Real Money Online Casinos
You can play online casino games for free – and we’ll tell you how to in this guide – but most slots, table games, and live casino fans want to play for real money.
But as you soon as you start throwing your money around online you need to make sure you’re doing so safely. And in the case of online gambling, you need to keep an eye on your behaviour too. So we’ll show you how to play real money casino games safely and without harming yourself.
In this guide we’ll have a look at how to find safe online casino sites; what you should look for in a real money casino site; how real money payments work in online casinos, and more, including Bitcoin and crypto casinos.
Let’s dive in.
Safety is always the first rule online, and always the first rule for gamblers
Online gambling is a fun diversion for most people. Gambling means taking a chance, and most people can take that on board and manage their risks, their behaviour, and the sites they use safely.
However, it’s not for nothing that online casino sites are regulated in a very different way from lots of other sites. The law and industry bodies can do a certain amount to help to keep you safe, but you also need to do a bit of work yourself.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing too heavy, and most players are already on top of safe online casino play.
The risks of real money casino play
The first and most obvious risk of online casino play is being scammed.
Thankfully, this is getting much less common, and most online casino players will never even see a scamming site.
However, it’s something you need to be aware of.
The first line of defence in keeping yourself safe in the online casino world is the law. While the Internet is often portrayed as a Wild West frontier where laws don’t apply – and you can find those places if you want to get in trouble on the Dark Web – it’s actually pretty easy to find safe, legal, and licensed real money casino sites.
Sites for European users should be licensed in the legal territory from which the player accesses the site. There isn’t currently a European-wide or EU protocol on online gambling licensing.
This is where the player’s responsibility comes in. Not everyone wants to follow the rules set by their own licensing authority. And, the internet – and VPNs – make it possible to access sites outside your jurisdiction. We do not advise anyone to do this. The easiest way to get into trouble online, and to have no come back when things go wrong in any way.
It’s your responsibility to keep your side of the bargain with licensing authorities. If they set rules on age limits, stake limits, or withdrawal limits that you don’t like, then sadly you’re just going to have to follow them.
Licensing can be accepted across national boundaries, though more countries are now trying to have their own licensing regimes.
Here are some of the major European licensing territories:
Malta is the centre of the European gambling industry. And the main reason is that Malta has a reputation as an off-shore location. This means companies can set-up there, enjoy a nice tax situation (and some sunshine for those staff who do settle there), and a licensing regime that is well run and quite widely accepted. The Maltese licenses have a good reputation for providing good outcomes for players who get into a dispute with sites.
If you’re in Belgium and you use a site to gamble that is not licensed by the country’s Gaming Commission then you could be fined. The Commission is choosy too, and at this writing, there are only 10 online casinos listed as licensed, and fewer than 30 “online slots arcades”. Twenty-four sites are licensed to provide online betting services.
The semi-UK off-shore territory of Gibraltar has been another popular gambling hotspot, particularly for sites offering services to the UK, before the UK Gambling Commission stopped accepting any but its own licences. The territory is still a popular destination for globe-trotting gambling firms though, and there is a long list of approved companies at the countries Remote Gambling site.
Next door, Spain offers a good example of an EU territory offering a gambling licence. The country licenses online gambling only to operators who target only Spanish (and Spanish resident) customers. Break the laws – as an operator – and you could be fined up to €50 million.
The biggest, most powerful economy in Europe isn’t making it easy on us as their gambling laws have been in a bit of a legal flux for a while. There is a conflict between regional and state laws and law for the nation in Germany and court cases continue.
The Regulatory Authority for Online Games (ARJEL) controls regulated online gambling in France, but you cannot play slots in France, because the country’s government will not yet allow them. You can play more traditional casino games though, including poker.
This is a fluid area, and it’s not possible for a static web page to keep up with the law at all times. This is where you must take some responsibility yourself and you must only play on sites that are legal and licensed where you are and under conditions that are legal and licensed for you.
Even More Safety News!
Licensing is the first weapon in your safety kit, but go a bit further than that and check out that the site you are using is legitimate.
This is particularly important for real money casinos, where you’re going to be making transactions that could leave you in financial trouble.
