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There was a time when the only way that you could gamble was by going to a physical casino. While the full casino experience is still second to none, those who don't want to trek to one or have none nearby can now go online. Online gambling has surged in recent years, with thousands of different international online casinos popping up.
With so many options to choose from, the whole process can seem overwhelming. Fear not, dear player, as this ultimate guide will show you the way. Here is everything you need to know about international online casinos.
How Do International Online Casinos Work?
First and foremost, online gambling is a heavily regulated industry. Since real money is exchanging hands, there has to be some credible oversight. Otherwise, sketchy websites could take your cash and keep it, regardless of how lucky you are on the tables.
The exact rules and regulations differ by country, and you can learn more about specific national laws here. However, there are only a handful of highly reputable gaming commissions. These organizations provide legitimacy and ensure that online casinos maintain their integrity. While there are many regulators covering various regions, here are the top-rated commissions:
- United Kingdom Gambling Commission – This is the UK's leading regulatory body and distributes licenses to casino operators.
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission – The Isle of Man is popular with international online casinos thanks to its tax-friendly rules. This commission also issues licenses and monitors all operators within its jurisdiction.
- Malta Gaming Authority – Since 2001, the MGA has quickly become the go-to regulator for most European-based casino operators. The MGA was one of the first in the industry, and as such, has a sterling reputation.
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority – This commission is a little older than the MGA, founded in 2000. The GRA is also highly respected and one of the most popular regulators for Europe.
So, when comparing different international online casinos, you want to make sure that they work with a reputable commission. You can find out the other online gaming authorities for other parts of the world, including Asia, Australia, and Canada, here. If a casino is not officially licensed and regulated, you gamble at your own risk.
Beyond legality, here is how most online casinos work:
Step One: Set Up an Account
When setting up your casino profile, you will need to link a bank account or credit card. However, be aware that some countries, like the United Kingdom, don't allow credit cards for gambling, either in-person or otherwise. That ruling just came about in April 2020 to help curb problem gambling. Another point to consider is that it can take a while to verify your banking information, as online fraud is always rampant. As a result, most banks want to make sure that you're authorizing these transactions.
Step Two: Play Games
We'll cover the different gaming options you can find at international online casinos, but if you want to win money, you have to play. Some casinos will have you pre-load a separate account rather than drawing directly from your credit card or bank account. Some sites offer both options. We recommend pre-loading with a set amount of money so that there is less temptation to use more.
Step Three: Withdraw Winnings
Whatever you use to pay for your gambling, the online casino will add money to that account. So, if you connected a bank account, your winnings will go there. If you want to choose a different account, you will have to set it up beforehand. Usually, payments can take a couple of days to process, depending on your financial institution.
What Games Do International Online Casinos Offer?
Most casinos offer similar games, but some of them have proprietary options that you can't find anywhere else. Some sites may focus on a particular type of game, such as slots or poker. However, the vast majority of online casinos have all the games listed below. Let's break them down:
When you walk into a brick-and-mortar casino, you're greeted with row after row of slot machines. No matter how big the place is, at least half of the floor plan is devoted to these devices. Slots are fun to play and easy to master, making them an ideal choice for any casino. Since there is such a low learning curve, anyone can play slots.
What makes online casino slot machines more engaging is that they can use more animations and sounds. While modern slots are pretty interactive, online versions are much more captivating. Even better, some casinos have literally thousands of different slots, so that you're sure to find one that suits your preferences. Finally, you don't have to wander around aimlessly looking for the machine of your choice. Instead, you can just click on it and start playing.
Digital Table Games
Beyond slots, the most popular attractions at a casino are table games. While the “Big Four” (blackjack, craps, roulette, poker) are certainly a big draw, online casinos have many more options. In some cases, a site may have exclusive table games that you can't find anywhere else. Here are the most common options you can find:
- Craps – Throw dice and see how lucky you can get! Once the game turns on, try to avoid rolling a seven for as long as possible! Craps is relatively complicated to learn, but once you understand the fundamentals, it's a lot of fun.
- Blackjack – Almost everyone knows how to play blackjack. All you have to do is get as close to 21 without going over! However, the trick of the game is to beat the dealer, so there is a bit of strategy involved. You can find blackjack hit charts online that offer guidance on what to do in various situations.
- Roulette – This is basically a game of chance, as you're trying to guess where the ball is going to land. Roulette tables have 36 spaces, as well as 0 and 00 spots. If you don't want to test your luck, you can bet on black or red or other groups to mitigate your chances of losing.
- Poker – Instead of playing against the house, you're competing against other live players. Online poker can be more challenging since it's impossible to tell if someone is bluffing, but it's an excellent way to learn the rules and master the game mechanics.
