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Online gambling FAQs...know the online gambling industry before you play

  1. When did online casinos first start taking bets online?

  2. Who supplies the internet casinos with their software?

  3. Are there many casinos on the Internet?

  4. Do many people gamble online at casinos and sportsbooks?

  5. Which is the biggest casino on the internet?

  6. Are all online casinos licensed, and where are licenses obtained?

  7. Are all online casinos honest and trustworthy?

  8. What types of games can you play at these casinos?

  9. Are player returns similar across all online casino games?

  10. How do you begin playing?

  11. How do you play for real money?

  12. Is it safe to deposit money with an online casino?

  13. Are the outcomes of online casino games random?

  14. How can you be sure the software is not cheating you?

  15. How can you be sure that your winnings will be paid out and how long will this take?

  16. How do I receive my winnings?

  17. So where do you recommend I gamble?

  18. Is it legal to gamble at an online casino?

  19. Any more Qs we haven't covered?

 


When did internet casinos first start taking bets online?

In 1996 CryptoLogic's wholly owned subsidiary, WagerLogic, completed its first license; InterCasino went live laying claim to being the first internet casino to accept a real money wager online.  Competitors were quick to enter the space soon after InterCasino, and by 1998 dozens of casinos were operating online, including many of today's better known casinos.

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Who supplies the internet casinos with their software?

There are a number of software providers out there licensing software to online casino operators.  Some casinos employ their own proprietary software, but most license software from one of the many software providers now peddling their wares to the industry.   The industries principle software licensors are Cryptologic, Microgaming, Playtech, and Boss Media

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Are there many casinos on the internet?

A study released in March 2001 by analysts Bear Sterns suggested that there were between 1,200 and 1,400 sites accepting real money wagers online.  The number has probably grown significantly since then, although many analysts are predicting that this growth will soon stagnate, with a number of operators closing down recently, unable to profit in such a competitive environment.

The above estimates are consistent with River City Group estimates, as illustrated below...

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Do many people gamble online at casinos and sportsbooks?

Reports on the number of online gamblers are many and varied.  While no one study can present an exact figure on the number of online gamblers, a number of sources have put out estimates over the last few years that give us some idea of the size of the playing market. 

In a report published on February 18, 2002 in USA Today, equity research firm Bear Stearns were quoted as claiming that about 4.5 million people, half of them U.S. residents, regularly gamble online.

It has been estimated some where in the order of 12 million people have actually placed real money wagers via the internet, and the majority of these would have been placed at internet casinos. This estimation is consistent with results of a survey published a year ago, (PRNewswire 22 March 2001) claimed that approximately 8 million people had already gambled with real money online at that time.

According to Forrester polls as at July 2005, there were over 300,000 gambling websites entertaining over 7,000,000 online gamblers. While the bulk of traffic to these websites initially came from the United States, that number is now around 40% as players are attracted from all over the world.

That's a lot of online players at present, with indications pointing to large increases in the future, particularly from Europe and Asia.

A survey conducted by 888.com in Britain in February 2005 revealed that the amount staked online by British players increased almost six-fold in the year since late 2003.  Results of the same survey also revealed that almost 40% of British online players were women, representing a far greater proportion than in traditional 'off-line' gambling.

Another recent study out of the UK, published by Nielsen//NetRatings, claimed that the online gambling audience in the UK has increased by 45 per cent in the year to February 2005, with 3.2 million visiting a gambling site in February.  A portion of the rapid increase at least is attributed to the advent of broadband internet connections, making a quick flutter online a possibility rather than a frustrating exercise.

Below are player source and demographic estimates from various sources

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Which is the internet's biggest casino?

Well that all depends on your definition of the biggest.  The casino that spends the most on advertising, and that probably has the most traffic to their site at present, would be Casino On Net.  They have an online advertising budget for 2002 of US$ 35 million!  Now that's big.

If you measure size by the number of games offered, then Blackjack Ballroom , and  7 Sultans Casino  , each with over 200 games are the industries heavyweights.

In terms of player numbers, it is difficult to know for sure, but my guess would be that this would be a competition between Inter Casino , the net's first casino, and Casino On Net who claim to have had 3,000,000 depositing players.

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Are all online casinos licensed?

You're probably not surprised to hear that there are a number of casinos accepting bets online without license to do so.  It has been estimated that up to 20% of all Internet casinos currently accepting bets are doing so without a license.

Licenses to operate online casinos or sports books are issued by the Governments of a number countries, mainly in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. Antigua Barbuda, St Kitts, Vanuatu, and the Dominican Republic are notable licensing jurisdictions for Internet gambling operators.   Certain North American Indian Jurisdictions, in which gambling is legal, such as Kahnawake, also offer licenses to online operators.

Other countries such as South Africa and certain EU countries are investigating licensing options.  Australia recently legislated to allow the operation of Australian based casinos and sports books subject to restrictions regarding the acceptance of bets from Australian residents.  The US government continues to grapple with the issue of whether to regulate or ban online gambling.

As a minimum, we would suggest that you only gamble at licensed online casinos.  Most casinos that are licensed will display their license details on the site.

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Are all online casinos honest and trust-worthy?

Any industry has its rogue operators, and online gambling is no exception. It is probably fair to say that almost 40% of the industry as it currently stands, is best left untouched.  Common complaints from customers who have had the misfortune to play with dishonest operators include:

  1. Refusal to pay out winnings

  2. Lengthy delays before winnings are paid out

  3. Use of rigged proprietary software, with outcomes not randomly generated

  4. Closures with no warning, without refunding deposited funds

Thatís the bad news.  Now for the good news.  The majority of operators out there are striving to establish themselves as legitimate, trustworthy casinos, some of whom now have satisfied player bases numbering in the tens of thousands.  Casinos don't need to cheat players to make money...Vegas is a testament to this fact.  The natural odds of the games, as well as poor player choices gives honest casinos a healthy and enduring profit.  Leading online casinos license software from large, respected suppliers such as Microgaming or Cryptologic whose products have been tested to the nth degree and now satisfy even the most ardent skeptics as to their fairness (in fact Cyptologic's latest software has actually satisfied the very strict probity requirements of Australian state government gaming regulators). 

