The team at OnlineCasinoWebsites has put together a concise how-to-play guide as a handy reference for beginners who are completely new to the online casino landscape. It’s hard to keep track of all of the terms, services, gambling laws and casino websites out there – so keep this page bookmarked for whenever you need an Internet gambling question quickly answered.
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There are many steps to take prior to registering an account with an online casino and betting your hard-earned real cash. It pays to be educated as there are so many different organisations and terms you need to know by name before you can adequately guarantee your Internet gambling safety. We break it down into easy steps with additional, more detailed guides linked when appropriate.
First steps to choosing an online casino website: The Facts
Before you begin your online gambling journey, make sure to familiarise yourself with the essential standards all popular and trustworthy Internet gambling venues abide by, and understand what makes an offshore online casino worth signing up to. All of the casino sites recommended in our table above have ticked all the right boxes as detailed below. We like to break down the most important things to look out for into five key questions:
- Customer service Is the online casino in question providing open ways of communication such as live chat, phone support, and email?
- Legitimate licensing Is the online casino in question licensed and regulated by internationally recognised
- Fair and responsible gaming Is the online casino in question audited and certified by independent gambling watchdog organisations like eCOGRA?
- Safe payouts: Is the online casino in question offering globally recognised payment methods to deposit and withdraw cash?
- Security Is the online casino in question using the bare minimum of SSL 128-bit digital encryption security systems to safeguard your information?
gambling jurisdictions and authorities?
If an online casino website fails to hold up to these five established standards, it is absolutely not worth considering as a safe and trustworthy Internet-based gambling venue to bet your cash at. Unless these five questions are answered, you should take your time and money elsewhere.
Step 1: What is the online casino’s customer service options?
Customer support is a necessary service players should expect when signing up to a real money online casino. New players and experienced gamblers should expect a site to offer several contact options to get in touch with their team when the need arises. While detailed FAQ sections are helpful, nothing can replace the option of customer service when a specific question needs answering or a problem needs fixing.
All of the best online casino websites host email, live chat services and toll-free telephone hotlines, and many even have different options for languages and timezones dependent on your region. A growing number of Internet casinos also offer the option to contact their team via iMessage, Skype and WhatsApp. This is a good sign as it means the operator is proactive in letting their registered players know they’re always around to provide assistance when needed, and not just interested in taking your money.
Almost all unsafe Internet casinos skimp out on customer service or otherwise bury their contact details to make it hard for players to message them. This is an immediate red flag to watch out for. Talking with a support team when you need basic queries answered or terms and conditions clarified is an absolute necessity, and the worst casino sites always purposely lack basic communication options so they do not have to face disgruntled or scammed players when they come calling.
Step 2: Is the online casino licensed by a legitimate gambling jurisdiction?
For the majority of the international community, most gambling websites you will play at will be an offshore online casino. Offshore means the casino is based outside of your country of origin and abides by different laws and regulations to legally operate, but it can still offer its interactive gambling services to your country – provided your national gambling legislation allows them to do so.
While the term ‘offshore’ can bring up negative connotations, these sites are almost always your safest option when gambling on the World Wide Web. They have to abide by international standards and strict regulations in order to be licensed by globally recognised gaming jurisdictions. Licenses are only granted to casino vendors who pass thorough evaluations and testing for offering fair and responsible gaming sites that are operating free of any criminal activity.
To determine whether a casino is legitimately regulated and proven to be safe for real money play, it is crucial that it displays the name of the gambling jurisdiction responsible for its licensing. There are a small number of internationally recognised gaming jurisdictions currently licensing the most popular and trustworthy online casinos, of which you can read more about in the guides linked below:
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission
- Curaçao e-Gaming
- Gibraltar Betting & Gaming Association
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Malta Gaming Authority
- United Kingdom Gambling Commission
If the online casino you are interested in openly displays the certification logos of any of the aforementioned online gambling jurisdictions, along with the official license numbers and date of licensing, it is confirmation of the venues legitimacy as licensed and trustworthy digital gambling venue. These are internationally recognised regulatory bodies often backed by their country of origin’s government, not just backwater, made-up licensing groups. Read our guides on each jurisdiction for further information.
Almost all reputable Internet casinos will provide additional links to the online documentation of their licenses, which is typically accessible by scrolling to the bottom of their home page. This is a must-have in our books – especially for beginners who want absolute peace-of-mind when gambling online.
