The world of online casinos can be daunting for beginners. That’s why we’ve put together this step by step guide to help you on your way and show you everything you need to do to make your adventure into the world of online gaming as safe and successful as possible.
How to choose an online casino
With so many different casinos to choose from it can be hard to know where to start. It’s important to do your homework when it comes to finding a reputable, safe casino that is legitimate and not likely to scam you and take your money.
As well as this you will want to find a casino that offers a great experience in terms of quality of software, range of games and that’s easy to deposit to and withdraw from.
Here are a few questions you should ask when you’re deciding where to play:
- Is the casino legitimate and above board? Whilst rare, rogue casinos do exist. Make sure the casino you’re thinking of playing at is accredited by a major regulatory authority such as eCOGRA or TST. This ensures they treat their players well and the games are fair. See our detailed articles on responsible gaming and blacklisted casinos to learn more.
- Do they offer the right platform for your needs? Online casino players have a range of options these days from the traditional download casino to instant play casinos and mobile casinos. If you’re looking to play when you’re on the go you will want to pick a casino with a great mobile platform, while if you are looking to play from your desktop PC most of the time a good download casino will be better suited to your needs.
- Does the casino offer a great gaming experience? Not all online casinos are created equally and finding one that uses a well-known software platform and the highest quality graphics and audio can make your experience a more enjoyable one.
Downloading the Software vs. Online Play
One great thing about most online casinos is that they make it very easy to download their software. You’ll find the option to download in several places on their home page. Once you click on the link you will be guided through the process of downloading and installing the software on your computer.
As long as the casino is reputable (see above), there won’t be any issues with computer viruses or malware associated with downloading their software. See this article for more information about the many different Internet security measures employed by casinos.
If you don’t want to download the casino software virtually all casinos now offer the option to play the games directly in your browser using a Flash player. To access the flash casino all you need to do is follow the links to the instant play or flash casino (they should be visible on the site’s homepage).
The downside of this option is that your browser needs to do the work rather than your hardware, but it’s a good option if you can’t download the software due to PC limitations or if you’re playing on a public computer. For more information see our article on flash / no download casinos.
Creating an Account
Before you can play online for real money you will need to register an account with the casino. Creating an account is usually very easy and will only take a few minutes (it can be done while your software is downloading).
You will need to provide a valid email address, your name and address, your date of birth and choose a username. Some casinos will also ask for your mobile phone number and give you the option to verify it for added security for your account.
Playing Online Casino Games
You’ll find a huge array of games at almost any online casino. Whether you’re into slots, blackjack, roulette, or video poker, you’re sure to find an option that suits you. Take a look around at the variety of games your chosen casino offers in the lobby of their software client as well as on their website. You might be surprised at the options!
Most casinos also have various special features like progressive jackpots. These are games where the jackpot is pooled amongst several casinos in the same network. This can lead to some huge jackpots that can be won with a very small investment. We’re talking in the millions here, so if that’s something you’d like to capitalise on you can find out more on your chosen casino’s website.
Real Money vs. Play Money
Most casinos offer a play money option to get your feet wet before diving in for real money. Or you can just play for fun without ever depositing. You will be limited in the amount of games you can play for free, as not all games have a play money version. Still, you should be able to play a reasonable amount of games for play money including blackjack, roulette, video poker and several different slots. If you run out of play money you can usually top it up again in your account options.
While playing for free is fun and a great way to practice, once you’ve got the hang of the different casino games you will probably want to switch to playing for real money. Playing for real money gives you access to the casino’s full range of games and you get the extra excitement of being in the running to win that big payout.
Depositing & Withdrawing Money
Online casinos offer a range of payment options for casino players to deposit and withdraw funds from their gaming accounts. These options include major credit cards as well as online payment facilities such as Skrill (Moneybookers), Neteller and POLi.
When you are depositing and withdrawing money from an online casino, keep in mind the following:
- You usually need to withdraw your winnings via the same method you made your deposit, at least until you’ve withdrawn the same amount you deposited (at which time you can choose another option).
- Some deposit methods are not also accepted as withdrawal methods, in which case the casino will usually send you a cheque.
- Most casinos don’t charge a fee for deposits or withdrawals, but make sure you check to see if there are any fees for subsequent withdrawals, as some online casinos charge a fee for more than one withdrawal in a given period.
You can find more info about depositing and withdrawal of money on our payment methods page.
Protecting Your Privacy
Privacy is an important consideration for anyone who is considering playing at an online casino. When you’re giving out your personal details and payment information you need to be sure that it is secure and won’t be shared with anyone else online.
The best way to protect your privacy online is to limit your playing to casinos that have been regulated. The best-known online casino regulator is eCOGRA. Casinos that are approved by eCOGRA have been audited by the regulator and have passed a number of checks including:
- Payout percentages
- Timeliness of withdrawals
- Information privacy
- The ethics of their marketing
Be very wary of any casino that hasn’t been regulated by eCOGRA – if your personal details fall into the wrong hands the consequences could be long lasting and disastrous.
Support Options (if you get stuck)
Most online casinos (and all of our recommended casinos) have a very good support system in place, usually including 24/7 phone support and live chat. This makes it very easy if you run into any problems, as there will be a real person just a few clicks away who can help solve your problem or point you in the right direction for the information you need.