Online casinos allow gamblers to enjoy real-money slots and table games on their PC or smartphone. Opening an account takes minutes, and you'll find an amazing range of games to play from all stakes.

Casinos should be safe and secure, and you can load up an account with cash without worrying whether your transactions are being hacked.

As long as you are of legal age, and abide by the casino rules, there are some serious promotions and jackpots available. And with thousands of games to choose from, you'll never get bored.

Gambling Licensing & Regulation

Online casinos are licensed to operate by recognised gaming jurisdictions. Mainly based in small offshore territories like Gibraltar, Malta and the Isle of Man, these jurisdictions are experienced in handing out licenses to internet casinos and gambling sites.

Licensing bodies vary in terms of the standards they expect from their licensees. In most cases, casinos will only be able to provide software from developers who are also licensed. Casinos must also have independent audits carried out, and supply the latest security to ensure player details are encrypted.

Getting Started: Downloading A Software Client

Most online casinos allow players to download a dedicated app to their desktop. In many cases, there is a separate client for Apple Mac owners. Once downloaded, load up the software and come up with a unique username and password (and sometimes an on-screen 'alias') to use when you log on.

With a download app you can store individual games for easy access again and again. Simply find a game you like in the lobby and hit the 'download' button. Download apps tend to work a bit better than 'no-download' clients.

No-Deposit/Instant-Play Games: Most casinos online also allow a log-in via the web browser, although you will need a good web connection in both cases.

Simply visit the casino homepage via your Safari/Chrome/Internet Explorer browser and enter your log-in details on the screen. "Instant-play" games work in a browser-based format like Adobe Flash or, more commonly, HTML5. This is a powerful language that works across multiple platforms like mobiles and Windows.

Playing On Smartphones And Tablets

It's possible to play the same great casino games via your smartphone or brand, shiny new iPad. You can log in using the same online log-in (though not at the same time) and play the same great games.

In general, a mobile version of an online client won't have quite the same number of games but developers are quickly catching up with their adaptations.

Games also have a different feel: roulette, blackjack and slots are all miniaturised to deal with the smaller screen space. In addition, casinos take advantage of the touch-screen technology to allow players to change coin sizes, place bets, and spin reels - all at the tap of a finger.  

Making A First Real-Money Deposit

It's possible to deposit and store cash at an online casino site. Think of it like a bank account that can be deposited into and withdrawn from. You'll be set up with an account as soon you register and make a first deposit. In some cases, you may have to register a bank card first.

When cashing out back to your bank account, you can request a withdrawal (or cancel one) and avoid any transaction fees when you do it. At most licensed casinos you may have to provide some form of photo ID to complete the cash-out.

Testing Games Out For Free

Many casinos offer players the chance to try games out for free before taking the plunge with their bucks, pounds and Euros. Hit the 'Freeplay' or 'Practice Money' button on the game screen next to the 'Real Money' option to get started. Some games won't have this option, so check beforehand.

You won't win any real cash playing practice-money slots and table games, but they are a great way to learn the rules and see if you are going to enjoy playing the game with your bankroll. You'll also be able to gauge whether the game is volatile or not.

Getting The Best Casino Bonuses And Promotions

No casino is worth its salt if it doesn't offer a few incentives. Bonuses give players the chance to double their bankroll, just by playing their favourite games.

Most casinos offer a basic welcome bonus package - a deposit match that sometimes includes free slots spins. These can be pretty generous depending on the amounts but always check which games are eligible towards the bonus amount.

With hundreds of online casinos available online and on mobile, it's difficult to know where to start. Kick things off by deciding what you want to play, and how much you want to bet. With an idea of your bankroll and the kinds of jackpots you're aiming for, you'll be in a better position to start gambling. 

How Online Casinos Work - FAQs 

How Are Internet Casinos Licensed?

Casinos need a license from a recognised gaming commission or body to operate online. Unregulated casinos do exist but can be unreliable and there is no comeback if your money goes missing.   

How Do I Open An Account?

First, create a username and share details with the casino like home address, email and card details. You won't need to deposit to start playing as many games are available for play money.

What Computer Set-Up Do I Need?

A decent PC with Windows 7 is good enough to run most online casinos. If you are playing through a browser ensure your browser is up to date.

Is Banking Possible At An Online Casino?

Yes. Deposits and withdrawals can be made within a few minutes, and in many cases there are no fees.

Can I Trust A Casino With My Money?

Regulated casinos and gambling sites will segregate their players' money so that it can be withdrawn if players want. Casinos must also be able to honour jackpots and winnings if players get lucky. Most gambling jurisdictions have dispute advisors in place who can deal with complaints about payments and payouts.  

Are The Games Fair?

Regulated casino.

Can I Play For Free?

Yes. Most games can be tried out for free, or 'play money' before you commit your bankroll.

Can I Play On My Smartphone Or Tablet?

Yes. A lot of casinos have mobile clients for download to Android or iOS devices. Alternatively, you can use your same online log-in to access instant-play mobile sites and play through your phone's web browser.