How Do Online Casinos Work?

The world of online casinos is much different from the Las Vegas style, real world casinos that most are used to. Considering the virtual nature of these 21st century gambling institutions, there are a lot of questions to be asked. We’ve put this guide together to explain, step-by-step, how online casinos work, from signing up to playing the games to getting paid and everything in between.

Signing Up

Signing up for an online casino, like signing up for most websites, is a fairly straightforward and simple process. You enter your information; your email address, name, address, etc. You receive a confirmation email and most likely some instructions about funding your account and getting into the casino.

Funding Your Account

Because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, United States banks are not allowed to process transactions involving online gambling. This means that alternative methods have to be used to get money into your account so that you can start playing. Some options are:

- Use an Internet transaction service (similar to PayPal)
- Use a credit card (many won’t be accepted, but some will be – and casinos will work with you to help you find one of your cards that will be accepted)
- Open an offshore bank account
- Use a wire transfer

While these options may seem a bit daunting, they are actually pretty simple. Even opening an offshore bank account, is actually pretty easy. It’s basically like signing up for a US-based bank account online. PayPal doesn’t process gambling transactions, but there are many similar services out there that will. You simply transfer the money from your bank account and you’re ready to go. Wire transfers take a little while, but they are also a viable way to fund your account. We tell you this now, but you won’t have to actually make a funding decision until you get to the cashier.

Getting Started

When it comes to online gambling, there are two types of casino play: web-based and download. The web-based ones are straightfoward; you sign in using your username and password and the casino happens runs right in your browser using Flash, Java or Shockwave. Download casinos programs require an extra step but are still simple. You simply download a program onto your computer and then install it, and the casino runs as a software program. Download casino software can use more advanced graphics and technology and run faster so they provide a more enjoyable gaming experience. Browser-based online gambling has fewer bells and whistles, but is easier to get started with. Once you’ve decided which way to play, you can choose (on the outside of the site) to either download the software or start playing in your browser.

Inside the Casino

Once you’re in the casino, you’ll first have to visit the cashier (there will be a very visible button or link) in order to fund your account, as discussed above. You’ll also be able to claim your welcome bonuses. Once that’s done, you’ll have access to all of the games that the casino has to offer. Different casinos offer different games, so make sure before signing up that the casino will offer your game of choice. (This is all disclosed on the website, before you join.) Some online casinos feature live dealers in a studio for games such as roulette and blackjack, giving it a more life-like feel. And on some online gambling sites, users can chat with each other to simulate the social aspect of gaming. If you run into any issues or have questions, most casinos have live chat agents ready to help, as well as toll-free phone lines and 24 hour email for support. When it (hopefully) comes time to cash out, you just visit the cashier again, and they’ll take care of arranging your payout.