Online Gambling FAQ
What is on-line or virtual gambling?
Where can I play?
What games are offered?
How do the games work?
What are the stakes?
What are the legal implications for U.S. residents?
Where are the virtual casinos located?
What does the future hold?
How do I set up an account?
What is the difference between a download site and direct play?
Is it better to set up an account through credit card or sent them a money order?
Who regulates virtual casinos?
How do I choose a reputable virtual casino from the dozens that advertise on the net? How do I know who will pay off?
How do I protect myself?
Q: What is on-line or virtual gambling? A: Exactly what it says. It is an online (virtual) Internet connection to a site that basically turns your home computer into a full fledged gambling casino or sportsbook. You can gamble online, in real time, for real money, from your personal computer, or place bets on the sporting event of your choice. The amount of realism is only limited by your imagination and the software used by the online gambling house.
Q: Where can I play? A: There are over 150 sites that proport to be on-line casinos and sports-books. Not all of them, however, should be played, or even visited. You should exercise some care about who you gamble with.
Q: What games are offered? A: At present most sites offer slots, blackjack, keno, roulette, and video poker. Consult the individual casino for a list of games offered at the various venues.
Q: How do the games work? A: Slots in real casinos are all driven by microprocessors, virtual casinos work the same way. Playing video poker at a casino in front of a video display is the same as playing at a virtual casino in front of your own monitor. Roulette usually uses a random number generator to produce a winning number. Blackjack is either played with a single deck (one hand per shuffle) or with multiple decks and a shuffle after the deck is half gone. This is designed to eliminate card counting. In fact, as real casinos move to electronics, and virtual casino software becomes more realistic, the only difference the user will notice is where the game takes place.
Q: What are the stakes? A: Some virtual casinos offer chips as low as one cent. (2000 chips for $20.00). This is a boon to the small bettor. Most require a minimum deposit of at least $20.00 to open an account. The sports books vary but generally they have higher minimum bets.
Q: What are the legal implications for U. S. residents? A: This question is being hotly debated by legislators, lawyers, and law enforcement. Strictly speaking,it is illegal for U. S. residents to gamble over a (telephone) wire. This would seem to proscribe Internet gambling. However, most Internet casinos are physically located outside the United States in countries where their activities are completely legal. Technically, their operations lie outside the jurisdiction of the U. S. authorities. The reality is that the federal government does not have the time, the manpower or the inclination (for now) to pursue individual gamblers who use their home or office computers to gamble on the Internet. Some operators are unsure of the legal implications themselves and bar residents of certain states. Some casinos don’t want to anger the US government and prohibit US residents from opening accounts.
It must be noted, however, that the US government has indicted US citizens that it believes are guilty of running offshore sportsbooks and taking bets from US citizens in the United States via the internet.
Q: Where are the virtual casinos located? A: All over the world, but mostly in the Caribbean. Recent growth has been seen in Europe, Australia, and South Africa. There are some sites in the South Pacific and some sites are even planned for the United States on Indian reservations.
Q: What does the future hold? A: In all probability the federal government will come under pressure by various interests; casino operators, religious groups, the horse racing lobbies, and others, to stamp out virtual gambling. However, I believe they will have as much success in eliminating virtual gambling as they did in wiping out online pornography. In other words, virtual gambling will continue to grow like crazy no matter what the government tries to do.
Q: How do I set up an account? A: It is fairly simple, but, if you go the download route, you will need some computer savvy. You will be able to click through to registration. You will be asked to provide the usual information, name, address, age, etc. The casino will require that you deposit some money either by credit card debit or by mailing a cheque or money order or wire transfer. Some sites require you to download their software. Others allow you to play immediately without downloading. You will be issued an account number and a password and depending on how you open your account, they will set you up to gamble immediately, or in a week or two.
Q: What is the difference between a download site and direct play? A: It is a trade off between realism and ease of use. The download software provides more bells and whistles in terms of audio and video. It is decidedly more realistic. The direct route is quicker and simpler and is much easier to use. If you are able to install and deal with sometimes balky software, and think the extra realism is worth it, go for the download.
Q: Is it better to set up an account through credit card or send them a money order? A: I believe the credit card set up gives you more protection. To debit your account the casino must set up a relationship with a bank that deals with your credit card issuer (visa, MasterCard, AMEX etc.). A really bad actor would have some trouble with this step. An operator who was in the habit of defrauding people or issuing phoney credit card debits would soon be denied credit card privledges.
Q: Who regulates virtual casinos? A: Most internet casinos are ‘licensed’ in the jurisdiction where they are physically located. However, in reality no one really regulates online gambling. Just like Al Gore’s fundraising efforts there is no controlling legal authority.
Q: How do I choose a reputable virtual casino from the dozens that advertise on the net? How do I know who will pay off? A: Right now the virtual casino business is wide open and the industry is full con artists Before you open an account, look around. Check out some gambling review sites like myVirtual Gambling Sites List, Rolling Good Times, or Where to Bet. Casinos that are advertised on these sites are more reputable. After that, look for sites that are user friendly, and offer a lot of customer support, especially if they are download sites. Avoid sites that make wild or unverifiable claims. Carefully read the terms and conditions that are posted BEFORE you register at a site. I would advise users, especially those from the Americas, to avoid European sites. They are poorly laid out, poorly thought out, run slowly, and are not user friendly. There are plenty of legitimate sites in the Western Hemisphere to choose from. They will run faster, and seem, generally, better run and laid out. Please visit often as we continue to report on the growth and developement of Virtual Gambling. Visitors are welcome to post their experiences with on line gambling casinos on this site so that we can build some sort of empirical database to help guide people towards the honest operators and away from the crooks. I will only provide links to casinos that have received NO OUTSTANDING CONSUMER COMPLAINTS, AND that PAY OFF WINNERS.
Q: How do I protect myself? A: Take these steps and you won’t get hurt too badly no matter what happens. Choose a casino located in the Caribbean that offers low stakes and no fees for opening an account or disbursing winnings. Open a small (no more than $200) account at your chosen site to get your feet wet. If you are using a credit card, use one with a small limit. Play for the smallest stakes allowed, especially when just starting out. Remember, this is just for fun anyway. After a little play, ask them to disburse some of your account back to you. If you keep your account balance, and your losses, low, you should be all right.