Online gambling FAQs, questions on internet gambling, unsure about internet gambling, want to know more about online gambling, is it safe to play at an online casino, are internet casinos


If you're new to gambling on the internet then I bet you have a bunch of questions about the online gambling industry.  Hope the discussion below is helpful.
  1. Have online casinos been operating for long?

  2. How many people actually gamble with real money online?

  3. Are there many casinos/sports books are there on the Internet?

  4. Are all Internet casinos/sports books licensed?

  5. Are all casinos/sports books honest and trustworthy?

  6. What do I need to do to begin playing?

  7. How do I set up an account and play with real money?

  8. Is it safe to deposit money with an Internet casino or sports book?

  9. How are game outcomes determined?

  10. How do I know the software is not cheating me?

  11. How can I be sure that winnings will be paid out and how long will this take?

  12. What games can I play at these casinos?

  13. Are returns similar across all games?

  14. How do I receive my winnings?

  15. Who supplies the internet casinos with their software?

  16. So where do you recommend I gamble?

  17. Is it legal to gamble online?

  18. Like to know more?

Have Internet casinos been operating for long?

While mainstream awareness of the online gambling industry is relatively new,  rest assured, it is not a new industry.  In fact in internet terms it is quite old.  A handful of casinos and sports books have been operating since 1996.  A number of the pioneer operators are still on-line today, and are among the industries bigger and more reputable names.

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Do many people actually gamble online?

Yes.  While nobody knows the exact size of the industry, analysts such as Christian Capital Advisors and Datamonitor estimate that it was worth around US$1 billion in player losses in 2001.  It is expected that this figure will almost treble by 2003.  That equates to a lot of people gambling on-line.  

Results of a survey published in PRNewswire (22 March 2001) claimed that approximately 8 million people have already gambled with real money online.  And estimates of future growth suggest that more and more punters are becoming comfortable with the Internet as a safe and convenient gambling medium.  

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How many casinos/sports books are there on the internet?

As at September 1999, Christian Capital Advisors estimated that there were approximately 700 casinos taking money bets over the Internet.  The number today is probably closer to 1000.  Add to this 250 or so Internet sports books, and you begin to get an idea of the vast number of operators out there.

A study released in March 2001 by analysts Bear Sterns suggested that there were between 1,200 and 1,400 sites accepting real money wagers online - which is probably a pretty fair estimate.

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Are all internet casinos/sports books licensed?

Licenses to operate online casinos or sports books are issued by the Governments of a number countries, mainly in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. Antigua Barbuda, St Kitts, Vanuatu, and the Dominican Republic are notable licensing jurisdictions for Internet gambling operators.   Other countries such as South Africa and certain EU countries are investigating licensing options.  Australia recently legislated to allow the operation of Australian based casinos and sports books subject to restrictions regarding the acceptance of bets from Australian residents.  The US government continues to grapple with the issue of whether to regulate or ban online gambling.

Not all current operators are licensed however.  Fly by night renegade operators launch weekly.  It has been estimated that up to 20% of all Internet casinos currently accepting bets are not licensed to do so.

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Are all internet casinos/sports books honest and trust-worthy?

Absolutely not.  In addition to operators that are not licensed, a good proportion of licensed operators are less than scrupulous.  Many licensing jurisdictions do not have stringent probity requirements and regulation of licensees not strict.  As a consequence, even the licensed portion of the online gambling industry is largely self regulated, with operating practises dictated to a large extent by the operator   itself (or its software provider).  

It is probably fair to say that almost 40% of the industry as it currently stands, is best left untouched.  Common complaints from customers who have had the misfortune to play with dishonest operators include:

  • Refusal to pay out winnings

  • Lengthy delays before winnings are paid out

  • Use of rigged proprietary software, with outcomes not randomly generated

  • Closures with no warning, without refunding deposited funds

That’s the bad news.  Now for the good news.  There are a number of operators out there who are striving to establish themselves as legitimate, trustworthy casinos that now have satisfied player bases numbering in the tens of thousands.  They license software from large, respected suppliers such as Microgaming or Cryptologic whose products have been tested to the nth degree and now satisfy even the most ardent skeptics as to their fairness (in fact Cyptologic's latest software has actually satisfied the very strict probity requirements of at least one Australian state government gaming regulator).  

Your chances of winning money at these casinos is every bit as good as your chances of winning at your local terrestrial casino, and any winnings are sure to be sent out to you within a few days of your withdrawal request.

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What do I need to do to begin playing?

There are 2 broad categories of casino game – those that must be downloaded on to your computer before you can play, and those that can be played directly from your browser.  

In the case of download casinos, it will generally take around 20 minutes to download the casino software onto your computer.  The downloaded software enables you to play games that are faster and graphically more appealing than the browser based games.

Launching the downloaded software is invariably a quick and simple task that you shouldn't have too many problems with.  And that's it!  All you need to do now is play the games for free to get a good feel for game play commands (how do I bet/hit/stand/limits etc), before trying your luck for real. 

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How do I set up an account and play with real money?

In order to play casino games for real money, or place a bet on your favourite team for real money, you will need to establish an account by depositing money with your chosen casino or sports book.  Once money is deposited you simply bet from your account, with losses deducted and winnings added.  

Most operators allow a wide range of deposit options, including major credit cards (ie the same way you buy most other things on the net), wire transfer, personal check or bank draft, as well as via a range of well known e-commerce facilitation organizations like NETeller and Firepay.  

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Is it safe depositing money with an Internet casino or s/book?

All casinos listed on Absolutely Gambling use 128 bit encryption security to transfer information and funds confidentially and securely.  What this basically means is that transacting with these casinos is every bit as safe as transacting with major banks and financial institutions on-line.   

