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European and American Roulette

European and American Roulette: We tell you what you need to know.

Roulette is arguably the most popular and well known casino game in the world, and because of this, multiple different types of roulette have developed over the years. By far the most popular versions, however, are American and European roulette. Although both variations follow the same regular format, there are odds, rules, layouts and bets that are specific to each game.

Historically speaking, roulette dates back hundreds of years. The origins go back to 17th century France. Blaise Pascal – a French physicist and mathematician – went about the struggle of inventing a perpetual motion machine, and thus the roulette wheel was born. However, it was not until the mid-1800s when, at the request of King Charles III of Monaco, Francois and Lois Blanc redesigned the table in order to add a zero. This secured the house edge for the casino and paved the way for roulette to become the staple game of casinos all around the world.

Read on to find out everything you need to know; including which of the two variations is better to play if your goal is simply to win as much money as possible. Whether you are a regular at the online roulette tables or just a rookie, this vital knowledge may determine whether your next spin on the roulette wheel ends in success or failure.

The Stats

The first thing that you need to know about these two roulette variations is that American roulette has a much larger house edge than its European counterpart does – 5.26% in American roulette compared to 2.7% in European roulette. That means, the average payout in European roulette is 97.3% compared with just 94.7% in American roulette. If your desire is simply to win money, then you should certainly play European Roulette rather than American.

The Layout

One immediately noticeable difference between the two variations is the layout of the game. European roulette has 37 pockets (spaces on the wheel where the ball can land) whereas American roulette has 38 pockets. The American roulette wheel has two zero pockets, a ‘0’ and a ‘00’ whereas the European version only has the ‘00’ pocket. Apart from this, both tables still have 18 red pockets and 18 black pockets.

The roulette wheels also have a different sequence to one another whereby the European variant’s layout is the counter clockwise order of numbers of an American roulette wheel. The colours and numbers are, of course, still properly distributed on both wheels, however.

The House Edge

As aforementioned, the house edge in American roulette compared with European roulette is significantly higher – 5.26% in American roulette compared to 2.7% in European roulette. This means that you stand a much greater chance of winning playing European roulette as the house advantage is much lower. The house edge is significantly higher in American roulette because it has the ‘0’ and ‘00’ pocket.

The Rules

The basic rules of Roulette do, of course, remain intact across different variations of the game. However, there are specific actions that players can take whilst playing European roulette that they cannot do when playing American roulette and vice versa.

When playing the European version, there are two different and beneficial actions that you can take that you cannot do in American roulette. The first is the “En Prison” rule which allows you to take a second spin if you place an even money bet but the ball lands in ‘0’. Secondly, you can also make call bets. These bets are announced to the dealer which is unlike what you would do when making a normal bet where you would place your bets on the betting table. This is usually reserved for more complicated betting, however.

In American Roulette, you can place what is called a five number bet – this bet is based on 1,2,3,0 and 00. This is a high risk bet with a high house edge: avoid it.

Summing Up

Unless you extremely enjoy playing American roulette or if you’re playing a roulette strategy that is optimal for this game, then you should generally only stick to its European counterpart. European roulette is a much easier game to win money at than the American version is due to its lower house edge and lower number of pockets on the roulette wheel.

At the same time, that does not mean you should stop playing American roulette. If you enjoy playing this variation, then you should continue to play. When playing roulette, the most important thing for you to do is to enjoy yourself to the maximum. Like with most games, you should always ensure that, first and foremost, you are having fun.

If you are on the lookout for a place to play roulette, CasinoGuide UK lists a variety of reputable online casinos for roulette – just click onto to see them.

On the other hand, you can always visit your local casino or even buy a home roulette set. Remember, you don’t have to play with money, chocolate coins and matches are great to play with if you want to introduce this game to your children.


Predicting the Course of a Roulette Wheel

Experienced roulette-heads will tell you that the game is impossible to win at. It’s all about mathematical probability, and the house edge seized by casinos means that you have no chance of winning over the long term. And a good look at the figures would seem to back up those views. If the table has an American layout (with two green zero squares), then the house edge is 5.4%. If it’s a European layout, the edge is still 2.7%. On the face of it, even a 2.7% edge is hard to beat. But what if you could eliminate that edge altogether? Another look at the maths suggests that 2.7% or, even, 5.4% isn’t that hard to deal with, provided you can turn the roulette game ever so slightly in your favour.

