Unbiased, “No Stones Unturned” Reviews by Industry Experts.
We all want to avoid dishonest online gambling sites. To do that, you either need to do plenty of research to stay on top of what’s happening within the industry or get the information in a neat package from a reliable source.
I’ve been in this industry for 15+ years and still spend hours every day to keep track of the latest developments and to make sure each of the recommended websites continue behaving correctly.
We’ve ranked sites based on several criteria – for example, you may want to focus on NBA betting or NFL betting, play casino games like slot machines and blackjack, or deposit using specific methods like credit cards and Paypal.
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It’s All About the Location
If you live in the US, your options are different from the rest of the world. Australia, Canada and the UK have slightly varied selections of internet gambling websites as well, but the US market is distinctly different from the rest of the world.
Fortunately, we’ll show you where you can play considering your location. We’re going to add more country-specific listings in the coming weeks but the ones below have clearly different listings from other countries:
Our Lists of Best Sites for…
When anyone asks me which sites to join, I always recommend a few in order to take advantage of the best odds in the market (a single site rarely offers the most competitive odds for every game you’re going to bet on). Plus, signing-up is free – you only risk a couple of minutes out of your life (the time it takes you to write down your personal details) – in fact, it only takes seconds to sign-up at Bitcoin gambling sites.
As mentioned, available sites for the rest of the world are mostly alike (and there are lots of ’em, too). PinnacleSports.com is a fantastic option for sports betting and often provides the best betting lines in the industry with ”reduced juice” moneyline bets. Again, though, I firmly believe the best way to go for sports bettors is to sign-up at multiple sites – therefore I recommend Bet365.com and WilliamHill.com as well.
Non-US gamblers also have plenty of options when it comes to online casino games. Many online casinos come with games by some of the highest-quality software providers in the online casino world – such as NetEnt, Cryptologic, and Microgaming – and also the ones who come up with the most innovative slots. They work well on mobile and feature some of the all-time favorite brands such as Mega Moolah, Jurassic Park, and Dark Knight Returns. There’s also some nice innovation going on with live dealer casinos.
US gamblers have limited options with online casino games – perhaps even more-so than with sports betting. Reliable and high quality brands are far and few between – fortunately there are still some left (our casino section has you covered). It’s rare to find US online casinos with strong track records – sometimes it feels like finding Bigfoot – but unlike Bigfoot, such casinos do exist.
Finding reliable poker sites is even harder since you need lots of active customers to operate a successful online poker room (plenty of players means plenty of games and big prize pools… and vice-versa) – this requirement alone eliminates all but few options within the US.
Outside of the US, you have the busiest site in the world in PokerStars, plus other high traffic options such as 888 Poker and Party Poker. At PokerStars, you’ll have the biggest prize pools and the most opponents to choose from (all excellent reasons to sign-up) but their recent actions have angered a significant part of their loyal customer base, so with that in mind 888 and Party Poker are formidable options as well.
If selection is thin outside of the US, it gets even worse for those living in the US. My top recommended overall gambling site – (Bovada Sportsbook) – was also my top recommendation for US online poker players. They were recently bought out by Ignition Casino though and their players were transferred over to Ignition Poker. It will take a little time before I am willing to recommend them since they are so new in the industry.
Finding Safe, Top-Quality Sites
At the risk of sounding pompous, I consider the recommendations at LegitGamblingSites.com the best on the internet (especially from a safety point-of-view). All of these real money online gambling sites have served their customers in a respectful manner throughout the years and, simply put, are the finest of their kind – to the point where I’m unable to find better options even though I’ve been involved in the online gambling industry for more than a decade and a half.
So why is safety my primary criteria? And why should it be yours?
Firstly, there’s little reason to deposit money to an online casino or a betting site unless you can rely on getting your winnings paid. Winning, by itself, is difficult (and let’s face it: unlikely) so the least you can do is to make sure you’re really going to get paid when you do win. Not all reliable gambling operators are excellent, but then again, no gambling operator is excellent unless it’s reliable.
