Choosing An Online Casino

Choosing an online casino can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never gambled at one before. With more brands to choose from than ever and more software vendors supplying the underlying technology, how do you choose which casino is right for you?

While some aspects of your decision making may be based on personal preference (such as what type of games a casino carries and how the casino looks), there’s some other general considerations that apply to everyone that you should keep in mind when shopping around for a place to play.

Where is the casino licensed?

The answer may not mean a lot to most, but at the very least it’s nice to know that the casino is in fact, licensed in a jurisdiction where they are able to do so. Most reputable online casinos will proudly display this information right on the front page of their site somewhere. There are a number of countries offering legitimate licenses who do in fact monitor player complaints, and maintain a set of rules and regulations licensees must abide by to maintain their license. If an online casino isn’t licensed at all – run, don’t walk away.

What contact options are available?

If a casino has limited contact options that’s not a good sign. While your gaming experience hopefully goes without any problems, in the event there are any issues with game play, you’ll want to be able to get a hold of someone without any troubles. Those offering form-based or e-mail only support are again not necessarily rogue operators, but a 24hr support via phone contacts and instant chat are welcome options when you need a hand.

What kind of bonuses are offered?

Most online casinos these days offer some kind of incentives to attract new players. This usually comes in the form of ‘bonus money’, which is added to your bankroll along with your initial deposit, often as a percentage on top of what you put in. For example, a 100% bonus on your initial deposit would give you $200 to play with when only depositing $100.

These bonuses can indeed be very tempting, and there’s many cases in which you might in fact want to take a casino up on the offer. It’s important to know however that these bonuses almost always come with ‘playthrough requirements’, which means that once you’ve accepted a bonus, you’ve also agreed to play so much at the casino before attempting to walk away with your money. This prevents people from simply making a deposit, taking a bonus, then cashing out ahead of the game without taking any risk – not a great deal for the casino. That said, playthrough requirements range from the very reasonable to the nearly impossible to clear without losing all your money to the inevitable odds, so read a casinos bonus terms and conditions very carefully before proceeding.

If you’re not planning on taking a bonus at all – there’s no playthrough requirements so this isn’t an issue – but if you are planning on taking a bonus, get the most bang for your buck on terms that you find reasonable.

What kind of reputation do they have (if any)?

It doesn’t take long to start hearing bad things about a casino if it is indeed acting badly. Players who’ve been ripped off, ignored, or otherwise not treated well have lots of places to alert the public about it these days, from message forums to their own personal blogs. Do a little due diligence before putting any cash down – what are others saying?

If you can’t find many complaints and the casino has been in business for some time, that’s a great sign. People don’t usually take the time out of their day to tell stories about how well things went :) Of course, that might also mean the casino is a relative newcomer with little opportunity for comment just yet, something you can check real quick by seeing how long they’ve been in operation.

What software brand are they using?

This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but most casinos operating with larger more reputable brands of software must also abide by their software providers rules (in addition to the countries gaming rules in which they are licensed.) This is a good thing, as large software vendors like Microgaming take the ethics of their licensees very seriously, and maintain their own checks and balances to make sure everyone’s in line. That’s not to say those with independent or smaller software brands are bad, just that the extra security of some brands is a bonus.

Are their payouts audited by third parties?

Not long after online casinos starting opening up, players started asking “what’s to stop these people from having the tightest games in town?”. Many casinos responded by hiring independent auditing companies like PriceWaterHouseCoopers to go through their books and server logs to come up with (or verify) an overall payout percentage. This allows casinos to verify with their players exactly what kind of payouts they really have (or at least had the previous month). While these audits aren’t as popular these days as they once were (because much of the skepticism around online gambling has disappeared), it’s still nice to see what kind of payouts a casino has when the numbers are available.

Again – there’s lots of personal preferences to take into consideration, but whether you like the look, name or games offered at a casino – keep the above important points in mind.