It might look like a question your grandpa – as an experienced brick-and-mortar casino goer – would ask after having been enlightened and introduced into the world by that mobile phones that you bought him for his birthday.
However, the syntagmatic construction from the title of this article is a legitimate question any self-respecting casino enthusiasts would ask themselves before actually diving into the exciting world of online gaming.
In an effort to provide you with an elaborate answer to it, we have decided to plunge at this question with a two-footed sliding tackle, leaving no stone unturned.
How Do Online Casinos Work?
Our aim in this article is to break everything there is to know about online casinos into the tiniest of details to get to the very core of online casinos, from the standpoint of a basic level player who is just getting their feet wet.
This is how the article unfolds:
- First up is the technical part where you get to understand everything that is going on in the background of a casino.
- Next up are the games – types, variants, the evolution through time.
- We will be discussing terms such as house edge and margin in order to give you a deeper insight into online casinos.
- Finally, you will be presented with step-by-step guides on how to open an account, make deposits/withdrawals, use casino bonuses and play your favourite games.
The Technical Part
Specifically designed to bring the genuine casino experience to the comfort of your home, online casinos are basically websites you visit in order to play all the standard casino games online.
The technical advancement has brought – and continues to do so – many changes to the online casino scene. However, players who come to play their favourite games at a gambling venue – either for free or for real money – will rarely think about the technical aspects of a casino.
Downloadable Casinos vs Instant-Play Casinos
The very first virtual casinos from the mid 90s required players to download software to their computer in order to access games.
Even though many casino operators still offer downloadable clients, the most established gaming venues – today known as flash casinos – have eliminated the download option, which has arguably been the most significant milestone in the online gambling.
The players today have the utmost convenience of playing their favourite games in high-quality graphics with smooth, fast and reliable gameplay engines which measure up to their downloadable counterparts.
The biggest disadvantage of playing at a downloaded online casino in this day and age is the fact you will be able to access your favourite games via a single device. Flash casinos, on the other side, allow you to play on multiple devices and platforms simply by logging in to your casino account.
Instant casinos are the next big step in the evolution of online gaming due to their flexibility and convenience. Furthermore, this particular type of casinos will not take up any storage space unlike the large casino clients you download to your devices.
Focusing on Convenience
The evolution of online casinos has gone hand in hand with technological advancement. With handheld devices becoming key segments of our daily lives, the online operators have recognised the potential and shifted their focus to mobile.
Smartphones and tablets are slowly becoming the predominant choice for gaming, regardless of the platform they run on – iOS, Android, Windows or any other. Many a reputable casino nowadays will also offer their own iOS and Android apps for phones and tablets, making playing your favourite games even more enjoyable.
Getting the Games
When you think about it to a slightly deeper level, online casinos are basically following the window-shop concept. Built as gaming libraries, casinos are offering products classified through different categories. In that regard, online casinos are basically advertising products.
Game development is a completely separate vertical of the online gaming industry. With casino industry spreading like wildfire across the internet, various studios, development houses and companies devoted to creating bespoke games are popping up at every corner.
Having taken the pulsating casino industry by the scruff of the neck, game developers are pushing it forward through innovation, ingenuity and creativeness beyond any measure.
It feels it was ages ago since Microgaming launched the very first online casino in the world back in 1994. It came with the most generic versions of casino games imaginable but those were then considered the state-of-the-art technology. Fast forward to today and what we have at our disposal now are all kinds of casino games imaginable:
- table games
- slot games
- scratch cards
And many more, all at your fingertips.
Having been given the freedom to experiment, game developers have even found their way into the realm of virtual and augmented reality by producing highly interactive 3D games.
The Whole Package
Industries and verticals are blending and, aiming to tap into the development sector, operators would in some cases choose to create their independent, proprietary products. Such practice has thus far proven to be unproductive knowing that game development behemoths have raised the bar extremely high and are tough to compete with.
In addition to providing premium gaming products, biggest and most established developers have expanded their service portfolios which makes things even harder.
Starting from bespoke marketing all the way to technical services, the developers’ backroom will keep check of your licence agreements, compliance regulative with governing regulatory bodies and make sure the quality of user experience is maintained at the highest possible level.
Games: Nuts and Bolts
They are the carrot we are all drawn by into online casinos. Coming in numerous types and forms, casino games are the beating heart of an online establishment.
Online slots have over time asserted their dominance as arguably the most popular type of games. Casinos offering an extensive portfolio of slots developed by some of the world’s most reputable software studios will have much greater chance of attracting players and building up their customer base.
The more Games On Offer the Better the Casino
The top-rated casino operators will have hundreds of titles on offer. From classic slot machines with nothing more than 3 reels and a single payline all the way through to the most sophisticated gamified video slots which offer opulent graphics, enticing gameplays and a wealth of special features.