Secondly, there are many dishonest gambling operators online. Setting-up an online casino, accepting payments and even acquiring some sort of license is all too easy (and many operate without a license). As a result, for every legitimate operation, there are 10 or 20 rogue ones, and I’m being generous here. The more you know about this industry, the smaller your list of internet’s best gambling websites becomes.
Finally, many informational gambling portals are heavily influenced by advertising income. I wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of them made their recommendations entirely based on who pays them the most money. Writing honest reviews is a breath of fresh air… and quite necessary, too.
To summarize, there’s plenty to look out for, and it’ll take some serious research and experience to be able to tell a good site from a bad one. I follow industry news and discussions daily, read plenty of studies and reports, and have done this for several years already.
Our Lists of Best Sites for…
Knowing What to Look for
With that said, you may get the urge to try-out some sites outside of what’s been mentioned here at Legit Gambling Sites – perhaps you’ll even try a site recommended by someone else. (I can’t blame you – I, too, like to play daredevil every now and then.)
The only way to know if a site is legitimate is either to have years of experience from the industry (includes following online forums daily) or doing extensive research right now; the benefit of reading my recommendations is to save a lot of time and effort since I have the experience and have done the research for you. If you’re going to do the research by yourself, make sure to check if the site does the following things well:
- Processes deposits quickly and with minimal fees.
- Operates fair games with reasonable house edge percentages and betting odds.
- Answers customers’ questions swiftly and helps them as thoroughly as possible.
- Processes cashouts quickly and with minimal fees.
It’s not enough for a site to handle these areas well right now; in order to be legit, a site must have taken care of these areas for years without significant problems.
And if they’ve had problems, how were they handled?
Bonuses, software quality, jackpot sizes, etc. are all important considerations but they should only come after you’ve considered the essentials mentioned above. It’s no accident that gambling companies like to advertise the non-essentials. You can offer the most lucrative gambling bonus in the world but it means nothing unless the bonus money can be cashed out, the games are fair and the customer gets serviced by excellent customer support.
Fortunately, people like to complain. Searching Google for “[Site Name] Complaints”, “[Site Name] Scam” or “[Site Name] Payouts” is a decent way to find out if a site has been involved in anything suspicious. Make sure to check the search results closely – truly legitimate gambling websites often have complaint and scam types of results because there are websites that auto-generate those pages in order to get visitors. So make sure that the results represent real opinions by real people.
Should a site pass all the criteria, details like bonus terms and house edge become real considerations (“house edge” is a term commonly used in the casino world to represent the % of a casino’s cut on average – in the poker world this is referred to as “rake” and in sports betting its known as “juice” or “vig”). Finding out all there is to know about bonus terms, for example, is a tall order for a beginner (I explain each site’s bonus terms in my reviews and consider them when reviewing websites).
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most common questions we receive about finding and joining legit online gambling sites.
Why does where I live matter when choosing a gambling site?
The biggest reason is your location determines where you can and cannot play.
For example, online casinos who accept European, Canadian and Asian customers are licensed and heavily regulated. They work with payment processors, software companies and others who are also licensed and regulated. Because they have to be.
Americans cannot play at these sites.
Instead, they can only play at offshore sites. Most of these sites are licensed and regulated too – the ones we recommend anyway – but aren’t scrutinized as hard (if at all) as other (UK, CA, AU) sites are. This means more risk for the player.
What’s the difference between a United Kingdom (UK) and Canada (CA) or United States (US) casino?
There are a few differences. I covered a couple above. But here’s a list of differences between US casinos and everyone else:
- US (offshore) casinos are operating illegally. They do not have a license from the US government or any individual US state.
- US casinos don’t work with the best software companies such as Microgaming, Playtech or NetEnt (because they operate in the states illegally).
- US casinos face little, if any consequences for doing wrong by US customers (because they’re not licensed or regulated in the USA).
- US casinos have far fewer games and game variations.
- US casinos have less banking options.
Ultimately, US (offshore) casinos are 2nd tier in nearly every way when compared to a UK casino. They’re far riskier, too.
