Beginners Guide Part 5: Choosing A Casino
By now I bet that you’re foaming at the mouth, wondering when the heck we’re going to get to the fun part; choosing a casino.
And I apologize for taking so long to get here. But believe me when I say that the other pages are instrumental in finding a great place to play. You need to have an understanding of how casinos work, so that you can find a great place to play without being ripped off. Combined with your answers to the questions below, you’ll have no doubt a casino’s solid when you come across it.
Beginner’s Casino Guide
Questions to Ask Yourself
On some level I think that telling you how to choose an online casino is ridiculous. It’s like trying to tell you what house or car to buy, or what type of business to start. In other words, it’s relative. Everyone has different wants and needs. For example, if you were to ask me what type of car I’d recommend, I’d tell you to buy a Camaro. But what if you had a wife and 10 kids? Could you imagine stuffing 10 kids into a sports car?
Not on those leather seats.
So to some extent you’re going to have to think for yourself. I’ll still help you out, of course. Below I’ve listed the questions I ask myself whenever I’m looking for a new casino or poker site to try. But, ultimately, it’ll be your answers that lead you to the right online casino.
What games do you want to play?
Knowing what games you want to play is not important if you want to play any ol’ slots game or your traditional game of blackjack. These games are going to be at every casino online.
However, you can’t just sign-up anywhere if you want to play live dealer roulette, spanish 21 or i-slots games. This will quickly narrow down the list of casinos for you to choose from.
What country do you live in?
Your country only matters if you live somewhere that isn’t gambling friendly. The best example is the United States. If you live here you need to search for one, maybe two things. The first being a casino that accepts US customers. Two, if you live in one of the 15 or so states that prohibit online gambling, you need to ask if the casino accepts US customers from those states.
Other countries have their own laws, too. But since we don’t live there, nor are we lawyers, we cannot tell you what the laws are. You’ll have to do that research on your own. Be aware that casinos prohibit players from certain countries from signing up (for whatever reason). You can see these listed in their terms and conditions.
What software do you prefer?
Software is important to consider for a number of reasons (as mentioned here). Some just work and look better than others, come with exclusive games, variations or huge progressive jackpot networks.
Some applications are only compatible with certain operating systems, such as Windows. So if you’re on a Mac you’ll need to find a casino with a Mac download and/or Flash/Java games.
And if you want to play on your mobile phone or tablet, you’ll need to be on the lookout for a casino that has a mobile variation of their site, game or an app to download. US players are pretty much out of luck in this department. Everyone else should be able to find a casino that has an app for Android and/or iOS (Apple) devices, though.
What’s the bonus offer?
Take a look at the bonus offer at each casino you’re comparing. Don’t just look at the size, but also look at the match (if it’s a match bonus). Can you earn just as much money without having to deposit additional funds? That’s a great way to go.
You also want to look at rollover requirements, expiration dates and the things you want to avoid doing that can void your bonus. It doesn’t matter how great the bonus looks, if you have to wager $80,000 in 45 days to earn $500, you might want to reconsider the casino, and at the very least, consider passing on the bonus.
What do other people say about the casino?
I think we do a great job of reviewing casinos. We do our best to find the most reputable casinos with a large library of games and plenty of deposit options to choose from.
However, we’re just a small group of guys. Our experiences can certainly be limited / biased, and we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about a company.
So a great thing to do is read other customer reviews. Do other people like to play at the casino you’re considering? Why or why not? You can usually ignore the occasional gripe or “it’s rigged” complaint. But what you don’t want to ignore are similar complaints. Things like late payments, cheating players on bonus money or stolen identities. That’s when you can scratch a casino off your list with confidence.
Who is the company behind the casino?
I recommend finding out who the company is behind the casino (or casinos — many operators run more than one). This information is usually listed on the casino’s about page, but you can also find that information here, on Wikipedia or on their company website.
So what do you look for?
I look to see how long the company has been in business. If the casino has been around for 6 months, I’d be more skeptical of that casino compared to a casino that’s been around for 5 or 10 years. 5 years online, with no problems, scams or anything of that sort is a big deal (in a good way).
I also look to make sure they’re licensed (licensing costs money, and that shows me that the casino is at least serious enough to spend $xx,xxx to $xxx,xxx on their business), they use a legitimate software provider and that the software is tested regularly. I also like to see if their company is privately or publicly owned, as that impacts the decisions they make, how likely they are to roll players and so on.
What banking methods can you use?
Banking methods are a big deal, especially for players in the US and Canada. Players in the US have to deal with constant credit card and check declines. So having more than one option is ideal. US players should find casinos that accept gift cards, Western Union and other money transfer services, in addition to credit/debit cards and checks. That way they have multiple alternatives if one method doesn’t work out. Find out more in our US casino guide.
Canadian players can a hard time with credit cards, too, partially due to some banks being located in the US. These banks are supposed to turn down gambling related transactions, so players in Canada are declined even if their laws are different. On the bright side, though, being in Canada means that you can use Skrill and NETeller, amongst other e-wallets.
Other than specific methods, I recommend looking at fees. I wouldn’t sign up to a casino that wants to charge me an arm and a leg to get money on and off the site. Most casinos don’t charge for deposits, but some charge $5-$75 for withdrawals. It just depends on the method you choose to use.
Does (Most of) This Criteria Line Up?
If most, or all of these things line up, then you usually have a solid choice for a casino. At the very least I think you can sign up, make a small deposit and give them a shot. If they’re a larger and more well-known casino I recommend making the largest deposit possible, just because most bonus offers are a one time thing and you don’t want to waste that on a $20 deposit.
From here I recommend signing up to 1-3 casinos (over time) and spreading your bankroll out. I like to do this for a couple of reasons. One being game variation. Two, spreading your bankroll out hedges the risk of a casino possibly closing up shop or taking weeks/months to pay you. That way, if something does happen, you don’t have all of your funds tied up in one account. You still have funds to play with or withdrawal.