No offering will be complete without the inevitable progressive jackpot online slots which are known to change lives and turn players into millionaires overnight.
Sitting on the pedestal as proud leaders of the software generated game species, online games are the factor online casino stature is measured by. It is for that reason, among many others, which most notably include making sure players are given the fairest chances of winning, that slot games – and other casino games are constantly audited and checked for fairness.
Keeping it Real
Having decided to invest their trust, money and time into an online casino, players would expect to be met with the same level of respect. It was not always the case but players can now rest assured they will be given a fair chance of winning at a casino – at least the most notable and esteemed ones – knowing that casino games are actually supposed to be beacons of a casino’s credibility.
Two factors crucial to learning how online casino games – slots included – are being developer to be fair are actually two abbreviations every seasoned casino player will be familiar with. These are RTP and RNG.
Return to Player (RTP)
Normally expressed as a percentage, Return to Player is basically an insight into the odds of you winning on a given slot game. RTP will provide you with an exact payback on a game given an infinate number of games.
To illustrate it even further, here is an example of an RTP in relation to how much money you can expect to get. If we take the innovative NetEnt slot game called Wild Worlds which has got the RTP of 96.47%, this basically means that for every £100 wagered you can expect to get £96.47 back, on average.
Return to Player percentage is closely related to the concept of slot volatility. Huge majority of the game nowadays tend to come with a medium volatility gameplay with an RTP orbiting around 96%. Medium variance games will usually render a somewhat erratic payout pattern with wins arriving fairly regularly but not quite lucrative individually.
When it comes to variance in casino games, it can also be high and low. High variance games will not render wins as frequently as you would hope to but the payouts would usually be heftier. Contrary, low variance games will result in recurrent wins with lower payouts and as such are perfect for casual players who are in for the sheer thrill of it. Those seeking potentially life changing payouts should, however, keep their eyes on the high variance games.
Random Number Generator (RNG)
Hidden deep inside the engine box of a casino games lies a computer algorithm called Random Number Generator which is making sure the result of every single spin and individual run of play is completely random and not influenced by the previous results whatsoever.
The RNG has no memory and will spring a different set of numbers each time you set the reels in motion at any given slot game. Knowing the results it produces are completely arbitrary, players have no chance of pulling a fast one or getting tricked by a casino. It also implies that in case of a big win at a given spin, there is no reason why you should not hope to win the same amount – or even bigger – on the very next one.
House Edge and Margins
If we disregard the thrill behind it, the excitement and the joy casino games provide, let’s face it – we are all in it to win it. We walk into a casino – or load it up for that matter – with an idea of winning, even it is deeply rooted in the back of our mind.
What we usually fail to acknowledge, however, is that online casinos are holding a built-in advantage over us. “The House Always Wins” is more than a simple saying. Casinos do not rely on luck to generate profit. They use odds, margins and house edge to beat us.
To put it simply, casinos offer games of chance in which the average payout values are lower than the income produced in relation to the overall wagers.
This was explained above through the concept of the RTP. Therefore, the house edge and margin are basically the average profit a casino makes from the players’ bet. It is the statistical advantage which cannot be beaten as it represents the net amount a casino holds once all bets are paid.
Live Dealer Casinos Revive Classic Table Games
House edge is mainly a concept associated with table games that have been the main association with brick-and-mortar casinos. Their legacy from the times past keeps on living thanks to an innovative concept called Live Casinos.
Live dealer casino establishments have marked the next step in the evolution of the gaming industry. The unstoppable advances of technology have now allowed software developers and operators to combine the best of both worlds – online and offline – by offering a genuine land-based casino experience to remote players.
By playing a live casino game, you get served by a dealer in real-time, through a stream from a live casino studio or a game floor at an actual land-based casino. Through this contemporary casino service – which is slowly taking over the more traditional forms of gaming – the players are provided with a genuine casino experience straight from the comfort of their homes.
It is thanks to the Live Dealer service that traditional table games such as roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, poker have been given a new life. It is mostly due to live casino games that players are once again taking more interest in learning what hose edge is all about and how it works on different games.
Calculating the House Edge
Unlike the software generated games with their RTP and RNG, table games come with a predetermined house edge. In roulette, the house edge stands at around 2.70% on European Roulette whereas the percentage stands at 5.26% in its American version.
The two most popular variants of roulette are played on a 36-number wheel with the European version having an additional zero and the American type having two zeroes. The house edge on all bets is therefore 1/19 unlike the 1/37 found with the European roulette.
The house edge is the expected value calculated by dividing the number of favourable outcomes with the number of total possible outcomes.
