Gambling is a part of human nature.
As a species we love a flutter, an element of luck plays a part in a lot of things we do. Recreational gambling has been in our culture throughout time. The thrill of the game, the roll of the dice, the turn of the card, all keep us coming back for more. Las Vegas built a city on the strength of this and hasn’t looked back. Not all of us can afford a trip to Vegas to scratch this itch however. But like so many things in life, the web has provided us with an alternative way to enjoy something previously out of our grasp.
If you’re looking to join in the fun of internet gambling, finding the best online casino can be a confusing task. There’s literally thousands of sites to choose from and they all claim to be top online casinos. How do you go about choosing the right one? What makes one site better than the other? We’ve compiled this gambling guide to help you make an informed choice.
Make Sure You are Safe And Secure
Picking a safe online casino has to be the most important decision you make. Trusting your personal details online is very risky, we all know this. Couple this with the fact that you will be depositing real money, and supplying debit/credit card details mean you are opening yourself up to a potential financial disaster. So how do you know when you have found a secure online casino? All the best online casino sites have several ways to ensure a safe environment for their patrons.
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All of Us Love Our Privacy – Be Sure Online Casinos Do Too!
Your Cash is King – The King Needs Guarding
Your information is very important but your cash makes the world go round. Tens of billions of dollars are moved around the internet daily. Security software experts have developed excellent methods to keep this money safe. The most recognized is the 128-bit Secure Socket Layer Encryption. This is like a telephone scrambler seen in spy movies, except for the internet. Information is scrambled using a unique code before it’s sent and can only be deciphered by the correct recipient. When you login into the casino site you should be directed to a page with an address using the https prefix and a padlock icon should be visible. If it’s not there or the address of the page uses http prefix, don’t play there. All legit casinos use up to the minute SSL Encryption. The best online casinos are tested by security experts like VeriSign or Thawte and will have their logos somewhere on the site. This type of vetting is very desirable for players to be able to recognize a secure online casino.
Research, Research, Research.
A quick search on Google and you will get a huge list of online casinos. Some of these names will be instantly recognizable. Some not so, this however does not mean they are bad sites. Look into these sites, check out customer reviews, and visit player forums. There are even blacklists compiled by disgruntled players. While these are all unverifiable comments, if one site is getting all the bad press it’s best to just avoid it, after all there’s no smoke without fire, right? Ask the customer service agents a few test questions, if they don’t know the current law or their licensing for example, avoid them like the plague. Get a feel for the way they treat you, you may have to settle a dispute with them. If they are not very helpful to potential clients they probably won’t be much good to existing ones either. Licensing laws vary from country to country and even state to state in the US. Keep yourself up to date with your local legislative body on all relevant laws. This information can then be checked against any prospective casino at which you wish to play. Nobody wants to fall foul of the law.
Software Makes it all Happen
In the IT world software is everything, and online casinos stake everything on which one they choose to run their games. A weak or bad playing experience can shut down a casino almost immediately. If nobody plays nobody pays. With over 350 software gaming companies offering systems for online gambling to choose from is a bit too much for the average punter to work out. Some of the top rated casino sites have unique software developed for themselves. This is a very expensive option for the casino, firstly setting it up, and then running maintenance and development. If an established casino runs standalone software then you know that a lot is invested and is probably legit. Most however, use an almost over the shelf software solution from one of the major players. Microgaming supply nearly 500 sites and quite a few of the top online casinos use this very reliable and well backed software. Playtech is another big player in the gaming software industry and their casino platform runs 250+. There will probably be more than one software provider used by each company. For example day to day operations could run on one system, while payment processing is handled by another, and the actual gameplay a few completely different systems for different games.
So What Does The Different Software Mean To Me?
