Gambling Online: Choosing a Casino

I've heard that there are over 1400 online casinos operating on the Internet. While I can't vouch for that number, I do know that there are many, many sites out there. And, of course, every site claims to offer fair games and quick payouts. Knowing which sites are really trustworthy is very important. My method is simple: Stick to the biggest and most reputable sites. Online casinos don't become popular without treating their players fairly.

The first thing I want to know about an online casino is: Who created the software? There are six or seven companies that are widely used for online gaming software, and also many less popular second-tier software providers. Almost all of my play has been at sites that use one of the 'Big Four' software providers.

MicroGaming: This is perhaps the most popular software provider, with many casinos using MicroGaming's software. They offer a very large number of games, including several large progressive slots. The blackjack is excellent, with many varieties available.

Cryptologic: Though once a major player in online gaming software, Cryptologic's market share has shrunk as many of their casinos have left to other software providers. The flagship casino brand of Intercasino is still an excellent place to play. I've never had any payment delays or problems with any Cryptologic-powered casinos. One nice feature of their games is multi-player blackjack.

Boss Media: Once this was my favorite software to play. It's attractive, fast, and easy. However, in recent years advances by the competition haven't been mirrored at Boss Media. It's still good, but no longer my favorite. One nice thing is that a few of the Boss Media casinos offer an exceptional blackjack game. Some offer only six-deck, but a few still offer a single-deck game with S17 and DAS. That's the best game on the net. E-cash is handled by an outside company called WebDollar. I've never had a problem of any kind with Boss Media powered sites.

Playtech: Another outstanding software provider, with many reputable casinos. This is my current favorite software platform, with lots of interesting games, and good progressive jackpots. There's a 25c video poker game called MegaJacks that is often high enough to be a profitable play.

Among the second-tier software providers, I've also played at sites utilizing Real Time Gaming software. Although the software is not bad, I've seen quite a few complaints on the message boards about players having trouble collecting their winnings. Many of these sites seem to be under-bankrolled, occasionally negotiating with players to payoff their winnings over time. That's not my idea of how things are supposed to work. No thanks.

Update: There are a few really good Real Time Gaming casinos, so I've added a handful of the reputable ones to the advertisers here. I'm very picky though, approving only the very best.

The second item of interest when deciding whether or not to deposit at a given casino is how you can contact them if needed. I choose to play only at sites that offer toll-free support by telephone. If they only offer Email support, I figure they can't be a very large operation.

Last of all, I examine the cash-out procedures to see what is available, and the amount of any fees involved. Cryptologic and Boss Media casinos both charge $1 for most types of transactions. Withdrawals from MicroGaming and Playtech sites are usually free.

Next up, I'll discuss how to use bonuses to make a nice profit online...

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.