Beginners Guide to Online Casinos
Online casinos came into being in the mid 1990s when the three main components fell in place. The first was the random number based software for the games and the administrative functions. The second was the emergence of gambling jurisdictions that created the infrastructure for licensing and regulating online casinos. The third, and most critical, was the mechanism for accepting and making payments online in a secure manner. Microgaming and Playtech were pioneers in this field. The first five years of this century saw a great boom in online casinos with improvements in software to allow for audio and animations. Then with the United States enacting laws against online gambling there was a slump for a few years. But now fresh recovery has started and all the stake holders are getting ready for great times ahead.
Steps to Get Started Playing Online
Downloading and Installation: Wagering at a download casino involves downloading and installing the software on the player’s hard drive. The download can be done from the online casino web site, where the link is prominently displayed on the home page. Clear, simple and step-by-step instructions are provided. Downloading the software places an icon of the online casino on the desk top. Players should click on the icon and complete the installation process.
Registration: This involves opening an account with the online casino. Players have to provide their name, age, gender, postal address, e-mail address and user name for log in. Real money players will have to select a currency and payment option as well. Players will be asked to submit copies of documents for proof of identity and address. On successful registration players will be sent a password for the first log in to their e-mail address. Players should change this to one of their own.
Logging In: After registration players can log in whenever they want to. Download casino players should log in from the desk top icon. No download casino players can initiate the log in from the link at the online casino web site. The steps for depositing funds, wagering and withdrawing funds are explained later in this article.
Play at Licensed and Regulated Sites
In every industry there are service providers that are unscrupulous. The online casino industry is no different. Rogue online casinos will delay payments and in the worst case can disappear taking the players’ balances with them. It is neither practical nor possible for players to perform due diligence exercises. Therefore the first important rule of online wagering is to play at only licensed and regulated online casinos.
Licensing authorities are generally constituted by national governments. They have the expertise and resources to thoroughly investigate the applicant online casino operator. The applications are checked for the reputation of the operator, his financial standing, the fairness of the software being used and the management controls incorporated. Some of the reputed global licensing jurisdictions are Alderney, Antigua, Malta, Gibraltar, Kahnawake and Curacao. Today European countries like the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain have their own national regulators. A license from any of these is a must.
These authorities regulate their online casino licensees on a permanent basis. They go into reports of whether the software is periodically tested, whether the payout percentages are reported and above all whether grievances are being quickly and correctly redressed. However, no licensing authority stands guarantee for the players’ funds should the online casino default. Their licensing and regulation role only indicates that the likelihood of the online casino turning rogue is minimal.
No Download Vs. Download Casinos
Download casinos require players to download and install the games software package onto their hard drives. They will still need to connect to the online casino via Internet for wagering. In no download casinos the entire package remains at the server of the online casino and is accessed from there. The selected game opens in the browser of the player’s computer.
Online casinos started with download software and hence the games portfolios in download casinos are much larger as compared to no download casinos. This available variety is one of the biggest advantages of download casinos. Download casinos require minimal interaction with the online casino server. Therefore they provide stable wagering even with slightly lower speed Internet connections. For the latest feature rich no download casino games, the highest speed Internet connections are mandatory.
Download casinos are compatible only with Windows operating systems, whereas no download casinos work on Mac and Linux as well. Another disadvantage of download casinos is that they take up considerable hard drive space.
Making Deposits at Online Casinos
Players who want to wager with real money at online casinos will have to first choose the currency. If the online casino offers the currency of the country of residence of the player then that usually becomes the default currency. Otherwise the player can make his choice.
