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How I Ranked These Online Casino Sites

I started by looking at the biggest problems surrounding online casinos (US casinos especially) ever since the UIGEA passed in 2006: fast payouts (or rather the lack of them). In order to pass from the first test to get on this list, an online casino has to deliver player cashouts in two weeks or less. I spent hours upon hours on forums reading about player experiences, and truth to be told, it was difficult to gather a list of real-money casinos with a solid track record for fast payouts.

But “difficult” was not going to stop me and I got it done.

The subsequent rounds of testing were about ranking these casinos in order, and the most important factor I looked at was customer service. I wanted to know the response times, helpfulness and general atmosphere of each casino’s customer service department. Having friendly and helpful people at your service not only improves the online casino experience but is also important when there are unexpected problems (more likely to happen in the US).

As mentioned, this was an important factor and for a reason: while most online casino sites had live chat options – which means you can be in contact with them essentially rightaway – those who prefer to communicate via e-mail are going to have to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days to get an answer. And of course there were big differences between the quality of live chat support too (from unreliable chat software to unhelpful responses by the customer support personnel).

The third critical aspect of an online casino is its playability (including compatibility):

  1. The basic version of the software must be top-quality. No glitches, bugs, or anything of the sort. We want a good playing experience while risking our hard-earned money, and an online casino that fails to acknowledge this neither deserves our time nor money.
  2. The software must be playable within the browser. It’s important because not everyone wants to download casino software to their hard drive (I’m one of them) and, perhaps more importantly, Mac users need a software they can play. I can accept not having a browser-based software in case there’s a downloadable software specifically for Mac users (otherwise Mac users have to go through too much trouble to play at the casino), but otherwise it’s quite a problem if an online casino pays no attention to a significant percentage of the US population.
  3. The software must be available for mobile. This is becoming more and more important since mobile device screens are getting bigger and companies get more specs in the devices, so you can do more with them. This is also one of the most neglected areas (as you can see from my page about top-ranked mobile casinos) since casino sites either lack mobile-compatible software altogether or its quality is horrible.

If you can move money around fast, you’re served well and the playing experience is great, it’s safe to say you’re dealing with a good, professional online casino site. But I wanted to separate the great casinos from the good so I dug deeper.

I looked at deposit options (and fees), payback percentages, welcome bonuses and other promotions, game selection and jackpot sizes. Again, there were clear differences between top US online casinos and the top-3 ranked USA casino websites on top of this page are the ones that I consider clearly ahead of the others.

How We Rank Online Gambling Websites

You can see our top recommendations above (for the location you’ve accessed our site from). You might wonder why we rank these sites above all others and we’ll happily tell you more about it.

Secure GamblingOur first gambling site ranking criteria is safety and reliability of the site. If the site is not safe or reliable (perhaps even both), it makes little sense to look at other details. If a sportsbook fails to respect its customers, that’s an immediate dealbreaker for us. We have no intentions of ever listings sites with poor track records, subpar customer support, questionable licenses or payment issues. Additionally, we keep track of online gaming sites accused of scams and fraud.

Once we’ve determined that a site treates its customers with respect, fairness and honesty, we move on to other criteria, such as software quality, game selection and promotions. All the top gambling sites do well at these areas but we want you to have all the good in online gambling and none of the bad, which is why we’ve done such extensive research.

One particular area we’ve focused on is how beneficial playing at a certain site is for the player, considering house edge and bonuses. Comparing betting lines and bonus offers is especially important when betting on sports–in fact, one of the most important things a winning sports bettor must do is to compare betting lines between several sports betting sites to find the best one.

Not only have we ranked these real-money gambling sites in order, we’ve written reviews for each of them. All of the sites listed at Gaming the are the cream of the crop, but by reading the reviews, you will find out which of them suits you the best.

Tips for Finding Top Gambling Websites

One day you may play at one of the real-money gaming sites we haven’t recommended. In that case, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how to determine a trustable website for real money play–while there are plenty of legitimate & safe gambling sites, there are even more of them looking to cheat you out of your hard-earned money.

The first two details to check are if the site is a part of any group or network of internet gambling properties, where the site has gotten its license from and which testing agency checks if the games are fair. Then you need to check all the various online blacklists (here’s ours) to see if the group, network or the individual site belongs to one of them (always a bad sign), and additionally, find out how credible the licensing authority and the testing agency are.

