Choosing an Online Casino: Beginner’s Tips for Casino Hunters

Choosing an online casino is the first step to an enjoyable internet gaming hobby. Most casino sites have similar games, but the devil is in the details. Some software providers are better than others, just like some casinos are much better than the competition.

If you don’t know how to pick an online casino, you might end up playing at a rogue casino with unfair terms. The entertainment turns to angst if you have to wait long times to be paid — or never receive payment at all. Our beginner’s guide to online casinos helps you choose wisely, thus preserving the fun and entertainment.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing an online casino is important because you want to find respected site known for fairness, safety, speed, and security.
  • Our beginner guide to online casinos gives advice on evaluating casino sites according based on site reviews, player feedback, and the casino’s business associations.
  • Read how to pick an online casino based on pivotal factors like licensing, regulation, game selection, bonuses, and customer support.

How do I choose the best online casino?

To choose the best online casino, create a checklist with that factors that are important to you. Most players want a good game selection, few technical issues, and lucrative bonuses. The discussion below covers less substantial concerns, such as licensing, regulation, and customer support.

When finding a good casino site, you want to find a site that checks all the boxes. If the game variety is good but it has all kinds of technical problems, the casino is no fun. If the games are great but the terms of use are unfair, then it doesn’t matter whether you won or not. You might not get paid.

To find the best online casino that covers everything, follow the guide below.

Beginner’s Guide to Online Casino Selection

We divide our advice into four main sections: licensing, game selection, bonuses and promotions, and customer support. Readers should consider each of these factors when choosing a casino, then pick the best according to your own specific needs.

Licensing and Regulation

When you visit an online casino, search for the site’s licensing information. This includes finding the site’s “About” page and its FAQs. It includes the logo of the licensing agency on most pages of the casino website — usually at the bottom of the pages.

Licensing and regulation certifies to players that a site is fair, safe, and secure. To do so, gaming agencies audit and test a casino’s gaming platform and the software that runs the random number generators (RNGs). Sometimes, third-party auditors also test the site. This includes an audit of the systems, but also a review of past games and transactions.

Once a site passes these tests, the gaming authority extends a license to the site. This license must be maintained over time. This includes more tests, so regulation includes periodic audits of the site’s operations. Therefore, a license assures players that the site is safe and fair.

Offshore online casinos do not receive licensing from US gaming agencies. For that reason, offshore casino sites tend to be called “unlicensed,” “unregulated,” or even “illegal.” In truth, most such sites are not unlicensed at all. These sites tend to be licensed by authorities in Curacao, Malta, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Costa Rica, Panama, or Antigua and Barbuda.

Game Selection

Good online casinos have a wide variety of games. They want to appeal to the maximum number of players, so they can’t just offer excellent online slots. Many prefer to license games from a dozen or more software providers. This gives a huge selection of online slots, sometimes as many as 500 or 600 slots. Outside the USA, this can be as many as 5,000 slot titles.

That’s not enough, though. Some players don’t like slots, so there should be multiple versions of blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and table poker games. The site should have a dozen or more video poker titles. At the least, it should have live baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. The specialty games section should have Keno, Bingo, and scratch card games.

In short, game selection is huge when evaluating an online casino. If you don’t like the games, then why even play at a site? Game selection is important to many players beyond simple variety. Many research which games have the best return to player (RTP) percentage.

If you want to play Buffalo Slots from Aristocrat because of its bonus games or RTP, then it doesn’t help to play an online slot game by another company. Such games might have the word “Buffalo” in the title and a buffalo icon on the reel, but it’s not the same game. Often, it’s an inferior game that’s trying to trick players into thinking it’s part of the Aristocrat series of Buffalo slots.

The same goes for every other game in the casino — online slots, table games, video poker, and live dealer games. Evaluating the variety of games becomes important. Players should know the software providers, as well as the exact game catalogue, offered.

Bonuses and Promotions

Welcome bonuses are a staple of online casino choices. A player doesn’t have to be a bonus hunter or bonus shopper to find the promotional offers important. Most players consider the welcome bonus when choosing their favorite casino.

When you get a welcome bonus, you’ll receive hundreds or thousands of extra dollars. It’s a promotional tool, offered by a website to get players to choose their casino over others. For the player, it’s a way to lower the effective house edge. In other words, bonuses help players tip the odds in their favor.

Bonuses don’t assure wins. They don’t even assure you’ll be able to withdraw bonus cash or bonus winnings. Due to the wagering requirement, you might lose all your bonus money before you can withdraw your promotional money (or winnings from it.) That’s the deal, and players should understand that fact.

