How to Find the Best Online Casino in the USA for Real Money

How to Find the Best Online Casino in the USA for Real Money

When it comes to choosing online casinos to play at in the USA, there is no end of choice. The online casino industry is booming, and there are heaps of great gambling sites offering the latest casino games and enticing bonuses. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors to be aware of when choosing real money online casinos.

In this guide you’ll discover what to look out for when browsing for the best online casinos. From personal safety and how to spot scam sites to where to find the exciting casino games you want to play, following these steps will make finding the best online casino in the USA for real money easy. Plus, you’ll also learn how to maximize your bankroll with the best bonuses on offer.

Are Online Casinos Legal in the USA?

First of all, it’s a good idea to get things straight in terms of the legality of real money online casinos in the USA. Gambling online is legal on a federal level. States have been allowed to pass their own legislation to allow online casinos to operate since 2011, when the Department of Justice ruled that the Wire Act did not relate to online gambling.

Since then, there has been much back and forth over how the Wire Act should be interpreted. As it currently stands, the act does not apply to lottery or casino services. Consequently, online casinos are safe to operate legally in various states across the USA. However, arguments over the Wire Act have affected the take-up of states offering real money gambling sites.

Which States Have Legalized Online Casinos?

At the moment, online casinos for real money are only legal in six states; Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. There is reason to believe that Illinois and Indiana could join the list of states choosing to legalize online casinos next year, but nothing’s official just yet.

If you live in one of these states, that means that you are safe to go ahead and play online casino games. Legally, you must be at least 21 years old to play at a real money online casino. You may be surprised to see that Nevada is not on the list of states where online casino sites are legal. Despite being home to Las Vegas, the casino capital of the world, real money online casinos are still not legal there.

Six Legal States Where You Can Play Casino Games Online

The law on online casinos differs from state to state, so it’s worth being aware of what the situation is where you live. For instance, in Connecticut there are only tribal casinos. Residents can choose from the Mohegan Sun Online Casino, which is operated by FanDuel, or the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s offering, DraftKings Online Casino.

In Delaware, all three state-approved online casino brands are run by 888 Holdings and Scientific Games. These are Delaware Park Online, Bally’s Dover Online Casino and Harrington Gaming Online. Each brand has its own mobile casino app, so that gamblers can win money at home or on the go.

Residents of Michigan are lucky enough to have a plentiful selection of online casinos to pick from. There are over a dozen online real money casinos, including some of the big hitters like Golden Nugget, BetMGM and Caesars. There are also a small number of Michigan-only brands on offer.

New Jersey is certainly a front-runner when it comes to offering the top online casinos, thanks to its early decision to legalize online casinos back in 2013. As such, it is home to the widest array of online casinos, with dozens of legit sites and real money casino apps available. Popular choices include Bally Casino, Virgin Casino and Hard Rock Casino.

Pennsylvania is another state offering an impressive choice of online casinos, and is home to many of the big online gaming brands offering players’ favorite casino games. Choices include Borgata, FanDuel, Caesars and Unibet. Gambling sites that are local to the Keystone state include Parx Casino and Wind Creek.

Last but not least is West Virginia. The state currently boasts five real money casinos online, although the wheels are in motion to add new online casinos to that list. Each of the state’s five land-based casinos is allowed to partner with three online operators, so West Virginia could eventually be home to fifteen casino sites. Amongst the best online casinos to pick from at the moment are BetRivers, BetMGM and DraftKings.

