Best online casino for most U.S. players: Bovada

If you're in DE, NJ, PA, or WV, online casinos are legal in your state, and you should play at a casino licensed there.

If you're in any other U.S. state, your best bet is Bovada, not because they're good, but because everything else is even worse.  I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where the RV salesman is telling Homer, "Simpson, you're never gonna own a finer RV.  And I don't mean that in a good way, I mean this is IT for you!"

THE GOOD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Play the practice games without having to register an account.  Other casinos force you to register so they can market to you.  Bovada is the only U.S.-wide casino I know of that lets you play right away with no registration.  (If you see a registration box, you can cancel it and continue to the game.)  Blackjack?  One click and you're in.  And the games play right in your browser, so you don't have to download any special software.
  2. Consistent payouts.  Online gambling is mostly unregulated and if a casino refuses to pay your winnings you have little recourse.  But Bovada has always had a good reputation for paying out properly.

THE BAD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Not licensed.  Because online gambling in most states isn't explicitly legal, no legitimate authority will license a U.S.-wide casino.  That means if you have a dispute, you have no recourse.
  2. Customer service is pretty pathetic.
  3. Phantom bets in live dealer games.  While I was watching (not playing) a live roulette game to record spin data for an article, Bovada claimed that I made two losing bets ($45 and $15) that I didn't actually make.  I complained about this, but they insisted I made those bets.  So, you probably want to steer clear of the live dealer games.

Visit Bovada


Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

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Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

How to get money into an online casino (for U.S. players)

Last update: March 2021

My advertiser: Bovada Online Casino
Offers free-play with fake money, or true gambling
Casinos to Avoid: Here
Resolving Disputes with Casinos: What to do
How to Play: Gambling Crash Course
Mac Users: How to run casino software

Since online gambling is illegal in many states, U.S. banks won't touch online gambling money.  That makes it harder for U.S. players to get money into or out of an online casino.  Many credit cards don't work, PayPal won't handlethose transactions, and the feds have shut down countless small processors.  This article will cover your options for making deposits and withdrawals.


1. Credit cards

Try a credit card first, because it might work and because it's super-easy.  If it doesn't work then you can try something else, but if it does work, then problem solved!

Credit cards are hit-or-miss:  they might work and they might not.   Also, a card that works one day might not work the next.  (But then it might start working again in the future.)  I've had success at one point or another with cards from Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, First Equity, MBNA, and Washington Mutual—but not every time.

Note that you might have to pay a fee (like 4.9%) to use your card.   Blame that on the hat dance that casinos use to disguise the nature of the transactions so that banks don't block the use of the card, which is expensive for them.  It's also probably illegal, which is why many casinos have stopped even taking credit cards and want their players to switch to Bitcoin.

2. Bitcoin

If your credit card doesn't work, most casinos now accept Bitcoin, using a service like Bitstamp.  If you're unfamiliar with Bitcoin, it's basically a currency like dollars or Euros, but it exists only on the Internet; you don't hold physical Bitcoins in your hand.  The way it usually works is:

  1. You open an account with a Bitcoin service like Bitstamp.
  2. You transfer money from your bank account to Bitstamp (or competing service) to purchase Bitcoin.
  3. You use Bitstamp to send your Bitcoin to online merchants who accept them, like online casinos.

You can also use Bitstamp or similar service to receive Bitcoin from others, such as a payout of casino winnings:

  1. The casino sends Bitcoin to your Bitcoin account.
  2. The service lets you sell the Bitcoin to convert it to U.S. dollars.
  3. You transfer the U.S. dollars to your bank account.

I have a separate article that explains all about Bitcoin.


3. Instant Check (aka, e-Check)

Some casinos let you easily deposit money by just typing in your bank account number.  They withdraw the money from your account as though it were a check.  You might be rightly wary of giving an offshore online casino access to your bank account, which is why you should do this only with established, trusted casinos.

Before Bitcoin was on the scene, I used this method successfully at Bovada.

As I mentioned in the Credit Cards section above, U.S. banks try hard not to handle online gambling money.  So there's a good chance they'll reject the transfer, and there's a good chance that your online casino of choice won't even offer this deposit method in the first place.

 

4. Western Union (aka "Money Transfer")

Don't use this method.  It's cumbersome, Western Union charges hefty fees, and they have pathetic customer service. 

 

5. Online payment services

No longer an option!   Everyone used to use PayPal, then PayPal stopped handling gambling transactions.  Then we switched to Neteller, but the feds subsequently forced them to stop serving U.S. customers, too.  A number of smaller processors sprang up, but the feds smacked them all down as well.  Even if you can find such a processor, they won't last long, and you risk losing your money if the processor is holding it when they get smacked.

Cashing out

Okay, that's how you get money in.  How do you get money out when you win big?  The easy way is to have the casino send it to you as Bitcoin, but most casinos are also willing to mail you a check.  Note that the casino might require that you fax them a copy of your ID before your first withdrawal.  Don't freak out, that's just standard security protocol at many online gaming sites to make sure that no one else is pretending to be you and trying to steal your money.  Also, be prepared to wait a couple of weeks or more for your check.  If you're not prepared to wait that long, use Bitcoin.

Note that if you deposited with e-Check, you'll have to wait for that deposit to clear before your payout request will be processed.  It can take up to two weeks for an e-Check to clear.
 

DISCLAIMER: Gambling laws change all the time, and I'm not a lawyer besides. You are strongly advised to check the laws relevant to your jurisdiction before you gamble online.


Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

You can play Bovada's games (below) right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's the mean reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  I hope other casinos will eventually start treating their visitors like human beings rather than walking wallets, but until they do, there's Bovada.  One click and you're in.

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