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|Guide to Online Gaming
|New to online gambling? Here you'll find the info
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8 Tips for Online Gambling Newbies
PIN numbers, bonus chips, hidden banking fees and
by Max Drayman, WINNERonline
16 Jan 2001
So you've read about gambling online, or maybe heard
it mentioned in the media, and you're gonna give
it a try. Okay, on your mark, get set -- wait!
Before you venture forth it's time for a quick reality
check because the road to online gambling riches
is not without its potholes. Here are a few caveats
to illuminate the path ahead.
1. What's a download? Why do I care?
One of the first questions you'll be faced with
if you decide to gamble online is whether you want
to play games that require you to download and install
software -- these are called "download"
games -- or perhaps you'd prefer games that simply
run over the web -- called "no download"
This is not a small question and we recommend our
own To Download or Not for further guidance on this
2. So now I've downloaded. What now?
With no-download games it's pretty obvious what
you need to do to start the action but with download
games it may not be so obvious. You could go back
to the casino's website and read their instructions,
they all have them, but if you're impatient like
me you just want to get to it!
The first step after downloading is to install the
software and reboot your machine. I know, it shouldn't
be necessary, but the bottom line is that computers
-- especially those running Windows -- behave best
if you reboot after an install. Once you're back
up, click on the casino's icon that was placeded
on your desktop. If there's no icon, check your
Start menu under "Programs" and it will
be at the bottom of the list.
Once you fire up the software it will probably connect
to the casino's home site, verify your install,
and ask you whether you want to play for Real or
Fun. That's it, pick your poison!
3. I want my winnings!
So you've won big and you're ready to hit the mall.
All you need to do is cash out, right? Wrong! All
casinos have policies about how much you can cash
out and when. In most cases you can only withdraw
as much to your credit card as you deposited in
the first place. So what about the rest?
Casinos vary widely on this, but the short answer
is that you'll need to be patient. Even if the casino
lets you withdraw right away it could take weeks
to receive your check. Some casinos won't let you
withdraw until you receive a PIN number from them
through the mail. Still others require numerous
pieces of identification be faxed to them so they
can verify that you are who you say you are.
There are a few casinos that seem to want everything
including your Social Insurance number and a fax
of your fingerprints (no kidding!). It's up to you
to decide if you can live with this invasion of
privacy but in any case it's best to know what they're
gonna want from the get-go: read the casino's info
on withdrawals, it should all be spelled out pretty
clearly there. If you don't like what you see, try
4. PIN number? What's that?
In most cases the casino's cash-out policies are
reasonable, albeit a little inconvenient. Many of
them issue the user a unique identification number,
a PIN, that you need in order to initiate a cash-out.
Often your PIN number comes via regular postal mail
which can be annoyingly slow. The theory is that
it's for your own good since receiving it confirms
that you actually live at the address they have
in their database. It also helps the casino avoid
fraud. Whatever, it's become part of the way many
online casinos do business so you're probably just
going to have to get used to it.
5. How much is it going to cost me?
Another bitter pill is that many casinos will charge
you a fee for your withdrawal. Some charge a flat
rate, a few charge a percentage, and almost all
will charge you more if you want your money "right
now thank you very much".
It's well worth your time to read your casino's
website page of "Banking" or "Withdrawals".
The vast majority of casinos are quite reasonable
in their withdrawal charges, but you never know
until you know. If it's not clear, email or phone
them and find out what the deal is.
6. Hidden banking fees
So the check is in the mail and that means you're
home free, yes? Maybe, but again, it depends on
the details. For example, receiving a check on a
Swiss bank in US dollars may not be money straight
in your pocket.
We've known people to be hit with stiff transaction
fees when they ask their bank to process a check
drawn on a foreign bank. Direct deposit and bank
wires may be alternatives, but you'd best check
into it before hand because not all casinos offer
these services at attractive rates.
7. Will the software run on my computer?
Good question. The answer in the vast majority of
cases is "Yes, beautifully!". Unless your
machine is really old, or you're running out of
system resources (read: disk space) there's really
not much to worry about.
I've installed casino software well over a hundred
times on a variety of machines and have only encountered
a major problem once or twice. On the off chance
that you do encounter a problem -- you guessed it
-- contact the casino's Customer Support people.
That's what they're there for.
8. Bonus rules
Bonuses are a big deal these days -- literally and
figuratively -- and you've no doubt encountered
one that sounds really attractive. By all means,
go for it but not before you've read the fine print.
Bonuses come in a bewildering variety and it's hard
to keep track of what's a great deal and what's
so-so. All casinos will require that you play the
bonus before you can withdraw it. Some require you
to play 2-times or 3-times the bonus, and on and
on it goes. No one can offer advice that will apply
to all the bonuses you'll find out there, other
than the one we all know: caveat emptor.
Unfortunately we can't leave the bonuses issue without
a few cautionary words. First and foremost don't
abuse the bonus offers. In particular don't re-register
using another name in order to get the bonus again.
That's "bonus abuse" and the casinos can
get pretty hostile over such attempts at subterfuge.
Finally, there's the issue of fair-play on the casino's
part. Some casino managers have a tough time with
the fact that a player can deposit $100, get a $50
bonus, hit a winning streak at the Craps table and
cash out for $2200.