BetRivers, BetMGM and DraftKings

The Best US Real Money Casinos By State

  • Connecticut – Mohegan Sun Online Casino, DraftKings Online Casino
  • Delaware – Delaware Park Online, Bally’s Dover Online Casino, Harrington Gaming Online
  • Michigan – BetMGM Casino, BetRivers Casino, Golden Nugget Casino, WynnBet Casino
  • New Jersey – 888 Casino, Bally Casino, Hard Rock Casino, Virgin Casino
  • Pennsylvania – Borgata Casino, Caesars Casino FanDuel Casino, Unibet Casino
  • West Virginia – BetMGM Casino, BetRivers Casino, Caesars Casino, DraftKings Casino

Safety at Real Money Casinos

Top of the list on your criteria for choosing an online casino to play at should be safety. It’s worth being aware that there are scam gambling sites out there, which should be avoided at all costs. Scam sites do not protect players from problem gambling and could put your finances and private information at risk.

Luckily, there are a number of key indicators to look out for to ensure that you aren’t taken in by a scam casino. Read on to find out more about how to spot licenses, check that sites are secure and recognize the best player protections.

How Real Money Casino Licensing Works

We’ve already outlined that the licensing of online casinos varies from state to state. Each state that allows online casinos has its own licensing board that is responsible for regulating and issuing casino licenses. Every gambling site must carry a license. Licenses are usually displayed at the footer of the gambling site, so that you can conveniently check that the site is legit.

Most states publish a list of their legal online casinos, which you can refer to if you’re not sure about any particular site. Even if you’re sure that a casino is reputable, it’s always worth checking that it carries a license to operate in your state. As a rule of thumb, safe casinos are keen to show that they are licensed and regulated.

Security at Real Money Casinos

Another sign to look out for when assessing whether a real money casino site is safe to play at is the security of the web page. Legitimate gambling operators take their security and encryption seriously to ensure that the data of their players is not vulnerable.

Check the site’s web address; at the beginning you should see a padlock. This indicates that the web page has a secure connection to its server. The web address should begin with “https://”, signifying that it is encrypted using HTTPS. Note that while all legal gambling sites will likely show the padlock sign, some malicious sites may also be encrypted with HTTPS. Instead, the lack of a padlock symbol should be seen as a red flag.

A trustworthy online casino will never ask for information like your full bank details in an email. If a request like that does land in your inbox, you can be sure that it is a scam. If you’re using a shared computer, it’s best not to save your banking details, and don’t share your private information when connected to public Wi-Fi.

when connected to public Wi-Fi

Responsible Gambling Tools

All of the best online casinos for real money wagering offer a variety of responsible gambling tools to help players gamble online safely. As always, prevention is better than protection. The best casinos are those that take the risk of problem gambling seriously and go out of their way to ensure that their players aren’t put in harm’s way.

Wagering, deposit and loss limits are designed to make sure that players cannot gamble and risk losing huge sums of money quickly. Account limits are also an easy way to keep track of how much real money you are spending. Using these limits isn’t mandatory, but we do definitely recommend them. Either way, their presence is a good indicator that a casino cares about the welfare of its customers.

How to Play Safely

Other responsible gambling tools to look out for include time limits. These allow players to restrict the length of their sessions and make sure they don’t spend too long playing online. These are not to be confused with time-outs, which can be used to enforce a set amount of time away from gambling once a certain threshold has been reached. Time-outs are a great way to clear your head and ensure you don’t wind up chasing losses.

Self-exclusion is on the extreme end of the scale, but is valuable nonetheless. This option allows players to ban themselves from a casino site for longer periods of time, ranging from six months to forever. It’s a good option for those that feel that their gambling has gotten out of control and want to take a break to recover. There are many more forms of help available to those that feel they may have a gambling problem.

Access to Support

Another positive sign that a casino is taking its safer gambling responsibilities seriously is clear signposting to gambling support. Look for options like a live web chat or phone service. Contact details should be easy to find and ideally accessible 24/7. After all, many gamblers like to play games like real money roulette and slot games late into the night, so it’s important that helplines and web chats are available at all hours.

More support can be found at sites like responsibleplay.org, which offers useful tips on how to keep gambling fun and where you can find local resources in your state. The National Council on Problem Gambling also provides useful guidance and confidential 24-hour helpline. 800-Gambler offers its own 24/7 helpline, plus resources for gamblers as well as their friends and family.

