Play Real Money Online Casino Games - 2020 Guide

Play Real Money Online Casino Games - 2020 Guide

Gambling is growing in the US. In the last study taken in 2005, it was estimated that 4.2 billion people worldwide had placed a bet at some point in their lives. Gambling has grown significantly since then, so you can expect this number to be much higher.

Playing in an online casino for real money requires a combination of both skill and luck. But before you start playing you need to know where to play so you get the best odds and the most lucrative bonuses.


Finding the Best Real Money Online Casino

Finding the best real money online casino requires a lot of thought and research. To the uninitiated, most legal online casinos may look the same, but when you cut through the colorful graphics you’ll see there are a lot of differences.

It’s important for you to check out a few aspects of online casinos before proceeding to register an account with them.

What Games Can You Play in an Online Casino for Real Money?

It’s true that nearly every online casino in the world will have basic games like blackjack, slots, and roulette. But what if you’re someone who likes to play games like Pai Gow, Let it Ride, and Keno?

Investigate which games you can play for real money before proceeding. You don’t need to set up an account to figure out which games are on offer.  Most casinos will have a full list of games available for everyone to browse.

Beyond this, you need to check out what odds are available to you. For example, if you get a ‘natural’ in blackjack you need to figure out what odds they pay. You should look for 3:2 odds, not 6:5 as this drastically changes the house edge in the long-term.

Think about things like that and dig a little deeper before deciding if an online casino’s selection of games is right for you.

How Lucrative are the Online Casino’s Bonuses?

Bonuses are a way for casinos to get you to play with them. It’s often the differentiating factor between many casinos.

Don’t just look at the dollar amount on offer. Look into the wagering requirements of those bonuses.

Practically every casino will have wagering requirements, also known as playthrough requirements. The higher these are the smaller the chance of converting that bonus into real money.

Smart players, for example, would avoid playing with any casino online for real money if its bonuses come with wagering requirements of 50x.

Finally, if there are bonuses available for specific games only, make sure you actually want to play those games. What’s the point in taking a mega bonus on slots when you hate slots?

Is it Safe?

Online casinos have come a long way. They do their best to ensure your account data is safe with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, and more. However, you need to make sure you’re playing with a casino that will actually pay out your winnings.

This is why you should stick to an established brand. The biggest online casinos in the states with legal online gambling include Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Virgin, and 888.

Don’t play with the no-name online casino headquartered in some third-world country.

Banking Methods

Everyone has a preferred banking method. Not all casinos offer the same banking methods.

It is important to be aware that online casinos tend to operate using a ‘closed-loop’ system. This means the banking method you choose to deposit with will also be the banking method you must use to withdraw at least the same amount of money.

This is to protect against money laundering.

Credit/Debit Card

By far the most popular banking method available through online casinos is the credit/debit card. Just enter your card details and your payment will be processed instantly, so you can start playing in any casino online for real money right away.

Real money online casinos all offer this banking method.

If you’re playing online for the first time, notify your bank first. Many banks have been known to freeze credit/debit cards when they’re used with any business involved with gambling.

Notifying them in advance will prevent you from having to spend hours dealing with their anti-fraud teams.


The second most popular banking method in online casinos is the e-wallet. An e-wallet is any service where you can hold money in an online account. Examples of e-wallets include PayPal, Skrill, and Payoneer.

Players often choose to gamble with online casinos for real money using e-wallets because they don’t need to enter their banking details. It also prevents their cards from being blocked and transactions showing up on any bank statements.

Like with credit/debit cards, transfers are instant and the money available to play within a matter of seconds.

Take note that when it comes to PayPal your casino may not have this as an e-wallet option. Only recently has PayPal started to team up with online casinos, due to legal reasons.

If you’re determined to use PayPal, you’ll need to do your research to see if your casino of choice has it available.

Wire Transfers, Checks, and Cryptocurrency

Wire transfers and checks typically take anywhere from three to ten business days to clear. These are less popular but ideal if you don’t want to use your card or e-wallet details together with an online casino.

Most real money online casinos still offer these payment methods, but they do take a while to process. Only use a wire transfer or a check if you’re not in a hurry.

Finally, some forward-thinking casinos have started to offer cryptocurrency banking methods, such as Bitcoin. Again, these transfers are often instant, but due to the volatility of these currencies, you may notice changes in the amount actually credited to your account.

Most larger casinos online in the US don’t offer cryptocurrency as a banking method.

Register an Account with an Online Casino

Registering an account with an online casino couldn’t be easier.

All you need to do is click on the ‘Register’ button on your online casino of choice and you’ll be prompted to enter some personal details.

Most casinos will simply ask for your name, email, date of birth, and address. Make sure you get these right or it could cause problems later.

Then you’ll be prompted to make a deposit. In certain no deposit casinos, you’ll be able to skip this stage. If not, choose your banking method of choice and enter your details. The casino may give you the option to save your details so you don’t need to enter them again when you make your next deposit.

Bonuses are often awarded automatically when you register an account, but if not you may need to enter a promo code, which will either be available through your account management settings or via the casino’s cashier.

Why You Need to Double-Check Your Personal Details

Whenever you attempt to make your first withdrawal you’ll be required to follow the casino’s identity verification procedure.

This usually requires you to upload a high-quality image of a piece of a photo ID and something with your address on, such as a utility or cell phone bill.

Some casinos may also ask you to upload two pieces of photo ID.

If you didn’t double-check your personal details and the details you entered don’t perfectly match your IDs, you will run into problems withdrawing your winnings.

