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Important Considerations of Online Gambling
By Max Drayman, WINNERonline.com

#1: Know Your Local Laws
#2: Know The Casino
#3: Play For Free
#4: Demand Adequate Customer Support
#5: Know The Payout Options
#6: Check Out The Bonuses
#7: Know That All Games Are Not Created Equally
#8: Protect Your Data
#9: Play To Win
#10: Enjoy Yourself

#1: Know Your Local Laws

Sad to say, but in some places it's illegal to gamble on the Web. Know your legal status in your home state, province, territory, country before wagering cash. Online gambling laws are ever-changing and the best way to definitively determine the current laws that apply to you is by contacting your local authorities.

See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about online gambling laws.

#2: Know The Casino

Good online casinos provide extensive info pages that tell you where they are licensed, who's behind the operation, what their game rules and cash policies are, and how to contact them for help. One of my favorite casinos has over 30 pages of details on their operation, policies, and so on. Use that as a benchmark.

Do your research. Check out message boards to see if your casino has been stiffing its players. Visit websites like ours for casino reviews and information. Is the casino licensed by a government agency? How long have they been in business? Are they a member of the Interactive Gaming Council, the primary "code of conduct" body for online gaming? Know who you're doing business with before you haul out your credit card.

See our casino reviews. Also visit other gambling information sites like The Wizard of Odds

#3: Play For Free

Almost every casino offers a "Play for Free" option and if they don't, go elsewhere. Playing for free is the first thing you should do since it's your way of giving the casino a test drive. This will help you uncover unexpected problems or snafus that are part-and-parcel of the online experience.

For example, it's better to know that the betting mechanism at Casino X drives you up the wall before they have your money. Or maybe you can't access their site through your local network. Maybe their games just plain won't run on your machine. There are hundreds of casino sites online so there's no reason to rush into it.

#4: Be Sure Of Adequate Customer Support

The better casinos offer toll-free telephone support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Other customer support options include 24/7 chat, local phone numbers, fax lines, and lastly, email. How available are they making themselves to you? Try out their service by calling to ask a question, or hop on the chat to see if anyone is actually there. As a prospective customer it's your right to see if anybody's home. Because if you do have a problem, you're damn sure going to want them to be available and as helpful as humanly possible.

Keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all email address is the lowest level of service going because their box could be clogged with messages, they may or may not be there, they might not get your email, etc.

#5: Know The Payout Options

The best payout plan I've heard of is UPS Express of any amount to any place in the world, free of charge -- usually arriving at your door within 1 to 3 days. That's exceptional, but worth keeping in mind. Most online casinos will credit your credit card up to the amount you originally deposited, then send the remainder of your winnings to you by check in the mail, which you'll usually receive in 1 to 2 weeks. Often you can request a wire transfer for a small fee.

I'd suggest saying "pass" on a casino that places a charge on basic withdrawals. Why should you pay them to give you your own money? A good casino treats its winners (and losers) with respect.

#6: Check Out The Bonuses

Bonuses have become a standard means of attracting and keeping players. These range from sign-on and referral bonuses to frequent-player "comp" programs. The bottom line is that a good casino will thank its players for their patronage with these small gifts and gratuities and that means your dollar will go a little further when you play with them. A no-bonus casino is a rare thing these days and generally deserves all the special attention it offers.

See our Top 10 Bonuses list.

#7: Be Aware That All Games Are Not Created Equal

The Internet is a world of software and that means that the payouts, house commissions, number of decks in play, number of zeros on the Roulette wheel, and just about everything else can be set to whatever the software designers like. Please note that I'm not saying that casino managers sit there and mess with the games whenever they feel like it. What I am saying is that some online casinos have better odds than others.

If roulette is your game, why play a double-zero game when you can play single-zero? Prefer craps? Find casinos that let you plunk down double or triple free odds, or better. This information is generally published in the casino's "rules and info" section. If it isn't, feel free to contact their support people and ask. If they won't tell you, find another casino.

Some casinos go so far as to publish their payout tables right on their site. To be taken seriously, these figures should be audited and certified by a reputable accounting firm, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers.

#8: Protect Your Information

When it comes time to actually sign up to "Play for Real", there are a few things you should watch out for. For the sign-on process the casino should open a secure, data-encrypted link to protect your personal info from being scooped up by the bad guys. Believe it, it's no joke. You must protect yourself by ensuring the security of your link.

While the browser people will tell you to check the little lock (Internet Explorer) or key (Netscape) symbol at the bottom of your browser, there's more that you can do to ensure your safety. In the address box of your browser check that the sign-on page begins with "https://" instead of the usual "https://". And don't assume that the casino will just "do it". We've seen one case where the casino made all the assurances that a secure link would be provided and then they just gave us a plain old Web page to fill in the data. Their "over-sight" could've cost us a lot of aggravation if someone scooped our credit card number, or got our home address and phone numbers. If there's one golden rule of online gambling it's caveat emptor, which is Latin for "watch your ass".

#9: Play To Win

Since you're playing online you can take your time to make your decisions. You can even use that handy-dandy video poker or blackjack strategy chart to achieve optimal play. Who's to know? And who cares if they do? It's a great way to learn more about your game, hone your skills, and make you a sharper player for your next visit to Vegas.

See our rules and strategies sections. Also visit sites like BJMath, and The Wizard of Odds.

#10: Enjoy Yourself

When you choose to gamble on the Internet, you're forsaking the smoke, the free drinks, the hangers-on and all the charms of the casino staff so you might as well do whatever you can to get the most out of it. Light up a cigar, play "The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly" soundtrack, have a croissant, whatever. You're the floor manager when you play at home so make it good. Who better to pamper the player than you?

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