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.

Resolving disputes with an online casino

Last update: October 2020

If you have a dispute with an online casino, your complaint probably falls into one of these areas:

  1. You think the casino's games are fixed.
  2. You didn't get a bonus you expected.
  3. You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you.

Let's go ever each of these.

 You think the casino's games are fixed

It's highly unlikely that the casino is cheating unless you're dealing with one of the rare casinos that has a history of cheating.  (See the Casinomeisters' list.)  Most casinos realize that cheating is counterproductive, because it would ensure they never got any repeat business — not to mention that getting a bad reputation in this business is the kiss of death.  A casino winds up making less money if it cheats, so cheating is rare.

Also, almost all online casinos run software from one of about a dozen reputable providers.  The software controls the game, so it would be hard for the casino to fix the game even if they wanted to.

Finally, remember that the casino has no need to cheat.  The odds are already against you.  If you're the kind of player who plays until your whole deposit is gone (and most players are), then fixing the games is pointless: the casino will get all your money sooner or later anyway.

Nevertheless, if you're convinced that a casino is cheating, then send me detailed records of your play and I'll try to see if anything looks amiss.  Detailed records means the cards that were dealt, dice that were rolled, or roulette numbers that hit for at least a hundred rounds.  If you merely tell me how much money you lost, or how many hands you lost I won't be able to help you.

 You didn't get a bonus you expected

Many online casinos make the bonuses really difficult to qualify for.  Usually you have to gamble a minimum amount of money, and often certain games don't count towards the play requirement.  For example, at Captain Cooks they ignore play on just about everything — Roulette, Craps, Baccarat, SicBo, Video Poker, and Blackjack.  (Gee, what else is left?)  Even my advertiser, Bovada, excludes Craps at the time of this writing.

So the first thing is to read the fine print on the casino's website and determine whether you really did qualify for the bonus.  If you think you did, write to the casino and ask them why you didn't, quoting the terms of their bonus offer back to them.  If they still disagree, then see the section below about resolving disputes.


You tried to make a withdrawal but the casino won't pay you

This is probably the most common complaint against an online casino.  If you win big, some casinos will look for an excuse not to pay you.  For exampel, many casinos (including Bovada) have a rule that there can be only one account per household, so if two people in your house are playing on separate accounts, then bam!, winnings seized.

The reason casinos have the "one account per household" rule is that they figure multiple accounts on the same IP address is really the same person, trying to score multiple deposit bonuses.  How can they determine whether multiple accounts in the same household are the same person or different people?  They can't, and they don't have to, because their rule is one account per household, so even if you could prove that your multiple accounts belong to different people, it doesn't matter.

So, don't have more than one account per household.


Resolving disputes

Let's say you've read the above, you've written to the casino without success, and you've waited a reasonable amount of time for the issue to be resolved, and it hasn't been.  Now what do you do?

If the casino is licensed, try writing to the licensing authority.  Most good casinos are licensed in the area they do business, and the licensing authority hears complaints about casinos they license.  But if you're in the U.S. playing at a casino that serves most of the U.S., then forget it, because no U.S.-wide casinos are licensed, because no licensing authority will touch a U.S.-wide casino, because online gambling isn't explicitly legal in the whole U.S.  (It's not explicitly illegal, either, but the gray area means that licensing bodies won't deal with U.S.-wide casinos.)

Failing that, submit your complaint to a site that mediates online casino disputes, like Casinomeister or Ask Gamblers.  Those are free services that helps players with legitimate complaints.

Good luck!


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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