Why Online Casinos Take So Long to Pay Out

Person Online Gambling with Laptop

When you first discover the wonders of online casino gambling, it all seems so easy.

Type your credit card number in, fill out a few basic items of personal information, and click “Deposit.” Within seconds, your bank account is deducted, and your casino account funded in kind.

Within a matter of minutes, new players can go from the registration page to the virtual roulette tables, wagering real money while they do. The whole experience is easy and efficient, and a bit intoxicating if I’m being honest.

As an old-school gambler who cut his teeth in smoky casinos across the country, I’ll never quite get over the fact that I can play blackjack in my boxer shorts. Online casinos make enjoying my favorite gambling games easier than ever before — until it’s time to cash out, that is.

All of a sudden, when you’ve worked your initial stake into a decent bankroll and want to make a withdrawal, that quick and efficient process for transferring funds slows to a crawl.

From 60 seconds to 14 days? What gives?

Learning about the reality of withdrawal timeframes is a rite of passage for first time online gamblers. Thanks to the instant deposits, and things like chargebacks when you request a refund from a retail store, people have this idea that cashing out from an online casino works the same way.

And it probably should, don’t get me wrong there. The technology to process withdrawal requests more quickly has already existed for years now, but online casino operators simply prefer to make you wait.

Why they take that approach depends on the operator, but for the most part, you’ll find three main reasons that online casinos take so long to pay out:

Red Tape and Regulations

Unless you live in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, or Pennsylvania, online gambling exists in a murky state of legal limbo.

Under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, online casinos and poker rooms are technically banned by the federal government. This policy is only applied to operators, however, leaving players free to take their chances on unregulated sites.

And for the most part, the term “unregulated” is actually a misnomer, because the leading offshore online casinos still obtain licenses from governments other than the U.S.

Antigua’s Directorate of Offshore Gaming, the Curacao e–Gaming Licensing Authority, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada are all reputable authorities tasked with regulating online gambling. Depending on the particular policies put in place by these regulatory agencies, your favorite online casino may be obligated to use specified transaction timeframes for withdrawals.

Another issue that tends to clog the pipes when players try to cash out is the role of American banks. By and large, major financial institutions are wary of violating federal law, and the UIGEA specifically includes businesses which facilitate online gambling within its purview. As a result, players attempting to cash out through a debit or credit card chargeback usually see their transaction blocked by their banking institution.

Paper checks are the best way around the banks, as online casinos can disguise themselves as ordinary companies issuing payment to employees for services rendered. This is why your online casino cash out check says something like “Remuneration for Freelance Services” or “Final Payment for Contract Work” in the memo line.

Furthermore, these paper checks must be sent through a third party bank, rather than the online casino itself. You can expect to receive checks from places like Singapore and Quebec when withdrawing from your favorite online casinos.

Moving your money from the online account to a bank in Singapore, and around the world again back to your mailbox just takes time. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the industry, but when you use sites like Bovada, BetOnline, 888Casino, and other reputable platforms, those checks are sure to arrive intact.

Keeping Players in the Room

Another reason online casinos make their customers twist in the wind and wait for withdrawals is simple economics.

Operators are fully aware of the phenomenon known as “hit and run,” with players building a big bankroll quickly before pulling every penny off and never coming back. When this happens, online casinos must part with their precious money, and insult is added to injury because they know full well they won’t have a chance to win it back.

By using policies like “confirmation periods” and “processing windows,” online casinos ensure that players are forced to wait for an arbitrary amount of time before their withdrawal is even approved.

And during those three days or so, many players decide they’d rather keep playing, so they cancel the withdrawal request and keep those funds on the site. A few days later, right about when your payment would’ve been processed, a rough run on the tables or slots can put much of that money right back into the casino’s coffers.

An insidious new practice adopted by some online casinos even allows players to offset subsequent deposits with a pending withdrawal.

Let’s say you’ve cashed out for a clean $1,000, but you’re waiting two weeks to receive the check. You get bored waiting and decide to fire $100 back onto the site to see if you can run up a second stake. But instead of charging your credit card like normal, a window pops up with the following message:

“Would you like to deduct $100 from your pending withdrawal?”

Just like that, the casino has used its own built-in wait time to pull a hundred bucks back into play. That money was headed to you, perhaps to pay bills or take your family on a trip. Instead, the artificial wait time worked exactly like it was intended to, and the casino kept a bit more of its money in hand.

Unscrupulous Business Practices

Finally, as regrettable as this aspect of the online casino industry can be, you should realize that many operators don’t really intend on paying you back.

They’re more than happy to take your cash and let you lose it, but when you strike gold and spin a big jackpot, suddenly a bunch of hurdles spring up.

Maybe the casino claims your funds aren’t eligible for withdrawal until you meet certain “playthrough” requirements. This is one of the tried and true methods used by unscrupulous casinos to keep money out of winner’s hands. They begin by offering you a generous bonus upon making your first deposit, putting an extra $100 in your account, for example.

You use those funds to supplement your own, and after a fortunate run and some sound strategy, you wind up turning into a larger stake. But when you click the cash out button, you’ll find out that those bonus funds had strings attached.

Normally, the fine print of the bonus offer requires players to put in a certain amount of “playthrough” — usually between 20x and 40x. These multipliers are applied to the bonus amount, the deposit amount, or both combined. Using the $100 + $100 example from earlier, and a 20x playthrough, you’d need to wager $4,000 before meeting your playthrough requirement.

This scheme has been exposed in recent years, and reputable online casinos are moving away from the bonus/playthrough business model. But even so, many still rely on the system to snare new players, and if you’re not careful, it can take months to “unlock” your own money from a site.

In the worst cases, fraudulent online casinos simply lie to their customers outright, claiming that the check is in the mail and stringing people along until they just give up.

For this reason, it’s always best to put as much time into researching online casino prospects as you do learning optimal strategy. After all, what’s the point of playing well and winning big if you can never claim your hard earned cash?


Now that you know the answer to the question of why some online casinos take so long to pay out, you know there are several different possibilities. A few of the reasons are somewhat reasonable, but most of them are simply ways to try to get you to keep your money in play and gamble more.

The irritating thing to me is that most places offer multiple options allowing you to make a deposit and start playing right away, or at least in a matter of minutes, but aren’t willing to process cash out requests quickly.

I suggest finding and using only those online casinos that process cash out requests quickly and let the slower places make their money from someone else. The only way we can get more online casinos to pay out faster is by voting with our play.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.