I’ve been reading and writing about “the best online casinos” now for at least 15 years. Most of the pages I’ve seen on the subject tackle the subject in a pretty straightforward manner. They rank and rate some arbitrary number of casinos—usually 10—and they offer brief descriptions or mini-reviews of each property.
Today I was thinking it might be fun to revisit the topic from a different angle.
What questions does the average online gambler or aspiring online gambler ask about online casinos?
It’s easier than ever to find the questions related to a specific subject, especially in Google. You just type in a search topic, and for many of them, Google will provide a list of questions that people actually type into their search engine.
It’s hard to get more grassroots than that.
Of course, the search engine chooses answers to those questions from the top 10 results in their engine and includes them, too. You just have to click on the question to get those answers.
But not all of the answers listed there are as accurate or detailed as I would like to see.
So I’ve curated what I thought were the most appropriate questions for a blog post with this topic, and I’ve taken a stab at answering each of them below. I’ve tried to be succinct and detailed at the same time.
I hope you’ll enjoy the 10 question and answers about the best online casinos I’ve assembled below:
1-Which Online Casino Pays Out the Most?
In spite of what you might read on other sites, no one really knows which online casino pays out the most.
Online casinos, for the most part, are less regulated than their land-based counterparts. They’re located offshore, and even the identities of their owners and managers are hard to find. Getting accurate financial reports from them and comparing them is as unlikely as winning Mega Millions.
Why do you occasionally see sites which rank in order the payout percentages for various online casinos?
They’re using this “data” as a sales tool.
I once had a conversation with a marketing person at one of the most popular online casinos in the world. He suggested that I revise my website to include a table listing the top 4 or 5 casinos. He also suggested I include a column for their payout percentages.
I asked him how I would know what to put in that column.
He laughed and told me to just make up some percentage in the 90s. According to him, that’s what everyone else in the industry was doing.
I don’t think that’s what “everyone” in the industry is doing, but I recognize that it’s a common promotional tactic.
2-What Is “Return to Player?”
“Return to player” is a metric used to describe a slot machine’s payouts over time. You actually have 2 return to player statistics for any given slot machine game:
- 1. The theoretical return for the game
- 2. The actual return for the game
The theoretical return is the same thing as the game’s payback percentage. It’s relatively easy to calculate if you know the probability of getting the symbol combinations. You just multiply the probabilities of winning by the sizes of the prizes.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the probability of getting the symbol combinations. That’s hidden deep within the programming of the games. Without access to the game’s algorithm, all we can do is estimate the return to player based on the actual results we see.
Until we’ve accumulated thousands of spins worth of data, our results are going to be statistically invalid.
‘The return to player is expressed as a percentage. It’s the average amount of each bet that gets paid out to the player over time.
If a game has a return to player of 88%, over time, the game pays out 88 cents on average for every $1 you gamble on it.
The return to player percentage subtracted from 100% equals the game’s house edge. Any time you add the house edge to the return to player (or the payback percentage) you should end up with a total of 100%.
When talking about an online casino, you can think of the return to player as an aggregate number across all their games.
3- What Is “Hit Frequency?”
This is another metric used to describe slot machine games. “Hit frequency” refers to how often you get a payout. For example, if you have a slot machine with a hit frequency of 33%, this means that over time you’ll see a payout of some kind about 1/3 of the time.
Games can have a high hit frequency and a low return to player. This is common with penny slots, for example. Most penny slot machines require you to wager multiple coins on multiple lines, and you’ll often see a payoff on at least one of the paylines on which you bet.
But if you look at the amount won on any given spin, it’s almost always less than the amount you wagered.
The human brain, by the way, doesn’t distinguish between a profitable win and a win that results in a net loss. It gets the same endorphin rush either way. This is one of the reasons that the programming behind slot machines, online or off, is so insidious. It stimulates powerful chemicals in the brain.
When people say that gambling is addictive, they’re talking about a real biophysical phenomenon. Just because gambling doesn’t involve ingesting a chemical substance doesn’t make it less addictive.
4-What Apps Pay You Real Money?
In the context of online casinos, the apps that pay you real money are the ones associated with real online casinos. This means that the apps where you can only play free games without risking money don’t count.
If you’re not sure which is which, a quick look at some search engine results should help you distinguish between the two.
