Online casinos have been booming since the 1990s and for a while now their growth and allure can be mainly attributed to advanced in technology. With interconnectivity becoming a more accessible perk around the world, access to online casinos have shifted from on-site outlets to internet-based platforms that allow players to enjoy playing from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere (through mobile devices). However before you get in with the trend, there are a few things you need to be wary of.
Make sure it is legal in your area.
Online gambling is not legal in a number of places worldwide. Before you sign up for an account in an online casino and play, make sure you will not be violating laws in your jurisdiction. While it’s a rarity for players to be charged for playing (it’s usually the online gambling operators who are charged), it’s advisable to avoid getting into legal trouble.
In the US, in particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a warning on online gambling. As detailed in the warning, it is considered illegal for anyone to place bets on sporting events, virtual card games, and offshore online casinos. Playing online games or gambling activities are only allowed if they don’t involve real money.
Moreover, even if you don’t get caught in legal trouble, you may still end up on the losing end if you play at an online casino in a country where online gambling is prohibited. Many online casinos include in their “terms of service” a provision that allows them to terminate your online casino account (including your deposits and winnings therein) if you play at the casino in a country that bans online gambling.
Take note of casino bonuses.
If you’re new to playing online casinos, after browsing past a few hundreds of them, you’ll realize that they offer you perks in the form of casino bonuses. If you would want to compare this with its real-world counterpart, casinos often provide compliments which are in the form of player’s membership cards which give from bonus chips, free slots, t-shirts, and even coupons for the surrounding restaurants and services.
Image: Preview of various casino bonuses from a screenshot of a Google Images search for casino bonuses
Online casino bonuses work in almost the same way, and they offer much more than just free drinks. From bonus chips to free slots spins, these bonuses can give you a hefty early capital in case you’re starting out or looking to keep on playing. These bonuses can be categorized into the following:
- Welcome/Sign-up bonus. These bonuses are what you get by simply signing up for an account at an online casino. Usually, you get this as you make your first deposit or as you buy chips.
- Reload bonus. The reload bonus comes from depositing to your online casino account. Just restocking your ammo gives you a bonus already.
- High roller bonus. Certain online casinos reward you not just on the frequency of how you deposit, but also on the amount that you give. The higher the deposit, the greater the perks.
- Free spins bonus. Mostly paired up with the signup or reload bonuses, it allows you to take a few free spins in games of chance like Slots and Craps. Online slots are so much fun when you’re using free spins to take a hit at a jackpot.
Don’t be deceived by the face value of the casino bonuses being offered, though. In particular, be aware of the wagering requirements. These wagering requirements are sometimes viewed as unfair or onerous. Bonuses are usually subjected to wagering or playthrough requirements. This generally means that you can’t withdraw your winnings, including the winnings you earned by using the bonuses if you fail to complete the wagering requirement. That’s why you should not claim a bonus if you don’t think you can’t complete its corresponding wagering requirement.
Be mindful of the house edge of the games you are playing.
It’s no new information for gamblers that casinos are out to get you, but of course, that’s exactly why they keep coming back. Not because it’s impossible to win in casinos, but because the odds are stacked against you. By how much? Online casinos, much like on-site casinos, have a complex algorithm of win-loss chance that they apply in their games called the house edge.
The house edge is basically the percentage of all bets that surely go to the casino. The house edge guarantees that the house (casino) always wins. Regardless of whether players win or lose, a certain percentage of what players wager go to the casino. The higher the edge is, the more likely you are going to lose with your bets. That’s why it is advisable to choose games with a lower house edge.
House edge in games of luck
In gambling, winning is paired up with luck and skill. The less skill it takes to win, the easier it is for the casino to take your money. Purely luck based games like Roulette and Slots have the highest house edge percentage reaching from 17% up to 25%.
In lottery types such as Keno, the chances of losing are much higher, up to 25%, as it deals with number combinations which dim the chances of you winning by every number it adds to the combination. Though roulette may be deceivingly simple, the odds aren’t purely 50-50, considering also if it’s a single 0 or double 0 roulette. By being smart about how you deal with probabilities, you can take a note from the results of the game by betting small amounts just to get a feel of how much the chances are to your favor.
House edge in games of skill
Now, if you don’t’ find yourself to be the type of person to leave things purely to chance and probability, you’re better off playing games like poker and blackjack where the house edge is still comparatively lower than chance based games. Having the added factor of betting and folding adds an uncontrollable factor for the casino in how you and other players can react to the results of the game.
The reason why the house edge is sometimes a range of different games is that the house edge varies depending on other factors than that of the game itself. Texas hold ‘em poker can be played by up to 9 players which either lowers or raises the house edge from 0.5% to as high as 3% depending on how the players react in betting. The chances of you winning or losing against the other players is an added risk of the game, with pocket pairs not being a guaranteed win the higher the number of players are at the table.
Since the main objective of the game isn’t purely in the hand you have, it still has to do with waiting for the bridge reveal to see of if you can win the round. But of course, it doesn’t help to keep a pair of aces up your sleeve to know that you have a high chance of winning.
Choose the right online casino.
There’s a multitude of options for online casinos nowadays. You can’t just make a random choice, though. You have to ascertain that you are playing at a legitimate online casino. At the very least, make sure that you are playing at a licensed and regulated casino. Otherwise, you may end up losing your money quickly due to rigged games or the refusal of casinos to let you withdraw your winnings.
Choose online casinos that are popular. More players mean more complainants in case the casino goes haywire and more people sharing information and insights about the casino. Read reviews of online casinos and participate in forums to more carefully examine the choices you are considering.
Additionally, choose online casinos that offer provably fair games. Being provably fair means that a game is not being manipulated and there is a way to test if the game is indeed free from any form of manipulation.
Impose strong self-discipline
Lastly, it’s important to be disciplined. Online gambling is highly addictive. It can easily turn you into a habitual online gambler and eventually lead you to problem gambling. Be sure to always be in control as you spend your money on gambling. Use the self-exclusion function of the online casino dashboard if it’s available if you think you are already getting uncontrollably hooked.
There’s nothing wrong with online gambling as a form of recreation. However, you need to make sure that you do it only at legal or legitimate gambling sites. Be properly aware of what you’re getting into especially when it comes to the bonuses and the house edge. Carefully examine the online casino you think of signing up an account. Moreover, make sure you stay in control and you don’t fall into a problem or pathological gambling.