Online Casinos - All You Need to Know About Real Money Casinos
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Online Casinos

Online casinos have become incredibly popular over the last few years, and for good reason. They give players the chance to enjoy all of their favourite games from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. And we’re not just talking about playing for fun. Online casinos are mostly real money casinos, which means that you can win real money just as easily at home as you can when visiting Las Vegas.

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Introduction to Online Casinos

In this guide we’ll tell you all you need to know about online casinos in the US. We’ll explain what online casinos are and which states have legalized them. Then we’ll highlight five of the very best. 

You’ll learn about online casino bonuses and promotions, loyalty programs and the types of games you can play. We’ll tell you how to choose a casino, sign up and start playing. And, of course, we’ll also explain how to withdraw your winnings!

What are Online Casinos?

Online bookshops such as Amazon give you the ability to purchase real books without leaving your home. Similarly, online casinos give you the chance to stay home and play an ever-increasing number of casino games for real money. 

Online casinos are designed to simulate the experience of playing at traditional land-based casinos as closely as possible. For that reason, card games are played using virtual cards, slot games have virtual reels, and so on.

The outcome of games played at online casinos is usually determined by special software programs. Those programs are carefully designed to accurately replicate the experience of random chance. A program can therefore simulate the throwing of a dice or the shuffling of a deck of cards. The aim of all this is to give players the same chance of winning online as they have anywhere else.

Having the same chance of success at an online casino as at a real one gives players a similarly exciting and enjoyable experience. Will you win? Or will you lose? The answer is that nobody knows, not even the casino, until the game has been played.

Online Casinos in the USA

Although traditional casinos are available in quite a few states throughout the country, online casinos aren’t legal in all of them by any means. Right now, there are just a handful of states which allow online casinos to operate. These include:

New Jersey

The state of New Jersey has been enjoying the excitement of online casinos since 2013. That probably isn’t surprising, given that the state has been an enthusiastic supporter of gambling since the late 1970’s. For decades, anyone with an interest in casino games who lives within driving distance of the state has at least considered visiting Atlantic City. Now gaming fans within the state can play at any of more than a dozen online casinos, including:

Online CasinoLand-Based Casino
888 CasinoCaesars Interactive
Bet365 CasinoHard Rock Hotel & Casino
Betfair CasinoGolden Nugget Atlantic City
BetMGM CasinoBorgata Hotel and Casino
Bet America CasinoGolden Nugget Atlantic City
Borgata Online CasinoBorgata Hotel and Casino
Caesars CasinoCaesars Interactive
DraftKings CasinoResorts Casino Hotel
Golden Nugget CasinoGolden Nugget Atlantic City
Harrah's CasinoCaesars Interactive
Hard Rock CasinoHard Rock Hotel & Casino
Mohegan Sun CasinoResorts Casino Hotel
Ocean CasinoOcean Resort and Casino
Pala CasinoBorgata Hotel and Casino
Party CasinoBorgata Hotel and Casino
PokerStars CasinoResorts Casino Hotel
Scores CasinoBorgata Hotel and Casino
Resorts CasinoResorts Casino Hotel
SugarHouse CasinoGolden Nugget Atlantic City
Tropicana CasinoTropicana Casino and Resort
Unibet CasinoHard Rock Hotel & Casino
Virgin CasinoTropicana Casino and Resort
NJ Online Casinos

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania hasn’t rushed into embracing casino gambling by any stretch of the imagination. It didn’t allow slots to be played in the state until 2004, and table games weren’t legalized until 2010. Fortunately, things have moved on quite nicely since then, and online casinos became legal in 2017. There are now plenty of land-based casinos in Pennsylvania, and all of them operate online too.

Online CasinoLand-Based Casino
BetRivers CasinoRivers Casino Philadelphia
Caesars Online CasinoHarrah’s Philadelphia
DraftKings CasinoThe Meadows Racetrack & Casino
FanDuel CasinoValley Forge Casino Resort
Fox Bet CasinoMount Airy Casino Resort
Hollywood Online CasinoHollywood Casino
Parx Online CasinoParx
PokerStars CasinoMount Airy Casino Resort
SugarHouse CasinoRivers Casino Philadelphia
Unibet CasinoMohegan Sun Pocono
PA Online Casinos

West Virginia

The state of West Virginia legalized land-based casinos in 2007, but online casinos didn’t become legal until 2019. The first online casino to open here was DraftKings, which launched in the summer of 2020. BetMGM wasn’t slow to open its doors in the state either, and more operators are expected to launch in the next few years.

