Learn How to Safely & Securely Gamble Online for Real Money
After nearly two decades of playing at various real money casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks we’ve come to learn one important fact – it’s hard (if not impossible) for a new online player to feel confident and secure when selecting an online casino or betting site, unless they’ve put in hours of research ahead of time. The longer you’re in iGaming industry, the easier it is to spot untrustworthy online gambling operators and scams.
But are real money casinos legit/safe/legal? Can you really win money? We get it – because most of us had the exact same thoughts and concerns. That’s what led us to create UltimateCasino.com and this guide to playing casinos games online for real money. After over 15 years in the casinos, we decided to build the online casino guide that we wished we would have had when we started researching how to gamble online for real money.
Why Gamble Online?
If you’re like most people you’ve probably been bombarded with ads touting the convenience, fun, and rewards of online gambling. Advertisements pop up on your smartphone, slide up the side of your computer screen, and jump out at you from television commercials.
But what’s so great about online gambling? Isn’t it risky to trust some unknown casino with your credit card information?
It’s true. Online gambling can be risky if you’re not careful. But it can also be fun, safe, and even lucrative if you do it right.
Imagine having your favorite slot machine all to yourself with no crowds, nerve wreaking noise, or smoke-filled rooms. Imagine playing at a blackjack table with just you and the dealer. How great might it be to bet on a keno or bingo game without the distraction of other players influencing your betting?
Have you ever gotten up from a seat only to see someone else drop in a quarter in the machine you spent hours playing to win your jackpot? Real money online casinos eliminate that possibility. You are in the driver’s seat and a quick trip to the bathroom or a moment to answer an important phone call will not cost you the chance of winning.
Unless you live on the Vegas Strip, gambling online is usually more convenient and cost-effective than traveling. Not that there’s anything wrong with traveling to a casino, especially when you want to do more than gamble (shop, hit the pool, go to some shows, etc). But if you want to be able to play slots on your phone or bet on your favorite sports team, online gambling is the only way to go.
Free Practice & Lower Betting Limits
Unlike brick-and-mortar casinos, online casinos allow you to sign up for a free account and practice all casinos games for free. Then, once you can deposit as little as $20 in some cases. Best of all you can play table games for as little as a $1/bet, whereas brick-and-mortar casinos usually have $10 minimum bets (sometimes $5 tables, but they are becoming rare).
Finding a Trustworthy Online Casino or Betting Site
Here are a few important online gambling tips to consider before making a deposit at any site. These tips will help ensure that if you win big, you get to keep those winnings. The last thing you want is to hit a huge progressive jackpot and have the casino void your winnings because you violated their terms.
The main thing you need to be aware of at any online gambling site is their Terms and Conditions. A site’s terms will tell you all their rules regarding age requirements, country limitations, and rules for their bonuses.
- Avoid sites that have poorly written terms and conditions. Gambling site terms and conditions often include too much legal-speak as it is. If the person who writes the document does not have a mastery of the English language (or any other translation) it’s probably a good idea to move on. Poorly written terms and conditions will usually lend to problems down the road.
- Make sure the site allows players from your country. Certain casinos may not allow players from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Australia, or Russia. Also, make sure you comply with the laws in your local jurisdictions.
- Make sure you are old enough to gamble online. Some casinos allow players aged 18-21 while others do not. If you are between the ages of 18 – 21, look through the terms and conditions to ensure you are meeting the site’s age requirements. When in doubt, contact support to guarantee that they will pay your winnings if you win. Save any chat sessions or get in writing by email.
- Always read the wagering requirements and other bonus terms. Many gambling sites offer deposit bonuses to both first timers, and returning customers. However, because of people abusing bonus offers, site’s have become stricter with their guidelines. Always read the bonus terms and conditions before you accept an offer. For instance, some bonuses are for wagering purposes only. With these bonuses, only your winnings may be cashed out. Most no deposit bonuses have a maximum amount you can cash out without depositing. It’s always wise to understand how a site’s bonuses work before claiming them.
- Does the gambling site accept players from your area? Some online gambling sites prohibit players from certain countries from downloading their software or taking advantage of bonus offers. We do our best to only show you site’s that accept players from your area, but it’s still a good idea to verify the site before attempting to deposit.
- Make sure your system is compatible. In the past, this was a much bigger issue. Most online gambling sites were only available to PC users. Now, however, sites have developed Mac-compatible and mobile sites as well. These instant-play casinos use Flash software. So most of the time it doesn’t matter if a player runs a Dell, HP, Acer, or Apple computer. Flash casinos can be accessed in most of the popular web-browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. It is still important, however, for all Mac users to make sure the online casino is compatible before attempting to sign up.
How to Get Started
1. Do your homework and choose a casino
Customer reviews are a great way to get feedback on an online casino. You should also read everything you can find on a particular site before playing at their casino. There are hundreds of online casinos to choose from and the more research you do the better. Arming yourself with knowledge can make a big difference in your level of online gambling safety and enjoyment. A few clicks of your computer keys will lead you to numerous articles that offer advice on which real money gambling sites have the best reputation, offer bonuses, are slow to pay out, etc.
Best Casinos by Country/Jurisdiction
A great deal of these real money casinos are located outside of regulated online gambling markets. This presents a different set of problems. Often, these sites are not held to the same regulations as casinos in regulated markets. In fact, in quite a few countries online gambling is not legalized, which presents a different set of challenges for players. Various casinos may charge you a fee to withdraw your winnings or you require you to wait for them to be sent to you in the mail. Either way, you will get paid, but maybe not as fast or efficiently as you might like.
