Online Casino FAQ
When faced with the prospect of playing online casino games for the first time, you can panic due to the sheer volume of information you are expected to know. Even experienced players are forever trying to gather more information on casinos, games, software and so much more.
Answering gambling-related questions is designed to give a player better odds of winning, more enjoyment while playing and more security when divulging personal details and carrying out financial transactions with the casinos. However, it’s not always easy to find information that is trustworthy or an online casino guide that is as good as it promises to be.
Game-Specific FAQ Guide
The FAQ sections on this page address some of the commonly asked questions regarding online casinos. If you have more questions about online casino betting, click on the links below for more information about your favorite casino games.
Online Slots FAQ
Payback percentage is the theoretical amount of money you can expect an online casino game to pay back. Another similar term is "return-to-player" or RTP. Many online slot developers publish the RTP to tout how generous their games are as a way to attract players.
Most online slots have non-progressive or fixed jackpots. Players like these because the payback percentage is better. In short, you have a better chance of a winning session on these online slots. You also have a better chance of hitting jackpot.
Return-to-player is a theoretical advantage, but individual slot sessions vary wildly. The longer you play a game, the more the house edge and the results are likely to converge. But that's about likelihood, not certainty. In the short term, the odds on a slot with a 97% payback percentage make it close enough to a 50/50 proposition that players are willing to bet on the results. That's why it's called gambling.
It's really a matter of taste. If you like licensed slots, then IGT is the game designer for you. If you prefer big progressive jackpots, then Microgaming or Net Entertainment are your best options. If you like excellent graphics, companies like NetEnt or Sheriff Gaming are the answer.
Online slot choices also depend on jurisdictions, so US players might prefer RealTime Gaming (RTG), Betsoft or Rival Gaming.
Online Blackjack FAQ
Yes. Basic strategy helps a player achieve the best odds possible, no matter what variant of blackjack they play. If you know basic strategy, you spend less at the blackjack table and have a better chance of walking away a winner.
No. Basic strategy allows you to make the optimal decision for any card combination you and the dealer have. Optimal play at most blackjack tables only assures you can achieve the optimal house edge, but the casino (in most situations) still has the advantage.
Our blackjack strategy pages contain basic strategy charts for blackjack. Keep in mind that each set of blackjack rules requires different strategy, so there are many different basic strategy charts.
Card counters use math to determine when the odds are in their favor and then vary their bets radically to take advantage of the opportunity. In this way, blackjack games with a house edge become beatable. It's not illegal to count cards, but casinos have the right to deny anyone access to the game. Thus, a good card counter must fool the dealers and pit bosses or else they'll be thrown out of the casino.
Card counting is no help when playing online blackjack with a random number generator and simulated graphics. The software reshuffles the deck after each hand. Live dealer blackjack allows card counters to prosper, though, because the live casino uses real card decks to produce results.
Online Roulette FAQ
Both European Roulette and French Roulette use a 37-slot roulette wheel. European Roulette uses traditional bets, while French Roulette uses the French-sounding bets like "voisins du zero", "tiers du cylindre", and "orphelins". Also, it uses announced bets, which allows bettors to make wagers on the fly.
Because it contains a 38th pocket or slot on the roulette wheel. This extra pocket is marked with a "00", which doesn't exist on a European Roulette wheel.
European Roulette has a better house edge from a player's perspective. Because it has one less zero pocket, the house edge of European Roulette is 2.70%. American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%.
The terms "inside bet" and "outside bet" refer to the roulette table's layout. Bets on numbers are located inside a box on the layout, so they are called inside bets. These are bets on smaller groups of numbers (sometimes one number), so inside bets have lower chances of winning and bigger payouts.
Outside bets are those located outside the box - you place your chips outside the box to make the bet. These include groups of 12 or more numbers. Outside bets hit more often, but pay out smaller amounts.
No betting system is good for online roulette players. People tout the Martingale System or other progressive betting systems like the D'Alembert, Fibonacci, and so on. All of these stipulate betting more money after a losing spin on the assumption you'll win back your losses and then some.
Once computers could analyze billions of roulette spins, mathematicians proved that the Martingale System and other methods do worse than flat betting. They don't work.