Online CasinoLand-Based Casino
BetMGM CasinoGreenbrier Casino
DraftKings CasinoHollywood Casino Charles Town
WV Online Casinos

Michigan

Michigan online casinos are a very recent development, having only been legalized at the end of 2019. Land-based casino operators were quick to secure licences to open online casinos, and ten were launched in the first two months of 2021. Another five online casinos are expected to open before the end of 2021. The online casinos that are currently operating are as follows:

Online CasinoLand-Based Casino
Barstool CasinoGreektown Casino
BetMGM CasinoMGM Grand Detroit
BetRivers CasinoLittle River Band of the Ottawa Indians
DraftKings CasinoBay Mills Indian Community
FanDuel CasinoMotorCity Casino
Golden Nugget CasinoKeweenaw Bay Indian Community
PokerStars CasinoLittle Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
TwinSpires CasinoHannahville Indian Community
William Hill CasinoGrand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Wynn CasinoSault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
MI Online Casinos

What About Other States?

As you have seen, there isn’t a huge number of states that currently allow online casinos to operate. However, now that the ball is finally rolling, that situation is very likely to change in the next few years. Online casinos are big business, and they generate vast sums in taxes for the states that allow them. This means that many other states will be keen to legalize online gambling as soon as they possibly can. 

Five of the Best Real Money Casinos 

There are dozens of online casinos operating in the US, but not all of them are equal. A handful of the biggest players tend to dominate the industry simply because their offerings are particularly impressive. Five of the best real money casinos are:

BetMGM Casino

A descendant of the famous MGM movie company, BetMGM is a familiar name on the Vegas strip. Its online casino offers a wide range of slots, table games and live casino games, as well as generous bonuses. Sign up as a new player for a 100% first deposit bonus worth up to $1,000.

BetRivers Casino

There is something for everyone at BetRivers Casino, and its welcome bonus has the lowest wagering requirement of all real money casinos. Get a 100% first deposit bonus worth up to $250, and play the bonus through just once to make it withdrawable.

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings is one of the biggest names around in the online casino and sports betting industry. New players here can get a 20% bonus on their first deposit, worth up to $1,000. This operator also offers a good variety of promotions for existing players, so it can pay to be loyal.

FanDuel Casino

FanDuel is often regarded - along with DraftKings - as one of the ‘big two’ operators in both sports betting and casino gaming. This operator has everything that a casino fan will ever need. It is offering new players the chance to get any losses at the end of their first 24 hours refunded, up to $200.

Unibet Casino

Unibet Casino offers slots, table games, jackpot games, live dealer games. It also allows you to bet on sports if you fancy doing that. Get $10 free when you sign up, and a 100% bonus when you make your first deposit, up to a maximum value of $500.

What Do You Need to Play at Online Casinos?

The fact that you are reading this article on a screen of some kind suggests that you already have all the equipment that you need to play at online casinos. Basically, any modern device which is capable of accessing the internet will suffice. You can play at online casinos via a desktop or laptop computer, or even on a tablet or mobile phone at most places. 

Of course, you will always need an internet connection to play at real money casinos. This can be a wired connection, via WiFi coverage or via mobile data coverage. Note that modern online casino gaming can involve the consumption of quite a bit of data, so if you have a data limit you’ll need to bear that in mind.

Assuming that you’ve got a fairly modern device which reliably connects to the internet, all you need is an account at the online casino you choose to play with. We’ll discuss how to sign up for an account a little later in the section on How to Get Started with Online Casinos.

What Games Can be Played at Online Casinos?

The whole point of online casinos is to give players a similar experience to playing at a land-based casino. For that reason, most online casinos like to offer the widest possible range of games. You can therefore expect a well-rounded casino to give you plenty of choice in several different game categories. The main types of games that will be on offer are as follows:

Slots

Online slots are much like the mechanical and video slot machines that you’ll find in land-based casinos everywhere. Whilst they don’t use physical reels, they are often designed to look as if they do. Most online slot games have three to six reels, but there are a few titles that deviate from that norm.

Playing an online slot is simple - just spin the reels and hope for the best! The outcome of each game is determined by a Random Number Generator (RNG) so you might get lucky or you might not. Just like the real thing.

Because they are driven by software rather than machinery, today’s online slots can incorporate music, video, animation and plenty of other features. They can also offer huge progressive jackpots that are often far bigger than those found in land-based casinos.

Table Games

Some of the most popular casino games are those that are played at tables. We’re talking about games like Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Sic-Bo, Baccarat and Three Card Poker. The problem with playing those games at a land-based venue is that table space is limited. If all of the popular table games are occupied, you will either have to wait your turn or play something else.

