For many people, gambling is a thrilling pastime allowing them to feel the rush of adrenaline and potentially pocket a nice prize with a bit of luck. Some players love placing a few bets on roulette or playing a blackjack hand or two every once in while but simply lack the time and energy to visit a landbased casino. Others have sufficient time but there are no gambling venues in their area to visit.
The best alternative for such people is to play at an online casino and have hundreds of games available at their fingertips. Interactive gambling has grown to become a gargantuan industry as presently there are hundreds of web-based casinos accepting registrations from a vast number of countries.
This broad range of available choices has both its advantages and downsides. While there is a wide range of options, not all interactive casinos are created equal and novices often have no idea what online casino to pick and play at. This article offers advice on what to look for when picking an online casino and might spare inexperienced players lots of nerves and hassles in the future.
Types of Online Casinos to Choose from
Online casinos can be grouped into two major categories depending on the way players can access and enjoy the games. Continue reading to learn more.
Instant Play Casinos
Some online gambling operators offer Instant Play meaning that registered members can access their websites and gaming collections directly via the internet browser of their desktop computers. In this case, there is no need to download and install any additional software on one’s device in order to load the games. Instant Play online casinos have one massive advantage to offer – players are enabled to sign into their accounts and access the casino from any device they like, public or personal.
But the advantages of Instant Play casinos do not end there. Another positive is that one will not have to waste hard drive space and there will be no additional software to clutter their system. Instant Play games are also highly regarded for their quick loading times, not to mention they are designed in such a way so as to be compatible with most widespread operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Macintosh.
Therefore, such casinos are able to reach a much larger player base. Some Instant Play casinos are still based on the Flash technology, which is why players are recommended to install an up-to-date version of the Adobe Flash Player on their computers. Others have already transitioned from Flash to HTML5. All in all, players should ensure they update their internet browsers frequently so that the Instant Play games can run as seamlessly as possible.
Casinos with Downloadable Clients
Other online casinos rely on a native client, which is a piece of software players need to download (for free) and install on their desktop computers to gain access to the casino’s entire platform, including gaming selection, cashier, promotional section, and customer support. Once installed, the software will connect to the operator running the online casino and players will be prompted to register their accounts directly from the client.
When online casinos first emerged back in the mid 1990s, all of them operated exclusively via downloadable clients, which is to be explained with the slower internet speed at the time. These were the prototypes of an online casino and as such, were given a good head-start since all offered games had to be downloaded. Because of this, download casinos, especially some of the oldest ones, still offer a wider range of games in comparison to their Instant Play cousins, which emerged on the interactive gambling scene later on. Some of the earliest casino games are still unavailable in Flash format so the wider choice of games to pick from is one of the biggest positives of using downloadable casino clients.
What some players consider a disadvantage in this case is that sometimes the downloadable software is rather sizeable and takes up a lot of disk space. What is more, the client increases in size as more and more games are released and added to the casino’s gaming library – this is something which in many cases happens on a monthly basis. The operating system one’s desktop computer is running on may also prove to be an issue, the reason being some downloadable online casinos are designed for Windows OS exclusively. Needless to say, this works to the disadvantage of Mac and Linux users.
There is a silver lining though as more and more online casinos are available in both formats, so it is possible for players to pick the option that suits them the most.
Hundreds of casino operators have already recognised the important role mobile devices have come to play in our everyday lives in recent years. The advance of smartphones and other mobile technologies have caused many web-based casinos to set up mobile gaming portfolios, offering some of their most popular games for mobile play. Players are again presented with two choices, which coincide with the options for playing on desktop computers.
Many of the most trusted casino operators offer native applications for a free download. These are compatible mostly with the two most common mobile operating systems in the world, the iOS and Android. These apps are typically available for a free download either on the App Store or on the website of the casino itself.
Those, who have no desire to install additional applications on their smartphones or merely lack sufficient storage space, can easily load the casino and its games in their internet browsers. These are in-browser apps which offer a gaming experience that is identical to playing via a native, downloadable app. Players are usually redirected to the mobile version of the casino’s website which is optimised to be run on portable devices.
What Makes an Online Casino Reliable
There are many aspects players are advised to consider carefully in advance when deciding which online casino to play at. Taking your time to make a better-informed decision as to which casino to register at will prevent any troubles related to payments, declined withdrawals, customer care, and bonus conditions from happening in the future. Your decision should be based on a combination of seven factors we have covered in more detail below – if your online casino of choice meets all seven criteria, you are most certainly guaranteed to enjoy yourself while playing there for real money.
