Casino sites act as a viable alternative to filling up the car with gas and driving to the nearest brick-and-mortar establishment. You’ll find all the same games online and have just as realistic a chance at winning cash as you would doing it the old-fashioned way.
Only now, the games are more accessible and you’ll never wait in line to play a game of blackjack or craps.
Best Casino Sites
Casino Recommendations by Game
All major gambling sites offer a wide selection of casino games. Unless you play a very rare game variation, it’s probably not necessary to worry too much about which games are offered. You may find some differences in how extensive certain game offerings are, software providers, and promotions offered to new/returning players.
For example, blackjack is hosted everywhere. This game is easy to find in its regular format. However, if you’re a blackjack fan that enjoys different variants and sets of rules, some online casino sites are better than others. I’ve seen casinos that offer one type of blackjack and others that offer nearly two dozen variations.
- Caribbean Stud
- Let It Ride
- Pai Gow
- Sic Bo
- Three Card Poker
- Video Poker
Casino websites host all the same types of game that you’d find in person.
What isn’t the same is that playing online requires a greater degree of trust. It’s not like you can look the dealer in the eye or watch the actual roulette ball spin around the wheel. Trust is the key to making the industry work at all, and that’s why the starting point for all new players begins with finding a safe and worthwhile online casino site to play at.
I’m big on the trust thing because online gambling just doesn’t work if there’s a lack of trust. We all play under the assumption that we’re getting fair odds and will be paid if we win a big jackpot. If an online casino operator ever betrays that trust, it’s terrible for the individual player and makes the entire industry look bad.
There are a few basic steps you can take to ensure you get a fair game. The most effective is to play at online casino sites that have a positive reputation. Sites that stay in business long term eventually serve thousands and even millions of customers. Word gets out about which sites treat their players well and which do not.
Other considerations such as gaming licenses, certifications from third-party randomness analysis companies (yes, those exist) and the availability of background information on the company is also important. Our sister property, OnlineCasinoSites.com – also covers these details more extensively, check there for current information.
Safety and security are the primary factors that all players should use to narrow down the list of potential casino sites. Beyond that, choosing the “best” online casino is open to some interpretation.
It depends on which games you like, how much you want to wager, how you like to deposit, and where you live.
Knowing you’ll be paid in a timely fashion when you’re ready to cash out is among our most important expectations.
Too many players have the unfortunate experience of trusting casino sites that have gone bankrupt, or just deliberately slow/no paid. Whenever we recommend online casino sites to our readers, the speed of withdrawals is always a key factor.
The online casinos listed here are industry leaders in all categories. If you’re unsure of where to even begin, you won’t go wrong with any of the brands we list. These are all safe, they have a wide selection of games and are quick at processing deposits and withdrawals.
Online Casino Bonuses
It may be impossible to completely eliminate the house advantage when gambling online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work to maximize the value you get out of your gambling dollars. One of the most fool-proof ways to do that is to take advantage of online casino bonuses.
Casino bonuses are not free money, but a quality bonus can make a real difference on your bottom line over time. It is worth spending a little time to understand how casino bonuses work and what you can do to make the most of these offers.
One of the most important things to remember about casino bonuses is that they are not all created equal. Some promotions actually provide players with great value; others are basically rip-offs.
It is vital to fully understand the terms and conditions attached to a casino sign up bonus before accepting it.
Always approach incentivized offers with some degree of caution.
The casino signup bonuses listed on this page are all good deals. However, these are just a few of the many casino offers you’re bound to run across sooner or later. It is good to know how to evaluate the value of online casino promotions.
Make sure the promotions and incentives you consider have reasonable clearing requirements, are compatible with your favorite games, and that there are no unfair clauses hidden in the terms. Read on for more information about wagering requirements and other terms to be aware of before claiming a bonus.
Why Casino Websites Offer Bonuses
The online casino industry is extremely competitive, and gambling websites are constantly trying to attract new customers. As there are so many casino websites in business, it can be difficult for even the best casino operators to distinguish themselves from all the others.
This is one of the main reasons why the majority of online casinos offer signup bonuses to new customers.