Online Casino Gambling Laws

Sadly, playing in a real money online casino isn’t something that’s available to all Americans. Gambling laws in the US are complex. Some states allow only land-based casinos, others allow online sportsbooks only.

As of 2019, there are only three states with legal online casinos. These are the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Not only can online casinos only operate in these states they’re only allowed to provide services to players resident in these three states.

They use advanced geo-tracking technologies to enforce this. Even if you’re from New Jersey and you’re traveling in New York, you won’t be able to access your favorite casino’s online gambling facilities.

This is so strict that some residents in these states have found they can’t play if they’re too close to the state line.

Other states do have plans to legalize online casinos, but there are no signs these plans are going to come to fruition anytime soon.

History of Casino Gambling in the U.S. 

The love of gambling and the controversy surrounding it were present here even before the United States of America was a country. Early European settlers brought their card and dice games with them, as well as the religious philosophies that preached against them. Christian theologies that condemned gambling were a very powerful voice, and this fueled anti-gambling laws that were out of touch with the daily reality of recreational gambling. 

If you think about the history of the United States, it seems a bit strange that it has been such a steep uphill climb for gambling...and even worse for online gambling. Saloons and gambling houses were in use throughout the 16-20th centuries in the U.S., though operating under the law. The casinos were first legally established in - you guessed it - Nevada in 1931. Again, it's not a surprise that Atlantic City, New Jersey, saw the next legalization of casinos in 1976. This was over 40 years after Nevada and in the same year as a major Supreme Court ruling that would have an enormous impact on legal casino gambling in the U.S. 

 A 1976 Supreme Court ruling, Bryan v. Itasca County, declared first that Native Americans could not be charged property tax by a state if they lived on a reservation. But, importantly, the court went on to add that states were not allowed to regulate such activities on Native American reservations. As might be expected, other inhabitants of reservations were quick to get in on the action. As of today, there are around 460 Indian/Native American Casinos in the U.S., making casino gambling legal even in states that generally have strict anti-gambling laws. 

History of Legal Online Casinos in the U.S.

While online casinos have been operating outside of the U.S. basically as long as the internet has existed (and we'll look at these off-shore casinos later), online casinos have only been legal in the U.S. since 2013. The first online casino was hit the internet in 1994, and it was based in 1994, Antigua and Barbuda.

In the U.S. there was significant resistance to online casinos by the usual suspects, but it is also thought that physical casino owners were among the primary obstacles to legalizing online casinos. They viewed the online market as competing with brick-and-mortar casinos. In a way, they were right, but the success of online casinos has only been helpful for physical casinos, many of which are struggling financially.

Federal Opposition to Legal Online Casinos

Individual states have long been recognized as able to legalize gambling within their own state. And so long as someone has to be physically present in order to bet, that is not an issue. The problem comes with the advent of the internet, which allows you to be several places at once (digitally, at least). 

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 - also called the Federal Wire Act - was established in an attempt to keep organized crime running casinos from conducting transactions across state lines (including internationally). Obviously the internet did not exist at the time of this legislation, however the act had potential relevance for online gambling.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released its re-modification of the Federal Wire Act in 2011. It was decided that interstate transmission of wire communications that was not related to sports would not be subject to this law. So the Federal Wire Act would not pertain to online casino gambling, including online poker.

Between these two versions of the Federal Wire Act, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was introduced. Specifically, it was intended to prohibit "gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law." So what does this mean, and what is the specific ruling of the UIGEA?

What does the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) Mean?

That is a difficult question to answer, but the effect of the Act is clear. It meant that reputable online casinos, including all listed on the London Stock Exchange, immediately pulled out of the U.S. market. The Act is interpreted to mean that only states where online casino gambling was legal could take bets within that state.

This means that online casinos had to find a means to guarantee any transactions conducted with a casino would only take place in that state (for example, a New Jersey-based online casino has to guarantee that no one would place bets outside of New Jersey). 

More importantly, the UIGEA made it illegal for non-U.S. casinos to take money from U.S. banks. This has serious implications for so-called off-shore casinos. 

The Effect of the UIGEA on Online Casinos

The effect of the Act on off-shore casinos seeking customers in the U.S. is clear. It meant that reputable online casinos, including all listed on the London Stock Exchange, immediately pulled out of the U.S. market. The Act is interpreted to mean that only states where online casino gambling was legal could take bets within that state.

This means that online casinos had to find a means to guarantee any transactions conducted with a casino would only take place in that state (for example, a New Jersey-based online casino has to guarantee that no one would place bets outside of New Jersey). 

"Black Friday" and UIGEA

The Department of Justice came out with a hard attack on 3 offshore companies - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. They demanded $3 billion in compensation and up to 65 years of jail time for some of the defendants, according to a New York Times article. UIGEA changed the face of online casinos - and poker in particular - in the U.S. 

It also set up a strict line between legal online casinos and illegal casinos that are very important for you.

Legal Casinos versus Illegal Off-shore Casinos

In the United States, the only legal casinos are those which are approved by a state. As of now, legal online casinos are available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, with poker available in Nevada. All of the casinos listed here on are legal. This means that, if you have a dispute with a casino, you have state and federal legal protection.

With illegal, off-shore casinos, however, you have no such protection. In fact, these off-shore casinos are operating in known violation of U.S. law. And because they are not recognized by the U.S. or European stock exchange, they are in some ways beyond legal reach. This leads to an important question.

Are you willing to give you personal and financial information to a company that acts in knowing violation of U.S. laws? Do you have any recourse if they decide not to pay up?

Every casino game in the books has a house edge, but you need to know that the house is going to honor your wins. Off-shore casinos are a bad bet, period. 

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23 November 2019

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