Licenses and Regulators
The first thing any player is advised to do is to check the licensing of the online casino which has attracted their interest and attention. If you are a high-roller and walk into a famed landbased casino in London, say Crockfords for instance, you feel safe knowing you are in good hands and will enjoy high standards of service because you know all brick-and-mortar gambling operators in the United Kingdom need to be licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission in order to open doors for customers.
Such is the case with online casinos as well since they also need a license from a major regulatory body to back up their reliability, integrity, and legitimacy. First and foremost, the task of these licensing authorities is to ensure all players at a given online casino get a fair deal. This also gives players the confidence there is an independent third-party which monitors the practices of the casino and offers impartial assistance whenever disputes between the operator and its customers arise.
Diversity of the Gaming Library
Diversity is one of the strongest points of any online casino so when choosing where to play, the second thing you need to check is the gaming selection. If your preferred casino offers only a limited number of games, there is a good chance you will find yourself looking for a new gambling provider after a couple of days, when you get bored.
What you need to do instead is pick an online casino that offers a wealth of video and classic slots, table games, video poker, live dealer games or whatever else you are interested in playing. Finding a casino you can stick with will save you lots of time and efforts in the future. Also, if you grow tired of playing your preferred type of casino game, you will have plenty of other titles to choose from. Having a sufficient number of options is always a plus.
Online casinos need software to run their games and there are a number of industry leading developers which are ready and willing to license their creations to gambling operators. The software a given casino is using speaks volumes about the quality of the gaming experience it provides.
Some of the software developers that truly stand out from the crowd include big names like NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, and IGT, among others. Their games are highly esteemed both by players and industry insiders due to their unmatched authenticity. Players, who register with online casinos powered by one or more of the above-listed developers, will enjoy realistic, clear graphics, superb animations, immersive audio, and a great interface that is easy to understand and navigate. Additionally, the software the casino uses may be used as an indicator of how reliable it is.
It is also important to take notice of whether or not the casino uses any proprietary software, with games created by its own in-house team of developers. This way, you will be granted access to one-of-a-kind titles which cannot be found anywhere else.
Compatibility is another thing to take into account. Some software providers develop games available for Instant Play as well as a free downloadable client, while the products of others can be played only in-browser. These are all things you need to factor in beforehand, depending on your individual requirements, needs, and preferences.
The Range of Payment Solutions
The range of deposit options a given online casino supports is another key criteria players need to take into account. It is recommended to check the banking section of the casino you are interested in to see whether the payment solution you intend to use for deposits is listed among the accepted options. If not, it would be a good idea to contact a member of the support team and ask, just to make sure. Support representatives may also assist you by recommending another banking method that is suitable for players from your country.
Some of the most commonly used casino deposit methods include debit and credit cards, digital wallets like Neteller and Skrill, online banking processors, prepaid vouchers, standard bank transfers, and even cheques in some instances.
Another thing you might enquire about before you sign up concerns the currencies the casino accepts. Opening an account in your own currency will prevent you from incurring additional fees for currency conversion. Also, make sure the casino supports your preferred method for both deposits and withdrawals as certain banking solutions are sometimes available for depositing only.
The amount of time required for processing the transactions is also important. Most renowned online gambling operators process deposits instantly and do not charge additionally for the transactions. What deposit method you choose is important for yet another reason – certain deposit options add greater value to one’s betting sessions because players are rewarded with Reload bonuses (usually between 5% and 15% of the deposited sum) each time they transfer funds into their casino accounts.
Finally, you need to ensure your payments will be processed in a secure and reliable manner. Trusted online casinos place a great stress on their players’ safety and use the latest encryptions to encode the sensitive information their customers share with them.
Hassle-Free Withdrawals and Manual Flushing
It sometimes happens so that players win a specific amount of money at the online casino they have signed up with, only to find they are denied a withdrawal due to some obscure reason. Checking how much time it takes for a withdrawal to be completed is one of the most important things to do prior to registration.
Sometimes cashing out may require a bit longer because the casino needs to perform various verification procedures to see whether players have covered their playthrough (provided that any bonuses have been claimed) or whether they are sending the right sum to the right person. Verification is often necessary to prevent illegal practices like frauds and money laundering. Depending on the amount players attempt to cash out, they may be asked for copies of some documents like their ID or passport. These are all part of the requirements set forth by the regulatory authority which has granted the casino its license.