The software used to handle your money should be important to you. A definitive explanation about how your money is handled, what software is used, security etc. should be available in the terms and conditions. If there’s not transparency and software cannot be verified don’t use this site. The software running the daily operations of the casino are mostly backend, so don’t really affect the player. The only time these systems come into play directly is in a dispute. Even The best casino online has a dispute occasionally. The backend software will have a database of every single game ever played. This is used to help resolve issues. This is another check that can be made to assure a reputable site. If they don’t have this data, how can they resolve disputes? If they can’t give a satisfactory answer don’t use them.
The actual platform that the games run on is the biggest factor for the average gamer. A fact that most newcomers don’t realise is that house commissions, payout levels, and such, are part of the software and can quite different from provider to provider. Once again reputable online casinos have a comprehensive payout table, check their reputation against this table do they pay what they say? It’s another good way to judge a site. The biggest difference for customers is the actual gameplay. Blackjack is blackjack, but how the graphics look, how the betting takes place, the speed of play these are all variables between different platforms. While some of the software is customizable, the majority of the sites that use the same software will have games that feel and play the same. Slots are a prime example, the same or very similar slots games will be found across many sites using say Microgaming.
How Straight Are The Games? What’s An RNG?
The reason casino games are so much fun is you never know what’s going to happen next. Chance is the siren song that keeps us playing. Slot reels falling into place, cards being turned, dice rolled, or a spin of the ‘Devil’s wheel’ all are random events. In a bricks and mortar casino the acts themselves are random (except the slots and other machines) A shuffled deck of cards, a ball bouncing around the roulette wheel, just interaction with space and time. A bit fluffy but you get the picture. Online casinos have to use software to recreate these random acts.
A RNG or random number generator is at the core of making online gambling possible. Without this piece of software there would be nothing random involved, so nobody would play. To create a random number a starting number is required as a ‘seed’ using a complicated algorithm a new number is created, this is then used as the seed for the next number, and so on ad infinite. These random numbers are used to run every game, slots, roulette, blackjack the works. Unless the original seed number is known the next number produced is not predictable. The thing you need to know about these numbers is that they are unbelievably large. The most widely used RNG’s within the industry use numbers with nearly two hundred and twenty thousand digits. A number this big makes the probability of correctly guessing it statistically impossible. The original seed numbers are closely guarded secrets. Some casinos are trying a new twist by asking the player to secretly supply a number which is then incorporated into the seed within the software. You would have to know both the original seed and the random number to be able to outsmart the software not really possible!
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Online Casinos Are Generally To Smart To Cheat.
Reputation is key to longevity in the online gaming market. To maintain that reputation a casino needs to play a straight fair game, players want to know that they are not getting robbed. It works the other way too and casinos need to know that a punter doesn’t have a way to cheat the system. This is where independent, third party auditors are used to verify the software is fair. Some are huge accountancy firms with unimpeachable records that work in many areas and are very well known. While others are industry specific and you may never have heard of them, all however have verifiable histories. Think long and hard about using a site that doesn’t use this service. They have something to hide! It makes no sense for a casino to cheat or hide anything, the house percentage or rake on every game means profit in the long term for the casino.
Try Before You Buy
Without exception every one of the top rated online casinos offer free play, or a system of play money games. By using this as a risk free intro to the site you can get a feel for the way it plays. The format of some sites can be a bit daunting at first, you don’t want to deposit cash only to find you hate the experience. Most casino games play the same whether there is money on it or not. So play money allows you the chance to work out how the betting is done, how quickly the play is and so on. For some players there is enough thrill by playing this way that they never deposit, and just switch from site to site for a different feel.
If you are a complete novice when it comes to casino games, the play money option is an excellent introduction to the world. At no financial risk at all, you can learn which of the games you like and would then go onto wager real cash on. There are so many games available in most online casinos you really would have to be an aficionado to know them all.
