Best Online Casinos
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The current global trend
In most parts of the world, online casinos are a thriving economy, and are not bound by regulatory issues to the degree that Australia and the USA are.
Impact of Corona Virus
This economy is gaining recent traction thanks in part to the downturn in the sports betting industry, which has been crippled by the worldwide events of the Corona-Virus.
Top global competitions have been postponed indefinitely, meaning there is no betting activity occurring. This is costing the sports betting industry billions in lost opportunity, hence lost revenue.
So players are looking at e-sports and online casinos as an alternative.
However, the Casino industry is not getting away scot free. Top physical Casinos in hot spots like Macau, mainland China, South East Asia, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and elsewhere are subject to the same border protections for Corona Virus as many other countries.
This means that tourists can’t get in, casino visitor numbers are down, and revenue is leaking in huge numbers.
At least with an online casino, you can turn up to play in only your pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers!
Online Casinos – what do I need to know?
Trying to find a decent one to join up with becomes part of the journey. It’s no different than trying to find a decent online betting agency, or finding a decent Android or iOS app for your mobile phone. Don’t think it’s an onerous or a scary task, because it isn’t.
Identities and VPN’s
Casinos are vigilant with identity theft or even obfuscation through IP Address tracking and usage against your account, so using a VPN like Express VPN to change identities and country logins could be counter productive. Be mindful of this if identity is an issue for you.
It might take some time to eventually settle on an online casino, and during the course of your journey, you might graduate to another casino, much like swapping over your electricity and gas bill to another supplier or your mortgage to another cheaper money lender.
Casino Types and Product Types
There are two main types of online casinos to be aware of:
- those that you play socially (say on Facebook), just for fun, that have limited financial implications, meaning you play for free virtually. These platforms are similar to some high-end games you can download from the Android or Apple Playstores. These platforms are similar to some high-end games you can download from the Android or Apple Playstores
- those platforms where you play for real cash, and for bigger stakes. It is this latter category we’ll look at.
Also, there are three types of products that typically make up the gaming world:
- Instant play – games which are played directly on the casino’s website.
- Downloadable – games which are downloadable to a computer.
- Mobile – games which are downloadable to a mobile phone or tablet, and can be played on the go via a SIM/data plan.
Criteria to look for
A good selection of games, whether they be board/table games, slot machines etc is always a good thing, but it’s mostly about the players online experience and reassurance about peripheral things like financials and site security and welfare that will ensure return visits. Let’s look at the main criteria that you should be considering:
Casino License & Regulations
A reputable online casino should be licensed and regulated by a trusted gaming authority. The following is a list Gaming Authorities, Commissions and Boards with good experience and reputation.
Nevada Gaming Control Board
Founded in 2011, the NGCB is the newest regulatory body in the global iGaming industry. It keeps a very tight lid on affairs, considering the US gaming industry is very strict and heavily regulated. Only a few states are permitted for online gaming. You have to be living in Nevada to be allowed to join an online casino – that is also based in Nevada. Nowhere else.
New Jersey Division Of Gaming Enforcement
Formed in 1977, the NJDGE was the regulatory body for physical casinos (like Atlantic City), but eventually bought in online casinos under its watch as well. Much like Nevada, State residents in New Jersey are able to join up to an online casino, but it has to be operating out of New Jersey only. How they police this I’m damned if I know!
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
The Malta Gaming Authority was formed in 2001 and has forged an A+ reputation in the iGaming industry. Malta has lower tax rates making it an ideal location for gaming operators to set up shop from elsewhere around Europe and the U.K. Currently, over 500 Gaming companies have done just that.
United Kingdom Gaming Commission
The U.K was one of the first gaming authorities to regulate and license online/remote gaming sites. Partly due to higher tax rates, many gaming operators do not register in the U.K anymore, preferring to go to Europe or to the Isle Of Man instead, where it is cheaper to set up.