Another thing to check in advance is whether the online gambling operator supports manual flushing. The processing of withdrawals normally involves two steps. Once the player requests a cash-out, the request is sent for verification, whereby the amount remains pending in the account. Once verification has been completed successfully, the winnings are processed from the player’s casino account balance to their chosen withdrawal method, be it a bank account, a credit card or a digital wallet.
Some casinos allow players to reverse their withdrawal, i.e. move the cash-out amount back to their casino balance, while it is still pending. This is not the case with online gambling operators which offer manual flushing. In such cases, the player has no access to their winnings while they are still pending, therefore, it is impossible to reverse the withdrawal. The requested withdrawal amount is moved directly and irrevocably from pending to processing, which can speed up the either process of cashing out.
Manual flushing should not be deemed a disadvantage as it actually aims at protecting the funds of the player. Some players, who lack self-control, request a withdrawal after they win a large amount, only to have a change of heart shortly after, and reverse the withdrawal in order to continue playing with the profits and potentially lose them back to the casino. So if you do not trust yourself enough, registering at an online casino that offers manual flushing would be the better option for you.
Promotional Incentives and Loyalty Schemes
Those, who visit landbased casinos every once in a while, but have started to develop a budding interest towards transitioning to online play, usually prefer to give it a go without risking their own money. Claiming a bonus is a suitable alternative if you have never played at an online casino. Promotional incentives such as No Deposit, Welcome, and Reload bonuses will give you a good head-start. Such offers have become a major marketing tool for online gambling operators as they allows them not only to attract new players, but also to maintain the interest on behalf of existing ones.
Participating in promotional offers is a great way for players to try the games for free using bonus casino credits. That being said, one also needs to keep in mind that the bonus amounts, the terms and conditions attached to them as well as their wagering requirements vary wildly between online gambling operators. The general recommendation is to look around, compare the bonuses available at several online casinos, and go for the operator that offers you the best bonus conditions and the lowest wagering requirements. Make sure your casino of choice has listed its terms and conditions in a clear and unambiguous manner, too.
Another factor to consider is the extent to which your preferred casino values the loyalty of its regular patrons. It would be best to decide in favour of an online casino which has set up a Loyalty programme to reward its customers for investing their money there. This would give you an extra value each time you make a bet. The loyalty scheme usually consists of several tiers and players progress from one tier to the next by placing real-money bets at the casino. In many instances, newly registered members are automatically enrolled in the program and start at the first tier right away. Each bet earns them a given number of loyalty points. Once they collect a sufficient number of points, players can exchange them for cash, bonus credits, or other prizes.
Similarly to bonuses, each casino has set up its unique loyalty scheme and the exchange rates for the points players collect are different. Inspect what several gambling operators offer and give the casino with the best exchange rates a try. Some gaming providers value their patrons to such an extent so as to treat them to various prizes like tickets for different events and free online tournaments.
Quality of the Customer Support Provided
We may have listed this as the last criteria but this certainly does not mean it is of less importance. Some online gambling operators are definitely lacking when it comes to proper customer care, providing slow or ambiguous responses to players’ enquiries. It goes without saying this is not the way one should treat its customers, especially since the latter are your main source of income. After all, customers are the most valuable assets of any business and online casinos are not an exception.
Then again, there are online casinos which have adopted the opposite approach and provide their player community with laudable customer support via different convenient channels, such as round-the-clock live chat, email, or over the telephone.
The attitude of the support agents also does matter. Dependable casinos have gone the extra mile to train the members of their support team well enough for them to be able to respond to all queries players may have. With good customer support, responses are always prompt, polite, and clear enough for the player to understand them without having to ask twice. It is advisable to give priority to such operators while searching for a reliable online casino.
From this, it follows that playing online does not entail merely picking a web-based casino and signing up with a real-money account. If you want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and be treated with the fairness and respect you deserve, you need to invest some effort when choosing the right casino. Even more so, when we consider the immense number of options one can pick from.
Additionally, online casinos differ vastly in terms of software, gaming selection, promotional offers, and the quality of the gaming experience they provide their players with. Not to mention, making a bad decision may permanently spoil playing online for you. So, before you rush out to register at an online casino, make sure you do your homework and research some of the operators that have grabbed your attention.