When it comes to the American roulette, this is how the operation is performed:
(1/38) x 35 – (37/38) x 1 = -0.0526 which is basically a house edge of 5.26%.
House edge does not show how much a casino will get by beating every player all the time, the percentage – whether it is 2.7 or 5.26 – it is the average amount casinos win out of the total bets placed during a period of time.
How Do You Use an Online Casino?
Online casinos are doing their best to offer you proper casino experience you can only find in land-based establishments which is why you can always find yourself a venue resembling an establishment from the famous Las Vegas strip or from Macau.
The mechanism, mechanics, structure and substance of all casinos is basically the same – what differs here is atmosphere and the sensory appeal.
Once you get drawn in by glitz, gloss and the opulence of choice offered at an online casino and decide to open an account and dive in, you will be required to go through several steps before you actually get a chance to play your favourite games.
Opening a Casino Account
The first thing you need to do is to open your real money casino account. The procedure is usually a rather straightforward one as self-respecting establishments take great care of their (potential) clients and made it ever so convenient for prospective players to complete what has once been a properly tiresome procedure.
Firstly, the players are required to provide their personal details which usually include the standard information:
- full name
- country of residence
- proof of identity
At this point, a player is expected to have already made sure they are of legal age for gambling online – 18 or older – and that they reside in a country where gambling is a legally regulated activity. If you play in the UK then under the law you will not be able to actually deposit and play until your age is verified.
Casino customers should rest assured all of their information – both private and financial – will be safely stored and secured by measures that include SSL encryption and state-of-the-art safeguarding functions. Self-respecting casinos are well aware that any breach would have a major impact both on their reputation and business, and will therefore make player safety their absolute top priority.
Funding Your Casino Account
Once you have filled in the registration form, registered successfully and then verified yourself, you will be urged to fund your account. The world’s most renowned gambling operators will have a myriad of payments methods available, to cater for players around the globe.
By visiting the Deposit page, players will have a wide selection to choose the method that suits their needs and matches their geographical restrictions. Once you have selected your desired payment method and typed in the account details, simply select he deposit amount and confirm.
The money will be transferred into your casino account momentarily – which cannot be said to withdrawals, which come with pending periods and different options such as reversals and manual flushing.
Players should take notice that withdrawing funds from their casino accounts would not always be possible via the service used for deposits. You should always make sure to double check it before you start playing.
Some of the most popular deposit/withdrawal methods include:
- Debit Card
- Bank Wire
With a rapid progress in the technological sense of the word, online casinos have started implementing innovative payment methods which are most convenient to use – straight from your mobile devices.
Some of the most advanced methods gaining quite a reputation in the online gaming world are:
- Apple Pay
- Pay N Play
How to Use Online Casino Bonuses
In order to encourage you to play, online casinos will often offer different perks for players who choose a particular payment method. Among the wide variety of bonuses and promotions you can find at any valued establishment you will find welcome bonuses related to bitcoin services, for example.
Talking about bonuses as handy incentives casino offer to players in order to sway them over, welcome bonuses have proven to be quite popular with customers. Welcome offers in most cases include matched bonuses where casino would top up your deposits with no less than 100% or even more.
By opening an account with a casino that offers 100% match up to £400, you could ideally hope to have the total of £800 to play with at the beginning of your casino journey. Back in the day, when online casinos began introducing the enticements such as welcome bonuses, players would often go and abuse them.
Such a practice is no longer possible, however, as gaming operators have a strict list of wagering requirements to prevent bonus exploitation. You are normally required to playthrough your bonuses up to 50x before being allowed to withdraw your funds. Bonuses and welcome incentives are really a try-before-you-buy scheme.
VIP Players and Loyalty Perks
Casinos tend to nurture a positive relationship with their customers where most loyal players will be rewarded by VIP labels and programs that would include higher deposit and withdrawal limits, custom-tailored bonuses and all sorts of perks – that even include birthday presents, trips, holidays, VIP entrance to sporting events, concerts, parties, etc.
Before you make your way into the selected echelons of the online gaming scene and become a player referred to as a VIP or high roller, you will need to gain much more than basic knowledge and playing experience. How do you do that? You start simple – learn about game types and variants, choose the ones that best suit your taste, skills and preferences.
How to Play Casino Games Online?
Talking about dreams, online casino games have indeed become a stuff of dreams for many people. Be it for the sheer thrill and the adrenaline rush, or a potentially life-changing windfall, it makes no genuine difference.
The technology and mechanics underlying casino games have a single purpose of getting these products as user-friendly as possible – making sure players are given fair odds of winning and the same amount of entertainment.
