In most regions, online casino gambling is legal. Legality in some nations means a heavily-regulated online gaming industry, such as the United Kingdom or Australia. Legality in other countries means a complete lack of supervision. In these places, the local government authorities might be somewhat hostile to the concept of gambling, but they allow such activity because they don’t have the resources to police such activity.
Then there are the countries which devote resources to banning online casinos and prosecuting those who engage in such activity. In the United States, online casinos are banned in 47 states and the District of Columbia. A casino operator located inside the United States might be prosecuted for encouraging real money gambling, along with the payment services which handle money transactions involving banned activity. The gamblers themselves are not punished–or at least, they never have been.
In some countries, such as China or Russia, both the gambler and the gambling operator involved in online gambling can be punished. China recently arrested two men for operating an illegal online gambling network, along with 1000 players who were part of that network. Over 500 of those people eventually spent significant time in jail. Russia, which has a 100% ban on online gambling, punishment might be more severe. It pays to know the laws of a country before you gamble online in that land.
Finding a legal online casino takes a little bit of research, but trusted websites exist which help. Along with our site, ECOGRA (http://www.ecogra.org/) also has a massive list of approved websites, along with published information about odds and legality.
Reputation is a huge factor in online gambling. The Internet has seen its share of scam artists and fly-by-night operators. The last thing you need is to win a big jackpot and then realize later that you have no chance of collecting those winning. Checking on how trustworthy a site is pays. Once again, services like eCOGRA can help determine which are legit and which aren’t.
Players also post on gambling forums about websites, while independent blogs and static websites post reviews of the many casinos on the Internet. I would take such information with a grain of salt. Reviews are often posted by affiliates who want to drive traffic to a particular brand. Also, message boards are going to have some people who are disgruntled about everything. Also, businesses are known to pay people to spike their rivals’ reputations online. But if a community of players consistently has bad reports on an online or mobile casino, stay away from the site.
Don’t wander too far off the beaten path. Publicly-traded companies are usually safe. William Hill and Ladbrokes have been around for a 80 years or more and are traded on the London Stock Exchange, so the LSX confers a great deal of prestige and respectability. Those are just two of a hundred such companies.
Frankly, if you live in the United States, most online casinos are going to be illegal to play. The big UK and European casino brands do not accept US players, unless they are partnered with the one of the Atlantic City casinos in the New Jersey gaming market. Unfortunately, you need to be residing inside New Jersey for this to be much help to you.
Most people living in the United States must realize the online casinos available are banned, and therefore illegal to play. Only New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have legal gambling–and Nevada only allow poker. Eventually, other states might legalize iCasinos. At present or in the recent past, a number of US states have considered online gambling legalization. The list of states includes California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Washington. Some states, like Hawaii and Utah, have a 100% ban against any form of gambling and they mean to punish those who step out of line.
Licensing does not assure a casino is safe. Licensing does assure that a casino is legal, at least in some parts of the world. Take a look at a website when you first navigate to its homepage. Check for its licensing information. If it’s licensed by the Isle of Man, Alderney, Malta, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, that is a sign that it’s been licensed by one of the common license granters in the industry.
If you still have questions after going through the steps above, call customer support at any online casino which posts its numbers. Ask the support staff any legal questions which come to mind. If you can’t find contact info, you shouldn’t be playing at the site. If they cannot answer questions to your satisfaction, they do not deserve your business.