Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions we get from new players who haven't taken the plunge into online gambling just yet:
- Is Online Gambling Legal?
- How Old Do I Have To Be To Gamble Online?
- Is Online Gambling Fair?
- What Can I Bet On?
- Where Should I Play?
Before You Play:
Before you're ready to make a deposit somewhere you might have a few questions first.
This really depends on where you're playing from. In some countries like the US and Canada legality varies from state to state (or province to province.) In many European markets it's entirely legal, especially among European Union members. When in doubt it's best to check your own local laws and regulations, but generally speaking lawmakers are trying to prevent operators - not individual players. Many reputable venues will simply block registration from areas which they are not permitted to take bets from.
Most venues will only accept players that are 18 or older, though in certain territories players must be slightly older than that. In Sweden for example the minimum age for casino gambling is 20, in New Zealand it's 21. There may be different age requirements for different types of gambling as well, such as 18 for sports betting, 20 for casinos.
For the most part, yes. However, that assumes that you're playing at a reputable and licensed venue. Unfortunately over the years there have been many unscrupulous operators with bad intentions or inadequate finances - and those who patronized them may well have been 'ripped off.' At GamblingPortal.com we do our best to only feature well established, properly licensed gaming sites with good reputations and a history of treating players right.
There's are hundred if not thousands of online gambling venues offering just about everything you could imagine. Classic casino games like blackjack, craps and roulette and thousands of different slot games are just clicks away, sports betting on just about any game you could imagine and wagers on other outcomes from politics to video game competitions to reality tv, Bingo and poker games in just about every variation you can imagine.
Most venues are dedicated to one type of gambling in particular, whether it's an online casino, poker room or sportsbook - but some offer a combination of them under the same brand.
There are many great places to play your favorite games and make your favorite bets. And while it's inconvenient in most places short of Vegas to hope from one casino to the next when playing live, there's no reason why you can't have accounts at multiple online venues to best suit your playing preferences. If you like the tables games offered at one casino but prefer the slots at another, play at both. If you enjoy the occasional sports bet but your book doesn't have casino games, open an account their too. There's nothing wrong with playing at multiple locations - the only downside is it takes longer to accrue loyalty points if they're being offered.
Wherever you choose to play just make sure you're choosing safe and reputable venues that are licensed and maintain a good reputation with their players.
When playing at a physical casino cash is king, but how do you deal with money when playing online? Here's some common questions and answers about the process, split into 'deposits' (paying the online casino/sportsbook/poker room money in order to play) and 'withdrawals' (getting money back from those same places.)
Funding your account is referred to as making a deposit, and there's a wide variety of ways that this can be done depending on where you're playing and where you're playing from. A player from the US will have different options than a player from Canada, a player from Europe will have different options than them. While there's some overlap (credit cards are generally accepted from players around the world) - due to banking differences, various regulations and different 'alternative' payments depending on your location these options change. The most common payment options however are:
Still the primary payment method offered at most casinos with Visa/Mastercard generally accepted everywhere and American Express sometimes, but not as frequently. Deposits are usually near instant - enter in your credit card details and how much to add to your account and after a few second verification you're ready to play.
Not an option in most places outside of the UK and some other European countries, Switch, Maestro, Visa Debit and Laser network cards are accepted at some sites. Deposits should be immediately available to use.
Accepted at most online gambling venues, PaySafe cards are most popular in Europe as a reloadable prepaid card, though in some countries (such as Canada) it's not a 'card' per-se or reloadable, it's a voucher you can buy at various places (gas stations, post offices) at a markup to be used for online purchases.
Before greatly increased regulation on the casino industry now almost decades ago, PayPal was a popular depositing option for casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms around the world. Now, it's mostly an option only for UK players at certain venues.
Similar to PayPal in how it functions, but much more geared towards online gambling without the regulation problems PayPal faced. Most casinos/poker rooms/sportsbook accept Neteller payments which you'll generally fund with a credit card or other type of transfer. Deposits are verified online and instant.
Mostly a European and Canadian option (though available elsewhere) - this is another e-wallet option that can be funded with credit/debit cards, bank transfers and other means. Deposits are verified online and instant.
Not one of the more popular options, PayNearMe allows people to buy vouchers at local retailers to be used as a method for online payments. But a voucher, type in the code provided at a casino/sportbook that accepts these payments and your deposit should be instant.
One of the more unusual payment methods, PayForIt allows you to make a deposit that will be charged to your phone bill. Deposits should be nearly instant.
Generally used for more substantial deposits, most online gambling establishments are happy to take wire transfers as a means of payment. These usually come associated with fees however, and can take days to clear before you'll be able to use your funds.
A cheaper option than wire transfers, but also less available depending on where you're playing and where you're from. Deposits need time to clear (like regular checks) so this isn't a great option for the impatient.
Primarily a Canadian option, Interac is a service offered by most financial institutions that allows for transferring money using a recipients email address or mobile number. Deposits usually take between 30-60 minutes to be credited.