So What Games can I Play? And What are My Chances
Typically top online casinos play, Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Slots, SicBo, Keno, Video Poker, and Bingo and there are a few more unique games like the poker variant Pai Gow, as well as a multitude of variant slot games. With all of these games the house will have a percentage advantage or a rake or both, also some of these games naturally favour the dealer/banker so are tipped even further toward the house (e.g Pai Gow where in a tie the bank wins). The thing to understand with all these games is probability will always favour the house they don’t like games that are more skill based because that cuts their chances of profit. This is the reason that traditional poker games are not found on most casino sites, although some do have links to pages with separate poker software. Poker is more than catered for with standalone sites and within more general sports betting sites. Brick and mortar casinos didn’t like poker much either, and before the boom in the early 2000’s it was common to only find a very high stakes poker game in a backroom. The house only gets a rake from the pot in poker and is not involved in the hand, so there is less to earn. Of course now there are such big fields in tournaments that the rake is profitable.
Play A Live Dealer For The Real Vegas Feel
A trend amongst the best online casinos is a live dealer game. Online casinos have struggled to convince some players that their RNGs are actually fair and truly random, these players want to see cards shuffled and dealt, or balls cast into the wheel. And some just want a closer feel to the real brick and mortar casino experience. To cater for these players live dealer games have been created. This form of the game takes a lot more investment as studios, live dealers and IT managers are all needed to run these games. Because of this usually only the most popular games like Blackjack, Baccarat and Roulette are available. As internet connection and live streaming capabilities get better so do the platforms providing this service.
Casino Cash Bonuses
Online casinos are in the leisure business and the need to market themselves just the same as anyone else. Attracting new players and keeping hold of them is a top priority for all online casinos, and one way this is achieved is through bonuses. Pretty much every casino online offers a welcome package in the form of a matched deposit bonus. This is usually expressed with a percentage the commonest being 100% of the deposit, some 50%, and rarely 150% or more. There are always wagering requirements put in place that mean you must bet a multiple amount of your deposit and bonus, before any withdrawal can take place. Another form of bonus is the reload bonus designed to keep players depositing money. Be wary of any casino that offers a very large bonus if it seems too good to be true it probably is. This is where close scrutiny of the terms and conditions is very important, as some online casinos have much bigger wagering requirements.
How Did The Online Casino Phenomenon Start?
It can all be traced back to the 70’s when casino operators started replacing mechanical slots with electronic ones. This was the first use of RNG’s within the industry. Casinos have always loved slots because they take up less floor space, are simple to play, and don’t require a dealer and floor manager to watch. Because of this gaming software companies had a market and development soared. The next factor in the equation was the birth of the internet. It took a while for the internet to grow from just a form of communication, but grow it did and a few saw the potential as it was growing. The global market that could be tapped was a very big incentive for software companies and casino operators to make it happen. The next thing needed for online gambling to work was a system of regulation and licensing. Lessons had already been learnt in early days of land based casinos, punters needed to know the games weren’t rigged. To plug into such a vast market trust needed to be established and in 1994 Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act. The world’s first online gambling jurisdiction came about and with it an authority was created to oversee applications for licenses and grant them once found fit. The Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Offshore Gaming is still recognized as one of the most respected out there. The race to provide viable online gaming software to power this newly fledged industry was on. It’s widely accepted that Microgaming, an Isle of Man based software company, won the race. Formed in 1994 the software they produced made online gaming possible, but was missing the most important part, a way to safely play with real money. A secure method to deposit funds was essential if an online casino was ever going to get custom. Criptologic an Irish security software company solved this problem and by 1996 the first internet based casinos came online. The beast was born. Now all online casinos are controlled by the UK Gambling Commission.
A harmless flutter is just that harmless. However the thrill of gambling is very addictive and is recognized as such. All the best casinos online should have some form of policy in place to recognize problem gamblers. A reputable casino will ban such problem gamblers and should have a system where you can set limits on how much you deposit and play with. It is highly recommended that you used this and set an amount that will not significantly damage your finances. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment and keep reloading, only to find you have lost a lot of money. Above all have fun don’t take it to seriously and remember the odds are in the casinos favour. But if you have any problems, you can always contact GamCare.org.uk and ask for help.