Online gambling has gained immense popularity over the past decade. The total number of online players has sky-rocketed and the casinos have taken notice.
I regularly have casino gamblers and even novice players asking me how to enter the world of online gambling. Some of you that ask are geographically disposed from going to a brick and mortar casino. Others are simply looking for some variety in their gambling habits. Then there’s the contingent that wants the convenience factor.
I’ll admit, the prospect of settling in for a blackjack marathon wearing only my boxer shorts and socks, posted up in my favorite chair with a cold drink and my favorite show on TV appeals to my antisocial sensibilities.
I assure you that online gambling is not just for the introverts. Many players simply enjoy the convenience factor of jumping on a table for an hour or 2 and getting back to yard work or helping the kids do their homework.
Where does one begin though? I’m going to answer this question and others, by the end of this article you should have a good start on your way to becoming an online gambler.
Check Your State’s Laws
The United States does not have a federal law prohibiting online gambling. Most states do have laws in place that forbid gambling or online gambling on some level.
Online gambling here is considered illegal activity.
Conversely, the states of Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania have all passed laws making online gambling legal.
The movement to legalize online gambling seems to be gaining traction. More and more citizens are getting their political representatives on board. It is only a matter of time before most or all states have legalized online gambling.
Picking an Online Casino
Choosing the right online casino for you can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Though there are thousands of online casinos to choose from, don’t get overwhelmed with the vast availability of options.
Yes, many of these look the same with flashy lights, familiar games and bonuses upon bonuses. Take a deeper look and the differences start to become clear.
I recommend joining 2-3 gambling sites. You then have an extended variety and game choices. You’ll then also be able to select the best prices for sports betting and have more tables to join for online poker.
By keeping the number of casinos you join to a minimum, you’ll avoid being so spread out that you aren’t accumulating player points and rewards.
Some of the offers you can find are extremely generous. Yet, it is imperative that you have a grasp on how these bonuses work and understand the terms and conditions of the offer.
One type of bonus you’ll find is the “no deposit”. Online casinos will bait new customers with free cash with no deposit required. I mean, who doesn’t love free money? This can be a great way to get a jump start on your online gambling career, but please read and understand the terms of a no deposit bonus.
Typically, with this bonus you’ll be asked to register a credit card before claiming the free cash. The casino is not trying to steal funds from your card (probably). Many reputable online casinos use this as a safeguard against people poaching multiple bonuses.
It also can help the casino distinguish the players that sign up strictly to burn the bonus money from the legitimate player. Some online casinos also require players to make a small deposit before cashing out winnings from a no deposit offer, again due to bonus abuse from other players.
No deposit bonuses typically have wagering requirements and game restrictions that apply.
Another bonus you are likely to come across is the “matching deposit”.
This one is fairly straightforward. The casino will offer to match a percentage of a player’s deposit. So, let’s say, a casino offers you 150% and you make a $100 deposit, the casino will then deposit another $150 in your account.
Bonuses of this nature range from 10-250% and I have sometimes seen even higher matches. If you do receive this bonus offer, expect to be required to wager through your initial deposit and the bonus several times. Again, there will almost certainly be game restrictions and wagering requirements.
The “sticky bonus” may at first make some players turn up their nose. After all, it doesn’t look as sexy at first glance.
You’ll never be able to draw this money out to put gas in your car or enjoy a nice dinner out.
So, what good is it? Well, with more money in your account you’ll be able to gamble longer. Gambling after all is a numbers game and if you’re playing slots your theoretical chances of hitting a jackpot go up with every pull. I’ve always found it’s easier to stack up a good pile of chips at the blackjack table with $500 than $100.
I’ve seen online casinos offer this type of bonus up to $400. Sticky bonuses sometimes don’t carry any wagering requirements. So, it may just be worth it for you.
Wagering requirements can get pretty high at most online casinos. Some casinos require players to wager up to 20 times your deposit (including bonuses) before cashing out. This is largely to protect against abuse.
Game restrictions are restrictions on what games apply to meeting the wagering requirements. Where it’s not unusual for slots to count toward the wagering requirements. It is uncommon for games like blackjack and roulette to be excluded from the wagering requirements.
I’ve covered a lot here. If you’re new to online gambling it may be confusing. This is why it’s so important to read the terms and conditions.
Play on Player
Okay, now to the fun stuff. I try not to bog down in the details, but it’s important to understand the angles. Enough of that, I’m going to go over the most popular online casino games and offer some beginner friendly tips.
I’m sure you’re familiar with “loose” slots. While this refers to a time when mechanical slots had some sort of defect which resulted in more payouts, it may apply today.
Look at the rate of pay out for particular online slot machines and the odds may just shift in your favor.
To attract new players or try to get old players back to the casino, many online casinos offer free spins on specific online slots.
Take advantage of this chance to play for free. Free spins are a great way to test the waters of a specific online slot or to get a feel for how best to place your bets and, quite possibly, win without spending a cent.
Always max bet. Play all the lines. Even if you need to bet less per line. I do this because I give myself more chances to win small amounts (it all adds up) and to trigger bonus rounds or jackpots. But, overall, I do it because I have more fun.
Online blackjack is another hugely popular game and a personal favorite. Remember these tips and you won’t be a beginner for long.
Want a better edge against the casino? Skip the side bets and additional options, like perfect pairs or insurance. All these do is increase the house advantage.
Always split aces and 8s (when allowed). This is oversimplifying hand-splitting, but this is an easy rule to remember – and one of many you should start memorizing. Avoid the temptation to split ten-point hands. This includes tens, jacks, queens and kings. 20 is a strong enough hand to stand on.
Get a blackjack strategy chart. I’m not aware of any rules prohibiting the use of these handy tools online (and who’s going to know anyway). Besides, there aren’t other players at the table casting judgmental or annoyed looks in your direction for slowing down the game.
Going forward, I think you will be able to make the right choice for your online casino play and I hope Lady Luck smiles on you. Most importantly, gambling is meant to be for entertainment. So, find a casino you enjoy and settle in for a good time.