Basics of Online Gambling

online-casinoIn 2016, it’s possible to gamble on most casino games online. Take your pick from classic fruit-machine style slots, roulette and blackjack, or instant-win scratchcards. You can even deposit a few pounds and take a shot at a “progressive jackpot” worth millions.

Choosing the right online casino is as important as picking the right games. Choose the wrong site to play at and you could be wasting time and money. Pick the wrong games and bets and your bankroll will soon disappear.

With some handy tips, however, you can make that budget go further and increase your enjoyment of gambling in one fell swoop. Let’s have a look at the nuts and bolts of getting started with casino gaming.

Finding The Right Casino Site

Games like roulette and blackjack aren’t just confined to land-based casinos anymore. In 2016, it’s possible – and legal – to enjoy table games and slots from the comfort of your front room. There are hundreds of casinos available on the net, many carrying UK licenses to operate.

With so much choice, how do you pick one? Essentially, choosing the right online casino is about deciding what you want from your gambling: do you want to play big-money slots? Are you looking for big-prize promotions and competitions? Perhaps you just want a small flutter at a safe casino with no hassle.

Decide What Games You Want: Most online casinos feature a range of slots, roulette, blackjack, and instant-win games. Some have Live Casino action too, where you can gamble against a human croupier via webcam.

Before signing up to a casino, decide what you are likely to play. Are you interested in blackjack? Do you want to play slots only? Are you looking to gamble on the big ‘progressive jackpots’?

Casinos vary hugely in the range and standard of games they offer. Look for major providers like Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech – you will find the list of software providers on the casino homepage – who deliver lots of safe, quality games.

Test Games Out For Free:  Many casinos let you try out games for free (‘Practice Play’) before you even sign up. Visit the casino homepage and click on a game in the lobby. It will load up in your web browser and you will be given some freeplay credits to gamble with.  When you’re comfortable with the rules, or you like the look of a new slot, you can load up some cash and play for real.

Look For Licensing & Security: Online casinos use SSL (Secure Socket Layers) encryption to protect players’ details. After all, you are entrusting what is effectively a bank with your card details, and your money.

It’s important, then, that the casino has appropriate security measures in place. Look to the casino homepage for a security certificate from a body like Thawte.

As well as encryption, the casino should be licenced. Casinos operating online for UK customers should have an operating licence from the UK Gambling Commission. This shows that it adheres to certain criteria like tested and audited software and keeping players’ funds segregated from the casino profits. Casinos must also show that they are fit and proper to operate a gambling company.

Software providers and casinos can also be licensed by one of the recognised gambling jurisdictions based overseas. The Isle of Man, Alderney, Gibraltar, Malta and Curacao all have commissions which issue gambling licences to operators.

Setting Up A Real-Money Account

You’ve picked a casino, and you know what you want to play: now you have to open an account. Start by hitting the ‘download’ button (for a site that needs installation) or ‘Register’ (for no-download sites). You will need to create a unique username and password, and enter vital information like your address, age, and phone number.

Once the software has installed, you’re ready to go. You will be given the opportunity to trigger a welcome bonus (see below) or get some free spins on a popular slot.

Making A Deposit: If you’re ready to deposit some money head to the on-site Cashier. Here, you will have a range of deposit options available. Choose from a UK debit or credit card, or transfer money direct from your bank account.

Enter the card number on the Cashier, together with your expiry date and account password. Hit the ‘Submit’ button and wait for the money to appear. You can then start gambling.

Cashing Out: It’s also possible to withdraw winnings from your casino account. If it’s the first time you are cashing out, you may have to provide some form of ID before getting your money. It’s purely for security purposes and to verify you are of legal age.

Fees: Typically, casinos won’t charge a fee to deposit and withdraw cash. However, your card or wallet provider may add a charge to use their service. In the case of credit cards, there is normally a 2.5-percent charge added to the deposit amount when loading your account.

To Download Or Not To Download?

Most casinos in 2016 allow instant-play AND download. A download client saves to the PC/Mac desktop and contains a full suite of games. Players then connect to the internet with this ‘app’ and play games and deposit cash that way.

Alternatively, ‘instant-play’ or ‘no-download’ sites let you log in via the casino website. Instead of downloading games, players gamble through their web browser. If you click on a slot or table game, it will open up in a separate Chrome/Safari/IE browser and play over the net. Most games these days are programmed using HTML5 or Java – something that works well across many different platforms.

The beauty of HTML5 games is that they work on mobile phones and tablets. You can log in to a casino account via their smartphone using the same username and password as they use for the desktop version.

Choosing The Right Games And Bets

It’s tempting to jump in to a casino and start gambling. But playing games you don’t understand is the quickest way to lose cash.

Every game has an RTP% (Return To Player percentage). This is (on average) the payouts made to players over the long term. Casinos always have an advantage over players – called the house edge – and this varies from game to game.

For example, a slot programmed with lots of bonus symbols may have a high RTP of 96%. The remainder – 4% – is the house edge. Usually, online slots vary from around 93-98% in terms of RTP.

When it comes to table games, house edges vary wildly. European Roulette has a house edge of just 2.7%, for example, while American Roulette has an edge of 5.26% (because of the additional 00 slot). Blackjack is lower, at around 1% – if you play sensible strategy.

And within specific games, picking the right bets is essential. In roulette, even-money ‘outside’ bets are a better long-term option for profits than single numbers, while avoiding Insurance bets in blackjack can improve winnings. Getting up to speed on ‘optimum strategy’ is essential before you start gambling.

Earning A Welcome Bonus When You Sign Up

The beauty of online casinos is that anyone can pick up some free cash. Most casinos offer new players a “welcome bonus” where they will match a first deposit 100% in return for a few hours spent gambling on their site.

There’s a catch, however: players will have a time limit in which to ‘play through’ enough games and claim that bonus cash.

Let’s say a casino matches a first deposit 100% up to £500. They also stipulate that the ‘wagering requirement’ is 30x. That means that the casino will match your £500 with another £500 as long as you gamble 30 times the deposit – in this case, £15,000.

Shop Around To Improve Your Winnings

If that sounds hefty, it can be for most casual gamblers. It’s worth shopping around for lower wagering requirements, or looking for other welcome bonuses like free slots spins or straight free-cash offers. Casinos are in strong competition for customers, so there will always be a promotion that’s right for your level.

Most casinos offer promotions. Figure out what you are most likely to play, then find a promotion to match. Are you going to play lots of slots? If so, find a slots tournament with a prize leaderboard to aim for. Do you play roulette and blackjack? If that’s you, find an offer that offers cashback on losing table game bets or a reload bonus geared towards table games.

It’s easy to get started in the world of online casinos. And with a little research, you can avoid bad sites and the wrong games.