Online Craps FAQ
The boxman in land-based craps is the dealer who sits at the center of the table with a box of money. He exchanges chips for cash and vice versa. The stickman stands at the center of the craps table and handles the stick – that is, the tool used to retrieve the dice and give them to the next shooter.
The stickman also helps settle bets. Online craps doesn't require such dealers, though live dealer craps will have a boxman and stickman (and two other dealers).
Live dealer craps often requires multiple dealers to handle the game, just as land-based craps requires four dealers. This is more expensive for the live casino operator, so live craps often is left off the game list. Live baccarat, live blackjack and live roulette are more common.
A prop bet in craps is also known as a one-roll bet. A one-roll bet is a craps wager in which, on the next roll, you'll either win or lose. Examples include single-number bets, any seven bets, and any craps bets.
When you wager on the "Don't Pass" or "Don't Come" bet, you're betting against the shooter. Because most people make the "Pass Line" and "Come" bets, you're also betting against most players at the table. Because you're betting against the table, it's considered rude to celebrate if you make such a wager and win.
Craps has a lot of sucker bets - wagers with a house edge in the 10% to 15% range. You might wonder why players make such bets. Often, it's because they don't know it's a sucker bet. Sometimes, though, these players get a thrill from betting on an outcome which offers a chance for bigger payouts.
They aren't common. Our reviewers write about online casino welcome bonuses and game-specific bonuses all the time and our staff hasn't encountered a craps-specific welcome bonus in a long time. That being said, search for a table games bonus, which offers promotional bonus cash for most or all of the online casino's table games.
Online Baccarat FAQ
It's the fact that baccarat doesn't require strategy that makes it so exclusive. Among the casino games that don't require strategy, baccarat has the lowest house edge. Simple novices can walk up to a baccarat table and receive the same odds an expert gambler would.
Not so often. The best you can expect is a table games bonus. Often, welcome bonuses that include baccarat lower the contribution rate for baccarat to somewhere between 5% and 20%, meaning you have to play 5x to 20x more hands to clear the wagering requirement. Thus, a table games bonus is what online baccarat players should seek.
In land-based casinos in previous generations, baccarat players in a suit and tie played in a roped-off section of the casino. Land-based casinos in most places still make baccarat a game for high rollers, with many tables requiring $25 a hand or more per bet. Las Vegas casinos, on the other hand, sometimes offer $5-a-hand and $10-a-hand baccarat.
More commonly, low rollers can play Mini-Baccarat, a game in which the dealer deals the cards. The odds are the same, though it's played at a faster pace, so the house edge comes into play more.
Yes. Besides classic punto banco baccarat, the normal variants of baccarat offered are "Super 6" baccarat and "Dragon Tail" baccarat. In both cases, the games have an additional rule that makes it different than traditional baccarat. In Super 6 and Dragon Tail, the odds are worse, so I suggest you play traditional live dealer baccarat.
Punto Banco means "Player Banker" in Spanish, so it's a reference to the traditional form of baccarat that most players know and play. Chemin de Fer is a more complicated French version of the game that has strategy elements. A third version, Punto Banque, also exists. The vast bulk of online baccarat is Punto Banco.
Online Video Poker FAQ
Video poker has a better house edge than most casino games. The house edge often ranges between 0.5% and 1.5%. Players have to learn strategy to get these good odds, but many players think it's well worth the trouble.
Bonus video poker games have either a bigger bonus or they have more card combinations that produce a big jackpot amount. Players seek out these games if they prize winning huge payouts. On the other hand, most variants of Bonus Video Poker tend to have high variance and a higher house edge than traditional Jacks or Better Video Poker.
While it's not always referred to as "basic strategy" as it is in blackjack, video poker has its strategy elements and printable charts that allow you to study those strategies. Video poker is both a game of chance and a game of skill, so your odds change depending on your use of strategy.
Yes, most video poker games have different pay tables, though you won't find "full pay" video poker on the internet too often. In fact, full pay video poker is less common in Las Vegas, too. That's because some games' full pay versions were positive expectation games (you could expect to win more than you lost).
