|Selecting a casino is partly
a matter of personal preferences and partly a matter of common-sense safeguards with one's
funds. The basic safeguards require that the casino be honest, fair, reliable, within
reach of the law or otherwise amenable to dispute resolution and enforcement, and
site worth gambling at has its rules of operation, especially for financial transactions,
clearly spelled out at the site. You need to read these rules carefully. There are
significant differences in the rules from one casino to the next. In any case, without a
firm basis to rely upon the casino for honesty and fairness, the appeal of the games in
terms of aesthetics, entertainment, challenge, and profit means nothing.
The basic criteria for good online
casinos are licensing by a reputable jurisdiction, bonding and insurance, stable and
secure ownership, a solid gaming developer for a licensing partner, site appearance and
esthetic appeal, ease of navigation, reliability of site against system interruptions,
games selection and fairness, longevity, popularity and number of regular satisfied
customers, reasonable but not suspiciously generous bonuses for signing, promptness in
payouts, no hidden transaction fees, quick crediting of deposits and winnings, telephone
support with courteous and knowledgeable staff, secure transmission encryption technology
for financial and personal information, complete audit trails for dispute resolution over
wagering, and clear explanations of gaming rules and financial rules. Even casinos owned
by the same owner and based on the same gaming software have different appearances, rules,
By all accounts, the most important
selection criterion is the responsiveness of the casino to problems and requests for
payouts. Casinos that have friendly, helpful telephone representatives receive the highest
marks from gamblers; those with only email communications receive lower marks, especially
if response time averages over 24 hours. Today, payout response time varies widely, from
excellent sites that guarantee same day service to sites that deliberately footdrag while
stockpiling sufficient operating cashflow to make payouts on the installment plan.
Many gamblers "test" payout
responsiveness with small initial deposits and requests for payment, to judge
administrative response and delays. In general, it is also probably not a good idea to
allow a large balance to build up at a casino; it is not necessary, since your betting
patterns should be stabilized in terms of bankroll and stake size. You also should inquire
during the selection process about accounting and payment of accrued interest on your
funds held by the casino on account.
The appearance of a site means more than
one would suspect. This is because visiting an online casino is probably more of a
long-term proposition than one anticipates, given the general difficulty of selecting a
casino to begin with and the matter of downloading software. In addition, if the
appearance looks "cheesy" it probably indicates a lack of substantiality and
commitment in the site, and this is a red flag. Sites that devote time and resources to
elaborate (even 3D) design of the website's appearance are more likely to be around when
you have a problem or want your winnings.
While casinos are required to submit
documentation of their software as part of a licensing process, the rigor of this
oversight varies considerably. Ways to gauge the software are to stick with casinos that
use systems popular throughout the industry (one large developer supplies 40+ casinos), to
look for substantial oversight by regulators (such as Australia), to check for membership
in an industry trade group that requires gaming accountability and openness (such as the IGC), to check with watchdog groups
for complaints or software testing, and to ask the casino directly about gaming software
and the house edge.
Live casinos are subjected to relatively
rigorous checking of gaming software algorithms and hardware integrity. The average
payouts of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos, for example, are regularly reported by
state gaming boards based on reporting and inspection activities. In the case of online
gaming software, the potential exists for odds setting or manipulation greatly at variance
with live casino gaming. While this does not appear to be a general problem, any site
without licensing and regulatory oversight has a heightened potential for this abuse.
Two other important selection criteria
are longevity and popularity. Those sites that have been around a good while (two or more
years) are more likely to be stable financially and not as susceptible to the rigors of
competition as start-ups or fly-by-night operations. The customer base acts as a
recommendation to the extent that a large number of clients apparently has no serious
complaint about the casino, and such a large group probably knows something about the
other casinos available to choose from as well. In online gambling, there is real sense in
the belief in safety in numbers as a protection against getting "fleeced" by the
|When looking for an online casino to play,
follow the ten points below. (Of course, the very first thing you should do is join the
Online Players Association. Get details at www.onlineplayersassociation.com
#1 Is the casino licensed by a sovereign
government? If no, find another casino.
#2 Does the casino have a toll free customer service number
that is answered 24 hours a day? If no, find another casino.
#3 What is the smallest denomination of their poker and
slot machines? You're looking for a wide variety of denominations, such as nickels,
quarters, dollars and five-dollar machines.
#4 How many different versions of video poker do they have?
You're looking for at least three. That tells you that the operator has spent a lot of
money on the software. Beware of those casinos that tell you they only have one version of
#5 What is the smallest and largest bet that they accept on
craps or blackjack? This is mainly for your own betting information.
#6 Does the casino have a place where they keep track of
your purchases and cashouts?
#7 How is the customer service? There's an easy way to test
this: Send them an email with a question and see how long it takes them to reply.
#8 What is the reputation of the software maker involved in
the casino? There is no sense in gambling online if you do not know how you will collect
quickly can you receive your winnings? Believe it or not, there are sites that only make
their payouts on the last Friday of the month, for example. Or they may require that you
send them email expressly requesting your winnings. Or maybe your withdrawal transactions
have to be pre-approved and the site advises that that can take up to two weeks.
#10 Make sure you read all the rules on bonuses and
cashing out procedures. Do your homework before you gamble online, not after.
If you use these very basic common sense methods of
checking out a casino it will save you a lot of problems in the end. Don't just give your
credit card number to the first casino you find. Please use your brain when picking a