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The Ultimate Step by Step Beginner’s Guide to Online Casinos

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If you can recall a day you started a brand new job, it was probably a little intimidating. You didn’t know where the coffee machine was kept or what the bathroom protocol was, or even where anyone goes when they take a break. There are just so many unknowns, but you just needed to make it through that first day and, voila, you’re so much more comfortable.

Venturing into the world of online betting can be a similar experience. You may have no clue where to go or how your money gets into a slot machine or converts to chips. What about the betting? Do you have to call the casino to register an account? You just want to make it through all of those initial steps and place your first few bets, and then you’re good to go.

This step by step guide is not for anyone who has already been playing online. These are the fundamental things that new players need to get started, and hopefully, make that first experience as unintimidating as possible.

The following are the seven things you’ll need to know to get things rolling. I’m not even getting into the gaming end of things. There are other blogs and instructional materials for how to play each game that you’ll come across. This list contains the not as much fun stuff, but they are the things you’ll be happy to know if you’ve decided to give online gambling a whirl.

  1. Determine how you’ll fund an account
  2. Find a casino
  3. Review the welcome bonus options
  4. Register your account
  5. Initiate your first deposit
  6. Win some money!
  7. Cash out

Determine How You’ll Fund An Account

I fooled you with the first one, didn’t I? You probably figured that “find a casino” would be the number one step to take, but it’s important to evaluate your financial options first. You may need to take a few steps to get prepared before you can even think about playing on any website for real money.

Credit and Debit Cards – Maybe Not Such a Good Idea

The first thing you need to know is that credit and debit cards are a tricky choice for funding betting accounts. If you’re in the US, your chances of getting a transfer approved with an online casino are slim. Even if you’re in another country, though, you may still run into some issues with particular banks or card providers.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that some banks will treat gambling transfers as cash advances and will charge extra fees accordingly. A few of those include American Express, Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Natwest, RBS, and Santander.

Prepaid and gift cards are also an iffy proposition. Sometimes they’re approved and sometimes declined. You do have a better chance with cards that allow for international transactions, though.

e-Wallets

Providers like Skrill, Neteller, and PayPal couldn’t be a better fit for handling player transfers. They’re quick and easy, and Skrill and Neteller, especially, are included in most non-US i-Casino menus. In the US, they’re only used in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada and strictly for residents in those areas. Another consideration of Skrill and Neteller is that sometimes their use prohibits players from receiving welcome and other types of bonuses. I’ll get into the bonus programs shortly, but it’s something to keep in mind.

If you’re in an area that accepts e-wallets, you may want to consider opening an account if you don’t already have one. It could take a few days for your new account to be funded so, plan and be prepared, so you’re armed and ready with a good viable deposit method.

Prepaid Alternatives

There are a few other possibilities that also require some pre-planning and maybe even a trip to the store. All of these methods depend on both your geographic location and the methods allowable by the casino but know that you should have multiple options from which to select.

The Money Transfer

You probably know the name Western Union or Moneygram, and there are numerous other money transfer services, both retail and online. You’re essentially sending cash via the transfer service to the casino. Your funds should be available within a few hours, but this method can be more costly as fees are imposed by the provider.

Paysafecard

“Card” is misleading as it’s a prepaid voucher purchased at retail locations all over the United Kingdom, Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. Paysafecard is available in specified denominations, and you just provide the casino with your voucher number, and the funds are then made immediately available to you.

Ukash

Ukash is the same principle as the Paysafecard. You may see it still listed, but it was bought out by Paysafecard, so they’ve now combined into one service under the Paysafe name.

Pay Near Me

This is a relatively new option for US players and used for specifically for online gambling in places like New Jersey and Nevada where it’s accepted. Pay Near Me uses 7-Eleven retail locations as transfer intermediaries between the player and the casino. The difference between Pay Near Me and a service like paysafecard is that you can go in and purchase a paysafecard and use it when you want. With Pay Near Me, you pay the transfer amount, and then 7-Eleven has to contact the casino on your behalf and send the money in for you.

