The Truth About Online Casinos
Playing at online casinos is a popular hobby for millions of people, but sometimes the odds can feel stacked against you. Here at Casino.org, we aim to cut through the untruths and show you how they operate so that you can be a more informed player. When enjoyed responsibly, online casinos can be highly entertaining, and we want to keep it that way.
With the online casino industry set to be worth $92 billion globally in 2023, it’s clear they are here to stay. Although every player has lucky and not-so-lucky streaks, there are ways you can keep your hobby in check. Become a smarter player with our helpful guide covering:
Welcome bonuses: Are they worth it?
Welcome bonuses are one of the first things players look for when considering a new online casino. If you’ve landed on a casino’s homepage, the chances are you’ll have seen a welcome bonus. They are an exclusive offer to new players that usually involves the player receiving a bonus amount for depositing money at the casino. What could be better than free money, right?
It seems a no brainer, but when you take a closer look, the player must meet a strict set of criteria before they can access the funds. Meeting these highly demanding rollover requirements can take a lot of time for very minimal reward. To help explain how the bonus works in real time, we’ve broken it down for you below:
How do welcome bonuses work?
Here’s an example of a standard welcome bonus you would expect to see from an online casino. Read it carefully and consider what each element means. Would it encourage you to sign up?
Now you’ve read the bonus terms, we’re going to show you what it might look like if you were to accept this bonus. For the purposes of the simulation, we are assuming an RTP of 97%. RTPs or Return to Player rates are the estimated amount of winnings a player could expect back, but as many players know, RTPs are very unpredictable. If you were to deposit the same amount as our simulation, there is no guarantee you would see the same results.
Make the deposit
You want the max bonus of $100, so you deposit $100 to be eligible. This is because they match your bonus by 100% up to $100. However, this doesn’t mean you have $200 to play with yet.
Check the wagering requirements
First, you must meet the wagering requirements. This bonus requires you to wager 40x your deposit to access the bonus. So, you need to wager a further $4000 on slots before you can claim the $100 bonus.
Remember the timeframe
The bonus states that the wagering requirements must be met within 2 weeks. This means you must play through $4000 within a fortnight.
What’s the RTP?
The casino advertises a 97% RTP – this means in theory, for every $10 you spend, the casino will keep $0.3 and you would win back $9.70, but this is rarely the case in the short term.
As you wager the $100 in your account, the wins and losses accumulate. If the RTP was precise for every single wager as we’ve shown in the graph, then by the time you’ve wagered around $3340 you will have hit $0 in your account.
Not such a bonus
This means you won’t earn the $100 bonus as you haven’t met the wagering requirements of $4000. Your account is at $0, so you haven’t won any money after wagering all $3340. Instead, you have just lost the $100 deposit and are back to square one. You can either call it quits or start playing again without the allure of the bonus.
It’s important to remember RTPs are in no way guaranteed and although you could see that kind of performance, you aren’t entitled to it. See how RTPs can play out over time with our simulation on the slots reality check page.
Things to consider
It’s up to you to decide if the conditions of welcome bonuses are worth it. Here are a few points to consider:
- Can you afford to lose your initial deposit?
- Can you afford to spend the time it would take to achieve the 40x wagering requirement?
- Are the games you want to play weighted at 100%? This bonus specified that slots contributed 100% towards the wagering requirement, but not all games will. Read our game contribution section for more information on this.
- Have you read the terms and conditions? Being informed is the best way to avoid potential upset down the line. You don’t want to realize your favorite slot title doesn’t count or the time frame is too limiting when you’ve already made the deposit.
Online Casino Myths: Are they True?
In the world of online casinos, myths spread fast. Whether there’s any truth to them doesn’t seem to matter. Large sums of money can be won – or lost – in an instant, so there are bound to be lots of questions. We’ve taken the most common online casino myths and analyzed them, so you know what’s real and what’s fake.
This is one of the most circulated myths in the industry, and when evaluating it there are two main things to consider. Firstly, this is most likely searched when people are on a losing streak. Secondly, online casinos are a business, and like any other business they aim to make a profit. The house edge is their way of making a profit, but this is not illegal and does not mean they are rigged. House edges are openly disclosed, and the experiences of players at the same casino will differ, especially in the short term. Some players could experience a prolonged losing streak, but overall, the house edge will align.
That’s not to say that there has never been a case of fraudulent online casinos. There’s been plenty, especially in the poker arena. Luckily, this kind of fraud has been mostly eradicated thanks to better regulation and smarter tech. Random Number Generators (RNGs) are used in many games to ensure the outcome of each move is randomized in accordance with the house edge. This is sophisticated technology and any casino skewing the odds will be found out quickly.
Our advice to players is to only play at online casinos that have reputable regulators backing them. You can usually find this information out quite easily, but if in doubt get in touch with the operator. Better safe than sorry!
Yes, online casinos are subject to strict rules to allow them to operate. There are lots of organizations in place who ensure standards are met and rules are adhered to. There are all sorts of casinos claiming to have been vetted, but let’s just say some regulators are more stringent than others. There are plenty of excellent regulators including the UK Gambling Commission and the Nevada Gaming Commission. Remember to check the casino’s accreditation before you sign up, so you don’t get caught out.
In short, no. Online casinos cannot ban you strictly for winning, but they can ban you if they suspect you of anything untoward. You might see a phrase in their terms and conditions stating that they have the right to withhold payment if they suspect a player of any fraudulence, collusion or improper activity. Clauses like this can give a casino the right not to pay out, or to ban you from their site.
So long as you are playing by the rules, you shouldn’t be banned. Just be aware that casinos do have the right, which you agree to when you sign up, to withhold winnings and to ban players, whether you agree with their reasoning or not. Again, the best way to play safely is to check the terms and conditions before signing up.