On an American table, you effectively have 38 different squares. If you place a chip on one number, and win, you make 35 times your stake. Yet, on average, you’ll lose 37 chips in order to score that one win. But what if you could predict that some of those squares wouldn’t be likely to come up, and so could eliminate them? If you could count out, for example, squares 34 to 36, then you would suddenly be winning once in 35 spins rather than once in 38 spins. And because you’re still making 35 chips when you win, but losing a single chip only 34 times in the meantime, you should typically be making money over 35 spins.roulette wheel

If you can find a way of partially predicting the spin of the roulette table, even if you’re improving your chances only slightly, then it should be possible to beat that house edge. The key is that you’re not looking to beat the ‘system’, which is mathematically impossible. Instead, you’re looking for a particular dealer or roulette wheel that displays a bias – even if a small one. By playing the dealer or equipment, rather than the system itself, you can find an edge.

Biased Wheels

The best known ‘approach’ is to find a wheel with a bias. This generally involves finding a wheel that is, in some way, unbalanced, and which shows a tendency to land the ball predominantly on a certain section of numbers. This unbalancing is often the result of wear and tear, although some tables will have been (generally unknowingly) manufactured with a built-in bias. There may even be a bias towards a specific number (a ‘pocket defect’). This is often down to some impurity that affects the surrounding numbers, and means that, when the ball bounces into one part of the wheel, it’s likely to be deflected into a particular number on a regular basis. Alternatively, a wheel may be unbalanced due to having a wobbly rotor – the result of not being reseated properly after cleaning. In some situations, experienced players can detect the uneven seating by sight, just from looking at the way light reflects off the wheel.

Wheels can also be affected by reduced bounce. This phenomenon is often caused by loose frets. The ball on a roulette table lands in numbered ‘pockets’, and these pockets are separated by tiny walls known as ‘frets’. Generally, when a ball hits a fret, it’ll bounce off it in a certain way. However, if the fret is loose, the ball will bounce off it with far less force, and will probably come to rest in a nearby pocket. Picking up on this bias can be a genuine goldmine to roulette players.

There are also methods of ‘forcing’ a bias. For instance, ‘lead bottoms’ can be placed over the springy wood making up the pockets. Whereas the standard wood keeps the ball bouncing, the lead bottoms absorb the energy from the ball, making it far more likely to stop in that pocket. In this way, the table can be ‘manipulated’ so that certain colours or numbers come up again and again. It goes without saying that casinos will take a very dim view of anyone trying this..

The most famous example of wheel bias dates back to the 19th century. Joseph Jagger hired six people to record the numbers of all of the roulette wheels in Monte Carlo Casino. Jagger then made a killing by plunging heavy money on the wheel that his clerks’ data identified as having the largest bias. He has since gone down in gambling (not to mention musichall) folklore as the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. Modern casinos have become much smarter though, monitoring wheels and carefully maintaining them so that any hints of a bias can be eliminated. Defects will still creep in, partly through sloppy maintenance, and experienced players can sometimes find a bias by touring casinos looking for hints. Does the light reflect unevenly from parts of the wheel, for instance? If you record numbers from numerous tables, does one table show a significant bias towards a section of numbers? Admittedly, though, wheel bias is definitely less common than it was.

Dealer Bias (or Dealer Signature) Techniques

The area that is drawing considerable interest from roulette players is dealer bias (or Dealer Signature or DS, as it’s commonly referred to), and the related field of Visual Ballistics (VB) – predicting where the ball is going to land from the spin of the wheel. Dealer bias relies on the idea that the spin of a particular dealer can be, in some way, predicted. Experienced dealers tend to have developed a certain way of spinning the wheel – they’ve performed this function so many times that their spinning action has become second-nature to them. In some cases, this technique may have become incredibly consistent, and the wheel and ball may operate at a very regular speed. (Tired dealers may also exhibit a certain repetition of spin.) By studying the dealer for an extended period, and looking at where the ball starts and where it ends up, you may be able to start predicting which area the ball is likely to land in. Exact numbers would probably be impossible to predict, but combinations might be achievable with a frequency that would erode the house edge. By leaving it until the last second before placing your bet, you could theoretically make money from this provided you had identified a dealer who was consistent enough.