They should understand another thing: reload bonuses are often more important than welcome bonuses. The welcome bonus tends to be a one-time or limited offer. Sites often post reload bonuses you can redeem many times — perhaps even an unlimited number of times.

That means the evaluation of reload bonuses is just as important as it is for first deposit bonuses. Treat it like you would the first deposit promotions on the site. Here are the ways you should evaluate them:

How to Evaluate Bonus Promotions

Keep in mind the following factors when evaluating bonuses and other promotions.

  • Bonus Amount: How much bonus cash you receive.
  • Match Rate: How efficiently is your deposit amount matched? 100% is $1 for $1, but 200% is $2 for every $1 you deposit.
  • Max Cashout: The amount you can withdraw. “No max cashout” is the best offer available.
  • Sticky or Non-Sticky: A sticky bonus is one where the bonus cash can’t be cashed out. You can only cash out the winnings. A non-sticky bonus is one where you can cash out bonus money plus winnings. Non-sticky or “unsticky” is best.
  • Wagering Requirement: How many times must the bonus amount be wagered before you can receive a payout?
  • Game Contribution Rate: Which games contribute to clearing the requirement? If all games are allowed, at what rate does each game contribute? Slots are usually 100%, but blackjack, roulette, and other table games are often 20% or less. Live dealer games and progressive slots are usually 0%.
  • Expiry Time: How long do you have to clear the requirement? Seven days is more common now, though 14, 30, 60, or 90 days is also common.

Customer Support

Customer support is a key factor for anyone who has issues or concerns about their gaming time. We recommend casinos known for high levels of technical expertise and relatively few issues, but tech glitches happen to the best of sites. When it’s time to speak with support staff, they must be a source of help whether you have questions, concerns, complaints, or inquiries.

Here are the factors players must consider when evaluating customer service:

  • Knowledgeable: Are customer reps trained to answer your questions and concerns? Do they know how to help you.
  • Friendly: Are they patient, respectful, and upbeat as they deal with your issues? If not, then knowledge isn’t enough.
  • Helpful: Are they being helpful? Do they give you the runaround? Some companies hire customer support personnel who only want to waste your time until you go away.
  • Fairness: Are the casino’s rules fair? Even if you find support personnel who are well-trained and friendly, they can’t help you if the company’s policies are bad.
  • Fluent: Do they speak your language fluently? Can you understand them on phone calls, live chat, and emails? If not, none of the above matters.
  • Reputation: Can you trust when reviewers and commercials describe them as helpful? Until you use customer service, you’re taking someone’s word for it. Therefore, you’ll want to find casinos whose customer support staff is known to be good.

What are the best tips for picking an online casino?

The broad factors for picking an online casino are listed above, but it helps to have experience picking sites. Because we’re players ourselves, our review staff has many years of experience choosing the best casinos. Here are a few extra tips to help you in your search.

  • Read the Terms of Use: Find the terms & conditions page and the FAQ page. Read through the terms for bonuses and other promotions. If one-sided or unfair terms of use appear, avoid that casino.
  • Focus on Wagering Requirement: Of the various terms and conditions, the wagering requirements can be a particular red flag. If the rollover is too high or the payout time is too long, avoid the site.
  • Learn the Software Providers: If you have a game you particularly like, learn which design house created it. Learn other games they created, because you’re more likely to enjoy those. Seek out casino sites that license games from your favorite software provider.

More Tips for Picking Online Casinos

  • Study Player Forums: Read what other players think about individual casinos. Player forums are rarer than they were, but sites like AskGamblers still aggregate player comments and ratings. See what complaints players have, and see if the site resolves issues. Don’t take one person’s comment for the gospel, but get a sense of player consensus.
  • Mobile Compatibility: If you use your iPhone or Android phone for gaming, pay special attention to the mobile casino section of a review. See whether you need an app. Often, mobile game designers create browser-based casino games without need for an app. Learn what percentage of games are available in the mobile casino.
  • Focus On Games You Like: Some casinos have a great selection of slot games, but focus almost entirely on online slots. Others have a great selection of table games, video poker, or live deal games. When you read a casino review, focus heavily on the games you prefer.

Conclusion

Certainly, it takes a bit of effort to pick the best online casinos. If you take the time to wisely choose an online casino, it makes all the rest of the time you spend playing more entertaining. So create your checklist of key factors, then ensure that the online casino you choose checks all the boxes on the checklist.

When you do, you’ll enjoy every single gaming session you have along the way. Sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose. But when you choose a good casino, you can enjoy the fun themes and challenging rules of the casino games every second you play. That makes winning all the more fun when you get lucky.