Online gambling is a popular hobby, but if you aren’t careful, it could end up costing you a pretty penny. If you’re new to the world of online casinos, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you place your bets. Following these tips will keep your money, and possibly your identity, safe.
1. Check the Law
Although gambling in an online casino is easy, and sites are plentiful, it’s not always legal. Some sites ban users from certain countries, and if you’re in the U.S., some states forbid residents from logging on and playing. Before you get set up, check the rules and make sure you’re not unwittingly engaging in criminal activity.
2. Check the Security
When you gamble online, you’re also gambling with your personal information and finances. When you register online, make sure that it’s through a secure, encrypted site (look for the address to start with “https”). Create a secure, strong password, and consider using a dedicated bank account or credit card to fund your play, so if something does go wrong, your accounts aren’t completely cleaned out.
3. Compare Payout Options
When you win big, you want your money as soon as possible. Look into how the casino will transfer funds to you and the fees associated with basic transactions. If a casino charges an exorbitant amount to access your money, then you may be better off finding another place to play.
4. Look at Bonus Structures
Most casinos offer bonuses to attract and retain players. Bonuses might include a payout for signing up, referring new players or staying loyal to the casino — and they could add up to thousands of dollars. Carefully review the casino’s bonus structure and choose the option that will most benefit you, keeping in mind that the biggest upfront bonus might not be your best bet.
5. Investigate the Casino
All of the bonus structures and big payouts in the world won’t mean anything if you’re not playing at a reputable casino. Before signing up, check out the casino’s information page to make sure that it’s licensed, that you know who is in charge and that you can get help if you need it. Do some research off of the site as well. Read message boards and review sites and look for red flags like repeated complaints from users.
6. Read the Terms and Conditions
The casino’s terms and conditions page might be full of legal jargon and won’t exactly be stimulating reading, but it’s up to you to read the page carefully and understand exactly what you’re getting into. Make sure the terms and conditions don’t allow for withholding bonuses, remove all accountability from the casino or otherwise keep you from getting what you’re entitled to.
7. Test Out Support Before You Play
If things go wrong while you’re playing or when you’re trying to cash out, you want to make sure you can get the help you need. Look for the site’s help desk before you sign up, and test it to make sure it’s actually operational before you spend a dime. A single email address for help is not adequate — there should be multiple methods of contact, including live phone support.
8. Play for Free Before You Spend Money
Reputable online casinos will offer a “Play Free” option for gamblers who want to get familiar with the system before spending actual money. If you can’t play for free, keep looking for a casino; no free play option could indicate potential problems down the road.
9. Gamble Responsibly
When you get caught in the heat of the moment, it can be tempting to continue to spend money trying to hit the jackpot. Again, keep a dedicated account for online gambling, and avoid spending too much. Avoid gambling when you’ve been drinking too, as it lowers your inhibitions and can cause you to overspend.
10. Have Fun
The whole point of gambling, either online or in person, is to have fun. If you’re getting stressed out, step away for a while. Enjoy the game and the experience of gambling.
When you’re eager to start online gaming, you might not want to take the time to do this extra research. But if you take the time now, you’ll save a lot of time later — and maybe even see bigger winnings.
About the Author: John Hunt is an experienced online player. He writes about gaming, casinos and strategies for winning for several online publications and blogs.