This isn’t the case at online casinos, which can accommodate as many people as want to play. Simply launch your preferred game and you’ll instantly find yourself sitting in the best seat at the table. Bets can be made by placing virtual chips on a standard table layout, and the outcome of games is determined by the same kind of RNG that is used in slot games.

Video Poker

Those of you who like playing Video Poker games will be pleased to hear that there are hundreds of them available at online casinos. Whether you prefer the standard game or any of the popular variations, such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild or Joker Poker, you won’t have any trouble finding them. 

The rules, winning hands and game procedure are much the same when playing online as when playing on a physical Video Poker machine. The big difference is that you’ll be able to hog the machine - or hop from one to another and back again - for as long as you want.

Live Casino Games

All of the game types just mentioned have been around since the advent of online casinos themselves. However, Live Casino games are a more recent development. Instead of being based on computer simulations, these are played in a real casino environment using a real roulette wheel or playing cards. A human dealer runs the game and the action is streamed live via video to your computer screen.

Live Casino games are massively popular, and provide the closest thing possible to a ‘real’ casino experience. The only difference is that you’ll have to provide your own drinks!

What are Online Casino Bonuses and Promotions?

Online casinos are just as competitive as their land-based cousins. This means that they work hard to attract players into their casinos and play their games. One of the key ways in which they do that is by offering bonuses and promotions. Understanding what kind of bonuses and promotions are commonly offered can help you to know what to look for.

Online Casino Bonuses

Bonuses are gifts of extra cash or free slot spins that are given when you complete a certain action. There are four main types to look for, as follows:

  • No Deposit Bonuses are ones which are given to reward you for signing up with a casino. As the name suggests, no deposit is needed to qualify. Just sign up for a new account and you’ll get the bonus offered. Usually this will be a small amount of casino bonus cash, or a few free slot spins.
  • Deposit Bonuses are aimed at new players and are only given when you make a deposit of your own money. The good news is that they tend to be far more generous than no-deposit bonuses. For example, many online casinos will offer to match your first deposit with a 100% bonus, and this could be worth up to $250, $500 or even more.
  • Reload Bonuses are designed for existing customers who already have an account. They work just like Deposit Bonuses, but they may not be quite as generous. For example, you may be offered a 50% reload bonus when you make a new deposit to your account, up to a certain maximum.
  • Cashback Bonuses will return a percentage of your betting turnover or losses (depending on the terms and conditions) in the form of bonus cash. For example, you may be offered 10% cash back on anything that you bet over the course of a given weekend. In that case, you could bet $200 over the weekend and get $20 back in bonus cash on the following Monday.

Online Casino Promotions

There is a huge overlap between bonuses and promotions, and many people use the words interchangeably. However, promotions tend to vary much more often than bonuses. They are also regularly offered to keep existing players loyal. Promotions can include any of the following types detailed below.

  • Casino Tournaments allow players to compete for additional prizes. For example, Blackjack players might receive points for the number of hands they play in a certain period of time. Those with the highest number of points at the end of the tournament would win a bonus or cash prize.
  • Free Spins give players the chance to try a new slot without risk. It is fairly common for online casinos to treat their long term players in this way.
  • Seasonal Specials are promotions that are run at certain times of the year to mark a certain event. You might therefore be given a special Super Bowl Bonus or a Christmas Bonus for playing certain games at those times.

Loyalty Programs at Online Casinos

Online casinos like to keep players loyal with bonuses and promotions, but some also run actual loyalty programs. These reward players by allowing them to earn points as they play their favourite games. Those points can be collected and then redeemed at a later date for additional casino bonuses, cash sums and other valuable rewards.

The rewards available at some online casinos can be particularly attractive. This is certainly the case with operators such as Caesars. The program there is called Caesars Rewards, and it allows you redeem loyalty points for free casino play, dining in Caesars restaurants and even hotel stays.

Some online casinos automatically enrol all new players into their loyalty programs. Others require players to enrol themselves, and a few restrict membership to VIP players only. 

How to Get Started with Online Casinos

Getting started as a player at online casinos is actually very easy. In fact, the whole process could be reduced to just four simple steps, as follows:

  1. Choose a casino.
  2. Sign up for an account.
  3. Download any software or app that may be required.
  4. Make a deposit.

We will now take a brief look at each of these steps in turn.

1 - How to Choose an Online Casino

With so many real money casinos in operation, the task of choosing one to play at can seem rather daunting. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult as it seems. All you have to do is consider the aspects that are most important to you. 

We would suggest that you first make sure that any casino you consider is legal in the state you are in. Restricting your search to properly licensed and regulated casinos will keep you on the right side of the law. It will also allow you to play with peace of mind, knowing that your money is safe and secure.