- Let It Ride – If you're new to gambling, Let It Ride is an excellent introduction. This game allows you to pull your bets back if you're not confident in your hand, so you can play for a long time without losing your shirt.
- Baccarat – Here is another game of chance. However, instead of trying to guess one out of 36 different positions, the odds are almost 50/50. Bet on Player or Banker to win, and see if you can claim a bonus jackpot!
- Three-Card Poker – In this poker game, you compete against the house. You also only get three cards instead of five. This is a simpler version of poker that is easier to master.
Overall, there are dozens of fun and interactive table games that allow you to test your skills and try your luck. Typically, these games are automated, meaning that a computer program operates them. To ensure better odds, the software uses a random number generator (RNG).
Live Dealer Games
While playing against the computer can be fun, some international online casinos allow you to capture the real-world experience of being in a live environment. Thanks to advances in video streaming technology, it's never been easier for casinos to have players place bets with a live dealer. There are a few extra benefits of this setup, including:
- Personal Interaction – You get to see other players and talk instead of playing by yourself.
- No RNG – While random number generators are fair, they can make it harder to win. Live dealers use real cards, chips, dice, and roulette balls for a more authentic experience.
- Ask for Advice – Although dealers can't tell you what to do, they can help explain the rules and odds of specific bets and actions.
Depending on the casino, live dealers may be available 24/7 or during specific hours. Also, most casinos don't offer dealers for all table games, so keep that in mind.
While table games allow you to test your skill against the house, tournaments can give you a better chance of competing against fellow players. The most common tournament game is Texas Hold Em, but some casinos may offer tournaments for other games such as blackjack.
If you've never played a tournament before, they typically work by giving everyone the same amount of chips at the beginning. As you progress, the buy-in for each hand increases, forcing players to make bigger bets, which can cause them to get knocked out. The goal is to reach the final table, where placement can win you big rewards.
Tournaments are excellent because they don't cost much to enter, but the prize pool is often sizable, so you can potentially make a significant profit if you manage to get to the end.
How to Choose the Best International Online Casinos
As we mentioned, there are so many online casino sites that it's hard to know which one is the best. So, to help you compare each website, here are the factors to pay attention to the most.
We already discussed the legality of online gambling, so you must choose an international online casino that operates under the jurisdiction of a regulatory authority. However, since websites can get hacked, you also want to check the casino's security rating. Fortunately, there are free tools that allow you to do this quickly and easily so that you can feel confident giving the casino your financial information. If you're having trouble getting a security rating, we recommend looking elsewhere for your gaming needs.
Speed and Software
Since you'll be playing games in real-time, you want to make sure that you have a strong internet connection. However, even if you have blazing fast speeds, the casino site itself may lag. As with security ratings, you can check the speed of a website using free online tools. Checking these stats can help you make the best decision, particularly if you want to participate in live dealer games or tournaments. You don't want to lose your pot just because of a slow website.
One of the best parts of signing up with an international online casino is that most of them offer significant welcome bonuses. These rewards are designed to entice you into playing, and many of them can be quite appealing. Some examples of bonuses can include:
- Free Chips – There is usually a catch, such as playing a certain number of hands. However, free chips can help you learn the games and practice your skills before putting up your own money.
- Free Jackpot Spins – Most online casinos have ongoing jackpot games and prize wheels. While the odds of hitting a big bonus with a free spin are low, you never know what can happen.
- No Deposit Bonus – This reward is similar to getting free chips. In this case, you get to play a game for free but can win real money.
- Match Play – When a casino offers match play, it means that they will match your bet if you win. So, if you wager $10, you could win $20.
With so many online casinos offering similar products and bonuses, an easy way to differentiate between them is to look at customer reviews. Pay attention to any complaints, specifically about cashing out and player odds. You never want to join a casino that makes it hard to retrieve your winnings or win at games. Although the odds are always in the house's favor, you should be able to win some of the time.
Whenever using any software, you want to be sure that you can contact someone if there is a technical problem. Sites that offer multiple customer support channels are the best. These channels can include phone calls, email, live chat, and SMS messaging. If an online casino only offers email support tickets, that could be a bad sign since you can't speak to a live person. Overall, reputable casinos should make it easy for you to get in touch with a customer service representative, so be wary of ones that make it difficult.
While signup bonuses hook you in, a decent rewards program can bring you back again and again. Many international online casinos offer loyalty bonuses, such as free chips every time you add money to your account or participate in tournaments or jackpot games. Overall, since you're spending your hard-earned money, you want to give it to a casino that appreciates your business.