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Posted: 2006/05/11 by: J. Phillip Vogel. Slots, Online casino gambling articles.
Finding the right online casino is crucial and tricky. As an authority on Internet gambling, I am asked a lot of questions by gamblers who are contemplating taking the plunge into the sea of online casinos.
These questions typically include topics like “Is it safe?” or “Do you have to play for real money?” and can vary to include subjects as diverse as banking, taxes, legality and software. 
By and large, however, the question I am asked most often is “How can I tell if an online casino in any good?”

With the number of online casinos steadily rising to meet the public’s insatiable appetite for gambling, it’s becoming increasingly tedious to wade through the mire and pick out only the very best sites. 
While worries regarding less-than reputable or “scam” sites have lessened over the years as the industry has started to come together and better regulate itself, there are still more than enough bad apples left in the bunch to warrant continued scrutiny.  Complicating matters further, there is often a wide gap among legitimate sites in terms of how “good” or worthwhile they really are.
For example, some sites prefer to stay on the cutting edge by updating their software and game selection continuously, while others opt to “make do” with outdated software, rather than suffer the added expense of growth. 
These “lazy” sites, as I call them, may not be criminal, but they sorely lack much of the value and professionalism found in leading sites.  As such, it is always to the player’s benefit to find the very best site that suits their gaming tastes while always looking-out for an even better one.

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The first step in finding a good site is simple: Do your homework. Rather than rely on advertisements or broad search engine categories, visit a reputable gambling portal--in fact several--and read what reviewers have to say about a site.  Also, read books, magazines, newsletters--anything pertinent--and look for information about online gambling sites.

Once you’ve found a couple of sites that appeal to you, study them page by page, looking over the game previews, promotions, banking issues, security features--even company background if its offered. (Hint: Try the “About Us” section.)  As you examine the site, ask yourself some key questions:
 
“Are the graphics and overall design professional grade?” 
“How long have they been in business?”
“Do they post their payout percentages and how well do my favorite games pay?”
“How many games do they offer?  Are their enough games that I’m likely to play?
“How do I contact them if there is a problem?” 
 
These are just a few of the important questions that you need to answer before you bother to download the software, and certainly before you deposit any funds. 
To further help you develop a clear picture of the site(s) you’re considering, I have included a brief checklist designed to rate casinos based on their merits according to several categories.
Note, however, that while this “test” can serve as a general guideline for rating an online casino, it is by no means definitive and players should be sure to thoroughly research any site before playing.

Rate your online casino
Below are 20 questions divided in four major categories: reputation, software, security & banking, and player incentives.  For each question, circle the answer that best suits your current casino.
 
Reputation
1.  How many awards has the site won?
 A. None/information not offered     
 B. 1-2     
 C. 3-4
 D. 5 or more
 
2.  Their monthly payout percentages are:
A.  Never mentioned on the site
B.  Reviewed by an independent auditor
C.  Audited and available for examination by players
 
3.  Are they affiliated with a traditional casino or gaming group anywhere in the world?
A.  No
B.  Yes

4.   Are they affiliated with or a member of any online gaming regulatory group such as eCOGRA?
A.  No
B.  Yes
 
5.  You heard about them through:
A.  E-mail directly from company
B.  Found a banner ad on a web site
C.  Read a review in a magazine
 
Software
6.  How many games does the site offer?
A.  Less than a dozen
B.  12-25
C.  26-75
D.  76 or more
7.  Does the site offer any multi-player games with chat options?
A.  No     
B.  Yes
 
8.  The software is available via:
A.  Download
B.  Download and Java or Flash
C. Download, Java or Flash and CD
 
9.  How realistic are the site’s graphics and sounds?
A. Not at all
B. Like an old arcade game
C. Nice, but not entirely realistic
D. Fantastic 3-D images and realistic game sounds
 
10.  Do they use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to assure fair outcomes?
A. No/They don’t mention a RNG
B. Yes
 
Security, Support & Banking
11.  Are all financial transactions supported/protected by the latest encryption software?
A. No
B. Yes
 
12. How fast are withdrawals processed?
A. Once a week
B. Every 48 hours
C. Within 24 hours
 
13. What types of customer support do they offer?
A.  None
B.  E-mail
C.  24/7 E-mail and toll-free telephone
D.  24/7 E-mail, toll-free telephone and live chat
 
14. How many different ways can players make deposits and withdrawals?
A.  1-2
B.  3-4
C.  4-5
D.  6 or more
 
15.  Do they offer security features that allow players to check their deposits or game results?
A  No
B.  Yes
 
Player Incentives
16.  Does the site offer a loyalty, returning player or “Player Reward” program?
A.   No
B.   Yes
 
17. How much is the initial sign-up bonus worth?
A.   No bonus
B.   Percentage or cash up to $50
C.   Percentage or cash up to $100
D.   More than $100
 
18. Do they offer bonuses for players using specific deposit methods?
A.  No additional bonus
B.  Yes, up to 5%
C.  Yes, more than 5%
 
19. Do their “Player Reward” points carry-over each month?
A.   No, they expire at the end of each month
B.   Yes, they carry over from month to month
 
20. Are there referral bonuses available?
A.   No
B.   Yes, 5%
C.   Yes, 10%
D.   Yes, 20% or more
           
The Results
How well did your site do? Add up the totals from each section according to your responses (A=0 points; B=1 point; C=2 Points; D=3 points) and compare that value to the table below:

Score                                                Site Rating
10 or less                                          Poor           
11-24                                               Average
25-34                                               Pretty good
35+                                                  Excellent

© Copyright 2006 J. Phillip Vogel's material. It may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten, or redistributed.

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