In the 1980s and 1990s, land-based casinos offered video poker machines with full pay tables to draw interest. Expert writers at the time pointed this out to a generation of players, who studied the game and learned how to beat it. The secret is out these days, so casinos don't offer the best odds nearly as often as they once did. Online casinos don't, either.
Don't expect to find live video poker being played in a live casino online any time soon. Live slots exist, but slots tend to have a higher house edge, so it makes more sense for live casinos to accommodate the game.
You might wonder how live slots or live video poker works. Live slots exist, so we know the answer. In either game, the dealer at the live casino handles the betting and spins. Cameras film the game from several angles and stream the video live to your computer screen in real time.
Free Casino Games FAQ
At most online casinos, any casino game that's available for real money play is also available for free play online. Click on the game icon, then choose practice mode. Visit our free games page to see the possibilities.
No, not if you want to preview real money casino games. Instead, visit an online casino, click on the game you wish to preview, and choose "Practice" or "Free Play" when prompted. This lets you test out the actual software and game play of the games you're considering. The free casino games at the App Store or Google Play don't use the same software.
Yes. Visit any online casino powered by Aristocrat software and you can play free slots. It's the same with IGT, WMS Gaming, Bally Technologies, NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, RTG and Rival Gaming. Almost all online casino game developers want players to try a free version of their games for promotional reasons.
Not often, though some casual games sites allow it. Lawsuits in the state of Washington have challenged the legality of casual games sites - and judges have sided with the plaintiffs.
The closest you'll get at an online casino is a no-deposit bonus or a free bonus chip. In these cases, you won't have to deposit real money in order to get bonus cash. The house money you receive in a no-deposit bonus is real, so you'll be able to collect real money winnings if you get lucky.
The freeplay games at an online casino are a preview of real money games. It therefore mimics the real money gaming experience.
The free casino games on Facebook and other social gaming sites are created by app designers who might not be expert players. While many are quite entertaining and popular, they're for fun among friends more than they're about recreating the casino game experience.
U.S. Online Gambling Law FAQ
The 1961 Federal Wire Act is key to interpreting a 2006 law called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA states that any gambling activity considered to be illegal for interstate telephone lines under the Wire Act would (after 2006) be considered illegal for online activity.
Thus, if interstate sports betting over the phone lines was banned under the Wire Act, then online sports betting over state borders is banned under UIGEA. Any interpretation of online gambling law pivots on which activities were originally banned under the 1961 Wire Act.
Offshore online gambling sites are beyond federal officials' authority, just as they're beyond the state government's reach. Online casinos with servers in the Caribbean or some other international country are under no obligation to block US players from signing up - an opinion upheld in several World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings.
Sovereign countries have the right to refuse to enforce unfair laws. The WTO ruled that US federal law is unfair, because it seeks to enforce a ban on gambling that it allows US businesses to engage in.
Beyond the legal complexities, though, is the simple fact that federal and state law enforcement agencies don't have the resources or the will to pursue US online gamblers. What American residents do in the privacy of their own home is protected to a reasonable degree under the Fourth Amendment.
If you operated a gambling business for a profit and housed your servers online in the United States, federal and state agencies would prosecute you the way they would a bookie or someone who operated an illegal slots parlor. That does not extend to individuals who play online. No American citizen has ever been prosecuted for gambling online.
The DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel's 2019 opinion stated online casinos and online poker are banned under the UIGEA and Wire Act. Specifically, Rod Rosenstein announced interstate online gambling is banned, so any online betting that crosses state borders is banned.
Online poker with shared liquidity between states in particular was shut down, though a lawsuit by Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire challenges the DOJ's new position. The federal court system has not sent down a final ruling on the case yet, so the ability of the federal government to enforce the 2019 DOJ opinion is still in doubt.
Under the law, if you play games of skill, then it's not considered gambling. Betting on billiards or darts generally isn't considered illegal, because the outcomes are predictable based on a player's demonstrated abilities.
Betting on games of chance like slots, roulette or baccarat is banned in many states. It's a gray area with some games like poker, blackjack and daily fantasy sports, because they have elements of skill but also elements of chance.
If you live in a state with legal online gambling, then that activity is protected under state law for the present as long as it doesn't cross state borders.
