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

If you're in CT, 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!"


  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.  (They throw up a registration box, but you can cancel it and continue to the game.)  For example, here's the free-play blackjack.  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.


  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 Stay Safe in Las Vegas

Last update: March 2022

Most crime rates in Vegas are much higher than the rest of the U.S., e.g.:

  1. Rape:  Twice as common
  2. Robbery:  56% higher
  3. Assault:  25% higher
  4. Burglary:  88% higher
  5. Theft:  9% higher
  6. Vehicle theft:  Twice as common (source)

Over a hundred visitors are murdered every year (2014 figures), including being shot and killed while being robbed in parking garages.

So, take steps to stay safe.  Here are some ideas.

  1. If you don't need a car, don't rent one (or drive your own).  Parking garages can be dangerous.
  2. If you do use a car, don't leave anything valuable in it.  Cars are easily and frequently broken into, even in the parking garages of the nicest casinos.
  3. If you have lots of credit cards, don't take all of them.  If your wallet gets stolen you don't want to have to cancel all your cards.  Take at least two cards so in case one gets declined you have a backup.  For that matter, before your trip, let your credit card companies know you're going to Vegas so they don't shut off your card for suspicious activity.
  4. Don't carry large amounts of cash.  Plan to use credit cards for most purchases.  For gambling, wire your money to the casino cage ahead of time (or if you're already in Vegas, deposit your cash at the cage).  If you have a safe in your room, leave half of any money you didn't deposit at the cage.  (Hotel safes get robbed sometimes, so half in the safe and half on your person means you don't have all your eggs in one basket.)
  5. Put your wallet in your front pocket, the hardest pocket to pick.
  6. Carry a decoy wallet with $100 and an unimportant credit card.  If you get mugged, hand that one over.
  7. Bring a second cell phone and SIM card, and leave it in your room (in the safe, if there is one).  If your phone gets stolen, you'll have a backup handy.  Make sure your phone is backed up to the cloud so you you can easy load your data onto your backup phone.
  8. Don't walk the strip alone at night, or go to a parking garage alone.
  9. Don't leave the strip or the lively casino area of downtown.  It starts getting really sketchy just a block or two from either.
  10. Don't accept a drink from anyone, especially at a club.  It could be spiked.

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 main reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  (When you see the registration box, you can cancel it and proceed to the game without registering.)

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