The good news is that crooks are generally on the lookout for a low effort heist. Keep your wits around you and look for good quality sites that are well designed and that allow you to find out a lot about the site before you hand over any personal details or money.
Be particularly aware around sites that seem to focus very specifically on one thing: a single game, or just one offer, or just Bitcoin transactions.
Saying that if something looks too good to be true then it probably is probably not always correct, but it’s a good mindset to bring to your online gambling shopping.
What about the money?
Having looked out good quality and legitimate online casino site to play your real money casino games at you can work out how to give them some of your money.
For this, you’ll need some sort of online account.
And we’re going to be boring again!
If a casino site is legitimate that is great. But your part of any bargain with the site that keeps you safe will be having your own online security in order. Use passwords carefully (maybe use a password generator or other tool to help you), log out when you’re not using sites, be careful around shared computers, and keep your online accounts safe.
Banking at Real Money Casinos
Real money casinos can accept cash in a number of ways.
There are legal and commercial limits on online money transfers that mean some may be available in some jurisdictions but not in others. Make sure, as ever, that you’re using safe and legal measures.
The most obvious way to transfer money to an online casino site is from your bank account. This can be done via a card (in some jurisdictions a credit card, in others debit only) or by wire transfer from your account.
Many players like to use online payment processing service providers. These companies come in a couple of common varieties: e-wallets, and payment cards.
E-Wallets for Real Money Casinos
E-wallets are the most common method of transferring money to real money casinos in Europe.
Some of these names are household names now, and with the COVID19 pandemic of 2020 moving even more of the world’s economy onto the internet it’s become more unlikely to not have some sort of e-wallet.
The best known is PayPal. PayPal is an enormous international company, easily the rival of many of the financial behemoths of the more established banking world and offering a similar range of services now – including credit cards, and real-world spending.
PayPal dropped out of the gambling world for a number of years when the laws in the US were uncertain. They came back with a vengeance though, and now the PayPal marque on a casino site is a good sign of quality. PayPal is easy to use, fast, and generally trustworthy. However, like any gigantic company, it can be difficult to find personal help if you have a problem.
When PayPal ducked out of the gambling market, two companies, in particular, took up the slack and became specialists in the online gambling world. They are Neteller and Skrill.
Both offer a very similar service, both have very good security and reputation, both charge a fee (last time we checked Neteller charged more than Skrill, but neither as much as PayPal), and both can be used at the majority of real money online casino sites.
There are more options in this vertical and there are more to come surely.
Prepaid cards and vouchers for Real Money Online Casinos
The big problem with the internet is you can’t carry cash! And while it’s great to have online accounts, not everyone has access to those or wants to use that option.
Prepaid cards and vouchers are the easiest way to convert cash into online money. The system is easy, you find an outlet offering the service, go in, hand over your cash – in a socially distanced way – and pick up a payment card. Then, when you’re online you can type in a code and use the balance on the card to play.
Here are some examples.
Greendot, paysafecard, entropay, ecocard, and more.
Make sure you’re using a safe card and that it is legal for you to use it.
Mobile payments at real money casinos
As the majority of online casino players now use their mobiles or other hand-held devices to play games, it’s not surprising that there’s a massive growth in mobile-first game design and also mobile payment methods.
Juggling cards and passwords isn’t ideal when you’re on the move, so simple, single-tap payment methods are a massive plus.
These payment methods can either transfer money from your bank account, or they can use your mobile balance to cash up a casino account.
A couple of examples are:
Boku, and Paybymobile.
Some casinos also accept Apple Pay and other systems that act as a central accounting hub for all your online money needs.
As with any other online real money payment system, you need to know that you’re using a safe, secure payment method and you’re using it safely.
What you need to know about banking at Real Money Casinos
Most online casino sites list the payment methods they use on their front pages. That’s because they know that it’s important to would-be customers to know that they can use the method they prefer to access the site. It’s a make or break deal for many online casino consumers.
But you might want to check out a few more things first.
You need to know what the payment limits on each payment method is. Most casino sites limit how much you can put into your account or take out from it either in one transaction or in set periods of time. (We’ll talk about safe gambling a bit more later on with regards to this.) Make sure you’re happy with those limits.