It’s that consistency that proves the key to this method. You want an experienced dealer who spins essentially the same number of revolutions almost every single time. (By revolutions, we mean the number of times the wheel spins before the ball drops towards the pockets.) Perhaps the wheel revolves 27 times on one occasion, and 30 times the next? This isn’t accurate enough. You want a dealer who’s consistently achieving close to the same number of revolutions time after time.

Once the ball has dropped towards the pockets, it will then bounce around on the wheel for a number of times. This bouncing looks very random, but if the dealer is consistent, you should be able to detect regular patterns in the way the ball bounces, and how far it lands from where it started. With practise, you may be able to start forecasting which part of the table the ball is likely to land on after it has finished bouncing. How far away from the point where the ball was originally released is the final number? Note that you will need to put in a lot of time practicing this ‘Dealer Signature’ technique – just as the dealer may have spent a considerable amount of time ‘perfecting’ their spin. However, there are suggestions that players have achieved considerable success with Dealer Signature and Visual Ballistics (DS and VB) techniques.

As we outlined at the beginning of this feature, you don’t need to give yourself much of an advantage in order to erode that supposedly unbeatable house edge. Whether it’s possible to truly gain an ‘advantage’ over the long term is less easy to answer. Certainly, high profile attempts to predict numbers have met with mixed success.


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In 2009, Derren Brown attempted to correctly predict the winning number on a roulette table. He failed, although his choice of ‘8’ was, in fact, just one pocket away from the winning ’30’. Given what we’ve seen, Brown may well have had the right idea, although it’s hard to see how he can really have expected to win with a single number. More recently, Oxford University mathematician Doyne Farmer became a minor celebrity in the roulette world after disclosing that, in the 70s, he had used an early computer to collect data from a roulette table and predict, with high success, the outcome of a spin. Doyle

He published his findings partly in response to a paper recently issued by a pair of students claiming to have performed a similar feat using a smartphone.

What these incidents tell us is that there could well be something in these techniques, even if being able to acquire the necessary skills and then use them in a real-life casino could prove more of a challenge. Under certain circumstances, a wheel bias could be detected and used as an edge. Of far more interest, however, are the DS/VB techniques. To somebody with time and patience, it’s possible that these could indeed produce a winning strategy.


Gambling on the go! The pros and cons of mobile gaming

Mobile gambling apps took off on the back of a growing interest in general games on mobile devices. The mobile phone games market had opened with a bang in 1997, after Nokia packed its 9110 phone with ‘Snake’. This simple but furiously addictive game became a regular occupation on commuter trips across the world – even Robbie Williams admitted to being an addict, and some magazines ran ‘celebrity league tables’ to determine who was the king cobra. After this opening salvo, however, the market started to stall in the early 2000s. Sluggish hardware combined with an audience fractured by the smorgasbord of competing operating systems and interfaces (PalmOS, BlackBerry, Symbian etc.) meant that games remained overpriced (often costing $20 a shot) and underdeveloped. The 2007 launch of the iPhone, though, changed all of this. Hardware capabilities rocketed, and Apple’s embracing of features like OpenGL support meant that graphics could be ably handled.

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More to the point, apps could be created using Objective-C, an offshoot from the widely-used C programming language, and also the same language that Apple was using with its own desktop-oriented OS X operating system. This meant that, right from the start, there were a wide number of talented programmers who would be able to tap into the iPhone’s immense capabilities. When the iPhone came out, Apple initially resisted the idea of allowing those outside the company to create apps for the device. But the phone was quickly cracked, and a wealth of unofficial yet professional apps started infiltrating devices everywhere. Knowing that they couldn’t stem the tide, and realising that there was significant benefit in the sheer flexibility that came from having thousands of third-party developers independently crafting their own apps, Apple was quick to change tack, and the 2008 launch of the App Store would allow third party developers to offer their products to a mass audience, in return for 30% of the profits.