For those with crypto currency to spend, Bitcoin is becoming a more widely accepted payment method at various places as time goes on. Transfers are made like any other Bitcoin transfer, and can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to clear depending on the venue.
While those listed above are the most common types of depositing options you'll find, there are absolutely more than this and every venue is free to take in payments however they wish. Different types of Crypto currencies, other regional prepaid cards or transfer options may be available based on where you're playing from and where you're trying to deposit.
For the most part the time until your deposit turns into your bankroll is dependent on the method you deposited with. Credit cards, e-wallets vouchers are generally instant, Interac and Crypto currencies can take few a few minutes to an hour depending on the venue, and things like wire transfers can take days before they clear.
Getting money back out of your account is referred to as making a withdrawal, and how you're able to do so often depends on how you made a deposit in the first place; most venues will prefer to credit money back via the same method.
For example, if you made a $100 deposit using a credit card and decided to cash out $50 after playing for a few hours, most places would credit that money back to your credit card account. This isn't always possible depending on your card issuer however, and often isn't if you're trying to cash out more than you've deposited with that card. In that case and very dependent on the amount being withdrawn your options may vary from getting a check mailed to bank transfers/wires to a variety of other options.
Most e-wallet payments can be credited back along with wins with little hassle, if you deposit $100 through Neteller and cash out $500 they'll simply send it to your Neteller wallet. The same can be said for PayPal if it's an option in your area and similar payment methods.
Some depositing options are one-way however and can't be credited back using the same method. Using a service like PayForIt for example you'll get billed on your phone account, but a casino can't add a $1000 win to your phone bill. In these cases you'll most likely get a check or bank transfer of some kind.
It's always best to check on your available withdrawal options before you start playing at any particular venue, casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks are obviously all too eager to make it easy to deposit money - but don't necessarily make it quite as easy to get back out. Check for fees and processing times before you make a decision.
There's two factors that normally determine how long it takes to get your withdrawal processed. The first - just as with deposits the method you've used to withdrawal may vary in speed, but on top of that most casinos, poker rooms and sports betting site don't process withdrawals immediately. Policies change depending on where you're playing, but seem to average about 2 days before processing cash outs. Why? There are a plethora of reasons cited (usually security related,) but the fact that players are able to 'reverse' their withdrawal during this period goes to show it's mostly in the hopes that the player will have a change of heart and and start placing bets again rather than taking their wins.
Very few places will bother trying to verify your identity when making a deposit, the personal information you put in when creating your account is pretty much taken at your word.
At some point however when making a withdrawal, almost all venues will require that you verify your identity and account details before they'll send you money back. This doesn't always happen before your first withdrawal, and is more likely to happen the first time on larger than smaller ones.
What you'll need to do to verify your account depends on where you're playing, and is usually pretty painless albeit a little obtrusive. Someone making deposits with a credit card may be asked to send a scan/photo of their credit card and proof of ID like a drivers license, someone making bank transfers may be asked for a copy of the relevant bank statement, etc. While it's not a fun part of the experience it is typically only needed one time to verify your account; after which it's normally not requested again unless the player has made a change of address or perhaps bank details.
While it's a bit of a pain, in all fairness many licensing authorities do require that betting establishments conduct these checks to help prevent money laundering. Make sure you're honest about your account details when signing up and you shouldn't have any problems (don't use fake names, addresses, numbers etc.)
Both to entice new players and to encourage existing ones to stick around, online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks all generally offer some kind of bonuses to players when they make a deposit and/or for certain levels of play.
A bonus is essentially something on top of what a player actually paid for. For example, an online casino may offer a 50% bonus on a players first deposit, in which case the player would receive $150 in their casino account after depositing $100. Bonuses come in a variety of options, but without exception will always have some 'strings' attached.
These 'strings attached' are usually in the form of 'playthrough requirements', meaning the patron must wager a certain amount before they are able to make a withdrawal. This is to prevent the obvious potential abuse of depositing $100 and immediately cashing out $150 without having played at all, which would naturally be a losing proposition for the venue offering the bonus.
'No-deposit bonuses' are available at some venues in which the player gets a free amount credited to their bankroll, but these generally come with even more strings attached, playthrough requirements in addition to maximum cash-outs. $20 free for signing up may require you to wager $1000 in bets (50x playthrough) and may also have a maximum cash out of $200.
A playthrough requirement is the number of times a patron must wager either the bonus they've received or their bonus + deposit before they are eligible to make a withdrawal. For example, a 20x playthrough requirement on a bonus of $50 means you'll have to make $1000 in bets before you've 'cleared' the bonus and can withdraw any money from your account. And depending on the terms of the bonus, this too may vary depending on what games you're playing. Slots generally count at their actual bet value (bet $1, $1 is subtracted from your remaining playthrough requirement,) whereas games like blackjack and roulette with close to even odds may only contribute a fraction of the total bet (make a $1 bet in blackjack and $0.10 goes towards playthrough requirements.)
While the concept of a bonus certainly sounds appealing (and often is) - be sure to read the terms and conditions before you take one to make sure it matches your style of play. If you're looking to play for just an hour or two then cash out - you might not be able to with that bonus on top.
