge industry online – and even with banking restrictions in place millions of Americans currently enjoy these games at offshore sites. This page gives you an overview of real money casino games, including sections on the legal situation, staying safe online, payments and what games to expect.
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Are Real Money Casinos Legal?
The subject of real money casinos always comes with that giant question of whether or not they are legal. The fact is online casino sites operate legally, under licenses issued by foreign governments and there is no Federal law preventing individual US citizens from playing on them.
In 2006 the government introduced legislation preventing US finance companies processing online gambling transactions. The ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ makes absolutely no reference to the ability to play real money casino games. While a small number of States make playing casino games illegal in their own statutes, no individual has ever been prosecuted for this.
US friendly online casinos are based offshore, and licensed in jurisdictions such as Antigua or Panama. These casinos claim that the US is violating their rights under international trade laws, a position which is disputed by the authorities.
Outside of the US things are different. Big casino brands are fully regulated and run by companies which are publically traded.
Finding a Trustworthy Real Money Casino
Even though the vast majority of online casino operators are legitimate and professional, you can still discover a rogue site from time to time. In addition to checking out our thorough our casino site reviews, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your funds are safe.
- Check if the casino is licensed. Most online sites are proud to display who they are licensed by on their homepage, as this helps customer confidence. If not you should find details in the terms and conditions. Common regulators include the Caribbean island of Curacao and The Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
- See what software is being used. Reputable online casinos tend to use the bigger software companies, and these companies do not want to be associated with poorly run operations. Suppliers such as RealTime Gaming and BetSoft have a good track record, and their software is fully checked for fairness by independent testers.
- Ensure the right security is in place. A lot of sites claim to use SSL encryption, although this is not always true. Before inputting your details check that there is a padlock showing in your browser bar, and if you wish, click on it to check if it is truly secure and up to date.
- Do a search. People on the internet love to complain, especially when there is just cause. Check out what others are saying about the different casino sites. You’ll need to filter out the sore losers and instead look for the tell-tale signs of long cash-out delays, issues with non-payments and poor customer service.
Playing for Real Money on Online Casinos
Not that long ago, the only way you could enjoy real money casino games, was by downloading a clunky client onto your Windows PC. Now, in addition to having software downloads for Macs, many sites operate an Instant Play casino, and in some cases have done away with downloads completely.
The Instant Play games often use Adobe Flash software, though many are now switching to HTML5. Both of these allow the games to run in a browser window.
Nowadays with mobile devices all around us, you can find many online casinos providing games for different smartphones and tablets. Once limited to a few titles, you can now experience a wide range of slots and table games on these handheld screens.
A small number of casinos (notably 888 Casino) have created dedicated Android and iOS apps for their casinos. More common are browser based games which are able to adjust for the smaller screen sizes of smartphones.
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Types of Real Money Casino Games
Typically online casinos offer a huge catalogue of titles, with certain sites hosting more than 400 different real money games! With the exception of live dealer casino games these are all driven by random number generation software. You can also play for a wide range of stakes, typically starting at $1 or lower, and going up to thousands of dollars per bet.
Here is a look at the most popular type of games you can find on real money sites.
- Slots – These are the backbone of many online casinos and some deal exclusively with these games. The most popular type is 5-reel Video Slots. These come with entertaining themes, multiple win lines and some great bonus features. Other slots include classic 3-reel ‘traditional’ style games, and impressive 3D titles with high quality animation. You can also find progressive jackpot games, with many games exceeding $1 million in the jackpot pool. All of these have their own real money slots versions.
- Table Games – As physical space is not an issue for online casinos, you can find many games spread. Blackjack and Roulette remain the two most played games, and you can typically find them in different variations. You can also find poker variations, such as Casino Holdem and Caribbean Stud, Baccarat, Craps, Red Dog, Rummy and hi/lo type games.
- Video Poker and Other Games – There are usually several video poker titles available, which do a good job at replicating the look and sound of the real machines. Known titles, such as ‘Jacks or Better’ and ‘Deuces Wild’ are often offered in different hand formats, providing more action. Online casinos also typically host Keno, or bingo style games, along with various scratch cards.
- Live Dealer Casinos – These are actual real-life games, which give you a complete casino experience. Run by professional and friendly dealers, you can watch the games take place in front of you, via the HD quality live stream. You can then interact with the game, the other players and the staff, via the digital betting interface and chat-box options.
Getting Rewarded with Real Money Bonuses
Before signing up to any online casino site, make sure you check out the different Online Casino Bonuses on offer. These usually give you free funds, based on how much you deposit, frequently with a 100% match. You will find detailed information on the different kinds of offer and how to compare these in our detailed Online Casino Bonuses article.
Payments at Real Money Casinos
For many the most convenient way of getting money online is to use a credit or debit card. While this is getting better, if you are in the US you will need to ensure you card is authorized for international payments, and even then certain banks may still refuse. Visa is the most commonly accepted brand, followed by MasterCard and then Amex.
You may wish therefore to purchase a prepaid card, although make sure you check with the site’s support team for the best option. Money transfer services, such as those provided by Western Union may be another option, or you could even get a bank wire through. International players have the additional option of e-wallets, such as PayPal or Neteller.
Taking money off US-facing real money casinos can be expensive. Often minimum withdrawal limits are high compared to minimum deposits, and you will likely get charged for most methods. Make sure you are aware all the cash-out terms before depositing so you know exactly where you stand, and avoid getting small bankrolls trapped online or paying over the odds to get your cash.