Your chances of winning money at these casinos is every bit as good as your chances of winning at your local terrestrial casino.  In fact return to player rates (audited) of these casinos seem to range from between 96% to 99%, making them every bit as good (if not better) a bet as terrestrial casinos, and any winnings are sure to be sent out to you within a few days of your withdrawal request.

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What games can you play at these casinos?

The range of game offered by online casinos is enormous.  All the favorites are available, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, paigow, Caribbean poker, slots, video poker, keno etc, as well as progressives, multi hand games, and multi play games.  Most casinos listed on this site have at least 30 different games to choose from, some have over 70.  To view all games offered by the casinos, visit our casino profile pages.

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Are returns similar across all games?

No.  As with terrestrial gaming, the smart different games offer different player returns.  As a general rule, games that require a degree of player skill (eg blackjack) return higher amounts to the players on aggregate, and certainly more to players who can play that game optimally, than no skill games such as keno or slots.  This fact is evident if you compare audited historical returns for some of the casinos listed on this site at our returns page.  Returns across table games (doesn't include slots and keno) are always a percentage point or two higher than returns across all games.

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How do you begin playing?

Simple...just download and launch the casino software, and then register and account with the casino.  Clear instructions are always provided to guide you though this process, and in the event of difficulties you can always get in contact with the casino support desk.  And yes, the casinos listed on our site have real 24/7 support.

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How do you play for real money?

Before you can play for money, you'll need to establish a real money account with the casino.  This is done be depositing money with the casino, from which you then place your wagers.  Most casinos offer a range of deposit options, including major credit cards, PayPal, Firepay, wire transfer or bank draft.

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Is it safe depositing money with an online casino?

All casinos listed on 4 online gambling use 128 bit encryption security to transfer information and funds confidentially and securely.  What this basically means is that transacting with these casinos is every bit as safe as transacting with major banks and financial institutions on-line.  

You can check that your transaction is taking placing over a secure server, by making sure you see a small padlock symbol displayed on status bar of your browser window (bottom right for IE and Netscape users)

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Are game outcomes random?

With regards to legitimate casinos and software providers, (which includes all casino listed on this site) game outcomes are dictated by random number generation systems embedded in the casino software.  This means for example that the next card dealt for all card games will be totally random.  It is also worth noting that the casinos themselves have no control over the outcome of games...this is dictated by the software, which in term is developed by a third party licensor. 

Online casino software companies that support the casinos listed on this site are well known, well respected, large corporations that are listed on company stock exchanges.  Their software has been tested to the nth degree by various licensing authorities, including those with the strictest probity requirements (eg Austalian gaming authorities), and been found to be totally random and fair.

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How can you be sure the software is not cheating you?

Most casinos (all listed at 4 Online Gambling) are taking that extra step to prove that all game outcomes are dictated by random number generation.  Third party audit of return to player rates across all games has been sought to prove that, in aggregate, these casinos return similar amounts to players as terrestrial casinos.  Historical returns to player rates are reviewed and verified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  Audited return rates can be viewed here.

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How can you be sure that winnings will be paid out, and how long will this take?

If you take your chances with any casino you find online, then you cannot be sure that winnings will be paid out at all, let alone within a reasonable time.  Most casinos will pay out winnings reasonably quickly (within a week for US residents, within 2 weeks for the rest of the world) but there are rogues out there.  We have been paid out by all of the casinos on our list, and they are reliable and reasonably fast.

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How do I receive my winnings?

In order to receive your winnings, you simply make a withdrawal from your casino account.  As for deposits, most operators offer a number of withdrawal options, including:

- check (offered by almost all operators)
- wire transfer (offered by few operators)
- debit to credit card to the value of original credit amount (offered by few operators)
- cash-in to PayPal of FirePay account (offered by FirePay/PayPal casinos)

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So where do you recommend that I gamble?

Easy - begin by playing at the casinos which have been around for a long time, and have established themselves as reputable operators.  There are quite a few out there, but we can only vouch for the ones that we have played and been happy with.

If you'd like to see them click here

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Is it legal to gamble at an online casino?

The answer to this question will vary depending on where you live.  In Australia for example, legislation specifically dealing with internet gambling was passed by the incumbent government in 2001, making it illegal for any online casino to offer their product to an Australian resident.  The legislation does not however deem it an offence for an Australian resident to gamble online - ie the legislation targets the operator and not the player.

The position is less clear in other parts of the world where legislation dealing specifically with internet gambling has not yet been passed.  The US government has made numerous attempts to ban online gambling, first in the form of the Kyle Bill introduced in 2000, then the Goodlatte Bill in 2001.  In both cases the Bills failed to pass.   At the time of writing of this page (Nov 2001) no legislation dealing specifically with internet gambling existed in the US.  And while some operators have been prosecuted under existing legislation (eg the Wire Act) for offering wagering products to citizens in areas of the US where traditional gambling is illegal (eg Joel Cohen prosecuted in 2001 for accepting online sports bets from New Jersey residents), it is highly unlikely that anybody could be prosecuted for simply being a customer of an online casino.

Click here for a more detailed discussion of legal issues pertaining to online gambling.

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Any more Qs we haven't covered?

If there is anything else you'd like to know about the online gambling industry, just mail us, and we'd be happy to assist you if we can.

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