Q. Is online gambling legal?
That depends on where you are. The UK, for instance, is leading the world in it's legalization initiatives and will soon implement the final phase of the progressive UK Gambling Bill 2005. "We want gambling to be safe" has said Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and that has been the spirit behind their drive to modernize the industry and make it more mainstream. Other countries -- Antigua, Costa Rica, Gibralter and the Isle of Man -- have long allowed gambling and issued licenses accordingly. Others, including the Philippines and China's once-Portuguese enclave of Macau, are moving in the same direction. .
The situation in the United States continues to be more complicated. Several states -- including Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin -- have passed anti i-gaming legislation while several others have proposed related bills. At the Federal level the recently enacted UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006) has had a dramatic effect. Although the stated purpose of the bill is "to prevent the use of certain payment instruments, credit cards, and fund transfers for unlawful Internet gambling" the legislation has generally been viewed as a strong signal from federal authorities that they consider any internet gambling activity to be unlawful and as such has seriously undermined the willingness of casino and poker operators to continue accepting US players.
For more information on the legal issues concerning online gambling, see our Internet Gambling News and Features section . You might also want to check out Gambling and the Law®: Status of Gambling Laws and Gambling-Law-US.com (http://www.gambling-law-us.com/).
Q. Are online casinos fair and honest?
A. Generally speaking, yes. Legitimate casinos don't need to operate crooked games to make a profit because the house edge and player mistakes provide them with a steady source of revenue. The rake in online poker games serves the same purpose.
However, dishonest casinos do exist. The most common complaint is that some online casinos are slow to pay out winnings or lock player accounts claiming that players have abused their games or played suspiciously. In a number of widely discussed cases, casinos have not paid out at all. We strongly recommend that players check the prominent internet casino message board services for the latest information on these issues or on a given casino.
Our message boards are located at. If you have a problem with an online casino, post a message on our message boards so other players can offer assistance and learn from your experience.
Q. Do I have to be an adult to play?
A. For most casinos you must be 18 or older to wager real money. If you're under 18, you can play for fun at most online casinos. Or play our free casino games .
Q. How do I choose an online casino?
A. There are many hundreds of online casinos but the vast majority of players are to be found at just a few of the better known and respected ones. We offer our Top Picks list to spotlight some of these. Our casino directory offers links to nearly all online casinos. Before wagering real money, see our Beginner's Guide and check our message boards for tips and opinions from real players.
Q. Do I need to download software to play?
A. No. Most casinos offer no-download versions of their more popular games such as blackjack, roulette and slots. However, it is worth noting that the download games often offer better graphics, sound and animation.
Most casinos let you play the games for free before placing a real-money bet. That way you can "test drive" the casino and choose the games you like best. See our software section for more information, and read "To download or not"
Q. How do I purchase chips and get started?
A. For non-US players there are few restrictions on your purchase options: casinos generally accept deposits by Neteller (http://www.neteller.com), FirePay (http://www.firepay.com/), Citadel (http://www.citadelcommerce.com/), check, money order, wire transfer or a number of other options.
For the US player things are a little more restricted but, as of this writing, the following deposit options are still available:
- - ePassporte
- - Diners Club International
- - Solo / Maestro / Switch Debit Cards
- - ECCO cards
- - Wire Transfer (e.g. Western Union)
- - Money Order
- - Bank Draft
- - "Gifts2Go" Prepaid Gift Cards
In some cases -- and this is increasing dramatically in the wake of the UIGEA (see above) -- financial transactions are handled directly by provider-affiliated electronic cash systems such as InterCasino's use of Cryptologic's Ecash system.
Q. How do I collect my winnings?
A. This varies from casino to casino, and is certainly effected by whether you are a US or non-US player. Casinos offering Neteller services will credit your withdrawals back to that account. The same is true for the other third-party services. Cheques, bank drafts and wires are also popular options.
At some casinos you will have to wait for a PIN (personal identification number) to be sent to you by regular mail before you can make a withdrawal.
Some casinos charge for withdrawals, some don't. Always read the deposit and withdrawal policies before playing for real money at any online casino.
For US players the options are rather limited. Again, as of this writing, these are the best options available to you:
- - eChecks
- - ePassporte
- - plain old bank checks sent to your address