Playing On Different Devices:
Once upon a time online casinos were pretty much relegated to PC's only, and occasionally (but rarely) Macs. Times have changed over the years however, and now there's a lot of extra considerations.
In the early days of online casinos, virtually all casino games were offered exclusively through downloadable software. HTML5 wasn't a thing, Flash and Shockwave weren't widely adopted (and were still in their early phases,) meaning there weren't really any other options for respectable game play short of creating standalone software. This was the norm well into the early 2000's, at which point certain venues started offering Flash renditions of their games that could be played directly in a browser. At the time most casinos continued offering downloadable software as well, which often had a better variety of games than what was offered to browser only players.
Years later, with the explosion in use of modern cell phones and tablets it became evident that making software for every possible device out there wasn't really feasible, especially with Apple in particular having tight restrictions on gambling applications. For that reason most online casinos eventually pivoted to no-download options exclusively, which with the modernization of the web and HTML5 has become comparable to software quality-wise.
These days some online casinos, poker rooms and even sportsbooks do have download options still - but generally speaking there's no reason to use them if you can opt for browser based play. The only real advantage is slightly faster loading times for software (after the initial install) - and less data usage if you're on slow or metered internet.
As mentioned above, it's usually easiest to stick with no-download options when you're playing on a mobile phone - but there are a few venues that have specific 'apps' that allow you to play on your account after a download.
In the case of online casinos, these are usually at least somewhat watered down versions of any particular suite of games due to download sizes and certain games not really translating to the medium for one reason or another. Poker rooms are better suited for conversion to apps because they have fewer assets (smaller downloads) - and the nature of the game means the last thing you'll want to do is accidentally refresh the browser or get prompted for an update in the middle of a hand. Sportsbooks lend themselves just fine to browser only interaction, but if for nothing other than super fast accessibility some people still prefer having some kind of software/app installed, plus added benefits such as notifications (such as an alarm going off 5 minutes before a game starts) and other things browsers can't do.
Most online betting establishments still don't have dedicated apps and don't really need to if they function well enough in a mobile browser. Some do, but you'll find a much wider variety available for Android devices than you will for iOS - it's near impossible to get any real money gambling apps on the Apple store.
Back in the early days of online casinos there were only a handful of software providers, and these providers offered licenses almost in a 'franchise' style - charging money up front to use their suite of games along with some sort of commission on the buyers ongoing profits. The first to so so was Microgaming, a still well respected and active leader in the online casino market. Others were to follow, Crypologic, RTG, Playtech and many more as time goes by.
Because in these early days online casinos were downloadable software, that meant you'd be tying yourself into a particular set of games whenever you played at a casino using a particular brand of software. Microgaming casinos had microgaming games (not always the same ones,) the same shared jackpots, a shared general look and feel although re branded slightly for the particular casino licensing the software. Same for RTG, Cryptologic, Playtech or any other software, you got the general idea of what to expect game-wise if you'd ever played somewhere else using the same software.
These days with most places avoiding software downloads altogether, lots of casinos mix and match games from different providers for a more unique experience. A casino may have table games using Playtech software, a mixture of slot machines from 10 different providers in order to have a huge selection to choose from and video poker games from somewhere else entirely. Basically, they can license individual games instead of software packages now.
There are different software providers for poker and bingo rooms, though we've never seen more than one kind used at a particular site - doing so would dilute the number of players at both by splitting them up; which would be counter productive for either type. In fact, poker software in particular often operates on the same 'network' across different poker rooms to ensure there's enough players at each venue to keep the tables busy.
Whether it's an online casino, poker room or virtual bingo hall - some venues also operate off their own proprietary software as well that's particular to the one site only.
We enjoy gambling, you probably enjoy gambling too if you're here - but as you probably know it's entirely possible to like it too much, even to the point of addiction and sometimes disastrous results.
This sounds like a complicated question but the answer is actually pretty simple - with no more than you're comfortable losing. Gambling should be for entertainment purposes only, always know that you may lose whatever you put in.
Betting $20 on your favorite sports team and losing might be a bummer, but provided that $20 doesn't break the bank and wasn't needed to pay the bills that month you've simply lost some expendable income for the purpose of entertainment. Maybe that could have been used to go to the movies or for a couple of drinks at the local pub - but if it's earmarked for fun and you had it, there's nothing wrong with that.
Betting with the express purpose of 'needing' to win is always a bad bet. It doesn't matter what you're playing, gambling always comes with the chance of losing. You might think you have a 'lock' on a game outcome, you might think you can clean up at the poker tables, you might think tonight is your lucky night at the slots. You might be right, but you're probably wrong.
Never bet more than you can afford to lose, never bet with the assumption that you'll win, and NEVER bet with money you need for your essentials - gambling is not essential.
If you're comfortable doing so there's nothing wrong with talking to friends and family, but when you're looking to speak to people with expertise in dealing with problem gambling we highly recommend visiting responsiblegambling.org for recommendations on where to get help locally.