Real MoneyWhen comparing bonus offers, pay more attention to bonus terms than the size of the bonus. Some gambling bonuses are ten times easier to clear, or in other words, while certain sites give you a fair chance to get something out of their bonus offers, others have no intensions of ever allowing you to clear the bonus. Offering a sizeable bonus is easy if the bonus is almost impossible to clear.

Finally, we recommend signing-up at multiple sites (three is a good amount) to be able to take an advantage of great opportunities. Getting the best is especially important when betting on sports, however, being in the right place at the right time is important for poker players and casino gamblers alike.

Finding Safe Sites / Avoiding Rogue Sites

Fortunately, identifying rogue sites is not the most difficult task in the world. You’ll only run into a problem site if you fail to do any research on the casino or sportsbook and rush to make a deposit. Here’s a great checklist to use when contemplating on signing-up at casino or sportsbook of whiches history and track record you’re unaware of:

  • Search Google.
    A quick way to check if a site is safe and legitimate is to take a look at the search results for queries like “[Casino Name] Scam” or [Casino Name] Complaints”. The results are often quite telling. Simply searching for a review of the site can be misleading since plenty of sites recommend rip-off gambling websites based on how much advertising money they receive.
  • See What Watchdog Sites Have to Say.
    There are several casino and sportsbook watchdog gambling websites out there — we could be considered one as well even though that has not been our primary focus with this site. Either way, if you see reports of rip-offs, it’s best to not to take a risk and stay away from those sites. You might also take a look at our payout speed reports to see which sites make it their mission to deliver cashouts promptly.
  • Check for License.
    Has the site been licensed by trusted jurisdictions like Malta, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man (US-accepting sites are usually based out of Antiqua or Costa Rica)? And more importantly, can you find the license at their site? Missing license information is a huge warning sign.
  • Check for Auditing Agency.
    Does the company have information on which agency audits its games? Preferably, you can even find reports of payout percentages for the casino (for example, most eCogra-audited casinos publish payout percentages).
  • Check for Predatory Terms.
    Going through all of terms and conditions can be a tedious task, considering they often go into tens (if not hundreds) of pages of text written in the most boring fashion. However, the most important details to check for are a site’s withdrawal policy and bonus terms–being able to withdraw your money whenever you like and having a realistic chance of clearing the bonus (remember to also check which games the bonus applies to) are important details of a legitimate casino & sportsbook.
  • Use Forums.
    Perhaps the best way to stay in the loop is to join an active online gambling community and look for the areas where people discuss the reliability of these sites. In my opinion, forums are extremely useful specifically because they give the community a way to connect and share experiences.

In short, finding a safe and reliable website to play at for real money requires some work (unless you want to take a look at our list of safe & trusted gambling sites). But it pays off by providing you with a secure gambling enviroment.

Betting On Sports Online

Having internet access is wildly useful for anyone looking to take part in real-money betting. While there are several advantages to betting online, the main ones can be summed up with three points. When betting online, it is:

  1. Easier to compare
  2. Easier to place bets.
  3. Easier to do research.

But the main issue that many bettors have when contemplating taking their business online is the reliability and legality of online sportsbooks and payment methods — quite understandably, this often stops potential bettors from signing-up at online sports betting sites.

While it’s always good to be careful, not trusting any online sportsbook out there is being paranoid. There are, after all, several online sportsbooks with 10+ years of experience, strong track records, good and they keep receiving excellent feedback online year after year. The best in the business understand that reliability is the most important thing and that players sleep better at night knowing they can move their money to and from online sportsbooks however often they want to.

As far as legality of online betting goes, you should check your local laws to make sure you’re allowed to place bets there. Contacting a local gaming lawyer could be the best way to do this in order to get the most accurate interpretation of local gambling laws.

Betting Sites

The best all-around betting sites are:

  • 5Dimes and Bovada (US customers).
  • 32Red, Bet365 and Pinnacle Sports (non-US customers).

These sites have impressive track records, they treat customers well and often have great, too. Furthermore, co-incidentally, all of the sites have casino and poker software as well, should you ever feel like you want to try other forms of gambling (you can access all of the games from the one account that you create when initially signing-up).

I recommend signing-up at multiple betting sites in order to take an advantage of the best It’s especially important to Join Now 5Dimes and Pinnacle Sports because of their games with reduced juice (see Reduced Juice Sportsbooks if you’re wondering what that means ??? it’s one of the most important pieces of sports betting knowledge).