A large signup bonus acts as a powerful incentive for a player to sign up and make a deposit. Online casinos are more than willing to hand out these bonuses in the hopes of attracting long-term customers.
Remember casino signup bonuses are marketed as free money but it’s not always that simple. All bonus offers come with terms and conditions that dictate how that money is released and what you can do with that money.
Types of Online Casino Bonuses
Casino bonuses come in all shapes and sizes. There are no-deposit bonuses, free spins offers and deposit match bonus, for example. Some are issued based on which games you play, how you deposit (payment method bonuses) and even where you live (geographic bonuses).
For example, the vast majority of gambling deposit bonuses do not work with blackjack. The house advantage of blackjack is so low that casino websites can end up losing more money than they intended when people use perfect blackjack strategy to clear a bonus.
The following are among the most common types of online casino bonuses:
Deposit Match Bonuses
Casino deposit “match bonuses” are the most widely offered promotion and generally offers the best value to customers. The size of casino deposit bonuses is determined by the size of your first deposit on a percentage basis.
The percentage match bonuses offered vary at different online casino sites with 50% or 100% tending to be the norm, although some online casinos offer even higher percentages and some offer lower. Example: if an online casino offers a 50% deposit match bonus and you deposit $1,000, you will get a $500 bonus, giving you a total of $1,500 to play with.
Percentage match bonuses also have some level at which they max out. For example, you will often see bonuses worded something like this:
“200% bonus up to $2,000!”
That means the casino is willing to double your first deposit for up to $2,000 in bonus money. You can deposit as much as you want, but the bonus money maxes out at $2,000. Because bonuses are one-time offers on your first deposit only, you are best served by getting as much bonus money as possible the first time around.
One last thing: some casino match bonuses are automatically given to all new players and some require specific bonus codes.
Wagering Only Bonuses
Wagering only casino bonuses, also known as the “phantom bonus,” shares some similarities with casino deposit bonuses. In fact, many deposit match bonuses are also classified as wagering only bonuses.
The basic idea is the same except for one key difference: you are not allowed to withdraw the bonus money. The good news is that you can still withdraw any winnings earned with the bonus money.
Let’s say you make a $200 deposit and get a $200 wagering-only bonus.
You play, clear the bonus and end up with a final account balance of $500. When you make your first withdrawal, the $200 bonus credit will be removed from your account and you’ll end up with $300 that can be withdrawn.
Wagering only bonuses tend to be larger than cashable bonuses. Casino sites are more willing to give out bigger phantom bonuses because there isn’t as much risk of the casino taking a big hit. Whenever you see one a 500% casino bonus, it is probably a wagering-only bonus.
No Deposit Offers
No deposit casino bonuses are real-money offers that require no deposit. All you have to do is sign up for an account and you’ll get the bonus cash. You can then use those funds to play real money games without having risk a single cent of your own money.
The catch is that no-deposit casino offers are the smallest bonuses of them all.
One other thing to keep in mind is that no-deposit bonuses usually cannot be withdrawn until you make a deposit yourself. So if you win big, you’ll need to make a deposit before you can withdraw the winnings.
Free spin bonuses are frequently offered in addition to other types of promotions. The basic idea is that you make a deposit, get a bonus plus a few free spins at one of their slots games. Free spins do not actually add money to your account; they simply give you credit at a specific slot game.
Free spins are nice, but they aren’t massively profitable. I always look at free spins as extra icing on the cake. If I get a few free spins when I deposit, that’s great. But, I’m not going to go out of my way just to get 20 free spins. Anything that you win with a free spin bonus is yours to keep.
Understanding the Terms and Conditions
All of the casino incentives described above come with terms and conditions. The terms always dictate the value of any offer. A bonus that has reasonable terms is a good one.
Casino bonuses with unreasonable terms are more trouble than it’s worth. Always read through the terms and conditions of any casino bonus before you deposit.
Most online casino bonuses have a condition called “wagering requirements.” These wagering requirements state that you must place X number of wagers before the bonus money or any winnings obtained by wagering the bonus can be withdrawn.