Decent sites have money laundering protocols in place. This usually means that you will have to prove your identity to an acceptable level – often by scanning and sending official id documents to the site. It also often means that you are expected to receive withdrawals to the same payment method you used to open your account. Where the payment method cannot accept withdrawals (and this is not uncommon) the site will usually default to paying into your bank account by wire transfer. Obviously, there may be issues if you don’t have a bank account you can use, or in terms of charges, so make sure you’re clear of the picture as you select a site and as you decide how you’re going to pay in and pay out of your account.
Watch the fees
Fees are a big headache for online casino players. While most sites advertise headline rates of 0% on pay-out fees, these are often not quite what they seem, with fees kicking in as soon as you cross a fairly low limit. You may also find yourself rubbing your hands at a zero pay out fee from a casino site only to be clobbered with the fee from the payment processor. As you’re looking around payment options make sure you choose one that you consider being a good value.
Offers – especially welcome offers – may restrict the payment methods that can be used to trigger them. Neteller and Skrill – two of the most popular payment methods – are sometimes excluded, for example. This may not bother you, but if a welcome offer is a big deal for you check that you can receive it before you sign up.
Playing Real Money casino games with Bitcoins
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are the cutting edge of online payments and they are now being offered by an increasing number of online casino sites and by online payment processors.
The problem with this may come with costs. Sites like PayPal advertise that they can now support Bitcoin transactions, but the reality is that your Bitcoin will be converted into a fiat currency, at a fee, and at a rate that will probably bring the site a profit.
So, don’t get too excited about crypto at casinos just yet.
There are also specific risks around using cryptocurrencies. They can be very volatile, so if you store your money in crypto – though Bitcoin is now much more stable – you are taking a risk: you might see a big rise, but your accounts can also plummet in value, it’s something that needs active management.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are designed to exist online only and to use software to keep them safe. You may have trouble getting at them if you lose internet access or your password or key.
Real Money Casino Games for Free
Once you’re signed up at a real money casino you should be able to play for free by simply using demo mode on the games you enjoy.
You won’t win anything.
And you won’t lose anything.
It’s a good practice to get into, and particularly if you’re new at casino games, or want to try out a game you have never played before.
This is particularly true of live casino games. Live casino games usually charge a slightly higher entry-level bet than simulator games because they are more expensive to run – they use real staff. These games are also usually impossible to play on demo mode for the same reason, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you sit down at a table.
Playing Real Money Casino Games Successfully and Safely
There is no trick to winning real money casino games: the algorithm guarantees that the result of each event in the game is a genuinely random event. However, the odds baked into the algorithm all but guarantee a profit for the casino – and that means that players lose.
Accepting this is the first step towards playing real money casino games safely.
Beyond tech safety and not getting scammed you must consider your own behaviour around gambling when you start to play real money casino games.
Many players can play online gambling games with no problems. However, there is a chance of becoming addicted to these games, and to gambling and when you are throwing around real money you need to be careful. That is why some regulations around safety and security feel like a pain in the neck they are useful and they are there to help you.
You should always make sure you know how to access help with gambling problems before you start. And you should know how to monitor both the time and the money you spend on online casino sites – there are often tools to help you do this available at sites.
You should also be aware of how to avoid dangerous situations.
Chief amongst these are:
Gambling when you are in need of money. You should never expect to win, you should always budget the money you are going to gamble on online casino sites as spending that you aren’t going to see again. (You might win, but it’s safe and honest to expect to lose).
If you need money for bills or expenses you should ask someone for help and stay away from gambling sites.
Don’t gamble if you are upset. The main thing is not to use gambling as a means of forgetting problems or of regulating your emotions, that’s a sure way to get into trouble. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, and it’s harder still at a time when many of us feel isolated, but please try to ask someone for help, or just to talk, if you are in a low mood.
Be wary of gambling when you are intoxicated.
Play at Real Money Casino Sites for Fun
All this advice might make it sound like you should avoid online real money gambling sites. That’s not true, and it’s not the message we want to send, but we do want you to keep safe.
By far the best way to play real money casino sites is to play for fun. Gambling is entertainment and entertainment always has to be paid for – the same with gambling. You might win; you might even win a life-changing sum of money, but the vast majority of casino players will lose small amounts of money in the long run – check out the stats.
Go into your real money casino games with this in mind and you’ll have a great time.