Top 5 Things to Look for in Your Choice of Online Casino
Choosing the perfect online casino for yourself has become much more difficult these days. The reason is because you literally have thousands of options to pick from.
This task is made more difficult when considering that choosing good casinos is a subjective process. One player may value bonuses above anything else, while another only wants to play at sites with premium slots.
But despite how many factors and casino options there are, you can quickly whittle down your choices by focusing on five different aspects.
I’m going to cover each of these factors in depth, along with why they’re crucial to choosing the internet casino that best suits you.
1 – Is the Online Casino Available to Your Country?
I begin here because you don’t want to do a bunch of research on an internet casino, only to find that the site doesn’t accept players from your country.
The best way to figure this out is by looking at a casino website’s terms and conditions page. This section will list all of the casino’s restricted countries and territories.
Sometimes you’ll have to scroll through a large amount of text before finding the section.
This is why it’s easiest to use a PC and select the “Find” function on your web browser’s options. You can then type words such as “restrict,” “restricted,” or “countries” into the Find box to quickly reach the list of banned countries.
Casinos not only restrict countries, but also certain states or territories within the nation. For example, offshore casinos might accept all Americans except those from Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
The reason is because these states have regulated online gaming markets and/or strict felony laws on unlicensed operators. In any case, you can’t place bets at a casino that restricts your country/territory.
Why Do Some Online Casinos Accept US Players and Others Don’t?
Some countries are a grey area when it comes to online gambling. And the United States is the most lucrative grey area in the world.
You’ll commonly see Caribbean-based casinos offering services to American players. Meanwhile, licensed casinos in Europe steer clear of the US.
The reason for this divide is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prevents American banks and financial institutions from processing online-gambling-related transactions.
The UIGEA isn’t a federal ban on online gaming. But it is a major roadblock for offshore casinos who want to serve Americans.
In the past, some offshore gaming sites set up dummy corporations and disguised casino deposits as other products (e.g. golf clubs, clothes, shoes).
The best example can be seen prior to 2011, when the CEREUS Network (Absolute and UB Poker), Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars worked with sketchy payment processors and laundered money to get around the UIGEA.
Eventually, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) cracked down on these poker sites in an operation called “Black Friday.”
Black Friday made many offshore casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites think twice about serving Americans. But nowadays, the same sites accept decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin to bypass the UIGEA.
For example, Full Tilt was using player deposit money to pay lofty executive salaries and enter into expensive sponsorship deals. When the US DOJ came calling and forced Full Tilt to exit America, they were unable to pay back an estimated $350 million in player funds.
This is the best example of how you take your chances with offshore sites.
Ideally, your country or state will have a regulated online gaming market with licensed casinos. The United Kingdom has the top licensed market in terms of options, freedom, and player protections.
UK residents have access to hundreds of licensed gaming sites, and the UK Gambling Commission protects players from rogue operators.
Many other European countries have set up regulated online gambling jurisdictions. Examples include Greece, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Other nations, like the US and Germany, are grey areas, but have certain states with regulated iGaming.
American states with legal online gaming markets include Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. The German State of Schleswig-Holstein has also legalized and regulated the activity.
Given that these countries and states have strict laws in place for iGaming operators, they ban offshore casinos from operating within their borders.
2 – Game Selection and Number of Gaming Providers
Casino games are the sole reason why people join internet casinos in the first place. And this makes game selection one of the most important aspects of selecting a casino.
Many gaming sites tout how many slots they have, because these are the most popular games. But you’ll need to look further if you enjoy table games, scratch cards, video poker, and/or live dealer gaming.
It’s up to the individual to decide how many games they need to be satisfied. Personally, I like playing at online casinos that have at least two hundred slots and fifty or more other games.
But you can find casinos that have even more options than this. For example, SPiNiT Casino prominently advertises that they offer over 1,000 games.
Anybody who jumps back and forth between numerous casino games will love a site like this. But again, I’m fine with a casino that has around 250 games, provided they check off other important aspects on my list.
Why Is the Number of Gaming Providers Important?
Along with the number of games, it’s also good to find a casino that has multiple gaming providers.
The reason is because each casino software company has their own unique twist on games.
I prefer casinos that are supplied by at least three different software companies. But I’ve seen sites that have over a dozen providers, which is perfect for those who love variety.
Popular Gaming Providers
The online gambling world features dozens of software companies. Here are some of the most popular ones to look for:
- Actual Gaming
- Cryptologic (under Amaya)
- Elk Studios
- Evolution Gaming
- High 5 Games
- Merkur Gaming
- NextGen Gaming
- Play’n GO
- Pragmatic Play
- Rival Gaming
- RealTime Gaming
- Visionary Gaming
- Yggdrasil Gaming
3 – Welcome Bonus and Promotions
Everybody likes earning money on the side of their casino play. And internet casinos give you plenty of opportunities to do this through the welcome bonus and other promotions.
The welcome bonus is a reward that casinos offer when you make your first deposit, or first series of deposits. Here’s an example:
- Welcome bonus worth up to $10,000 over three deposits.
- First deposit – 200% match up to $2,000
- Second deposit – 100% match up to $3,000
- Third deposit – 50% match up to $5,000
The match percentage dictates how much bonus money you stand to win based on your deposit. For example, depositing $100 under the 200% match gives you the chance to win a $200 bonus.
Obviously, players want to maximize the amount of free money they can earn. But you also must consider that most casinos put time restrictions on how long you have to earn the bonus.
If you’re a low roller with only thirty days to meet bonus wagering requirements (discussed next), then you don’t want to deposit $1,000.