Online Casino FAQ: Answers to Common Online Casino Questions
Online casino operators with a good reputation spare no efforts in safeguarding their players’ personal information, as they recognize that security is paramount in the industry. As such, they carry out all their transactions over connections that have military-grade encryption (128-bit).
Therefore, whenever you enter your credit card details, this information is automatically scrambled so that no one else can read what you’ve entered. As for the casino’s information database, the encryption ensures that only select individuals can access it, be it personal or financial information.
You also have a responsibility as a player to ensure your own safety when dealing with online casinos. You must never divulge your casino account username and password. You must also only deal with reputable operations, which use trustworthy software like Cryptologic, NetEnt, Microgaming, RealTime Gaming and Aristocrat.
As long as the casino is licensed by a recognized body, you should not have any problem with safety. Most licensing jurisdictions only award licenses after a casino has demonstrated its financial stability, with some even insisting on insurance or bonds being held to cover the balances of players. In fact, you’ll hardly ever hear of a victim of non-payment or fraud at a reputable online casino. And this is, of course, as long as players abide by the rules of the casino.
As much as this question bothers numerous new and experienced players, online casinos are not rigged, or fixed. A casino being rigged means its operations are outside the laws of probability.
It’s actually nearly impossible to rig online casino games because of the integrity of the software used. Reputable casinos use software integrated with random number generator (RNG) technology and they are audited regularly.
In addition, the leading software brands provide play check systems to players so that they can review all transactions and game outcomes any time they like. If there was a single rigged game within a casino’s software, it wouldn’t take long before veteran players would pick up on this, and news would travel fast. It would bring extremely bad publicity to any casino and software developer. Success in this industry is largely dependent on reputation.
There are licensing bodies whose sole purpose is to serve as industry watchdogs, awarding operational licenses to those casinos that are legit, audited, and whose numbers and outcomes are authenticated. It is very hard to acquire an online casino license.
Legitimate online casinos seek offshore gaming licenses. The most reputable licensing jurisdictions include Malta, Gibraltar, Alderney, Curacao, Kahnawake, and Antigua & Barbuda.
There are also independent auditing firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers that audit casinos on a regular basis to ensure their games are installed with random number generators so that the results of all games are fair and random.
If you ever entertain the thought of playing online casino games, then you’ll want to look for online casinos that are eCOGRA-certified. eCOGRA (eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) is a legit non-profit company that sets the standards casino operators must meet in order to give players a fair and safe experience.
The eCOGRA standards require a casino to be audited on a regular basis by an independent auditor. If an online casino meets these standards, the casino is given an eCOGRA seal of certification that you will find proudly displayed on the website, usually at the bottom of the home page. The eCOGRA seal of approval puts players at ease when they visit these casinos because they are assured they are at casinos that are legitimate, customer-focused and operated carefully.
While playing at an eCOGRA casino, you get protection on many different levels. You know your information is safe and secure, all deposits in your account are safe and secure, you’ll receive fair treatment, the operator is responsible, the games are random, and so much more. In short, you can relax and enjoy yourself knowing that you are playing in a fair environment and are well protected. The eCOGRA Safe & Fair seal of approval is one of the most important credentials in the industry of internet gaming.
Players who are citizens of the US or reside within the US can play any online casino games they like, whether for fun or to make money, without worrying about breaking the law. The anti-internet gambling laws in the country, such as the UIGEA of 2006, are only in place to prohibit the banking institutions from making financial transactions with online casino operators.
In the United States, there is no history of a player ever being arrested for gambling on the internet. The casinos that accept US players offer safe third-party payment methods like e-wallets to facilitate legal transactions.
A casino is a business like any other, like your local bowling alley or video arcade, and so it has to make money in order to keep its doors open. This makes real money games the driving force of the operations. The underlying principles for casino money generation are not in players’ deposits, but in wagering and playing, and they include the house edge, variance and return to player (RTP).
The house edge is the house advantage, and it is based around probability and mathematics. It is usually calculated, not against your money on the table, but the total bets. It is a rather simple concept.