The wording usually goes something like this:
“This bonus is subject to a 20x rollover on the deposit and bonus.”
What that means if you must place a total value of wagers equal to 20 times the bonus + deposit amount. So if you deposit $100 and get a $100 bonus, you’ll need to wager a total of $4,000 before the bonus money and winnings are released.
Remember – that is only a total value of wagers placed, not money won or lost. Still, it can be difficult to meet these requirements if you play high house advantage games. Wagering requirements of 20x are normal.
The terms and conditions also frequently restrict certain games from meeting the wagering requirements. Blackjack is often included in that list because it has such a low house advantage when played well. You CAN find blackjack bonuses from time to time, but remember to always check the terms for your favorite games.
Cashable vs. Non-Cashable
One other thing the terms and conditions should make clear is if the casino bonus is cashable or non-cashable. If you read through the terms and see anything along the lines of “this bonus if for wagering purposes only,” that means it is one of those wagering-only gambling bonuses described above.
The maximum cashout rule is most often found on no-deposit casino bonuses, although it does sometimes appear in the terms and conditions of other types of bonuses. In short, this rule places a limit on the amount of money you can win with the bonus.
For example, a $20 no deposit bonus might have a clause that limits the winnings off the bonus to $200. If you get exceptionally lucky and win more than the maximum cashout rule, you only get to keep whatever the maximum is.
I have no problem with this rule on no-deposit bonuses. Without this rule, it would open the casino to the risk of people opening unlimited accounts and playing big-jackpot games for free.
Other Fine Print Found in Casino Promotional Offers
There are so many different casino bonuses out there, each with its own set of terms and conditions, that it would be impossible to describe every possible variation here. The last piece of advice I’d like to leave you with is to always read the fine print. All reputable casino sites clearly explain all the rules associated with welcome offers.
The fine print should give you a pretty good idea of whether or not any particular online casino promotion is a good deal. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the customer support number.
Online Casino Promotions and Loyalty Rewards
Rewards programs: Most gaming companies compete to retain loyal customers in the competitive marketplace, usually in the form of loyalty schemes or regular promotions. Just like deposit bonuses, VIP programs can have an impact on your long-term win rate.
Casino Loyalty programs vary at different casino sites. A common form of casino reward is where a site offers “comp” or “points” which are awarded to you every time you place a wager. As you accumulate points, you can redeem them for cash and other prizes. Other promotions might include a weekly or monthly leader board where you earn points every time you play. The more you play, the more points you earn for the leader board. At the end of the set period, the players in the highest positions will win cash or other prizes.
VIP programs at casino websites are sort of like the comps you would find at a brick-and-mortar establishment. The difference is that when you play online, they give out cash and bonuses in lieu of free meals and hotel rooms. In the end, online casino VIP programs are nice but they shouldn’t take priority in determining where you play. Safety, speed of withdrawals, and game selection are all more important.
As with deposit bonuses, it is important to make sure you fully understand the terms of conditions of all casino rewards programs and frequent player promotions.
Live Dealer Casino Sites
Live dealer casino sites are the next best thing to playing in person. Gambling sites have always strived to recreate the “live” casino experience, but even the best betting sites have struggled to give players that “live” feel. Until recently, that is.
Live dealer casino sites are the biggest thing to come out of the online gambling industry in recent years. Live dealer casinos combine real human dealers with webcams to bring the casino to you.
Now, it isn’t even necessary to be present at a land-based casino to play with real dealers, real chips, and real cards.
Online casinos rely on random number generators to power their games. Every outcome is determined by a random number generator (RNG) that replicates pure randomness. Live dealer casino websites, on the other hand, take it back to the basics.
At a live dealer casino, your luck is based on real-world physics. Real roulette balls are dropped into spinning wheels and the decks are shuffled by human dealers. Meanwhile, everything is streamed to you in real-time via live webcams.
Betting sites with live dealer casino games bring the brick-and-mortar experience to your computer or mobile device. You still use your keyboard and mouse to place your bets, and that information is relayed to the dealer on the other side of the screen. The dealer then drops the ball, turns the cards, and pays out your bets with real chips at a table you can see on your screen.
