Casino Gambling: Online and in the Comfort of Home
Remember on Star Trek when they’d beam down a party to the mystery planet? Aliens always seemed to vaporize the guys wearing red shirts, while Kirk and the rest of the crew returned to the Enterprise safe and sound. Playing Internet casinos and putting your money at risk can feel like you’re beaming down to a strange new world.
You may live long and prosper or, well, you may just be wearing a red shirt. The biggest concern for most players when gambling online is cheating — by the house, another player, or some hacker in Eastern Europe. Even if the games are honest, you hassle with depositing your money and worry about not getting paid. Cloudy legal questions and the increased danger of addiction to Internet gambling also muddy the waters.
Mapping the Legal Landscape
The Federal Wire Act of 1961 was enacted as an antiracketeering law aimed at organized crime, but it also implied that gambling over telephone lines is illegal. This edict is the primary reason online casinos can’t currently operate from within the United States. But because cyberspace has no border control, offshore online casinos can still reach the homes of U.S. gamblers. The hotbed of Internet gambling activity is centered in several Caribbean countries, but a number of other governments around the world have also legalized Internet casinos.
Understanding How Online Casinos Work
Despite its risks, online gaming is exploding, with yearly revenues topping $10 billion. So, why is online gambling so wildly popular? Plain and simple — the convenience factor. You can gamble from the comfort of your own home or even while sipping a latte at the local coffee shop. Games are available at all hours, and, best of all, you don’t need to fly across the country for the privilege of emptying your wallet. (Besides, if you lose your shirt from playing online, just go to your dresser and grab another one!) Online sites try to pump realism into the games by matching the sights and sounds of the casino. But, if you love the crowded camaraderie at a craps table, playing online may strike you as a poor substitute.
Connecting with cyberspace
Internet play is similar to a video poker machine. You have a video interface (your computer monitor) and buttons (on your mouse), and high-tech silicone chips (rather than a real deck of cards) determine the outcome. Just as in video poker, gambling online means that money changes hands. The method of exchange may be slightly different, but your bank account doesn’t notice.
Locating the Best (and Safest) Online Casino Games
Unlike the big boys in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Internet casinos don’t have a gaming commission looking over their shoulder to ensure that all games are on the up and up. Although the vast majority of online casinos are honest, a few unscrupulous operators have cheated customers — either with bogus software that rarely lets you win or by folding up shop after they’ve taken your deposit.
Taking Advantage of Promos and Giveaways
Your Internet casino definitely doesn’t feature an exploding volcano. Nor does it have a wild pirate battle, a roller coaster, or a dolphin habitat. But those extravaganzas don’t have the slightest effect on the actual games inside the casino. And if you’re there just for the games, you don’t miss the sideshow. The main difference between online and brick-and-mortar casinos is the lower overhead. In addition to all the razzmatazz, online casinos don’t have to pay for dealers, pit bosses, slot clerks, or even janitors. So these businesses aren’t just cash cows — they’re an entire herd worth millions of dollars.
Picking the right Internet casino is critical if you want to enjoy your online gaming experience. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to spend weeks or even months watching the mailbox, hoping some rogue casino finally pays the money it owes you. In addition to using the watchdog Web sites that I mention earlier in this section, you can do a little homework upfront because it pays big dividends later.