Apple already had much of the architecture in place thanks to its phenomenally successful iTunes service, so the App Store’s implementation was smooth. Over 500 apps were available on the opening day, with a massive 10 million downloads going through in that first weekend. Within three months, 100 million downloads had been recorded. Essentially overnight, a new market had been created in which huge numbers of people (ranging from heavyweight software houses to school-children working from their bedrooms) tried to grab a slice of the pie by thinking the unthought and writing the unwritten. Further competition would come from Google’s Android, an open source operating system that would quickly establish itself across the majority of non-Apple phones, and that also actively promoted the writing of third-party apps – using a variation on the popular Java programming language.

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The phone hardware was finally good enough to support proper games, and the combined forces of Apple and Android would generate a maelstrom of creativity, providing fertile conditions from which the as-yet disappointing mobile games market could finally bloom forth. It was at this point that gambling sites, looking for the next big thing to help compensate for the fall of revenues in the wake of a world recession markets, woke up to the possibilities. It was now relatively straightforward and cheap for gaming companies to create stable apps that would let customers place bets from a mobile phone. As prices fell and connection speeds became faster and more reliable, gamblers bearing portable devices started to fill every betting shop in the land. At the start of 2010, for instance, Paddy Power had 10,000 customers using mobile devices. By April 2011, that figure had increased to 120,000. Of Paddy Power’s 2012 online revenue, 32% was made up of mobile revenue. A 2010 report from Juniper Research predicted that the mobile gambling arena will have a value of $100 billion by 2017 – with a juicy $45 billion of net profits available to the leading lights of the industry. Clearly, then, mobile gambling has a bright future. So what is it that attracts so many?

The Pros of Smartphones

The main advantage of mobile gambling is obviously its flexibility. You can log into your account and play essentially anywhere you can get a connection, whether’s that on the train, in the waiting room, or stranded at the office, fighting a company policy that prevents you from running games on your work computer. You could even be down at the racetrack, trying to better the on-course bookies while also checking out the horses themselves in proper detail. You no longer need to be tied to a computer or laptop, and could be comfortably tucked up in bed or on the sofa. Indeed, if you’re only playing for fun, you won’t even need an internet connection once you’ve downloaded the app. Existing non-mobile accounts can often be used, saving you from a tedious sign-up procedure. And because many casino and gambling companies are trying to draw users to their mobile apps, you’re likely to get a host of new free bonus offers – great if you’ve already exhausted the generous deals originally offered to you when you signed up.

The first gaming apps may have been overly complex, representing simple conversions of the web-site to ‘mobile form’. However, the major companies have woken up to the fact that the smaller screen size and limited controls of a smartphone require something different. Many modern gaming apps have clear interfaces with less information crammed in, and simpler controls. Those who like to play the more exotic options may find some of their favourite bet choices have been removed or made more difficult to access. However, the clearer and cleaner interface should suit most users. Indeed, for many, mobile apps offer a faster and more straightforward playing experience than their option-heavy equivalents on desktop and laptop PCs.

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Those who like something a little less mainstream have no reason to fear the mobile world, though. The cost of developing apps is low, and development times tend to be much faster than with complex desktop titles. And since there are so many companies (and individuals) competing to design the best version, mobile users are likely to find a healthy choice of titles available to them. The best apps are of very high quality, and are usually very cheap (and sometimes even free) to obtain. Since you probably own a smartphone already, there’s a good chance you won’t have to buy additional hardware. Many phones are bought with the deal that they can be easily traded in when a more advanced version comes out, so app developers have fewer problems having to cater for an audience that, in large part, is still making do with outmoded hardware. And because smartphones are designed primarily for communication, mobile phone apps are often built with multiplayer use as a core function. So unlike desktop versions, frequently targeting the lone user sitting glumly in front of a screen, mobile apps are far more likely to be sucking you into the online community with rich multiplay, leaderboards, and chat options.