If you’re hesitating, start with a low amount and see how it goes ( you will be pleased with how well they work, and how easy betting is).

Depositing and Cashing Out Money

All the betting websites recommended at Gaming the have a plethora of deposit and cashout options (32Red has around 50 payment options in some jurisdictions). As long as you’re of legal age, you’ll have no problem finding a suitable sports betting payment option (if all else fails, you can always go with a wire transfer).

That is, unless you’re from the USA, in which case you’re left with credit / debit / gift cards and money transfer services (such as Moneygram) as deposit methods and checks and money transfer services as cashout methods. Having Mastercard or Visa cards gets the job done for the most of it, and certain betting websites accept American Express as well.

The Right Approach


Sports betting is like investing... and Warren Buffett knows investing.

“Ted Williams, in the science of hitting, talks about waiting for the right pitch. And that’s what investing is. In batting, if you have two strikes, you have to swing at the next strike. In investing, you just wait for the right pitch.”– Warren Buffett

Most sports bettors feel like they know better than bookies. Firstly, that’s rarely the case since the bookies are usually better-informed, and secondly, bookies get to set the kind of that they’re happy with, making it increasingly hard for the bettor to find games where bookies have made such a grave mistake.

Sports bettors do have it easier in today’s world, though, because of all the information that’s available on the internet and so many bookmakers online to compare and choose from. By shopping for the best lines, you give yourself significantly improved chances of profiting from sports bets.

Poster for Mayweather vs MaidanaFor example, when looking at the for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana fight on September 14th, 2017, you would have to pay $800 to win $100 at Bwin when placing a bet on Floyd Mayweather, whereas at 32Red you only have to pay $600 to win $100.

Those types of differences have a significant effect on your bottom line in the long run, and obviously you always want to get the most bang for your buck. The only way to do that is to create accounts at the most reputable online sportsbooks and comparing their because there isn’t a single sportsbook that’s going to consistently have the best across the board.

Washington State

We thought it would be a good idea to get this out of the way right away. It is illegal to play poker online for money in the state of Washington.

The state of Washington passed a law in 2006 making online poker a felony. Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars responded by no longer offering services to residents of that state, but they continued to operate in the rest of the country. If you live in the state of Washington, it’s a crime to play poker online for money. In fact, it’s a serious crime. Our advice to poker players in Washington state is to not play poker on the Internet.

We don’t know why the state of Washington has taken such a draconian stance against Internet poker, but if you live there, it’s probably best not to play, even if you can find a site which would accept you as a player.

Games of Skill vs. Games of Chance

The amount of controversy surrounding whether or not it’s legal to play poker on the Internet in the United States is strange, especially in light of the similarities between the game and the free market system, which is one of the cornerstones of the American way of life. Poker is even commonly called “America‘s card game.” Expert players consider it a mind sport. Even the general public considers poker a sport; that’s why it’s the subject of televised events on ESPN, a TV channel that specializes in sports programming and reporting.

In August, 2012, Judge Jack B. Weinstein, a federal judge in Brooklyn, ruled that poker is predominantly a game of skill rather than chance. The reasoning is that the money doesn’t flow to the luckiest players at the table, at least not in the long run. In the end, the most skilled players win the most money. The skills used in poker include reading other players, concealing your own intentions, and evaluating the that your hand is the best.

According to Judge Weinstein, “The most skillful professionals earn the same celestial salaries as professional ballplayers.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that playing poker doesn’t constitute gambling, at least not colloquially. What makes a game “gambling” is the activity of betting money. Skill becomes a consideration from a legal standpoint, though. In many jurisdictions, contests of skill are treated dramatically different from games of pure chance.

You might be the best poker player in the world, but on any given hand, you face an element of risk. The same holds true for other bettors who use skill to get an edge. Blackjack card counters, expert video poker players, and skilled sports handicappers all sometimes lose.

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961

Does the Wire Act make online poker illegal?
The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, sometimes called “the Federal Wire Act”, was passed in September, 1961 in an attempt to thwart organized crime.

In 2005, the Justice Department sent threatening letters to Internet publishers and broadcasting companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Infinity Broadcasting. Their contention was that accepting advertising from companies involved in online gambling was “aiding and abetting” illegal activities. They used the Interstate Wire Act as justification for this.