If you take the example of European Roulette, there are 18 red numbers, 18 black numbers and one green zero. Betting on black has a payout of 1:1. So, if you bet $10 and win, you will get $20, which is your $10 stake and a $10 profit. However, considering that it’s not a 50/50 probability of winning, you have to be in luck and get a black number.
There are a total of 37 numbers and 19 of them are not black, which makes the odds of a black being spun 18/37. Therefore, with 37 possible outcomes in European Roulette, you could get 18 outcomes in your favor, bringing you +$180, while you could lose in 19 outcomes and have a net loss of -$190. This is a calculation with the $10 stake in mind and you can apply the concept in the calculation of expected outcome of American Roulette (single zero).
Expected outcome = winning probability - losing probability = 18/37-19/37 = -1/37 = 0.027 or -2.7%.
With a negative expected outcome, the player usually loses over time as the house has a 2.7% edge. You can use the house edge to figure out how much loss you may suffer, theoretically, by multiplying your total wager amount by the house edge.
Return to Player (RTP) is an alternative way of displaying a casino’s house edge. Rather than indicate the expected loss amount to the casino, it indicates the expected amount in winnings to be returned to the player. This number is a percentage of their total bets. So in the case of European Roulette, this number is 97.3% (100%-2.7%). For every $100 you wager, your theoretical amount back would be $97.30 considering a $2.70 loss.
Variance is related to, but different from, the theoretical long-term outcomes of RTP and house edge. Variance applies to the short-term outcome of casino games and it’s what makes them so interesting. For instance, if you decide to wager $100 on black on the single-zero roulette wheel, the outcome could go equally in two ways: you could either win or lose $100. If you place $100 wagers 10 times, the outcome could be a $1,000 win, a $1,000 loss, breaking even, or anything else that applies in between.
There is a significant difference in variance on different games. The variance of table games like baccarat and blackjack is relatively low, while that of the lottery is huge. The higher the variance of the game you choose to play, the greater your chance of losing your bankroll and the greater the potential of bigger wins. The variance also differs in one game between the different bets. In the case of roulette, this is betting $100 once or single numbers vs. betting red/black vs. betting $1 a hundred times. In slots, there can be vastly different variance levels in different versions of a single slot game.
This makes your risk tolerance the key determinant in the games you decide to play. In case you are not a big risk taker, you will have less chances of losing all your chips if you play blackjack or bet red/black in roulette. This, however, will also limit your chances of winning. On the other hand, you will have increased chances of going bust if you bet single numbers on a roulette wheel or play slots. You will also have a great opportunity of winning big.
Many players fail to realize that not all games give them the best odds of winning. Slot machines are very popular, but they certainly don’t give you that edge. Table games have greater odds than slots, and blackjack boasts the best odds. The house edge of this game is just 1%.
It is actually the easiest table game as the player only has to look for a number that beats the dealer without exceeding 21.
Craps has the second-best odds in table games, though the electronic game version may have differing odds.
The roulette wheel holds the third position for best odds. Stick to red/black betting and your chances of walking away a winner are nearly 50/50.
On slots, a house edge of 10% or more gives you the lowest odds of winning. So, choose wisely. Try out blackjack because you are always somewhere between 44% and 48% of winning in each single hand. However, always remember that even those games that have the best odds ultimately favor the house.
It is possible to count cards, especially in blackjack. In fact, keeping a basic count isn’t that hard. The hard part is counting cards while pretending to be a high roller who doesn’t care about the card count. Casinos teach blackjack dealers and pit bosses to spot card counters, so anyone who varies their bets wildly and seems to be keeping a count is spotted.
It’s entirely different while playing blackjack online. Online blackjack software reshuffles the deck after each hand. That makes card counting impossible at an online casino. One exception exists.
Live dealer blackjack doesn’t involve RNGs and blackjack software. Instead, a real dealer deals real cards in real time. The game is live-streamed to your computer screen. In this scenario, you can count cards. In fact, it’s easier to count cards in a live casino, because you’re not being watched as closely.
That being said, effective card counting at live blackjack requires the right conditions – with the house not shuffling the deck too often.