The Cons of Smartphones

Not that mobile apps are totally without problems. While encryption technology is today very sophisticated on these devices, users still often distrust mobile phones on the matter of security, and are reluctant to see their financial details dispatched to the ether. In truth, authentication techniques are very strong on modern devices – they have to be, since the threat that somebody else will be using your app is much higher on a highly-desirable easily-stolen mobile phone than on a bulky desktop or laptop secured inside your house. Mobile phones are also pleasingly free of viruses and spyware. The hardware can limit you, though. Games tend to drain the battery very quickly, and should your app crash, you could lose all session information. It’s also difficult (and probably impossible) to play multiple games on a mobile app, so hardened poker players, for instance, who like to have several tables up and running, will find the mobile world a difficult one to like.

And, no matter how you spin it, the small screen size and limited controls can be a problem. Yes, the playing experience can often be faster and less complex. But there will still be those who hanker after a good old mouse and a proper monitor. It’s partly these complaints that could see tablets become the dominant force in mobile gaming.


Tablets, like the Apple iPad and Google Nexus ranges, are larger and unwieldy to hold, but also benefit from having vast screens better suited to gaming. The biggest iPad, for instance, has a 9.7in screen and a resolution of 2,048×1,536 pixels. The iPhones, on the other hand, offer a paltry 4in screen, with a meagre resolution of 1,136×640 pixels. Simply put, tablets offer far more screen and can cater for a much greater level of detail. At the same time, though, they offer plenty of portability – not as much as the slimmer and smaller smartphones, but considerably more than laptops or desktop models. With the right package, the internet is available on tablets from almost anywhere. It is notable, though, that a lot of tablets are bought to run only with a Wi-fi connection. Many users already have wireless routers in their house, and if you’re already paying for a connection for your desktop PC or laptop, your Wi-fi specified tablet can be hooked up to the internet at no extra cost to you. On the other hand, this option does only work if you have Wi-fi available. If you’re in a public place, you may find your tablet without a connection, so the flexibility of tablets isn’t as impressive. Battery life is inferior too, so all-night sessions may need something a little more stable.


In many respects, though, tablets are potentially better options for gambling. Besides the superior screens, they often have better cameras and microphone options. And while they are more difficult to handle, will you necessarily want to hold a smartphone throughout an entire gambling session? Tablets can be quickly set up on an available tabletop for strong hands-free operation. Interfaces are often easier to see and use on the bigger screen, and navigation is usually more straightforward, particularly with the move towards touch sensitivity. There’s probably far more that developers can do to make betting apps work at their optimum level on tablets, but there’s little doubt that the potential is there for these devices to blow smartphones out of the water in terms of a satisfying user experience. Tablets also, strangely, make their users feel more protected. Older customers, in particular, are likely to pick a tablet for its greater sense of security – even though, in reality, the two types of technology have essentially the same level of protection.

The Future of Mobile Gaming

So which will win in the long-term – smartphones or tablets? Well, in truth, it could be that neither will turn out to be the ultimate solution. The battle to offer the very best and most natural interface holds the key here, and neither smartphones or tablets can be seen as truly intuitive. The next few years may well see the rise of what’s called ‘augmented reality’. At its simplest, this term means showing you the ‘reality’ (a live feed of what you’re looking at, for instance), but then ‘augmenting’ it with additional information and features. So you point your smartphone at a footballer, for instance, and the phone recognises the player and instantly shows you the very latest betting offers associated with him or his team. This is relatively natural, and will give people an easy way of finding the relevant bet, rather than forcing them to labour through a series of complex menus to find the right market.

But augmented reality can go much further than this. For instance, you enter an online casino. You see yourself sit down at the table. You look down and you see your cards. You reach across and tap on them, and you can turn them up and look at them. You then look to your sides, and you can see three dimensional representations of the other players, or the dealer. Maybe you strike up a conversation with them? Perhaps you choose instead to go for a walk around your surroundings, looking up at ceilings, floors, leaderboards etc. This may all sound very science fictiony, but the reality is that this type of experience is close to being reality. Many mobile devices have high quality sound and GPS, and sophisticated camera and motion detection systems. Working out the exact co-ordinates of players within an online environment, and then using the real-life actions of a user to determine what their online ‘self’ is doing, is quite possible, even with current technology. And with the imminent release of Google Glass and its competitors, glasses that can detect exactly what you’re doing with your head and then respond accordingly, the clunky artificial way we navigate sites online is set to change.