After that, think about the games that you want to play. If you’re a huge slots fan, focus on casinos that have plenty of them. The same applies if you’re a big fan of table games, video poker or Live Casino games.

Finally, compare the bonuses and promotions that are available at the real money casinos operating in your state. If all other things are equal, you might as well go for the one with the biggest bonus!

If you want help with all of that, be sure to take a look at our online casino reviews. We cover all of the topics detailed above in order to make choosing even easier.

2 - How to Sign Up with Online Casinos

When you’ve chosen an online casino that suits your needs, the next step is to sign up for a new account. You may need to do this by visiting the land-based casino which sponsors the online operation. Fortunately, this is required a lot less these days, and many casinos will let you sign up online.

Signing up involves little more than providing the casino with your name, address, email address and a few other personal details. The casino will need all of that information to verify your identity and ensure that you are who you say you are. You might think that such verification is unnecessary at the beginning, but if you win a huge slot jackpot you’ll soon think quite differently!

3 - How to Download Casino Apps and Software

Many online casinos enable games to be played in a regular web browser. In that case, you can simply skip this step, as no download will be required. Others, however, will ask you to download a software application to your computer or mobile, so you will need to do that first.

Downloading software to a desktop or laptop computer is exactly the same as downloading any other program. Simply head to the Download page of your chosen casino and click the button to begin the process. When the program has downloaded, double-click it to install it on your machine.

To download and install an app to your mobile device, you will need to go to the Google Play store for Android or to the App Store for iOS devices. Find the app and then hit the install button to download and install automatically.

4 - How to Make a Deposit at Real Money Casinos

Before you can start playing at real money casinos you need to have some real money in your account. You may get some bonus cash just for signing up, but at some point you’ll want to make a deposit of your own. 

To do this, launch your casino software app or visit the casino in your web browser. Sign in to your account and head to the Banking section. Choose the deposit method you want to use and specify how much you want to deposit. Confirm the transaction and your cash should arrive in your account automatically. In most cases, deposits are processed instantly, so you’ll be all set to play in no time.

How to Withdraw Your Winnings

The main reason for playing at online casinos is for the fun and entertainment it provides. Of course, having the chance to win big is also quite attractive! Get lucky and your account just might hold more cash than you want it to. In that case, you’ll probably want to make a withdrawal.

Withdrawing cash from online casinos is often just as easy as making deposits. In fact, it is often possible to make withdrawals by the same method that you used to make your deposit. Whatever the case, select the withdrawal method you want to use, enter the amount you want to withdraw and then hit the confirmation button.

You may be asked to provide further verification of your ID before your first withdrawal can be made. That is perfectly normal, and is simply an extra security step. Also note that withdrawals can take a little longer to process than deposits because of additional administration requirements. In most cases your cash will be with you within a few days of your request being made.

Online Casinos FAQ

What is the minimum age for playing at online casinos?
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You need to be 21 or older to play legally at online casinos in the US.

Are online casinos fair?
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All properly licensed and regulated online casinos are just as fair as their land-based cousins. Gaming software and procedures are independently audited to verify their integrity and fairness.

Can I win at online casinos?
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Winning at online casinos requires luck, as at any other casino. You can certainly win if you are lucky, and some players have won massive sums. However, there are never any guarantees, and losing is also quite possible. For this reason, you should only ever play with money that you can afford to lose.

How do online casinos stay in business?
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All casino games – whether online or traditional – give the casino an advantage. This advantage is known as the house edge, and it ensures that the casino gets to keep a small percentage of betting turnover over the long term.

How many online casinos can I join?
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You can sign up with as many online casinos as you want. Joining several online casinos will give you more choice in terms of the games you play, and it can also help you to secure multiple bonuses!

What are Live Casino games?
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Live Casino games are those that are run by actual dealers. The games are streamed live from a purpose-built casino studio to give you the most realistic gaming experience possible.

Which are the best online casinos?
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Naming the best online casino is a lot like naming the best movie ever made, or the best new car on the market. Each player has different needs and preferences, and that means there is no ‘best’ casino that suits everyone equally well. If in doubt, focus on the biggest and most established names, such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM.

Where do online casinos get their games?
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Online casinos work in partnership with game developers so that they can give players an ever-increasing range. Some of the biggest developers in the business right now are Microgaming, Play’n GO, Big Time Gaming, Playtech, NetEnt and Quickspin, and there are many more.

About this author

Ian Bruce author profile

Ian is a keen sports fan with an even keener eye for advantageous betting odds. The only thing he enjoys as much as watching his favourite teams win is being able to land sportsbook winners at the same time. He takes a strategic and mathematical approach to betting and he encourages others to do the same.

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