Online casinos can be intimidating at first. How do you choose a casino? How does the software work? And what do you need to know to ensure your online gaming experience is a good one? In this step by step guide we’ll answer these questions and more so you can feel safe and confident in your choice.
What’s the Best Site for You?
When deciding on where to play it pays to do a little research first. Consider some of the following questions when making up your mind.
Are They Definitely Legitimate and Trustworthy? There are a few “rogue” casinos out there. Be careful you don’t fall prey to one by not doing a small amount of research first. Check to make sure the casino you’re thinking of playing with is a member of a trusted regulatory body like eCOGRA or TST. Check our recommended casinos page and the list of safe casinos (and how to find them).
Do They Allow Transactions in Canadian dollars? If the answer to this question is no, you may have trouble getting your money on and off the site without losing out on currency conversions with each transaction.
Do they Have 24/7 Support for Canadian Players? If you need help with something outside of normal business hours, it will be a big help if your chosen casino offers round the clock support.
Downloading Your Casino Software
Almost all online casinos make it very easy to download their software and install it on your computer so as to make the games run faster and be more responsive. You can do this via your chosen casino’s home page. After you download the “client”, run the file and follow the on-screen prompts to set up the casino software on your computer.
When it’s installed you can run the program, which will open the casino up on your desktop. There’s no need to worry about viruses with the casino software, provided you’re playing at a trusted casino such as one of our recommended casinos. You can learn more about the different casino software on our dedicated page.
Playing Without Downloading
Many casinos now also provide you with the option to play directly in your browser, without having to download any software. For this option, the game uses the Flash software in your browser to operate the games.
The advantages to this mode of play are that you can play from anywhere, not just on your home computer, and it’s a viable alternative if you don’t feel comfortable having the casino software on your computer. This is also advantages to some Mac users, whose computers may not be compatible with the downloadable versions of a casino.
The disadvantages to using the browser-based software to play is that the games won’t perform as well in terms of speed and responsiveness to your controls, and also you usually won’t have as large a choice of games in the browser version as you would with the full download.
For more information on how to download the casino software check out our downloadable casinos page.
Increasingly, gamblers are using their mobile devices as homes for their casinos. Most of our recommended casinos feature mobile apps that make it possible to take slots and table games on the road on a smartphone or tablet device.
There are a few ways to play on mobile devices. Many casinos feature downloadable apps that are great options if you use an iPhone or Android device. Many are also available for streaming through browsers, or through download via links through SMS text messages. For more, check out our page on mobile casinos.
Bonuses and Promotions
In an effort to get you in the virtual door, almost all casinos offer some sort of welcome bonus or promotion. The size of these offerings can fluctuate a great deal — some will offer a huge match bonus right off the gate, while other casinos will limit the size of their welcome bonuses but will match multiple deposits after you sign up.
Just as important is to know the wagering requirements and payout percentages for those bonuses. Casinos will force you to wager through the amount of the bonus many times before they let you cash out. Some casinos are kinder than others in this regard. You can read more about casino bonuses, including one of our favorite rewards, free spins.
Registering Your Account
Before you can play for real money, you’ll need to register an account with your chosen casino. To register an account you will need to provide to following information:
- Date of birth
- Valid email address
- Username of your choosing
They’ll often also give the option to list a mobile phone number in order to make your account more secure, and may also give the option to accept promotional material from the casino.
Whether you like to play slots, roulette, blackjack, video poker or something more unusual, by choosing one of our recommended casinos, you’re sure to find the game for you. Take a look around at the selection of casino games on the casino’s website and in the lobby of their software to see the full range.
Many casinos also have special game types such as progressive jackpots, where the jackpot is pooled amongst various games – or even amongst various casinos in the same network – and just keeps growing until someone wins it. Progressive jackpots have been responsible for some huge payouts, so keep an eye on your chosen casino’s progressive jackpot rules.
You’ll find the option to try your luck and play free casino games before you take the plunge and play for real money. This is a great way to see if the software suits you and to get the hang of a game you like the look of.
Not all games have a free play mode, for example some slots games can only be played for real money (usually the progressive slots), but you should still be able to find a decent variety of free games to play at your chosen casino.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Canadian players are offered a wide range of options for making deposits or withdrawals from their accounts. As well as all the major credit cards, there are also various e-wallet options such as Instadebit and Neteller.
You’ll normally need to withdraw any winnings via the same method from which you made your most recent deposit – at least up to the amount you deposited, after which time you can withdraw via any available method. This is necessary for the casino to comply with anti-money laundering laws.
In most cases the withdrawal methods will be more restrictive than the deposit options, so make sure you can withdraw your winnings with a method of your choosing when the time comes.
Usually, you do not have to pay for withdrawals, but may pay a fee if you withdraw more than once in a given period, or for certain withdrawal options. Be sure to check the fine print on your chosen casino’s website to make sure you won’t incur unreasonable fees for withdrawing.
All of our recommended casinos offer exceptional support for their customers, including Canadian players. This support usually includes 24/7 live chat and phone support.
This is great if you run into trouble or have a question about something, as a real person is right there to help you, no matter what time of day or night it is.
By keeping the above basics in mind when choosing and playing at an online casino, you can ensure you are fully prepared and able to play safely and confidently.
Obviously, there’s a lot you need to know to make an informed decision choosing a casino, but we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, either. If there’s a red flag in any of the above areas, we’re going to know about it and let you know. We have years of experience at these casinos, and we know the standards they should meet. If you have any doubts or need somewhere to start, work through our casino reviews and compare for yourself which casinos seem like the best fit for your needs.