Choosing the best US online casinos isn’t the easiest task in the world. Casino City claims United States citizens have at least 288 different casinos to choose from. That’s a relatively small percentage of the total number of internet casinos available throughout the world (the same site claims 1,121 internet casinos operate in the English language overall).
Fortunately, we've spent years following the U.S. internet casino industry, so we can help you narrow the list down to the best available options. We believe the vast majority (at least 95%) of internet casinos are risky so it's helpful be presented with a shortlist of sites with a proven track record rather than try them out randomly. (And remember to adhere to your local gambling laws.)
Our recommendation is to find a site you feel like you can trust to make recommendations for you. In a legal environment where many of the companies you’re doing business with are (at best) skirting the law, reputation matters more than ever. After all, if a company is already engaged in an arguably illicit activity, it’s not like they have a lot of respect for whatever licensing authority is certifying them. That’s why you should pay close attention to real reviews from real sites.
You should think about and research several criteria when deciding on an online casino for real money—especially if you’re in the United States. Some of these include:
Many newer online gamblers concern themselves with whether or not an online casino’s games are rigged. We have read reports from gamblers who have played casino games and never won a single hand of video poker, but these are unusual. Most online casinos have little incentive to rig their games - as casino games, they’re already "rigged" in favor of the house just because of the house edge. (See our page on that subject for a detailed explanation of how that works.)
What they should be more concerned about are the other business practices the casino engages in, especially as they relate to processing withdrawals. You’re much more likely to run into a casino where you have trouble withdrawing your funds after a win than to run into a casino where it’s impossible to win.
But if you can’t get your money, you might as well have lost.
Some research at various player forums into the reputations of individual casinos can help with this. Casinomeister runs one of the better player forums in the business, but you should keep in mind that even that site is supported in part by advertising money from the casinos. This doesn’t mean that the information presented there is inaccurate; it just means you should be skeptical of anything you read online.
Deposit and withdrawal methods are a big deal, too.
One of the laws passed in the United States which tries to curtail Internet gambling is called UIGEA (The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). This law made it illegal to process funds for purposes of illegal gambling on the Internet. As a result, many credit card companies decline any kind of online gambling transaction. But you can still deposit and withdraw from US-friendly casinos. Look for the ones offering multiple options that are convenient for you. Don’t hesitate to contact their customer service department if you need help getting your deposit processed, either.
Casino software is a personal choice, but we tend to enjoy games from companies like Betsoft, Realtime Gaming, and Rival. All of these providers accept players from America, and the gaming experience using any of them is user-friendly and fun. We believe they fulfill the minimum requirements for good casino software.
NOTE: Betsoft got itself into some controversy in mid-2016 by getting caught for fixing their progressive jackpot games. Online casinos for U.S. players like Bovada and Slots.lv removed their games instantly and we recommend to stay away from Betsoft's progressive games from now on.
Finally, take into account what kinds of signup bonuses and ongoing promotions a property offers. A signup bonus is usually the most attractive promotion. If you’re signing up and depositing real money, almost all casinos will provide a match of a certain percentage (up to a certain maximum dollar amount) on your first deposit. This can be as little as 50%, but it can also be as high as 200% or more. So you might be able to deposit $1000 and get $2000 in bonus money.
Such offers come with restrictions, though. The biggest restriction is that you wager your deposit plus bonus a certain number of times before you can cash out. This gives the casino a good chance of winning all your money, including the bonus. Remember, even the best US casinos online are in business to make a profit. If awarding signup bonuses were going to result in a loss, they wouldn’t do it.
Ongoing promotions are fun, too. These include tournaments and frequent player points that can be traded in for cash rebates. Investigate the details of these offers before signing up.
You can also find a lot of information about reputations by reading legitimate USA online casino reviews. The problem is finding such reviews. Most so-called “online casino reviews” on the Internet are little more than sales letters shilling for the casinos. Webmasters make tremendous referral fees for directing players toward specific casinos, so they have a lot of incentive to encourage you to sign up at a property.
Luckily, if you’re remotely thoughtful and reasonably literate, you can probably discern the legitimate reviews from the ones that do nothing but shill. The easiest and first step is to check to see if the review includes a list of pros and cons. If a review has NOTHING bad to say about a casino, it’s probably just advertising material masquerading as a review.
Author: Steve Mitchell