Reputation

All of this might seem like a lot of information to take in, but luckily help is at hand. There are plenty of trusted sites online where players and industry experts review real money casinos. Gambling sites that treat their customers often get bad casino reviews, and can even be blacklisted if they fall foul of the law.

Finding out what casino fans are saying on sites like Google Reviews and Trustpilot is a good way to ensure that you aren’t fooled by a scam casino, keep abreast of the ever-changing legal status of online casinos in the US and discover the latest real money bonuses. It’s always a good idea to look at a number of review sites, so that you can come to an unbiased decision. There are even sites that specialize in casino reviews, making it easy to compare casinos and look at which sites have been blacklisted.

which sites have been blacklisted

Payment methods

When you’re trying to choose the best real money casinos to play at, it’s well worth thinking about how you plan to pay for your play. The best online gambling sites offer a wide variety of payment methods, making depositing and cashing out funds quick and easy.

A top selection of trustworthy payment methods is a strong indicator that a casino is safe to play at. Look out for the big names like Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. Many players already have accounts with these payment providers, making the process of adding funds to casino accounts a whole lot more convenient.

E-wallet, Card or Transfer?

E-wallets are a great option for those who like to keep their gambling funds separate from their everyday spending money. They offer an extra layer of security between your bank and the casino, and are easy to set up. Big names like Apple Pay, Skrill, Neteller and PayPal are widely accepted.

Alternatively, you could use a credit or prepaid card. Convenient and commonly accepted, options like Discover, Amex, Visa and MasterCard are amongst the popular. However, some casinos only accept deposits and not withdrawals.

Bank transfers are amongst the most secure options available, and often have higher withdrawal limits. On the other hand, bank transfers can take a while to process at most online casinos. This could be a problem for those eager to log on to their casino account and play online slots straight away.

In the US, all online casinos are linked with a land-based casino. Because of this, you can often take your cash to the land-based casino to deposit it for use at its online counterpart. Whatever option you go for, make sure that it is a trusted payment method. Taking the time to set up an account with an approved payment provider will mean that you can play real money games with peace of mind.

What to Do if Online Casinos Aren’t Legal in Your State

What Are Offshore Casinos?

When reading about online casinos at review sites, you may have heard the term “offshore casinos” mentioned. These are a hangover from when online casinos were illegal in the US, so there is no good reason to use them nowadays. Offshore casinos are simply casinos that are located in a foreign country. They are usually used by people living in countries where gambling laws are strict and heavily regulated. However, we can’t recommend offshore casinos as a safe playing option.

While many offshore casinos do carry licenses for the jurisdiction in which they are located, this is not enough to ensure the safety of US players. US courts don’t have any jurisdiction outside of the United States, putting US players in a very vulnerable position if something goes wrong. This is why it is essential for your own protection that you choose an online casino that is overseen by your state regulator.

overseen by your state regulator

Alternatives to Real Money Casinos

You’d be forgiven for thinking that online casinos only offer real money gaming. There are actually plenty of options for casino fans that don’t want to risk their hard-earned cash. So, what’s the difference between real money casinos and free casinos?

There is one major difference between playing free online casino games and playing at real money casinos. You can only win real money playing real money casino games. For most online gamblers, wagering with cash is the factor that adds a little extra excitement to playing.

Some online real money casino games, in particular games of skill like poker, blackjack and mahjong, are always going to be fun regardless of whether there’s money on the line or not. The advantage of playing these games for free is the opportunity to learn the rules and develop your strategy at no cost to yourself. If you choose to go on to play these skill-based games at casinos for real money, you stand a better chance at winning and hopefully taking home more than you’ve spent. Nevertheless, even when skill is involved, winning is never a sure thing.

