Gambling Online: Will you get paid?

If there is one area of online gambling which has disappointed me, it's the fact that I have had a few problems collecting my winnings. Nonetheless, I've never been stiffed. Over the years, I've made hundreds of cash-in transactions. I've had trouble with five of them. I managed to collect every time, but it has taken a few phone calls and emails to customer service. If you choose to play online, make sure that you keep good records, or you'll be at their mercy.

Update: I've had absolutely no problem with any cash-ins since 2003. Perhaps cash-in delays are a thing of the past.

So, what were my 5 problems?

  • The slowest pay was at the now-defunct Fairplay Casino. I suppose I should be thankful that I ever received my money from a casino that went out of business due to poor management. Luckily, I wasn't owed much when they folded. Four months after they closed down, I received a bank transfer for the final $35 they owed me.
  • Almost as slow was Lucky Nugget casino, where it took me nearly four months to collect $85. Lucky Nugget was one of the first casinos that I played, and I was still pretty suspicious of the games. I received a substantial bonus of $110 from them, played just over the required amount, and cashed-out $85 of my original $100 for a net loss of $15. I still believe that they intentionally mishandled my cash-in since I played barely enough to qualify for my bonus. Lesson learned: Play a little extra when bonuses are involved, or better yet, a lot extra.
  • Next up, Captain Cooks Casino, where I waited 7 weeks for a PayPal transfer of $349. Their claims of various delays are pretty transparent, especially since their sister property of Illustrated Casino was giving me the run-around at the same time.
  • Illustrated Casino, affiliated with Captain Cooks, took 6 weeks for a PayPal transfer of $393, not-so-coincidentally credited on the same day my Captain Cooks fiasco was resolved.
  • My most recent trouble was with King Solomon's, where I received a free $50 bonus to try out their new software. I ran the balance up to $250 and cashed out, but only a portion of my cash-in was credited against older credit card buy-ins. Two months of phone calls and Emails later, I finally received the rest of my credit.

Those episodes paint a pretty bleak picture. The good news is that my other cash-ins have been handled with no problem. In 2004, average payout times seemed to improve just about everywhere. Most payouts are handled within 2 days, with some within just minutes. A few places still take several days, but all in all, transactions are speedier now than ever. These days, most of my transactions are handled via Neteller, a sort of online wallet similar to PayPal. (Editor's note: Neteller eventually pulled out of the US market.)

Back to the question: Will you get paid? The short answer: Yes, I always have been.

There are more observations about payment issues in the next section, Choosing a Casino...

Since passage of new legislation in late 2006, my current recommendation is that you do not gamble online if you are located in the United States. Eventually I hope that we will see legalization, regulation, and taxation of online casinos in the US.