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Online casinos are all the rage. This major form of online gambling has become massive over the last two decades, but just what are online casinos, and why might you consider playing at them? In this article, we'll take a look at all of that and more.

An online casino is a website, just like another other. Every website is designed to offer you something. In the case of these particular domains, what you are being offered are casino games, recreated in a digital format. You can create an account, and then pay to play these games, with the potential there to win real money, too.

The History of online casinos

Online casinos first appeared back in the mid-90s. The internet was only beginning to reveal its true potential back then, and the games they had to offer you were laughable by today's standards. There were only a few, and they didn't offer you much, but online casinos and online gambling was born nonetheless.

Initially, internet casinos and online gambling were hugely popular in the United States, but that ended with the UIGEA act in the early two-thousands. This effectively closed down the online casino market for US-based players. They mostly play at offshore casino sites based out of Panama, Kahnawake, or Curacao. Now many States, such as New Jersey, Colorado and Tennessee, have implemented licensing programs so that Sports Betting and Casino operators can legally operate.

However, European online casino revelers are still enjoying the high life, with relatively few restrictions on their online gambling fun. Over the decades, the face of online casino gambling has changed, and today, three main formats are widely available for players to choose from.

How can I play?

Initially, the downloadable casino suite was the only way to play. This is because browsers couldn't handle the games in the early 90s. As web browsers could handle a larger load, instant-play casinos became more popular.

This is still the case today.

Instant-play casinos are played in your web browser and are most popular due to the quicker level of gameplay they offer and the lack of a need to download software.

What will you get?

What you get from your online casino dramatically depends on which software provider runs the domain. Microgaming and Playtech are the two big powerhouses.

They have created a wealth of progressive and non-progressive, with many table games, but primarily slots.

Casinos run by these rivals' software feature many payment methods, big bonuses, and currency and language options.

BetSoft and RTG (Real Time Gaming) powered casinos are more popular across the pond with US players. None of the other developers offer their games to players based in the USA. Both providers only have a handful of payment methods, and most casinos are only playable in English. Nonetheless, BetSoft Gaming is the leading provider of 3D slot machine games.

NetEnt only caters to players based in Northern Europe. They have some stunning-looking games and original content and offer a good selection of payment methods. This Scandinavian casino software provider's games often combine with other developers' titles at casinos.

IGT and WMS Gaming are both developers of online and land-based slots. If you've seen a great slot in Las Vegas, it is available online as one of IGT or WMS Gaming's titles. Their casinos feature creative and original games, which can be costly.

They aren't the most flexible casinos regarding bonuses, but they do have some incredibly big hits. Of course, many other casino software providers are out there, too. Each one brings its unique perks to an online casino site.

Paying to play

Different software providers mean that casinos can offer different payment methods. You must find a casino with a payment method that works for you. The main options are credit cards, bank cards, e-wallets, or prepaid voucher payment methods.

Credit and bank card deposits like VISA and Master Card are completed instantly and may incur charges, but are generally accepted everywhere. E-wallet transactions such as Neteller, Skrill, and PayPal are usually free for deposits and withdrawals but are primarily available for European users.

Prepaid vouchers (Ukash and Paysafecard are prime examples) are swell for depositing at online casinos, but you cannot withdraw funds with them. You'll need to find another payment method for withdrawals, then.

All the same, these represent the safest deposit options on the net.

Failing that, wire transfers and cheques are also possible and common, especially amongst US online casinos. These often come with heavy charges, though.

The advantages of playing at online casinos

So, what are the perks of playing at online casinos over land-based ones? Well, you will save an absolute fortune on travel costs and accommodation. With no hotel or flights, all that money saved could be better used on games.

Online players also don't have to worry about getting a seat at a table. All online casino games are available around the clock, without exceptions. Players will find that the selection of games they offer at home is slightly larger than a land-based, brick-and-mortar casino.

You can also quit whenever you want. Since you are playing from home, you don't have to worry about signing out of the casino and calling it a day whenever you want. Your information and balance will remain there until you next play.

Finally, very few land-based casinos can offer you continual bonuses and promotions. These are great deals that you can wrap up all of the time when playing at online casinos.

Welcome bonuses, no deposit bonuses, redeposit deals, refer-a-friend bonuses, loyalty programs, anniversary bonuses, VIP clubs, free spins, birthday bonuses, prize draws, daily, weekly, and monthly promotions, and slot tournaments, are all just part and parcel of the great set up which you can find in today's online casinos.