Sadly, there is no way to become an expert in slots as it is a game of chance. The reels are run using an RNG so each time you hit spin, nothing you do can influence what will appear. It helps to stay focused and alert though, especially in slots tournaments. There are plenty of people who could be considered slots experts in terms of having played a variety of titles, but skill is not the key factor. However, we know this doesn’t take away from the fun!
The answer to this question is entirely dependent on where in the world you are. In the US, online gambling is legislated on a state-by-state basis and this is subject to change so make sure you check with your state’s rules before playing. Many countries allow it but have restrictions in place which can complicate things.
The need for online gambling legislation arose in the early 2000s and has since been constantly evolving. In many cases, countries that have legalized online gambling have only done so for licensed casinos. Make sure to check the rules where you are to be safe.
No. Although card counting is a popular tactic for many players in real-life games of blackjack, it doesn’t work the same way online. That’s because thanks to RNGs, the decks get shuffled after every hand. This method stops any would-be card counters in their tracks.
Card counting is a strategy where players keep track of the high and low value cards to work out when to bet more and less. This can help minimize the factor of chance, but with frequent shuffling in online versions it’s useless. Players will have to brush up on their other blackjack skills to be in with a chance of winning.
What are Game Contributions?
Game contributions are the percentage a game counts towards the wagering requirements. When accepting a bonus offer, one of the key things to check is the game contributions. These are documented in the bonus terms and conditions. You can usually find these in the footer located at the bottom of the page.
This clause can change your entire bonus experience – for the worse! Certain casino games have higher win rates than others. To stay profitable, casinos would obviously prefer players to lose more than they win, which means they prefer players to play games with lower win rates when meeting bonus requirements. Slots is a good example, as it is mostly down to luck. Most slot games count for 100%, whereas games like blackjack and poker can count as little as 5%. Some games are even disallowed entirely.
Skill vs Luck in Online Casino Games
Casino games all require different combinations of skill and luck to win. Those with a higher skill level tend to require more active participation and are often against an opponent, not the house. Games with a higher level of chance will rely more on the RNG and might be a more passive style of play. There are good and bad aspects to both ends of the spectrum but ultimately which type of game you enjoy will be personal preference. It’s important to remember that even games with a higher skill level don’t guarantee you to do well.
We’ve looked at the top online casino games and scored them from the most luck-based to the most skill-based. Where does your favorite sit?
Advice from a Recovering Gambler
Catherine Townsend-Lyon is an Arizona-based best-selling author whose experiences as a recovering gambler drive her to help others. She has a monthly column in ‘Keys to Recovery Newspaper’ called ‘Quit to Win’ and she works tirelessly to advocate gambling awareness across blogs, podcasts and her website. She spoke to Casino.org to share her journey of gambling addiction, and how her hobby became a nightmare. Catherine’s story can help you spot a problem before it gets out of control.
I don’t come from a family who were gamblers, but I always enjoyed gambling with my girlfriends. We would go to Reno or the Indian Casino a couple of times a year. It used to be a fun thing to do for an hour or so. Then I started going more often and I used gambling as an escape. It was a way to numb out childhood traumas and grief.
I began gambling more, making higher bets and soon all the signs were there. I would lie about why I was gone for so long, I missed family get-togethers, I’d call in sick to work if I was winning. I even ignored medical and dental appointments. The money problems led to arguments with my husband.
In 2002 I attempted suicide. I had my first addiction Crisis Center stay and began treatment for gambling addiction. I ended being up part of the statistics: 1 in 5 gambling addicts will attempt suicide.
I began selling things of value, took out credit cards and payday loans my husband had no idea about. I dug us in a huge financial hole and lost most of my friends. I would argue with co-workers and even lost jobs over it. Eventually, after two failed suicide attempts, I was gambling with my life.
After my second failed suicide attempt in 2006, I started gambling addiction treatment in the Addiction Crisis Center for the second time. I finally surrendered to the fact that I would never be able to gamble responsibly. I had lost all control over my gambling to the point that it almost cost me my life.
I began in-patient treatment for 30-days and transitioned into outpatient for the next six months where I attended Gamblers Anonymous for many years. I had therapy to overcome the childhood trauma I was trying to numb, and I learned the process of forgiving and making amends. This new approach allowed me to slowly start paying off my debts.
To help myself better understand what gambling addiction had taken from me, I decided to write a memoir. Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat was published in 2013 and details how I became a gambling addict.
Don’t suffer in silence like I did. There is help available and there is no shame in reaching out for help. For those in the US, my website has a page of places I trust, and you can also find help on Casino.org’s Gambling Addiction and Treatment page.
No matter what type of gambling problem you may have, there are many ways to help you gain your life back. In my experience, gambling triggers and cravings only subside when you refrain from gambling. When you reach out for help, you will find ways to overcome these urges so you can recover successfully.
How to gamble responsibly
Gambling should always be fun, but sometimes players can get carried away spending too much time and money. We want to help people enjoy their hobby by offering our top tips to keep it in check. If you think you might have a problem, please go to our responsible gambling contact page to find helpful resources and specialists.
Use the tools on offer
Most casinos now have ‘reality check’ timers and deposit limits. These can alert you when you’ve been playing for a chosen amount of time or can stop you from depositing more than you’ve budgeted.
Always read the terms and conditions
We know they’re long and can seem a chore, but you need to know what you’re signing up for – especially when it comes to bonuses. This is where casinos outline the important information so you must read it. Check this to see which games count towards welcome bonuses and any small print that could affect your fun.
Play for free
If you’re going through your budget too quickly, why not try the free games instead? Loads of your favorite games are available for free play so it’s the same experience, you just can’t lose money!
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!