What are some signs that a casino is a scam?
You can tell a casino is a scam before you sign up. It just takes some research. You can Google ‘__site name___ scams,’ research forums and rogue/blacklists.
If you’re already a customer, there are some signs or clues that will let you know a gambling site is a scam.
- They stop paying.
- They change their terms on the fly to support their side of a debate, or to justify an action they took against a customer.
- Their payments take longer to ship out and get to you whereas before they were much faster.
- You hear that they don’t keep players’ funds separate from everything else.
- They don’t pay affiliates or go back on their agreement with them.
- They ‘market’ their site by scamming forums.
And so on.
Often times when a casino is going ‘rogue,’ you’ll know it right away. There’s not much they can do to hide it.
How do I know I can trust your reviews and ratings?
Honestly, you can’t – not until you go through our site, read our reviews and sign up to a gambling site based on our recommendation and see how right we were.
That said, we have decades of combined experience in the online gambling industry. Between our firsthand knowledge and how we source all our information (which shows we do our research), you can trust the information you find on our site.
Can you play for real money?
It’s possible, yes. But we can’t say for sure if it’s legal for YOU to gamble online for real money.
Do you have to play for real money? Can you play for free?
No, you don’t. Nearly every gambling site online lets their users play for free. And some sites, like Bovada and Ignition Casino, don’t even make you create an account before you play for free.
How can I tell if a gambling site is legit?
Here’s the fastest way to know if a gambling site is legit:
- They’re not on any gambling blacklists.
- They have a positive reputation.
- They don’t have problems paying players, nor are there complaints about slow payments.
- They abide by their own rules, terms and conditions.
- They have overwhelmingly positive site reviews.
You can find all of this information by researching blacklists, site reviews and gambling forums. For any one casino you could find all this information within 15-60 minutes.
How do I stay safe gambling online?
The best approach you can take is to join a legit gambling site. Read our reviews. Do your own due diligence. Then use that information to join a top notch, trustworthy casino.
From there, you need to practice safe internet usage habits. Keep your password safe. Avoid inputting sensitive details when on an open wi-fi network. Not saving information to public computers. And so on.
I think the casino where I’m playing is a scam. What do I do?
The first thing I recommend you do is cash out. Get your money off the site ASAP.
(Assuming you still can, of course.)
The next thing you can try to do is contact the gambling commission who licensed and oversees this casino. If there are multiple gaming commissions, then contact them all. Give them all the information you can, as well as any screenshots or proof you may have.
Another thing you can do is reach out to gambling watchdogs and let them know what happened. They’ll do what they can to investigate the problem, mediate and warn other players, if necessary.
Is online gambling fair?
Yes, assuming you play at a legit online gambling site. They all use random number generators to produce fair casino games. Trustworthy sites have their software tested for randomness regularly, which – in most cases – you can find proof of on the auditor’s website.
What’s an offshore casino?
Offshore (casinos) refer to casinos who accept US customers, but are based ‘offshore’ aka not in the United States. These casinos are not licensed or regulated by the US and aren’t supposed to operate in the United States.
I’ve never gambled online before. Where should I start?
Here’s what I would do:
- Read our gambling guide based on where you live.
- Read our real money page and payment method pages.
- Decide what you want to play or bet on.
- Read our guide specific to that (poker, sports, casino, etc.).
- Read reviews and find one best suited to what you want to gamble on.
By the time you’re done you will have a good idea of:
- How online gambling works.
- What’s legal in your area. What to expect from casinos catering to players in your area.
- What payment options you can use to fund your account and which ones are best for you.
- Which sites are best for what you want to bet on.
- History, betting options, promotions, banking options, complaints and opinions of the sites best for players in your area.
You can be up and running in a matter of hours …maybe a couple of days.
I won some money. How long until I’m paid?
That depends on multiple variables. For example:
- How much you won. Smaller amounts can be cashed off at once or within a couple weeks to a month. But if you win a jackpot it can take months, even years, to get it all off.
- The banking option you use. Some take hours, days and others weeks.