However, confirmation of the casino website’s license is not enough to get started. All players must also take into account their country of origin’s individual gambling laws and legislation prior to betting at an offshore online casino, regardless of whether it abides by its operational jurisdiction’s regulation and laws.
Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have fully regulated online casino gambling, but others such as Australia and South Africa have laws which are a lot more unclear or restrictive. It is up to you to familiarise yourself with the online gambling laws of your country prior to playing for real money online.
OnlineCasinoWebsites provides individual page guides for all countries, so you can keep informed of the latest gambling laws and legislation that applies to you:
Step 3: Does the online casino abide by fair and responsible gaming experiences?
While gaming jurisdictions verify whether an online casino is fit for general operation, it is important to play at a site which is audited regularly by testing agencies to ensure it remains vigilant in adhering to fair and responsible gaming standards. This includes ensuring there are no underage players registered, no criminal behaviour, responsible marketing is used, personal and financial information of players is safeguarded, minimum of 128-bit SSL digital encryption security is employed, prompt payouts are made, and unbiased random number generators and fair return-to-player rates are used.
The eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) is the leading independent authority for online casinos, officially certifying sites that provide a safe environment for Internet betting, based on all of the aforementioned criteria and more. Their team is made up of qualified professionals from several business sectors, including admin, financial, legal and IT auditing, and they work within the codes of conduct set by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).
eCOGRA’s work is accredited by practically every single gambling jurisdiction around the world, which means they have permission and the authority to conduct on-site audits and testing of offshore casino operators based in the jurisdiction’s region. They also audit and certify gaming software developers who make games for all major online casinos, such as Microgaming and Net Entertainment, to make sure their games employ unbiased RNG systems and fair payouts.
Look out for the eCOGRA Seal of Approval at the bottom of an online casino website’s homepage or ‘About Us’ page. This logo is proof the operator abides by fair and responsible gaming standards, and further documentation of certification is usually provided by the site if you click on the seal.
Step 4: Does the online casino have secure deposit and withdrawal options?
Gambling online requires secure payment options to ensure players financial transactions are safeguarded when they deposit and withdraw money into and out of their online casino account. Prompt processing times must also be offered so players have peace-of-mind with their financial transactions. Never settle for anything less – if an online casino does not have 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) digital encryption employed across their site or are known for extremely slow payout times, move along, as there are plenty of stellar Internet casinos which provide exemplary service.
Always make sure the online casino website you are scouting out offers internationally recognised payment methods before signing up for an account. Common banking methods supported pretty much everywhere and which we highly recommend for beginners include:
- Direct bank transfers: Money wiring
- Credit and debit cards: MasterCard, Visa
- Digital currency: Bitcoin
- e-Wallets: ecoCard/ecoPayz, Neteller, Skrill
- Pre-paid: Entropay, Flexepin, Paysafecard
Depending on your region, deposit and withdrawal options available to you may vary, and some carry additional processing fees. You will also need to take currency conversion into account, as some online casinos do not support a wide variety of currencies outside of the usual suspects (AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, USD). Do your research and read our individual guides for each payment method to figure out which option best suits your needs and to find out which online casino websites offer which payment method.
Step 5: Does the online casino employ the latest state-of-the-art security systems?
Playing at an Internet gambling venue with secure encryption systems in place is essential if you want your online betting experience to be devoid of security risks or fraud. This last step pretty much applies to every single website you visit on the World Wide Web, but it does not make it any less important when choosing a safe casino site.
Because most modern online casinos are of the no-download, instant-play format – that is, Flash-based and played directly in your computer or mobile’s Web browser (such as Apple Safari and Google Chrome) they use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) digital encryption technology to safeguard online play and prevent outsiders from accessing your information or hijacking your browser session. These are security systems used by the majority of the Internet’s major websites and not just online casinos.
You can see if an online casino is actually using these security systems by navigating your mouse to your browser’s URL bar and locating the small padlock icon signifying a site is secure. If you want more information, simply click the padlock icon and it will tell you which type of SSL or TLS certification is currently employed by the website.
Top recommended online casino websites for beginners
If you were hoping for an easy round-up of the best online casino websites to play at with real money (or free for fun), this guide is only just the beginning. We have a ton of reviews of every major Internet gambling venue that meets our five-step criteria listed above, along with an assortment of handy guides already linked to ensure you find the perfect site. We highly recommend taking the time to read our guides to guarantee you are ready to begin betting money online safely at legally licensed offshore casino sites.