Prepaid alternatives are great fallbacks to rely on when easier methods like e-wallets aren’t possible, but they do take more time and planning, and sometimes cost you more in fees. There is another benefit, though, in that you don’t need a bank account for prepaid methods. You’re using cash to pay the intermediary, so they lend an additional privacy and safety factor to your transactions.

Bitcoin

The last option that I want to mention is Bitcoin as it does allow for ridiculously easy transfers into casino accounts and keeps your financial information separate and private. There are even Bitcoin-only casinos and sportsbooks that allow for total player anonymity. There’s a lot that I could discuss regarding Bitcoin, but I want just to provide you the gist of it, and you can always do more research if you feel this is an avenue you’d like to pursue.

First of all, you can use a credit card, debit card or bank account to establish and fund your Bitcoin wallet if you’re not a dedicated Bitcoin miner. Bitcoin transfer services like coinbase.com can set you up quickly, and you can transfer money back and forth from your account to your Bitcoin wallet to the casino and back. A site like coinbase provides up to date information valuation and makes the whole process easy and efficient.

Once you have a wallet, it’s a matter of sending money from your wallet to the casino’s wallet. Each is represented by a very long code, so you copy and paste it, specify your transfer amount, and funds should arrive within 20 minutes.

I always like to mention Bitcoin as it is one of the methods that doesn’t require anyone’s “permission” to allow your transfer to go through. It’s not associated with any regular financial system, and no go-between ‘s approving transactions. So, it’s not only anonymous but should have 100% approval as long as there are no system glitches or unforeseen issues.

Find a Casino

OK, now it’s time. You have a plan in mind for transferring money into a betting account, so it’s time to find your preferred place to play. There are so many options out there these days for casinos that all probably have some game that you’re looking for, but there are some boxes you do need to tick off to find one that works the best for you.

This is the step that may take a bit of time and research, but you’ll be happy that you covered all of the areas that are important to you, so you end up with the best experience. You don’t want any frustration by not being able to play on your smartphone or finding out that payouts take two weeks.

  • Does it allow for players in your location? Not all casinos service all areas around the world. There are geographical restrictions that may be imposed.
  • Can you use your preferred method of depositing and withdrawing?
  • Is the casino going to charge you fees for deposits and cashouts? Yes. Some do charge for deposits, believe it or not. Bovada, a US servicing provider charges 4.9% for Visa deposits and 6.9% for Mastercard. That’s for deposits.
  • If you’re seeking good bonus programs, does the casino offer what you’re looking for and what are the stipulations that accompany their value adds?
  • Is your game of choice available and, be specific here. If you’re a Blackjack player, but you think you may want to try to play with a live dealer, make sure the casino also has a live dealer section.
  • How about cashouts? Are they quick and is there a method posted that will work for you? Keep in mind that not all deposit methods are available for cashouts too.
  • If you think you may be playing on your tablet or smartphone, does the casino have a good mobile site? As a tip here, you’ll want to actually go on their mobile site and match up their games. Some casinos hide under a flashy looking site but only offer a very limited selection of games for mobile play.
  • How is its reputation? Do you see licensing and regulation information posted on the homepage? You may want to look at some of the gambler forums to make sure there isn’t a red flag attached. Online players watch out for each other, and if you see consistent posts about no or slow payment, or any other issues, you may want to steer clear. Keep in mind that you’re putting up money, so some players that aren’t cashing out or have misused a bonus do like to complain. You’re not looking for one-offs. You’re looking for consistent fact-based feedback or the casino showing up on multiple rogue casino reports with real documented issues.

Review the Welcome Bonus Options

I want to talk about welcome bonuses a little bit here because, if you’re reading this, you’re brand new to the world of online betting and have probably never received this type of reward.

Most all casinos and sportsbooks do offer a welcome bonus of some sort, and then many will provide other on-going or time-specific offers too. The welcome bonus is usually the first thing you see when you pull up any of these types of websites, and they’ll read something like “Deposit $100, Receive $100” or “50% match bonus on first deposit up to £300”, or some similar variation.

They sound pretty good, don’t they? Maybe you had already planned to invest $200, and now you only need to put up half because the casino will provide the rest. That’s right… and that’s wrong.

Except for very few places, these reward options come with a price. It’s not as simple as you depositing 100, finding 200 in your player account, maybe playing for ten minutes and cashing out 210.