2. Sign up for a free account
Most casinos will allow you to play for free using just a username and password, but let’s face it you will probably try real money play at least once. The smart thing to do is to be prepared before you place your first bet.
3. If you’re comfortable with the casino, make a real money deposit
Traditionally, and especially in the United States, people fund their online gambling accounts via one of two methods: card or cash transfer. While these methods are also common around the world, there are several other methods which can sometimes be used, and some of which are relatively new and quickly gaining in popularity as more people find out about them.
Depending on where you live, you will be subject to different online gambling laws and it is important to do thorough research beforehand in order to determine what is and isn’t allowed.
It is important to note that in certain countries, such as the United States, gambling laws may vary from state to state. But for all intensive purposes, here is a breakdown of how most people can fund and cash out their earnings.
A few legitimate casinos will accept cryptocurrency like bitcoin. Almost all online gambling sites will accept a Visa or Master Card debit or credit card, although there are other options such as secure e-wallets services (PayPal, Neteller and Skrill), who act as a go-between your bank and the online casino. Pre-paid credit cards could make sense if you want to stay within a budget, but these often cost a fee to be activated. Whichever deposit method you decide to use, make sure the online casino is reputable before releasing your personal information.
Credit Cards & Prepaid Cards
In this category, virtually anything with a Visa or MasterCard logo is included. Most sites will allow you to fund your account via a major credit/debit card, as well as pre-paid cards, although some sites do not allow this. The benefit of using a credit card is that it is secure and funds are applied rapidly. The biggest drawback is that it takes much longer to withdraw funds when you’re ready to cash out your winnings. Most people have to request a check or wire transfer, which can take up to 5 business days or more.
Funding an account with a credit card is easy. Just like any online purchase, you will be required to provide your name, billing information, and information located on the front and back of your card. If the information clears, the transaction processes and funds are deposited immediately. Some people may get denied because they are attempting to go over their limit, or information they provided does not match up with information tied to the account. Pre-paid cards are a great route to go for those wishing to keep gambling transactions out of their primary card statements, and also for those who want to impose limits on their spending amounts. If you often find yourself going above and beyond your budget, or losing track of your spending habits, then funding an online gambling account with a pre-paid method can be an excellent option. It is important to note that some sites will not accept pre-paid cards.
Cash Transfer Services
Western Union and Moneygram are two of the most popular methods of funding an account via cash transfer service and can be completed either over the net or in person at a retail location. The benefit of using a cash transfer service is that you can use cash. Another benefit is that it is safe, although it does require a little bit of effort to get the money deposited. If you have decided you want to fund your account using this method, you will need to consult the gambling site you are using in order to gather the information necessary for them to receive your payment.
After you have done this, you can register online with the cash transfer service to set up your account. You can then fund the account and send that information back to the gambling site for confirmation. This method is fairly fast and also secure, although a small percentage of the transferred funds will be deducted as a service fee. For those who would prefer not to pay any fees, I would recommend sticking to a credit card when possible. But this is a great option for those who may not have a credit card readily available.
In our opinion, E-wallets and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, are what will dominate the future market in terms of all online gambling transactions. Here’s why.
First and foremost, it is more private, and therefore more secure, than most major forms of transacting available. E-wallets essentially take the money out of your hand and put it in the hands of a trusty middleman, or your own personal banker.
Some popular e-wallets include Neteller, FirePay, and Paypal. The benefits of using an eWallet are that you are funding a personal account completely separate from your gambling one, so in the instance that the site you are using is fraudulent or gets hacked, your personal billing information and card information isn’t subject to compromise. For the most part, reputable online gambling sites are very safe in terms of privacy, but for those who are concerned, this can be an excellent safeguard.
Another excellent method to fund accounts without compromising your privacy is to use alternate forms of currency, sometimes called cryptocurrency, with the most popular and available option being Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a form of digitalized currency which was first released in 2009 and has grown tremendously in virtually every market since. It first gained popularity on the “dark net” simply because no personal information is tied to the account when transacting. It is another type of eWallet with optimal anonymity. Some people really value this and online casinos started recognizing that.
Legally, it is a little ambiguous as to whether or not Bitcoin transactions are in the same class as regular eWallet transactions, and so, for now, there is no formal legislation on its use in the online gambling sector. There are many online Bitcoin casinos, some specifically marketing themselves to American gamblers, for this reason. Bitcoin is easy to use and once you have your account established, funds can be transferred just like an eWallet.
The beauty and prestige of Bitcoin is that transactions are essentially very difficult to trace. This is made possible by its “decentralized” network where no one’s information is kept on a single server for too long and personalized credentials are nearly impossible for anyone to decipher. Bitcoin currencies do change in value over time, although historically, this value has only increased.
Regardless of which method you choose to fund and withdraw from your online gambling account, one thing remains clear: the primary methods listed in this article are all safe and easy to use. Depending on the legislation in your region, you may be limited to one over the other, but for now, the primary methods of funding are easily accessible to most. Do your research and find out what works best for you.
A Note on Accepting Online Casino Bonus Offers & Promotions
A lot of real money gambling sites will offer you bonuses for playing with them. It is important that you read the rules of the bonus before deciding to place money in a bank with them. For example, one site I played with offered a 400% bonus. When you deposit $100, they make it $500 to play. But to cash out (cash out restrictions) there are rules (called playthrough requirements) requiring your to bet a certain amount before withdrawing. Bonuses are terrific though if you are new to real money gambling because it gives you time to explore the online site, testing out different games and extending your play time. Just remember, most bonuses are geared towards the online casino site – the longer they keep you playing the better their chances of winning.