For games of chance, the reasons for playing for free are a little different. There are no strategies for casino games like slots and roulette, so all the practice in the world won’t make you a better player. However, it’s still useful if you’re new to the casino game or want to try out a title without having to pay real money. Playing for free is also quicker, as you won’t need to verify any documents to prove your identity or finances. On the downside, without the chance to win real cash, free slots can become a bit boring.

There are fewer completely free casino games than real money games available to play online, as most operators focus their efforts on catering to those who want to win real money. You don’t have to visit a free casino to find free games, as many operators do offer free demo play, especially when new titles are released.

Social and Sweepstake Casinos

Online casinos have not yet been legalized across all US states, which is unfortunate for those who want to play at real money online casinos. There are still legal and safe alternatives to online casinos in states like Arizona and Indiana.

Sweepstake casinos and social casinos are not considered gambling, so are legal in states which don’t offer real money online casinos. They are free to play and are growing in popularity across the states. Signing up to sweepstakes casinos is usually as fast and easy as linking your Google or Facebook profile.

Players are given virtual coins to gamble with, and many operators run free coin giveaways so that you can keep playing for longer. These coins have no value in the real world and can’t be cashed out from casinos for real money. Players who use real money to buy free coins are also given sweeps coins, which can be played with and eventually traded for real money.

If you’re looking for a sweepstakes casino to play at, some reputable names worth trying out are Stake.us, Chumba casino, SweepSlots casino and Gambino Slots social casino. Many social and sweeps sites offer their own mobile casino apps, so that you can play on the go and talk to other online casino players through chats.

online casino players through chats

Crypto Casinos – What’s The Deal?

There’s a lot of buzz online about crypto and Bitcoin casinos. As the law currently stands, gambling with cryptocurrency is not legal in the US. Any casino that claims to accept crypto for payment is either an offshore casino or a black-market casino, and should be avoided.

Crypto casinos are not licensed or regulated in the US, so are not safe to gamble online at. There is only one scenario in which it may be safe to use crypto at an online casino, and that’s at sweeps casinos. Some sweeps and social casinos do accept blockchain deposit methods, as they are not legally considered to be gambling sites.

Choosing the Right Casino For You

Now you know how to recognize legitimate casinos and avoid being taken in by a scam site, it’s time to think about what you’re looking for from an online casino. Are you after the fast thrills of online slots and roulette, or do you prefer to sit back and relax with a contemplative game of poker? Are you happy to sit at your home computer, or would you prefer the convenience of playing on a mobile app?

Whatever it is you’re looking for, there’s bound to be a real money casino that caters to your preferences. If you like to play the newest slots, there are a number of operators that make it their business to offer the latest titles and boast massive portfolios of games.

Some online casinos specialize in activities that are a little more niche, although still hugely popular. You can play live dealer games like poker and blackjack for an immersive and personal experience. Slots with progressive jackpots are also well worth a try, and are amongst the most exciting real money games around.

Real Money Casino Bonuses

With so many online gambling sites available for consumers to choose from, operators are in competition with each other to attract customers. As a result, there are loads of different online casino bonuses available for you to choose from. Bonuses are a great way to make the most of your bankroll, and enjoy your time playing for real money at an online casino.

The best casinos for real money will offer new customers a welcome bonus with their first deposit. This usually includes perks like free cash to play with and free spins. Many casinos reward loyal customers by offering no deposit bonuses, matched deposit bonuses and cashback rewards, to name just a few.

Whatever the bonus, always make sure to read the terms and conditions. All bonuses, including welcome bonuses, come with wagering requirements, which means that you’ll have to play your bonus through a set number of times before you can cash out your winnings. Some bonuses come with expiry dates and free spins often apply only to a specific casino game.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve gone through the do’s and don’ts of real money online casinos in the US, you’re ready to dive in and choose the best online casino for yourself. Remember to look out for safety features, a strong portfolio of real money casino games and a worthwhile casino bonus. Once you’ve found a great casino that ticks all of these boxes for you, you’ll know that you’re onto a winner.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.