Online casinos are virtual versions of the gaming facilities found in places like Las Vegas, Macau or Monte Carlo. Players can wager real money on various games of chance. Online casinos offer a full range of games: baccarat, bingo, blackjack, craps, keno, roulette, reel and video slots, and both table and video poker among other options.
Although virtual gaming isn’t the same as a traditional casino, the industry keeps taking steps to get as close as possible. You’ll find virtual versions of many of the slot machines you’ll see on casino floors, and the experience of playing them online is very much like playing them in person — just minus the cigarette smoke!
Online casinos also offer “live dealer” games, which allow you to see and interact with a dealer in real-time through live streaming video. Live online gaming has become particularly popular as of late.
If you’re new to online gaming, check out our introductory guide for more details about how online casinos work and what player incentives they offer.
The best online casinos provide player rewards, including:
VIP and High Roller programs
How Do We Choose And Rate Casinos?
There are nearly 2,000 online casinos in operation. That’s just too many choices to sift through!
Unlike other websites that attempt to list and review as many of them as possible, we’ve cut the list down to roughly the top 1% of all casinos.
We look for casinos that have an established history of paying out promptly, that offer a good selection of games, that welcome new players with great bonuses and that have a reputation for keeping their players’ personal and financial information secure.
In addition, we ensure that all of our listed casinos meet certain vital safety criteria. That means being licensed and regulated by a government-run gambling commission, employing third-party auditing to verify games are run fairly, and having a good range of options for both withdrawal and deposits.
Are Online Casinos Legal?
Legitimate online gaming websites are always legal in the territory that they are based , and regulated by a local government body that helps settle disputes between players and casino.
It’s usually legal for residents of most countries to play at these casinos. There are a number of countries that have laws against online gambling, however; the United States, France, Russia, China, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, and Iceland don’t allow play at online casinos based outside of their borders.
The countries listed do not prosecute individual players, however, and many of the international websites will allow players from some or all of these nations. Instead, these countries attempt to dissuade online gambling by targeting financial institutions; their governments will pressure banks and credit card companies to block or cancel transactions that appear to be with an online casino.
Some countries do prosecute individual players, such as the United Arab Emirates and Poland, so it is important to consult local laws. You will also find that some online casinos refuse to take players from certain countries even though online gaming is legal there; this is usually due to fraud and money laundering operations being rampant in those areas.
Some of the major government entities that oversee legitimate online gambling sites include:
* The United Kingdom Gaming Commission
* The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
* Alderney Gambling Control Commission
* The Malta Gaming Authority
* Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Offshore Gaming
A license from a reputable gaming control board assures you that the casino’s business operations have been screened, and that they are subject to specific rules. For example, these entities will check the backgrounds of owners and senior executives to be sure they have not been involved in financial crimes or unethical operations in the past, will verify that their accounting practices and methods of handling player complaints are above board, and be sure they have a procedure in place for verifying the fairness of their games.
It’s important to note that not all national gaming control boards are created equal. The ones we recommend are trustworthy and have an established history of protecting consumers from dishonest casinos. Certain national boards perform little oversight of gaming businesses as long as they can pay their licensing fees; the boards of Curacao and Panama are two of the biggest examples.
What Technology Do You Need To Play At Online Casinos?
The biggest and best online casinos allow you to play on a computer or a variety of mobile devices. The system requirements for playing on a computer are fairly basic, and if your desktop or laptop computer was made within the last five years you should be able to play.
Traditionally, to access a casino’s full range of games, you would need to play on a desktop or laptop and download casino frontend software to your computer. The casinos would also offered browser-only and mobile options, but these versions hadwould have less games available. This is beginning to change, however, as more and more people primarily access the internet on phones and tablets.
The online gaming industry is welcoming this change by making their full roster of games available to mobile players. The “app versions” of the casinos still aren’t always guaranteed to have as many games as the mobile/desktop versions, and some advanced features like live dealer games may not be available, but they are improving every day.
How Do You Get Money In (And Out) Of An Online Casino?
Deposit and withdrawal methods vary from casino to casino. Large, reputable casinos will usually offer most (if not all) of the following, however:
* Bank or wire transfer
* Personal or bank check
* Money order
* E-wallet services such as Skrill, Neteller and PayPal
* Major credit cards (Visa / Mastercard / Discover / American Express)
If the online casino is part of a land-based casino chain or has a relationship with one, they may also allow you to make deposits and withdrawals in person at a land-based casino cage.
You’ll have to refer to each individual casino to see what deposit and withdrawal methods they accept, as well as any limitations they put on withdrawals. It’s not uncommon for casinos to limit you to withdrawing a few thousand dollars per day or week. We make it a point to list this information in our casino reviews.
How Do I Stay Safe While Playing At Online Casinos?
We’ve already discussed the major gaming certification boards run by national governments; to briefly recap, look for licensure with a territory that is whitelisted by the United Kingdom. You need to look for more than just their logo on the casino page, though, as that can be faked; check each regulatory agency’s website for a current list of the casinos they license, and get in touch with them if you’re not sure of a casino’s status.
You’ll also want a casino that regularly verifies the fairness of its games with a third-party auditor. Two of the industries biggest auditors are eCOGRA and iTech.
Also, take a look at the software platform that the casino games run on. You’re looking for reliable software developers like Playtech, IGT, GLI, Microgaming or CryptoLogic.
Check to see if you can easily find their contact information, and if they make it easy to get ahold of them. The best of these websites offer a toll-free phone number, live web-based chat and email support around the clock. If you have to search forever just to find one phone number or email address, it’s a bad sign.
The final step in screening casinos is to check out reviews and comments / complaints from other users. The issue with review websites is that there are quite a few that will say positive things about every casino out there in the hopes of driving as many referrals as possible; rest assured the reviews here at MuchGames instead focus on the “best of the best” in the market and we will not recommend a site with known security issues. Complaints can be tricky too, because they aren’t always all legitimate, but seeing a majority of complaints vs. positive comments across several different websites is usually a big warning sign.
I’m Confused By All These Casino Bonuses!
Many of the casinos offer a sign-up bonus, which gives you a certain amount of house money to play with. It would be far too much to try to cover every type of bonus that casinos offer in this space, but suffice to say that you should expect to have to play through (actively wager) at least the full amount of the bonus out of your own pocket prior to receiving it. There are also often other conditions, like having to deposit a minimum amount or receiving the bonus amount in chunks over time rather than all at once.