Isle Of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
The Isle Of Man, the small island nation nestled between mainland Britain and Ireland is a tax haven, much like Malta. Gaming operators have set up on the island, knowing that they’ll get a fair tax break, while the Gambling Supervision Commission keeps a tight lid on things, making it a safe bet for prospective online players.
First Impressions: Website/Homepage
Like any website project design, the main website home page will need to strike a chord with the prospective player from the get-go.
The online casino will need to have all bases covered, including site navigation, easy access to the most important parts of the site, whether it be through a top menu, a side bar, an easy to use search system, and that the site renders responsively and correctly whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. There should be no more than a handful of clicks to get you to where you need to go. As they say, first impressions always counts for a lot.
Safety & Security
When choosing a casino to sign up with, there should be an emphasis placed on safety and security for the player. Here’s a check list:
- Operating licenses and compliance with local regulatory conditions should be in place and clearly indicated.
- Your personal details should be kept confidential. At no stage should a casino be selling your personal details to a third party. If they indicate that they do, then you need to look elsewhere.
- Payouts to players are to be processed in accordance to the payback percentage as published in their T&C’s on their website.
- The processing of deposits and withdrawals should be managed in a secure and professional manner; thereby giving assurance to players regarding financial transactions.
- The online environment should be encrypted using 128 bit SSL or higher.
It’s important to know what software the casino uses for its gaming platform. Tech Gaming giants such as Microgaming, RPG, NetEnt and Play Tech should all be represented somewhere along the way.
Players can expect a high degree of technical support from such organisations, but usually this is between the technical teams and the casino itself; not so much the player.
Regardless of your device, games should run perfectly on everything from a full-blown gaming desktop to a small form factor Android mobile phone.
Range Of Games
This criteria is probably an essential one, and is a huge incentive for a player to join up to a particular casino site. Judging the range of games on offer is a personal one. What might be a good experience for one person might not be the same for someone else.
A review site may apply a certain weighting in its overall review/assessment, with the range of games maybe given a higher weighting compared to other criteria.
Be assured though, that every good online casino will have a dizzying compliment of games to play, including all the time honoured classics such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Slots, Keno, Roulette, Video Poker and much more.
Much like any other online Gaming or Betting operation, you’ll need to fund your account at some point. Let’s not forget, you’ll want to withdraw your winnings too. That’s the point of playing at an online casino surely?
Mostly around the world, you should be able to make deposits and withdrawals from/to all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard) as well as e-wallets, such as PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill.
Other payment options can be used instead, such as crypto currencies like Bitcoin, or BitCoinCash. Usually, every casino will have a list of deposit and withdrawals clearly displayed on their website, so there should be something for everyone.
The other thing to be mindful of is how long it will take to process withdrawals. A 2 to 5 day turnaround would be acceptable, anything beyond a week would be enough to raise eyebrows.
Casino Bonuses & Promotions
In physical casinos, the establishment usually likes to hand out complimentary gifts to visitors.
For online casinos, the gift of giving out complimentaries (also known as comps) is still a regular thing, and these are now offered as casino bonuses instead.
Things like sign-up bonuses, first deposit bonuses, loyalty bonuses and ongoing promotions are all there to be taken advantage of.
Some online casinos offer big incentives to new players, but as mentioned earlier, do your homework, and don’t let your eyes deceive you as to what’s on offer.
The major issue with accepting bonuses is the rollover requirement, especially for things such as sign-up deposits, which require you to re invest your bonus + deposit x number of times.
There may be a catch at the end of the road. Read the fine print carefully.
What does the future hold?
Gaming restrictions in certain countries are going to get left behind sooner rather than later simply because technology is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Far faster than Governments can keep up with in terms of legislation.
The worst case scenario is in the USA when only certain states are permitted for gambling. So what happens in the case of mobile gambling? That is: a gaming platform on your mobile phone, but let’s say you are only permitted to play in New Jersey only.
So then, what happens if you drive across the state line into Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, or north into New York state, where now you are playing an online mobile casino game illegally.