If you choose to play at a casino not listed on our site, make sure that all information and funds transfer take place from a secure site.  Your browser will indicate whether or not you are at a secure site - Internet Explorer users will see a small padlock symbol at the bottom right of their browser window status bar, Netscape users should see a similar padlock on their browser.  

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How are game outcomes determined?

This varies from casino to casino.  Skeptics will tell you that game outcomes are rigged to give the casino a bigger house edge than they would otherwise have.  I have also read player claims that at certain casinos outcomes appear random until the ante is upped, then all of a sudden the dealer wins all the high value bets.  And to be fair, I would not be surprised if some casinos utilising proprietary software did cheat players in this way - remember there are over 1000 out there and a significant percentage of operators are not honest and/or licensed.

However, if we leave aside the less than scrupulous operators and address the legitimate casinos, then  the answer to this question is that outcomes of the games are determined by various random number generation systems.   Casinos using Boss Media software, for example, employ a Geiger-Müller Tube Detector to guarantee random number generation.  Therefore, the number that the roulette ball lands on, the number that the die add to in craps, or the value of the next card that is dealt for all card games is totally random.  

With respect to card games, it is worth noting that at all online casinos, each deal is from a full shuffled deck (so that card counting is not possible). 

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How do I know the software is not cheating me?

A number of casinos (and almost all listed at Absolutely Gambling) are taking that extra step to prove that all game outcomes are dictated by random number generation.  Third party audit of return to player rates across all games has been sought to prove that, in aggregate, these casinos return similar amounts to players as terrestrial casinos.  Gold Club Casino for example, had its return to player rate across all games audited and verified by PriceWaterouseCoopers to be a very healthy 98.07% for the month of April 2001. 

When you consider that returns for games such as slots and keno are typically below 95%, then this means that these guys must be returning close to 100% on games such as blackjack.

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How can I be sure that winnings will be paid out, and how long will this take?

If you take your chances with any casino you find online, then you cannot be sure that winnings will be paid out at all, let alone within a reasonable time.  Before adding casinos to our list we test their payout reliability to ensure that you won’t have this problem.  These guys will pay reasonably fast.  

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What games can I play at these casinos?

Any game that you have ever seen or played in a normal casino can be found on the casinos listed at Absolutely Gambling.  Black Jack, Roulette, Craps, Slots, Baccarat, Sic Bo, Pai Gow, Keno, all types of Poker, the list goes on.  In most cases you can also chat with other customers while you play, adding to the realism of the experience. 

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Are returns similar across all games?

No.  As for terrestrial gambling, returns differ substantially from game to game.  To give you some idea of where the good money is, returns by game type, as paid by  The Sands for the month of January 2001, were as follows:

Blackjack     98.6%
Baccarat      97.5%
Roulette       96.7%
Craps           96.6%
Slots            94.3%

As a general rule, no skill games tend to return less than games requiring skill and player judgement.   If possible avoid games such as slots, bingo (or keno) etc and stick to the table games and your dollar will go a lot further.  

For more details on game rules, strategies and payouts, read our rules & strategies page.

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How do I receive my winnings?

In order to receive your winnings, you simply make a withdrawal from your casino or sports book account.  As for deposits, most operators offer a number of withdrawal options, including:

- check (offered by almost all operators)
- wire transfer (offered by few operators)
- debit to credit card to the value of original credit amount (offered by few operators)
- NETeller (if deposit made via NETeller)
- Prepaid ATM (if deposit made vie Prepaid ATM)

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Who supplies the internet casinos with their software?

There are a number of software providers out there licensing software to online casino operators.  Some casinos employ their own proprietary software, but the vast majority license software from one of the many software providers now peddling their wares to the industry.   The industries principle software licensors are Cryptologic, Microgaming, Boss Media, and Starnet Systems .  Other well known gambling software vendors include:
Interactive Gaming and Wagering

Net Entertainment

Gaming Tech Corporation

Interactive Solutions Corp
Unified Gaming
Real Time Gaming

For a comprehensive list of software vendors, as well as details on most licensing jurisdictions, visit

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So where do you recommend that I gamble?

Easy - begin by playing at the casinos or sports books which we have played at, and which we believe satisfy our selection criteria, ie:

  • they are licensed;

  • they are well regarded in the industry as a reputable player, by both online gaming organizations and players alike;

  • they have their return to player rates reviewed by a 'Big 5 accounting firm';

  • software and account set up is easy;

  • they have good customer support;

  • they have great game/betting line range; and

  • they pay fast!!!!!

Check them out, and good luck.


Sports books

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Is it legal to gamble online?

There are few laws specifically dealing with gambling online so the legality is a grey area. Some governments (eg Australia) have moved to ban online gambling  specifically, and this is an area where change could happen very quickly.  In the US, in any event, online gambling is so common that it's unlikely that U.S. or state governments can do much to stop individuals from doing it. The only prosecutions we've ever heard of involved operators who were running their sites in the U.S. instead of offshore.

There was also the recent conviction of Joel Cohen, the president of the online sports book World Sports Exchange, when a jury found him guilty for accepting a bet from a resident of New York - a state where gambling is illegal.  However, and not surprisingly, none of his New York customers who placed bets with his service were prosecuted.  There has never been a prosecution (or even an attempted prosecution) of a US patron of an online casino/sportsbook, so you have very little to worry about there.

Click here for a more in depth discussion of online gambling legal issues.

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Want to know more?

If you have any more questions that you would like answered, please feel free to contact us, and we will be happy to answer them as best we can and as soon as we can. 

In the mean time, gamble safe, and good luck!

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