No special software is required to bet at online casino sites with live dealers. Everything is streamed through your web browser in real-time. The only thing you need is an internet-connected device.
In our experience, live dealer games do a spot-on job of recreating the experience of playing in person. It feels completely different interacting with a real dealer, hearing the sounds of the casino and chatting with other players.
List of Live Dealer Games
All table games can theoretically be converted to the live dealer format. If it involves cards, dice or roulette wheels, it can be streamed online.
The majority of live dealer casino websites keep the list limited to a few specific games:
- Live Dealer Blackjack Sites
- Live Roulette Sites
- Live Dealer Baccarat Online
- Live Online Sic Bo
You might sometimes find other live dealer casino games such as craps and Caribbean Holdem, but the above 3 are the most common. Hopefully, we’ll see that games list grow over time. If the concept continues to prove popular, we can expect to see more games come out in the live dealer format.
Plus, some games are better suited for a live casino setup. For example, it’s pretty easy to host an online blackjac game that uses a live dealer. You don’t need to actually touch the roulette ball or wheel when you play that game. Craps, on the other hand, is a little more difficult because the players are supposed to take turns throwing the dice.
But still, the online gambling industry has shown ingenuity over the years. It’s not impossible to imagine a casino setting up an online craps game with a designated thrower.
It’s just a matter of time before we see more live dealer casino games hit the market.
Pros and Cons of Using Live Dealer Sites
Live dealer casino games have their pros and cons. The cons are relatively minor, so let’s start with those.
Con: Live dealer games move slower
You will never achieve the same speed with live dealer games that you see with regular online casino games. Any game that involves shuffling or roulette wheels moves slower when you add humans to the mix. You have to wait until the dealer shuffles the cards and until the roulette ball comes to a full stop. It’s the same as actually playing at a local casino.
Con: Limited number of seats
A single live dealer table can only fit so many players. We’re dealing with real tables and dealers here and not with unlimited instances of the same game. There may be times when you have to wait to get a seat at your table. Again, this is just like playing at a real casino.
Pro: The experience
Live dealer casino sites offer a completely different experience than what you get with regular betting sites. It’s hard to express in words, but the overall “feel” is unique. It feels very similar to playing at a brick-and-mortar casino.
Pro: Social aspect
Some live dealer games come with chat functions embedded in the software. This allows you to chat and banter with the dealer and the other players. It may sound like a relatively minor thing, but the social aspect is huge. It makes online gambling feel more social and less like something you do all alone on your computer late at night.
Pro: Physics over software
The outcome of every game at a live dealer table is determined by real-world physics and not by computer software. Modern software is surprisingly good at creating random results, but it seems that most people still trust good old-fashioned physics the most… and I can’t say that I blame them.
Tips for Online Casino High Rollers & VIPs
As you can imagine, online casinos take care of high roller customers. If you consider yourself a high roller, check to see if your favorite online casino has a VIP program and what the benefits might be for your stake levels.
Always make sure you get maximum value for your play and don’t be afraid to ask for special treatment if you play for large stakes on a regular basis.
Be aware of depositing and withdrawing limits at online casino websites. Depositing a large bankroll might have to be done in multiple transactions and also applies to withdrawing your winnings. Call before depositing large amounts and ask about the process.
Is it Legal to Play at Online Casino Sites?
The most frequently asked question I see concerning internet gambling is whether or not it is legal. Gaming laws vary around the world so this is a tough one to answer in general. In the United States, for example, there are laws against operating a casino site but these laws do not make it a crime to simply play at such a site.
The United Kingdom takes a completely different approach by licensing and regulating the industry. The online casino sites that you see based out of the UK are some of the biggest in the world thanks to a government that regulates and taxes the industry.
Online gambling laws in many countries are vague and sporadically enforced. For the most part, there is little to fear regarding the law. Most countries simply have more pressing matters to deal with rather than worry about who places a bet online. However, I still urge you to do your research and consult with an attorney if you have any questions before wagering real money to make sure you’re in complete compliance with the law.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.