Beginner's Guide to Online Casinos

If you are new to the world of online gambling, the range of choices on offer can be a little confusing, and at times intimidating. With that in mind we have prepared a short guide for beginners to help you get started.

If you have not played online before I cannot stress how important it is that you read and understand this guide before you start playing. It could save you thousands in the long run by teaching you what to look for and how to avoid a scam - unfortunately they are out there. If you insist on just diving in and playing, then at least read our page of blacklisted casinos and make sure you have not picked a lemon, or worse.

Is it safe?

This is the first question that everyone has and with good reason. Simply put, the answer is a qualified yes. Quality online casinos are regularly audited to ensure their games are fair and organisations such as eCOGRA have been created in order to accredit online casinos that meet strict standards of fairness and honesty.

A quick word about licensing jurisdictions
Online casinos are usually licensed by a particular jurisdiction which authorises them to offer gambling to customers. Not all jurisdictions are equal! We have extensive information on the most common licensing jurisdictions here, but to summarise: Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, and the UK are at the top of the pile. Casinos licensed by Antigua, Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles), Cyprus, Kahnawake, and Malta vary so check the reviews first before playing at casinos licensed in these jurisdictions. Finally anywhere else is literally a crap shoot. Be especially wary of any casino operating our of Costa Rica, Belize, Panama or anywhere else as there are basically no controls placed on these operations.

This is where we come into play - our extensive set of online casino reviews here at Casino Listings are an invaluable resource you can use to separate the quality establishments from the also-rans.

Explanation of Casino Bonuses

With hundreds of online casinos to choose from, it is a very competitive industry. So to attract new players the casinos offer a variety of incentives known as casino bonuses for new players to sign up with them, or even just to play more each month. What this basically means for you is that the casinos are offering monetary rewards (with a set of conditions of course) just to attract your business. And there is nothing to stop you from signing up to multiple casinos and claiming multiple bonuses to help fatten your bankroll. In our Beginner's Guide to Casino Bonuses we detail the different types of bonuses and where and how to get them.

How does it work?

For the most part, online casinos require you to download some casino software and install it onto your PC. The downloads are usually fairly quick, and at a size of around 5mb it takes about the same amount of time as downloading a song from iTunes for example. Many casinos also have a "no download" option, which allows you to play from inside your web browser using a flash casino. While the term "no download" is a technical misnomer (it should be "no install"), the option proves handy for Apple Mac and other non-PC users.

Is online gambling legal?

This varies from country to country, and even state to state within countries. It is up to you to verify that online gambling is legal within the jurisdiction that you live, and for a person of your age.

Online casinos for US players

The Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act (October 2006) makes it illegal to transfer money from a US finanical institution to an "illegal internet gambling" site. Unfortunately there is no definition of an "illegal internet gambling site" in U.S. law, making the Act vague and ill-defined. Nonetheless, some online casinos disallow US players from a restricted set of states, while other disallow US players completely. We have more information on State-by-State restrictions here: Is online gambling illegal in the USA?. We have flagged all the casinos on the site that continue to accept American players - look for these flags next to the casino names within our site.

Please note that we are not lawyers here at Casino Listings, and the above does not constitute legal advice. As always, if in doubt contact a lawyer within your own jurisdiction.

How do I transfer money?

Online casinos accept a wide range of money transfer options including credit cards, bank wire transfers, and e-wallet companies. The best option for non-US players is to open an e-wallet account at one of the array of online banking organisations that facilitate instant transfers into and out of online casino accounts in a variety of currencies. The best choice for non-US citizens is probably Neteller or Skrill (a.k.a. Moneybookers). The beauty of having an e-wallet account is that it is separate from your credit card or bank account, and you only need to supply your credit card details to one place instead of every different casino you visit.

Choice is rather more restricted for U.S. players. We recommend making use of prepaid debit cards to make deposits. Casinos will usually pay winnings to U.S. players via check, ACH, or wire transfer. We specifically advise U.S. based players to avoid using an e-wallet due to the long hold periods on withdrawals and risk to their funds from seizures, like we have seen in the past at places like QuickTender and eWalletXpress.

» Read on for our Beginner's Guide to Casino Bonuses.