But that’s all to develop in the next few years. Over the coming months, we can expect mobile devices to continue to become slicker and more responsive, particularly with tablets that use large screens and let us navigate through easy touchscreen interfaces. The future might not be quite here yet, but the present remains pretty exciting for online casino junkies.

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The History of Online Gaming

For almost as long as people have possessed objects, the lure of losing those same artefacts on the outcome of a random event has been hard to resist – studies of Cro-Magnon caves show that even prehistoric man may have gambled with carved bones. Likewise, for almost as long as the internet has been operating in any practical sense, online casinos have been there to let users decide their fortune on the turn of a virtual card. 1994 is internet gaming’s Year Zero, but the origins of today’s cash games weren’t in the USA, the UK, or anywhere you would generally associate with the birth of technology. Instead, they first bubbled up in Antigua and Barbuda, in the Caribbean, with the passing of the 1994 Free Trade & Processing Act. This was designed to expand the economic growth of the island nation, with new technology powering a financial revolution. Its effect, though, was to make Antigua and Barbuda the first place to have licensed online gambling. Within a year, casinos were operating across the internet, and a throbbing new industry was born.

The Casino Comes of Age

These being uncharted waters, the discoveries and innovations came thick and fast. Microgaming (a company still at the forefront of today’s market) was possibly the first company to create an online casino. microgaming-logoHowever, this early attempt was rather restricted in its scope (being open only to South Africans), and required new users to phone up in order to open, fund, and manage their accounts. The first true online casino would be released by Cryptologic, a few months later in 1995. Set up by the Rivkin brothers in Canada, Cryptologic started out as a secure financial transaction system. However, realising that the nascent online gaming market was crying out for a means of handling accounts online, the Rivkins were quick to build proper casino applications around their existing code. cryptologic logoThe result was InterCasino, a sophisticated suite of games that boasted advanced player tracking and the secure financial transactions system known as Ecash. Microgaming would hit back with their own version, The Gaming Club, and the roots of online gaming were in place.

By the late 1990s, the future of internet gambling seemed assured. A report from Frost and Sullivan established its credentials, showing that the industry had already generated revenues of $834.5 million by 1998, and there were apparently over 700 online casinos by 1999. Microgaming and Cryptologic would continue to fight for supremacy, and the battle would soon take in online slots as well as standard casino games. It was once again Microgaming who made the first big move. Cash Splash, launched in 1998, was the first online slot to boast a jackpot that was progressive rather than fixed, pulling in punters with the lure of ever greater winnings. Once again Cryptologic would be quick to react, producing a similar version months later. Playtech would soon join the market, and the companies would battle to outdo one another with vast ranks of new online slot machines. Progressive jackpots would increase in size, hitting $400K in 2001, and reaching almost $2 million in 2005.

The Rise and Fall of Online Poker

While these casinos catered for large numbers of players at a time, online gambling remained a fairly solitary pursuit, with most players essentially playing by themselves against a largely anonymous computer system. The birth of online poker would herald the first changes in this area. Online poker had effectively been running in a primitive form since the late 80s, with poker players swapping moves over the IRC chat servers. However, this made for a slow and torturous game. And, of course, money wasn’t involved. The first proper online poker site, then, was Planet Poker, which started up in early 1998. However, despite having a one year headstart, the company failed to exploit its sizeable advantage. Poorly written software, unreliable servers, and a series of high-profile hacking cases dampened public enthusiasm. Despite fierce promotion (using pro player and author Mike Caro as its spokesman), the site was easy pickings for the slicker and faster competition that came along in 1999. Paradise Poker brought in faster connections and higher security, and by 2001 had garnered a large percentage of the market.

However, Paradise Poker would themselves come to be outflanked by nimbler competition. UltimateBet would launch in 2000, and would become the first site to offer No-Limit Texas Hold’em. More significantly, PartyPoker rode to immense success on a strategy that revolved around tournament play rather than cash games. PartyPoker-AppThey started offering significant prizes for tournament winners, and the PartyPoker Million Cruise would see the finalists playing out for keeps on an enticing cruise ship. The ability to compete directly against and chat with other players revolutionised online gambling, with gamblers thriving on the competition and interaction. Paradise Poker’s reluctance to embrace multi-player tournaments allowed PartyPoker to steal the market from them, and the latter would grab dominance for several years.