The old days of a limited game selections are long gone and today’s online casinos will proudly boast a mesmerising opulence of choice. From classic table games in their virtual environment to their innovative live dealer counterparts, they have it all. Classic slot games remain the absolute favourites and this is where the palette gets particularly luxurious. Classic slots, video slots and progressive slots to name but a few.
Evolving from one-armed bandits into the most sophisticated casino products in the matter of decades, online slot games stand proud as the casino industry’s most popular asset.
Available in free mode and for real money, slots have become the favourite pastime of many a casino enthusiast. At the same time, these games can also change your lives in a second and that is where all their beauty is hidden.
Paylines, Themes & Symbols in Slots
Contemporary slot games come in different types in shapes with video slots being the most common ones. These would usually come with a playing grid consisting of reels (normally 5) and paylines or winning ways. The number of paylines goes from 5, 10, 20 or 40 all the way up to 243 ways to win. The number of winning ways is often measured in thousands, however.
Online casino software developers specialise in creating stunning video slots with state-of-the-art graphics, soundtracks and well-oiled mechanics that allow players to enjoy a smooth playing experience.
Video slots use different motifs and themes – with gameplay subjects encompassing anything from ancient Greece or China, to Wild Wild West or futuristic concepts. Behind the ornaments, colours and decorations however, the game basics are always the same.
Players will hit the Spin button in an effort to line matching symbols on a payline (usually three for starters) in order to get a winning combination. The number of coins you get to win depends on the symbol value. Slots usually have high-value denominations – which are symbols closely associated with the game’s thematic – and a set of low-paying tiles. These are normally depicted as classic playing card symbols (10, J, Q, K and A).
Most of the games also have special symbols – Wilds and Scatters, Bonus symbols – which activate special features. It is a general rule of thumb that Wilds will replace all standard symbols on the grid to help you create winning combinations more easily. Scatters would normally go on to unlock Free Spins or Bonus features which are in this day and age become gamified and built to resemble the action to get by playing computer games.
Progressive Jackpot Slots
Particularly popular type of video slot games is progressive jackpot slots.
These offer you a chance to hit a life-changing win as they involve a network prize pool, generated from wagers placed by players playing the same game all around the web.
Millionaires have been made on regular basis thanks to progressive jackpot classics such as Microgaming Mega Moolah, which to this date remains one of the most played games in the casino history.
Rapid rise in online casino popularity did not affect the reputation of traditional table games. The likes of roulette, blackjack, baccarat or poker have embraced the brave new world and went with the flow. Developers and operators alike used the technology available to improve gameplays and graphics.
Unlike slot games which leave plenty of room for experimenting – with bet values, RTP percentages and possible payouts – table games are more of the standardised casino games with rules and playing/betting options dating back from the land-based casino times.
Variations exist and table games have followed the trends of modern to make themselves even more appealing to the playing community. Roulette appears to be holding the banner for peer table games with its French, European and American versions alike.
The French and European roulette are different to their American counterpart in terms of the wheel layout. Unlike American roulette and its trademark double zero, the other two versions have a zero pocket only. Therefore, the house edge with the American roulette is pushed higher in favour of the casino almost double the amount found in other two types.
Differences between types of same games – as well as discrepancies between table games as a whole – are particularly highlighted in their Live Casino variations.
Live Dealer Games
The next big thing in the online casino industry, live dealer games harness what is best of both worlds – land-based and online – to provide players with an unparalleled gaming experience. You get to enjoy the actual casino experience straight from the comfort of your home through a webcam. Technological advancement has brought unlimited possibilities in how a live casino dealer can communicate with you through a stream and place bets as you instruct them to.
Live dealer games are often streamed from dedicated, custom-built studios. However, in a bit to bring both worlds even closer together, industry’s leading providers and operators have implemented live dealer tables within the actual land-based casinos where remote players can get an online access into a venue on the other part of the world, to play with and against real casino players.
Real dealers (croupiers) add a note of authenticity to the entire live dealer experience – especially native ones, allowing casino operators to cater to players coming from different parts of the world and helping them feeling as home.
Real World vs Online Universe
The world is changing and the games follow suit. The entertainment business has come a long way in a short period of time and a romantic player’s elegy will do little to stop the evolution. The ‘real world’ is slowly embracing the new possibilities and reshaping its views towards the entertainment business with online gaming holding the torch forward.
The merger of land-based casinos with live dealer operators has given a fresh hope to the brick-and-mortar industry, thus ending the silent feud that has been burning behind the curtains for years now.
Land-based casinos and their online counterparts should not be mutually exclusive. By blending the two further together, new possibilities will arise and humankind should be in for exciting times ahead. And judging by the current pace of progress, your grandpa from the beginning of this article might still get a chance to see it all with his own eyes.