The Rollover

When you accept a bonus, you agree to the conditions that go along it, referred with terms like “rollover” or “play through.” They represent the number of times you need to wager that play cash to be able to withdraw anything in real cash. Oh, and, it’s usually based on both your deposit and your bonus and not just the free play amount.

Rollover Math

So, you deposited 100, you received 100, and now you have to meet the casino’s play through of ten times (10x). If you do the math – 100 + 100 = 200 200 x 10 = 2,000

$2,000 is the magic number. For a 10x rollover, you will have to place $2,000 in wagers before anything is eligible for cash out.

Other Bonuses

The other bonuses work similarly. Occasionally, you’ll come across a sportsbook like 888sport, and it will only have a one-time rollover, but they are few and far between.

What Do You Decide?

You’ll probably fall into one of three categories:

  1. You love the idea and planned on playing for a long time anyway, so bonuses increase your playing time.
  2. You know the rollover is steep, but you want to take your chances and increase your bet size using the reward to see if you can get a big win out of it.
  3. You want to cash out quickly and don’t want to deal with bonus stipulations.

If you’re in the first two categories, you’ll want to compare the bonus programs of the casinos you’ve identified as your top choices. A lower play through or a higher award amount will help to tip the scales and determine your first casino to try out.

Register Your Account

You’re finally there! Your choices are narrowed down, you know the casino accepts players from your area, and your comfortable with their bonus program and their financial options for player account funding.

The rest of this is quick and easy. Registration is typically straightforward. Name, email address, username, password, and area of residence. You’re not providing any financial-related information at this point. You’re just establishing a log-in and playing account.

Every time you want to bet, you will need to be logged in.

Usually, the registration is accepted immediately. You may need to verify your email address to get going, but it’s still just a few minutes process. Occasionally, though, the casino or book will call your phone to verify your location or may ask you to call in, so don’t be surprised if that happens. It’s not uncommon.

If you have questions during the process, there should be a live chat button so a customer service agent can guide you along. If not, there are always phone numbers or email addresses handy. If you don’t see contact information prominently posted, I would advise you to stop right there and find another site. If you can’t reach anyone for registration questions, what will happen if you have difficulty cashing out?

Initiate Your First Deposit

Depositing is probably the least favorite part of the entire process, especially if you’re giving it a go with credit or debit cards. There’s not a lot involved; there’s just the mystery factor of whether or not you’ll be approved. If you’re using an e-wallet, prepaid option, or Bitcoin, things should be clear-cut and extremely fast.

You typically go to the cashier to make your deposit, but you may also be able to access that area from your “my account” section that all of these types of sites should provide. Believe me; they’ll make sure the deposit button is right up front for you.

Once your deposit is finalized, you’ll see the balance in the “my account” area and probably at the top of your screen as well.

Win Some Money!

You’ve got the credits or the chips now so, have fun and collect some money. Your credit balance should appear on every game you select. If you ever run into a problem, be sure to contact the casino’s customer service department right away. Again, live chat, email, or phone should all be available to you.

Cash Out

This is the step you want to attain, but it’s not always as quick and easy as the deposit process. Every site should provide you with a menu of your options that should include the different ways to be paid, any fees associated, the limits per request, and the turnaround time.

Casinos usually require that players use the same method to cash out as they do for depositing but, in some cases, like with certain prepaid cards as well as debit and credit cards, the options may not be available.

As a backup plan, the casino will either do a bank transfer or send a paper check.

Bitcoin and e-wallets should be viable options for transactions in both directions, but sometimes casinos will tack on some fees for e-wallets.

It’s a good idea to read through all of the information before initiating any payout to save yourself as much money as possible. In particular cases, the casino will allow for one free payout per month or will issue a credit like $50 toward withdrawal charges, so be prepared and plan accordingly. You did all of that hard work to make some money, don’t let it go to waste in unnecessary fees.

Go Forth and Be Prosperous

You’re armed with everything you need to get the ball rolling but remember, the casino or sportsbook’s customer service is there to fill in the blanks for you. Make sure they’re providing you with quality service or find another place to play.