2006, though, would come to be a very significant year for online gaming – at least in the medium term. A last-minute amendment to a bill on terrorism saw the stealthy passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA. This legislation would effectively prevent financial institutions from handling transactions from US citizens that might be used for gambling. Some poker companies, like PartyPoker, dropped out of the US market immediately, sacrificing significant market share. Others, like PokerStars and Full Tilt, would step forwards to fill the void, before themselves being run out of the US market in 2011 – on what’s come to be termed ‘Black Friday’. There has since been a relaxation of attitudes in the US, and it seems that a newly legalized online casino industry – albeit one that’s rather more America-centric – will emerge over the coming years. The full ramifications of UIGEA, though, may have yet to be realised.

Live Dealer Games

The lessons of multiplayer tables were gradually soaked up by online casinos, and the first multiplayer casinos – allowing gamblers to interact with one another – were appearing by 2005. Perhaps the real innovation of recent years, though, has been the Live Dealer game. Replacing the Random Number Generators (RNGs) that lay at the heart of earlier casino applications, Live Dealer games use a full video feed to make the game seem more authentic and exciting. You’re no longer going up against a faceless computer, deciding your fate with a series of numbers that might or might not be fudged. (In fairness, early RNGs could themselves be cheated by gamblers, with a bunch of engineers from Reliable Software Technologies demonstrating exactly how the RNG sequences could be ‘predicted’.) Live Dealer games often let you chat to the dealers themselves, and even to other players, adding that sense of community that earlier versions lacked.

Casino and poker sites continue to become more attractive, realistic, and features-laden. The choice of options and games can be mind-blowing, while innovations like Live Dealer and multiplayer tables help make online gambling more of an event. But even with the US-inflicted travails of recent years, online gaming continues to rise by 20% a year, and is now worth £2 billion in the UK alone. On a global level, the market seems likely to hit $40 billion very soon. Whatever the future holds, it’s likely to involve the further blowing of gamblers’ minds – and the consequent blowing of much of their spare cash too.

A guide to payment methods at online casinos, what are your options?

There are a lot of different types of payment options and depositing methods at online casinos. In this post we will explain all the different payment methods, the differences and outline the advantages and disadvantages. Hope you find this post useful!

Trusty Visa cards were behind most of the credit-fuelled cash dashes upon which the online casinos of the previous decade were built. Cheaper and more flexible forms of payment have since come along to challenge the dominance of credit cards, but they remain an easy method of depositing cash. Acceptance at online casinos is virtually guaranteed, and you can bet with money that you don’t even have yet – although whether that’s a plus or a minus will come down to how disciplined, good, or lucky you are. Banks do tend to be a little wary of gaming transactions, so you may have to phone to verify some of your orders in order to prevent a block being placed on your card. Generally, though, they’re fast and easy for deposits, even if money withdrawals take a little longer – it’s usually around 2-3 days before the amount appears back in your credit card account.

payment options at online casinos


Credit Cards

Credit cards are often subject to transaction fees. These will usually be in the region of 1.5-3%, so they’re unlikely to prove prohibitive, but that still amounts to fewer gambling chips. Do be careful of ‘cash advance fees’. These are additional payments that are often levied on gaming transactions. They tend to be fairly minor, but you do need to watch for them if you’re playing with small amounts. It’s very irritating to have to pay an additional £5 every time you deposit £10 or £20, for instance. You’ll also sometimes only be able to withdraw as much money to a credit card as you originally deposited – any extra winnings may need to be transferred through another means, such as a bank transfer.

Be aware that not all credit cards are formed equal. Mastercard places more severe restrictions on gaming and gambling transactions. Your online casino may be able to evade the magic code that leads to an instantly declined transaction. In many cases, though, it won’t, which means that a life hooked up to a Mastercard is likely to contain a lot of rejection from your favourite casino sites. Diners Club cards can also throw up some problems, and are generally less well supported by casino sites than Visa and Mastercard.