- Do you have a bonus or promotion with terms you need to complete? If so, there’s no telling how much longer it’ll take you to do that.
It’s hard to say. Assuming you won a moderate amount of money, like $500 or $2,000, and you have your ID documents turned in, no bonus terms to fulfil or any problems for the casino, you can have your winnings within the space of 1-2 weeks, maybe as much as 3-4 weeks for paper checks.
Why do gambling sites ask for ID and other documents?
Ultimately, they want to prove that you are you, and that you’re of legal gambling age (18 or 21).
Are the casinos you recommend licensed and regulated?
Yes, to the best of our knowledge. There might be some exceptions here and there. For example, if a casino’s license was revoked and we haven’t heard about it yet. Or, if we promote any bitcoin-exclusive sites, as they’re not yet required (in all areas) to have a license.
What are the risks of gambling online?
The over-arching risk is losing your money. You can lose it playing or it can be stolen from you. Compulsive (problem) gambling is also a risk.
Do I have to download software?
It depends on what you want to play.
Most poker sites WILL have you download their software. There are few poker sites who offer a browser (no download) version of their software. But most have downloads.
Most casinos have both a download and instant play option. We recommend the instant play option for its convenience. And they’re compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.
Most sportsbooks have their lines posted online, which you can access from your browser. All you have to do is login to access your account and make your bets (similar to the instant play option from casinos). No download required.
Can I play from my mobile device?
Yes, assuming the site offers a mobile app or website. Most sportsbooks will. Poker rooms are hit or miss. Most casinos in 2017 do, though it’ll be somewhat split between an app or mobile compatible (browser) games.
The best way to know for sure is to read our reviews. You can also visit the site and look for a mobile page.
I saw a post/review/complaint about a casino you recommend. What gives?
Don’t be too hasty to write the casino off.
You’ll find no shortage of ‘reviews’ or complaints where the user is claiming the casino ripped them off, or that the casino is rigged.
But when pressed for proof all you get are conspiracy theories, rants and more complaints. But no proof.
These are the things you need to take with a grain of salt.
But if you find legit complaints, reviews and so on about a casino we’ve (positively) reviewed – and everyone else is saying to stay away – we recommend sending us an email and we’ll investigate further. It’s possible it’s a new development we haven’t heard about yet, or a misunderstanding.
How do I know my information is safe?
Online casinos use the same encryption technology banks do to prevent hackers from stealing your information.
What are some rules licensed and regulated gambling sites have to follow?
Here are some hoops online gambling operators have to jump through before any legit jurisdiction and gambling commission will license them:
- Background check. This is to make sure they’re sound financially and that they don’t have a criminal background.
- Proof that customer’s funds will be/are segregated from the company’s funds. This is to ensure players will be paid in the event something happens to the business (funds).
- Software and random number generator audits. This is to make sure the casinos are running fair games.
- Dispute management process. They need to explain how they plan to handle customer complaints or disputes.
The bottom line – soon-to-be gambling operators have to prove their above board and have their stuff together. That they’re not going in business to scam people.
Gambling bonuses seem too good to be true. Are these legit?
Yes. It’s not too good to be true. When you make a deposit, many casinos will give you extra money to play with via a cash or match bonus.
But don’t mistake this for ‘free’ money. All casinos have rules (terms and conditions) you need to follow in order to receive the bonus, and keep the bonus money and/or your winnings. Our bonus page goes into more detail, as well as our gambling site reviews.
Does it matter where my casino/sportsbook/poker room is licensed?
Take the UK Gambling Commission, for example, You can see two examples where they have revoked gaming licenses. One was from Bodugi.com (for failing to pay customers), and the other was Smart Live Gaming.
On the other (extreme) side, you have Costa Rica. While they have a license operators can apply for, they don’t force them too. And there’s no real regulation in place, which means operators can do darn near whatever they want without consequence.
Who would you trust to help you if you had a problem with a gambling operator? We’d take the UKGC every. single. time.
Have a question for us? Send us an email. You can find our email here.