Next the player has to choose the payment or banking option. There are four broad categories of payment options. The first is the credit or debit card from issuers like Visa and MasterCard. The advantage is the familiarity and ease of use. The disadvantage is that in some countries that discourage online gambling banks sometimes reject credit card transactions. The second option is the e-wallet. It has to be funded using a credit card or bank account, but thereafter is very convenient to use. Popular electronic wallets are Neteller and Skrill. The third category is the prepaid voucher. The main advantage of this is that it is a onetime use instrument that can be purchased against cash at retail outlets. Therefore it does not leave any accounting trail. Ukash and Paysafecard are common prepaid cards. Some online casinos also accept checks from players. This option takes a few weeks and hence is generally not preferred. The player will have to register a banking option suited to his needs and then always use that option to deposit funds.
In order to make a deposit at the online casino players have to first log in using their user name and password. They then have to access the banking section of the online casino and select the Deposit option. There they will have to again select the registered banking option. One of the most important entries to make is the deposit amount. Additional details would be credit card number or e-wallet account number or prepaid voucher number. In all these three cases the transfer of funds is immediate if the transaction is completed satisfactorily.
Making Withdrawals and Banking Options
Making withdrawals at online casinos is a bit more complicated. Some credit cards do not allow withdrawals into the credit card account. Other credit cards allow withdrawals only in some countries. If the player depositing through credit card is not eligible for withdrawals into his card account then he has to request a check for the withdrawal amount from the online casino. Players who have registered to deposit using an e-wallet will be able to withdraw to the e-wallet. Players who have registered to deposit with prepaid cards will have to request for a check from the online casino.
Once the player has determined the correct withdrawal option then he has to follow a procedure similar to that for deposits. Players have to first log in, then access the banking section of the online casino and select the Withdrawal option. They will have to select the applicable withdrawal option. There they would have to enter the withdrawal amount and other details asked for. Withdrawals to credit cards and e-wallets are immediate if the transaction is completed satisfactorily. Check payments can take a few weeks and there could be a small charge as well.
There are certain other factors that need to be kept in mind while making a withdrawal. The first withdrawal at the online casino will not be allowed unless the verification is complete and hence players should send the required documents as soon as possible. Online casinos impose limits on the amount that can be withdrawn. These can be limits on each transaction and/or period limits. If the amount entered for withdrawal exceeds what is allowed the process may get stuck. Also players must note that they can withdraw only from their cash balance. The bonus balance will be transferred to the cash balance only after the wagering requirements are met.
Understanding Online Casino Bonuses
To better assist our visitors in understand how casino bonuses work we've put together a dedicated online casino bonuses section which you can read here. Having a better understanding of bonuses at online casinos can make a huge difference in the expectations that players generally have about online casinos. There are both positive and negative attributes of bonuses that are generally offered at casino sites and it's good to have an understanding of both.
Navigating Online Casino Lobbies
The online casino lobby is the area that appears on the screen when the player logs in. Usually the Games Menu is most prominently displayed. The Games Menu displays the broad games categories and is used for selecting and playing games at the online casino.
The next most important section is the Banking section. Real money players use the Banking section to make deposits and withdrawals. In download casinos free play players are also given a sum of money with which to wager. They can replenish this through the Banking section. However, free play players cannot make withdrawals.
The Promotion section in the casino lobby is also one that players should visit regularly. It contains the latest promotions and bonus offers and players will not want to miss out on these. The casino lobby will also contain an Inbox where e-mail messages sent by the online casino to the player are stored. These could contain special offers. The casino lobby will also contain the link to live help customer support.
Selecting and Playing Games Casino Games
The Games Menu can be used for game selection. It is generally a tree like structure. Table Games may be an entry at the highest level. At the next level this may have sub categories like Roulette, Blackjack and Others. If the games portfolio is really large then the sub categories may be further divided. The Games Menu is useful for checking out what is on offer. Some software providers include relevant details of the games as well. However, if players know the name of the game they want to play then they should use the search engine. Not all software provides offer the search engine facility.
There are two other useful features in most games menus. One is the automatic storage of the most recent games played in a separate field. Also many software providers offer a favorite games field where players can add the games they like. These allow for convenient game selection.