Bonus Wagering Requirements
Casinos don’t allow you to cash out bonuses immediately after depositing. Otherwise, many players would simply make a deposit and withdraw the bonus right away.
Online casinos impose wagering requirements to keep this from happening. And the requirements are expressed in terms of a multiple of the bonus, or the bonus plus deposit amount.
Here’s an example:
- Wagering requirements of 20x bonus plus deposit
- 100% match bonus
- You deposit $100
- You’re eligible for a $100 bonus
- 20 x (100 + 100) = $4,000
- You must wager $4,000 to cash out your $100 bonus
Obviously, you want the wagering requirements to be as low as possible so you can earn the bonus quicker.
The industry standard is 40x the bonus, or 20x bonus plus deposit. I’ve seen casinos with wagering requirements as low as 30x the bonus and as high as 80x the bonus.
If you can find 40x wagering requirements or lower, then you’ll be in good shape with regard to earning your bonus.
Volume of Promotions and VIP Rewards
Another important factor to look for is how many promotions a casino offers. This ensures that you have other rewards to chase long after your welcome bonus offer is gone.
Casinos that have a different promotion every day of the week are great in this regard. For example, some casinos offer deposit bonuses, free spins, and more throughout the week.
You can also find casinos that offer different promos each month. These casinos usually feature really good seasonal promotions during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
The other aspect you want to consider is the VIP program. Loyalty rewards include cashback, free spins, special deposit bonuses, birthday presents, anniversary (join date) gifts, and more.
The amount of rewards you receive increases as you continue playing and moving up the VIP ladder. Those at the top of the pyramid receive the highest deposit bonuses, cashback rates, and number of free spins.
4 – Customer Support and Reputation
Customer service and reputation are factors that go along with each other when choosing a casino. This is because reputable casinos normally offer good customer service.
But I’ll discuss each of these separately, because they differ from each other in many ways.
Customer service holds great importance since there’ll inevitably be a time when you have an issue or want to ask a question. The last thing you want to hear is crickets when contacting the casino.
One way to find out if a casino has good support is by contacting them yourself. You email or use live chat to ask a simple question on the wagering requirements.
Of course, this may not tell you the full story on the customer support department. This is why you should also consider looking for complaints on the casino.
AskGamblers is a good resource for this, because they have a section below each casino where players can leave comments.
The more negative feedback you see about the customer service, the worse their department may be. Likewise, fewer negative comments means that most players are satisfied.
One important thing to consider in this regard is that no casino is perfect. This means that you’re probably going to find at least a few negative incidents regarding every gaming site.
You should only pick casinos with live chat, because it’s the quickest way to contact customer support. This allows you to get your questions and issues answered in the fastest manner possible.
Of course, some players prefer email or phone support. Every online casino has email support, but not all of them take phone calls.
Whatever your preferred contact method, visit a casino’s customer service page to see how they can be reached.
Visit Casino Watchdog Sites
Certain websites have developed reputations as watchdogs for the online gambling industry. Examples include CasinoMeister, ThePogg, and WizardofOdds.
These sites blacklist nefarious casinos or label them as “rogues” (CasinoMeister). Common reasons for blacklisting casinos include poor customer service, failing to honor bonus terms, and running unfair games.
The latter is the most serious offense, because you should never play at a casino that runs faulty software. Luckily, this is a rare problem within the gaming industry.
Poor customer service can be the result of one or two bad employees. But when you see a history of bad service, then you know to avoid the blacklisted casino.
Sometimes players complain about not receiving bonuses when they’re in the wrong. But in other cases, the casino may be trying to use a loophole or even outright cheat players during disagreements.
The overall key is to use discretion when figuring out if a blacklisted casino should be completely avoided.
5 – Available Banking Options
Much like restricted countries, you need to check what banking options are available at an online casino before doing any more research.
This is especially the case when you live in grey area countries like the US. American players don’t have many online casino banking options due to the UIGEA.
This is one example of why players need to check out a casino’s cashier section beforehand. The goal is to find at least one banking method you can use.
If all else fails, you can always use a decentralized cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin.
These are peer-to-peer currencies that aren’t regulated by a central bank or governments. This allows internet casinos to get around laws in countries like the US and Canada.
Available Online Casino Banking Options
Here are some different deposit methods you can use across the internet casino industry:
- Amazon gift card
- American Express
- AstroPay Card
- Bank wire
- Diners Club International
- Discover Card
- Visa Electron
Withdrawal Wait Times and Cashout Limits
One of the biggest complaints about online casinos is slow withdrawal processing. If you want to get your money off an online casino, you shouldn’t have to wait weeks to get it.
Check out reviews or industry watchdog reports on how quickly casinos process cash-outs. No online casino should take more than 24 to 48 hours to process a withdrawal.
Another factor to consider is withdrawal limits. Some casinos set these low so that they don’t have to pay big winners all at once.
The industry standard for cashout limits is $5,000 per week.
This might sound reasonable, but let’s say you win a progressive slots jackpot worth $20,000. Chances are that you won’t be happy having to cash out $5,000 every week for four weeks.
Withdrawal and deposit limits can be found on a casino’s cashier/banking page.
It may not sound appealing to do everything outlined in the steps above. After all, it takes time to look at a casino’s terms and conditions, banking methods, and game selection.
But how much time would you spend to find the perfect casino? One that has great games, solid customer service, and processes withdrawals in a timely manner?
Personally, I’d spend at least one hour after I’ve zeroed in on a specific casino.
Of course, you also have to whittle down the numerous available options. I suggest checking out the top recommended casinos in order to speed up the process.
Again, remember to check whether your country is accepted at a specific casino and look into the banking options first. This will show if you’re able to actually play at the casino before you put any more research into the matter.