No – not that often. There are many casino betting systems out there, all promising to beat casinos. There are blackjack card counting systems that enable you to leverage knowledge of past play to understand possible future outcomes in order to increase your odds, as well as systems for other games, which incidentally ought to be treated with some skepticism.
There are systems that are quite popular, but the casinos do not lose their money because players win more often than not. The systems are not necessarily effective, but they add excitement to the games with their interesting approach.
Some of these are the Paroli gambling system, the D’Alembert gambling system, the 1-3-2-6 gambling system, and the Martingale gambling system. The truth is that no betting system can beat a game that has a house advantage. Whether tossing in craps, spinning in roulette, or throwing dice, there is random number generator (RNG) technology in use to ensure all outcomes of all online casino games are absolutely random with no relation whatsoever to past or future play.
The vast bulk of online casinos don’t cheat, because they don’t need to. This is a question that burns on the minds of nearly all people before they start playing at an online casino. The fear is that the software they play against could be rigged, and the numerous cases of scams and fraud do not help.
It is possible for online casinos to cheat, just like it is possible for an online clothes store, online bank or any other online business to cheat you. However, most casinos find no need to cheat players because they have the house edge and therefore make enough profits without having to stoop to the level of criminality.
Reputable casinos observe software integrity and protect it at all costs. A simple search on Google will bring up a list of the casinos that are blacklisted because of bad customer service or payment issues, for instance.
If an online casino was caught cheating, they would lose their credibility and their players. Word gets around quickly, thanks to websites like Casinomeister. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that an online casino would cheat its players. It’s just not worth it to them.
A casino bonus is free cash that online casinos give to players for joining and making real money deposits. These bonuses have wagering and playthrough requirements, which limit how many players end up pocketing cash from the bonus. That’s why wagering requirements are so important in evaluating a bonus, because it determines your odds of cashing out winnings.
The bonuses are classified in numerous ways, including first-deposit bonuses, match bonuses, sticky bonuses, free money bonuses, loyalty bonuses and exclusive bonuses. The best casinos offer some form of deposit bonus for first-time depositors.
Casino software is available in two versions: download version and no-download version. The downloadable software version is the most common and developed for compatibility with Windows operating system. This is the original version of online casinos, and it offers all online casino games. You don’t have to download the software in order to play, though, as there are also versions that require no downloading.
Instant-play games don’t require a download. These are browser-based, which is ideal for Linux and Mac users. With a Flash casino in a compatible web browser, you get to play games directly on the online casino server. In case you use Linux or Mac OS and still want to download the software, you have to install a Windows emulator program.
As long as you are playing at an online casino that is legal and of good reputation, you can be assured that any details you provide are always secure. The casino will be licensed by a respectable jurisdiction, have an eCOGRA seal of approval, and accept only the safest payment methods.
As part of the verification process, online casinos sometimes ask players to scan or fax a copy of both sides of your credit card. Legit online casinos ask you to cover or blot out the three-digit CVC code that verifies a credit card. Give out your card number, but not the CVC code.
Yes. Most online casinos have gaming apps for Android and iPhone. When the online gaming industry was starting out, the mobile gaming platform was non-existent as smartphones had not yet seen the light of day. Today, you’ll find lots of casinos offering games that are compatible with your mobile phone.
There are iPhone games, iPad games, iPod Touch games, BlackBerry games, Android games, and even Windows Mobile games. These casinos offer games not just for phones, but also tablets. Most of the largest online casinos are already offering a mobile platform for their gamers due to their huge popularity, as players get to play on the go.
In the beginning, the development of online casinos was chiefly focused on Windows OS as the users of this operating system constituted over 95% of the entire market, which resulted in the 3% Mac users being ignored.
Things are now changing as nearly all casinos have a version that can be played by Mac players without having to download the software. As long as their Mac OS and Safari browser versions are compatible, players only need to connect to the internet and log into their gaming accounts.
As for download casinos for Mac, the best you can do for now is to download a Windows emulator or run Windows on a partition of your Mac computer. Software developers are not very keen on developing dedicated Mac software because they are very expensive, and the percentage of Mac users is still not very high. Many online casinos now offer online casino games for Mac users, so look for a Mac-friendly online casino before taking extreme measures.