Debit Cards

In contrast to credit cards, debit cards insist that you already have the money before you can transfer it. This makes banks more amenable to debit card transactions, and generally results in no fees. Payments are fast, and most casinos will accept your payment. Indeed, you’ll often find that cashout limits are increased. Like credit cards, debit cards tend to have good security surrounding them, and you can generally recover your money in the event of criminal activity on your card.


Visa Electron is often called Visa Debit (formerly Delta) in the UK, and is the most commonly used debit card. Mastercard Maestro/Switch (Maestro was formerly Solo) is another significant competitor.  A less well-known choice is the Laser card. These originated in Ireland, and drew attention with their generous cashback offers. However, many Laser cards have since withdrawn and replaced by Visa or Mastercard alternatives. For the time being, many of the major online casinos continue to accept Laser deposits, though.

e-Wallet or e-Money Accounts

Traditional credit and debit cards are finding the ground being cut away from underneath them by the new breed of e-Wallet methods – of which Skrill/Moneybookers, Neteller and Click2Pay are the best known, with PayPal also sometimes falling within this category. You deposit money into your e-Wallet account (typically using a credit/debit card or bank transfer), and can then deposit some or all of the e-Wallet balance into a gaming site. There are usually no transaction fees, and you virtually never get over-zealous banks blocking your payments. Deposits go through immediately, and while withdrawn cash takes longer to reappear in your e-Wallet, you’re still only looking at 4-8 hours – credit/debit cards take 2-3 days. The ease with which you can move money to and from gambling sites means that you can transfer any balance remaining in the gaming site back to your e-Wallet overnight – if the casino goes under, it won’t take your money with it. The e-Wallet account acts more as a central hub for your gaming funds, making it easy to keep tabs on how much you’re winning or losing.

There are some drawbacks. You will probably have to go through a rigorous process to verify your identity, so make sure you have a currently valid form of photo ID (eg, a driving license or passport). Bookies and betting sites tend to be a little suspicious of those customers using e-Wallets – believing them likely to be more experienced and shrewder than users of credit or debit cards – and will keep close tabs on you. If you’re joining hoping to take advantage of free bet or free spin offers, these may be closed off to you if you use an e-Wallet account. Overall, though, these are a superbly convenient way of working with gaming sites.

neteller pre paid MasterCard

Skrill/Moneybookers and Neteller are both offered by most major casinos. We did a post recently that covers everything you need to know about using Neteller at online casinos.Click2Pay also receives decent support, although it lacks the presence of the other two. Many e-Wallet accounts let you apply for a cash card, allowing you to spend money from your e-Wallet even at sites that don’t directly accept the e-Wallet accounts themselves. However, this solution would work more like a normal credit card, so you would usually have to pay transaction costs.

PayPal is often classed as an e-Wallet. It doesn’t have same coverage on gambling sites as Skrill and Neteller, although the company does seem to be using its significant financial clout to improve its reach. Withdrawals can sometimes take longer than with Skril and Neteller though, and PayPal is still seen primarily as a shopping tool rather than the ideal gambling e-Wallet.

Other options

Voucher payments, like uKash and PaySafe, let you use real cash to buy a voucher of the same value. The voucher has a special number, so you can use it to deposit money with casino sites. These are a fairly safe and cheap way of making deposits, although you can’t of course withdraw money to vouchers – if you want to take your money back again, you’ll generally need to have it transferred to your bank by a cheque or direct transfer. In all honesty, there seems little real benefit to using vouchers rather than e-Wallet accounts. The latter, on the other hand, make it much easier to withdraw and manage your money as well. Unless you have a particular reason for needing to use vouchers – perhaps you don’t want a credit card, for instance – we’d suggest other methods instead.


You can also use pre-paid credit cards, like Entropay. These only let you spend money that you have already placed on the card, so security checks are kept to a minimum. On the other hand, the cards remain difficult to tamper with, as card details are never passed on to the site you’re dealing with, making them very secure. You can move money to and from the card. However, you will generally be subject to transaction fees, and these can mount up, with Entropay sometimes costing you more overall than a normal credit card.