You find an online casino stocked with all of your favourite games, and with excitement fuelled by the vision of (hopefully profitable) hours of adrenalin-pumping action, whip out your credit card to secure the needed initial investment. But before you do that...
There are some important questions to ask, before playing:
Will this gaming site take your card or ask you to make a deposit using methods you’ve never used before?
Will they charge a fee, decreasing your budget by an amount which could potentially win you millions in a single spin or a hand dealt?
What if your hard-earned money suddenly disappears, not because lady luck chose not to keep you company, but due to nasty hackers who have made a career out of snatching other people’s cash?
Online casinos can make deposit and withdrawal processes hard and time consuming, dampening your mood at the very beginning, or enable fast and hassle-free payments and thus allow you to start playing immediately - at the same time feeling confident the money you handed over is as safe as if you’ve given it to a bank clerk.
Enjoying the game you’ve chosen to play and ending up better off than when you started are probably the two most important prerequisites for being able to say you had a great gaming session. Payment process is an enabler but can easily become a barrier and spoil the experience even if you win tons of cash.
Let’s see what we need to think about in order to prevent this from happening...
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If you’ve never paid for any goods or services online, you may feel reluctant to send your money via the internet highway stalked by bandits. Well, you’ll have to get over it because otherwise there’ll be no alternative but to put some clothes on and head to the nearest brick-and-mortar casino. The safety of online transactions is a serious issues service providers are continuously addressing, and that’s especially true when it comes to financial institutions such as banks. Gaming sites are equally concerned with keeping your cash safe as it means you and thousands of others will keep coming back and investing more. Their license issuer normally requires that the casino keeps players’ money in a separate account to those used for operating their business, that their assets outweigh their debts, and that the amount of cash they hold is larger than what the casino owes its players.
You may have seen operators claim their payment options are “PCI-compliant”. PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and encompasses policies and procedures “developed to protect credit, debit and cash card transactions and prevent the misuse of cardholders' personal information”. To be considered compliant, a vendor must install a firewall configuration, encrypt transmission of cardholder data across public networks, use antivirus software, restrict access to cardholder data by making them available only on need-to-know basis, and regularly test their security systems and processes.
Payment service providers implement multiple security measures such as multi-stage verification process using IDs and passwords, PINs, transaction monitoring etc. There are plenty of people looking after the safety of online transactions, so as long as you’re playing at a casino operated by a reputable company and licensed by a trustworthy regulator, your cash is as safe as can be.
If you’re normally paying for your online purchases with a credit card, you’ll feel comfortable funding your casino account in the same way. You may give Bitcoin-only gaming sites a miss simply because you don’t understand or trust digital currencies, or just can’t be bothered to set up a Bitcoin wallet and spend time on exploring how to fill it. Other players appreciate the many benefits attached to cryptocurrency payments and will consider only those casinos which accept them.
Online casino patrons like you and me come from different parts of the world and have different habits and preferences when it comes to paying over the internet. Ideally, an operator would offer an endless list of options so that each of us can find our favourite one, but we know this is next to impossible to implement. Customer-centric casinos will make sure to cover the most popular options acceptable to the majority of their target market and offer at the very least a couple of credit/debit cards, eWallets and Bank Transfer. If you trust credit card issuers more than anybody else, you’ll get to pay with Visa or MasterCard. If you value the speed typical for eWallets, you’ll be able to use Skrill or Neteller. Those playing via their mobile devices will appreciate seeing Boku or Zimpler on the list of accepted payment methods, and players who don’t own a credit card or dislike using it for online payments might favour PaySafeCard or another pre-paid card. That’s what convenience means – let me pay the way I want to pay.
Whether you’re giving the money to the casino or they are paying you, you’ll want the process to be as fast as possible. Once a player decides to make a deposit, they certainly don’t wish to sit staring at their computer screens for half an hour before being able to place their first bet. If you want to cash out your winnings, having to wait for days or even weeks can be exceptionally frustrating. Payout speed will depend on how fast the operator processes your request as well as the chosen payment method; eWallets and Bitcoin are usually the fastest way to stash the money into your pockets, while using check requires tons of patience.
Of course you wish to use every single cent of your gambling budget to play and will not appreciate anything or anyone taking any of it away. If the casino doesn’t accept your currency, there are exchange costs to recon with. Some operators will charge deposit and / or withdrawal fees for one or more of their payment options, and doesn’t that feel as if a thief took cash out of your pocket while you were watching and couldn’t do anything about it? Progressive jackpot winners might not care if they had to part with several Euros to cover the casino’s processing cost, and low-rollers might feel a physical pain seeing the fee deducted from their payment, but it’s ultimately up to each individual to decide whether they can live with it or will rather look for an alternative.
It’s not uncommon to see a gaming site penalise Skrill and Neteller deposits by making their welcome offer unavailable to depositing players. Perhaps you’re not keen on using the bonus and therefore not bothered, but it’s well to be informed in advance. Otherwise players who do like freebies could experience a nasty surprise having funded their accounts and finding out the gift is no longer available. Other sites might do the opposite and reward you for choosing one specific payment method, either because they want to promote a newly introduced one or find that particular option beneficial for the casino. Another restriction are minimum and maximum transaction limits.
Players of real money slots or games with smaller budgets will care whether the one they’ve chosen allows them to deposit as little as €10 or it requires a minimum of €100 to be paid before they can start playing. High-rollers will want to secure a hefty balance allowing them to place multiple large wagers without having to revisit the cashier during a single gaming session.
There are plenty of elements to be taken into consideration before you make your first deposit. Safety is a prerequisite, but everything else pretty much depends on your needs and preferences. Take time to explore your options in depth and make a decision only once you feel fully informed.
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