Interested in playing at an online casino? Ask yourself if you’re ready for it. There are things you need to know about playing at online casinos to make the most out of it and to avoid becoming a victim of scams. Some things might be different from what you may expect.

This post will not attempt to provide a detailed and comprehensive guide for online casino playing. Instead, it will present basic ideas or details every newbie to online casinos needs to know.

You have the option to play for free or play with real money.

Many online casinos, including those that focus on bitcoin gambling, offer “play for fun” and “play for real money” options. These mean that you can play in these casinos with or without spending real money. The “play for fun” option lets you use free credits to play, also known as the “FUN” or play money currency in many casinos. Most real money online casino sites offer both “play for fun” and “play for real” options. As such, before you gamble your money on a site, you can try the games first and check if the casino is worth signing up with.

You need to be mindful if online gambling is legal or illegal in your area.

Online gambling can’t be offered by just anyone. It has to be duly registered with the government. As such, gambling sites based and licensed abroad are usually not legal in the United States. These gambling sites usually state in their terms and conditions page whether or not they are registered and legal in a certain country. They may present a list of countries where their services are not available.

Why do you need to know if a gambling site is legal or not? This is important because, in the case of an illegal entity, it will be difficult to enforce any liability should it attempt to deceive or cheat players. They may withhold your winnings or prevent you from withdrawing the balance you have in your casino account. They may rig the games. They may manipulate the casino system to make it difficult for players to win. Of course, you can still file appropriate charges against an online casino that defrauds you but it may be difficult especially if they are based abroad.

Casinos use a Random Number Generator for their games.

Except for the live dealer games, casinos employ a Random Number Generator (RNG) for their games. This RNG is responsible for simulating the randomness of game outcomes. It is a piece of software that makes game results unpredictable and independent from conditions or inputs that may be introduced by an unscrupulous online casino.

You can’t just take a casino’s claim that they’re using an RNG at face value. It’s important to verify if this RNG is truly able to enable randomness in the games. For this, you have to check for certifications for the RNG used by a casino. Many online casinos rely on GLI and iTech Labs to have their RNGs tested and certified. Look for certification documents from GLI or iTech Labs on a casino’s website. Casinos with certifications will proudly and prominently present their certifications.

Provably Fair Games

There are online casinos that let you test the fairness of the game results. These are casinos that offer the so-called “provably fair games”. These are games that present a “seed” or a string of characters before the game starts and after it is completed. With these strings of characters and the testing tool/widget, you can determine if the game proceeded as expected, without interventions to influence or manipulate the game results. Casinos that offer provably fair games provide widgets along with instructions on how to conduct provably fair testing.

The casino always wins.

Casinos always have the house edge. This is the guaranteed percentage of return that goes to the casino. Because of this, it is not possible for a casino to become bankrupt as far as the wagers from players are concerned. Don’t think you’re being cheated when you learn that the online casino you are playing at has this house edge or assured percentage of the wagers collected from players.

Different games have different house edges.

To minimize your chances of losing, choose casino games that have the lowest house edge. Casinos may state their house edge but this information is rather difficult to find. You can refer to information about the typical house edge of casino games for a guide. Generally, the following games tend to have the lowest house edge or the best edge: blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette. If you are new to online casinos, it would be advisable to play these games. You can also try video poker (Jacks or Better) and Pai Gow. The house edge for these games range from 0.3% to 1.5%.

Information about the games with the worst odds or highest house edge is rather difficult to find. However, based on a report in Forbes, if you want to avoid losing big time as a newbie casino player, avoid Wheel of Fortune and slot machines.

It is possible and not illegal to do card counting, but it may be useless with online casinos.

If you have seen movies that featured actors getting dragged out of the casino because they were caught “counting cards”, don’t believe it happens in real life. You can count cards if you know how to do it and if you have the memory for it. It is not illegal although you may earn a flagging by the casino. However, when it comes to online casinos, card counting can be very difficult or close to impossible. This is because it’s impossible to get an accurate deck penetration figure, something that is essential for card counting.

Casino bonuses aren’t as good as they sound.

This is one of the most important things newbie casino players should be wary of. Bonuses are not really easy to earn. This is because of the playthrough or wagering requirement imposed on almost all bonuses. This wagering requirement means the number of times you have to wager the bonus for you to be able to withdraw it, along with the winnings you obtained by using it. If you fail to complete the wagering or playthrough requirement, you can’t withdraw the bonus and it will be forfeited along with the winnings associated with it.

Wagering requirements range from 30 to 50 times, or even more. If you have a 50x wagering requirement for the bonus you get, it usually means you have to wager the bonus 50x as well as the amount you deposited (if it’s a match bonus). For example, if you deposited 100 and obtained a 200% matching bonus with a 50x wagering requirement, you will have to wager a total of 15,000. This figure is calculated as 50x the sum you deposited and the bonus you obtained for the deposit [50 x (100+200%) = 15,000]. Wagering 15,000 isn’t going to be easy. That’s why some players just avoid getting bonuses.

Remember these pointers as you play at an online casino for the first time. Don’t just play with the expectation of having fun. Be sure to avoid getting scammed or falling for the onerous schemes of some casinos.