In December, 2011, The Justice Department reversed their position, stating that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting, not to poker.

So the short answer, until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, is no, the Wire Act does not make online poker illegal.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006

Does UIGEA make online poker illegal?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was passed as part of the Safe Ports act. The law made it a federal crime to accept payments connected with illegal Internet gambling. It did not define “illegal Internet gambling”, and since the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, no federal law makes it illegal to play poker on the Internet for money.

So the short answer again is no, UIGEA does not make online poker illegal unless state laws make it illegal (which they seem to do in the vast majority of the states).

As a practical matter, though, UIGEA has made life harder for online rounders. Some companies, including Pacific Poker, Paradise Poker, and Party Poker, stopped accepting real money players from the United States. Other companies, including Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and the Cereus Poker network, continued to accept players from the United States. Eventually, even those companies had to capitulate to the prevailing anti-gambling sentiment from the current U.S. governmental regime.

Black Friday

Did the events of Black Friday make online poker illegal?
In 2011, an estimated 2 million Americans played online poker for money on a regular basis. On Friday, April 15, 2011, The Justice Department eliminated most of this play when it shut down the three most trafficked poker sites (Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and the Cereus Network) with charges of money laundering and fraud. The US government contended that the companies had violated UIGEA, but the poker companies operated under the understanding that online poker wasn’t illegal and therefore didn’t constitute a violation of the act.

The Department of Justice not only seized control of the websites for the three companies, they also froze the assets in 76 bank accounts in 14 countries. Both civil and criminal charges were filed. In July, 2012, the U.S. government dismissed “with prejudice” the civil complaints, but not the criminal indictments. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker settled without admitting wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, PokerStars bought Full Tilt Poker.

No, the events of Black Friday didn’t make online poker illegal, but they had a chilling effect on the actual play. The industry still hasn’t recovered, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

The Poker Player’s Alliance

The Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA) was founded in Washington D.C. in 2005 as a non-profit political advocacy group to protect the rights of poker players in the US. Their goals include overturning UIGEA and passing legislation legalizing and regulating poker on the Internet. From their about us page, their mission is as follows: “The PPA’s mission is to establish favorable laws that provide poker players with a secure, safe and regulated place to play.”

Multiple bills have been proposed in Congress to amend UIGEA with an exception for online poker and other skill games but none have passed. We encourage the civic-minded members of our readership to visit their site, consider donating, or use their other resources to write to the lawmakers who represent them in the government. If it is the will of the people, safe and regulated online poker can become a reality sooner rather than later.

Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey

Three states, Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, have passed laws explicitly legalizing and regulating online gambling.

Delaware taxes the first $3.75 million of online gambling revenue in a year at 100%, which means that casinos need to generate a tremendous amount of activity to earn any money from online gambling activities. To legally gamble online in Delaware, a player must be of gambling age and operate their computer (or smartphone/table) within the state. The online poker market there is correspondingly small as a result, but state officials are confident that revenues from online gambling will grow as it catches on there.

Nevada has legalized online poker for two sites: and These two sites have exclusive rights to run online gambling in the state. As in Delaware, players must be of legal gambling age and operate their computer within the state. Nevada taxes online gambling revenues at the same rate (6.75%) as all other gaming revenue.

Ultimate Poker shut its operations down on November 17th, 2014. It was the first site to get licensed in Nevada and the first one to fold, giving an even stronger position in the market.

Websites offering online gambling in New Jersey are required to have a relationship with a physical casino within the state. They tax this revenue at 15% (compared to the 8% they tax their physical casinos). All gambling activities, including poker, are legal within this context, but revenues have been lower than expected. This disappointment is, at least in part, a result of credit card companies’ lack of cooperation in processing these transactions.

These are not the only states where it’s legal to play poker. They’re just the only states to have laws on the books specifically legalizing the activity and regulating it. In the United States, an activity is legal unless a law prohibits it, so the lack of laws on the books in some states does not equate to the committing of a crime. At least nine other states have proposals to legalize and regulate poker on the Internet.

Can You Legally Play Poker for Money on the Internet in the US?

State laws vary. If you live in the state of Washington, playing poker online for money is a felony. In most cases, general state gambling laws make online poker illegal as well. To our knowledge, no one in the United States has been indicted or convicted of a crime related to playing online poker for money so far. This, of course, might change in the blink of an eye. We recommend that you only participate in online poker if it’s legal where you live.