This is a great question, by the way. I’m a gambler. I don’t want to waste my time playing gambling games on some app that doesn’t offer me the opportunity to win money. Sure, that means risking some money.
But that’s what gambling is supposed to be about, right?
5-How Can I Make Real Money Online?
If you want to make real money online, there are better ways to do so than by gambling at online casinos. If you’re bound and determined to make money gambling, at least take up online poker, where you can actually get a long-term edge against your competitors. Keep in mind, though, that 90% of poker players aren’t profitable, though.
You can make money in the online casino business, though. The easiest way is by learning how to write about the subject. You can see examples of that throughout this site. You can get paid for that in various ways. One way is to sell your work to a publisher. Another way is to become a publisher yourself and sell advertising.
If you’re absolutely determined to make real money online with casino gambling, it is possible. All you have to do is get lucky.
Just keep in mind that you’ll lose more often than you’ll get lucky and win.
6-Is It Legal to Gamble Online?
The legality of gambling online varies based on where you live. For the most part, in the United States, it’s not illegal to play casino games for money on the internet. Offering casino games to the public, on the other hand, is probably illegal for most of the companies doing it.
So I don’t recommend going into business as an online casino, but if you want to gamble at one, you probably face minimal legal risk. The financial risk depends on how much money you’re putting online, though.
Also, state laws vary. Some states have draconian laws about gambling online. The state of Washington, for example, considers playing poker online a felony.
As far as I know, no one’s ever been arrested or convicted for gambling online, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
7- What Games Can You Make Money Playing?
You can make money at any online casino game if you get lucky. The ones you’re probably most interested in are the games where you’re most likely to win money at. Most people measure that by how low the house edge is.
The casino games with the lowest house edge—the ones where you’re most likely to make money playing—include:
- Video poker
The games which offer the worst odds, and are therefore the ones where you’re least likely to make money, include:
- Lottery games
- Slot machines
8-Are Online Slot Machines Legal?
Online slot machines fall into the same category as online gambling above. Everything I wrote about the legality of gambling at online casinos applies to all the games, including slot machines.
I can understand why you’d treat this as a separate question, though. Most states have very specific laws related to slot machine ownership, for example. The state laws sure treat those games differently than they treat a pair of dice or a deck of cards.
9- What Are the Most Common Casino Games?
The most common casino games, online or off, are slot machines. They outnumber the other games in any casino by at least 5 to 1. This number might be different in European casinos, where table games are more popular than gambling machines.
But at online casinos, the most common casino games are the slot machines.
The other games you see most often in casinos online or off include:
- Video poker
In recent years, house-banked poker variants, like Ultimate Holdem and Three Card Poker, have become increasingly popular. It’s a rare casino that doesn’t offer at least some games that fall into this camp.
10- What Casino Game Has the Most Chance of Winning?
Most people think that your best probability of winning a bet in a casino is blackjack. The probability of winning a hand in blackjack, though, is only 42.42%. The rest of the time, you’ll tie or lose. Sure, the house edge is lower in blackjack than many other games. But that’s not because you’re going to win so often. It’s because part of the time when you win you’ll get a 3 to 2 payoff.
On the other hand, an even money bet in roulette has a probability of 47.37%. That’s significantly higher, but you’ll only ever win even money on that bet. If you can find a roulette game with a single zero instead of 2 zeros, the probability is even better—48.65%. But the house edge is much higher in roulette than it is in blackjack.
The probability of winning a pass line bet in craps is even better, though. It’s 49.29%, which is as close to 50% as you’re likely to see in any casino game. The house edge on this bet is higher than in blackjack, but it’s significantly lower than the house edge in roulette.
Most other games don’t even come close to these numbers. You might think baccarat does, but the probability of a banker bet winning a hand in baccarat is only 45.86%. Ties are more common in baccarat than you might think.
After years of consuming and creating content on the subject of “best online casinos,” I decided to take a stab at answering the most interesting questions related to the subject in a blog post. I’ve eschewed the usual tactic of listing and ranking several specific properties. If that’s the content you were hoping for, plenty of people have already put such content together for your consumption.
On the other hand, if you stuck with this post, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
I hope the answers I’ve provided here were more entertaining and informative than the results in Google were. If not, let me know in the comments where I fell short. I can always try to take this post to the next level by improving the answers.
Finally, one important word of advice—no matter how confident you are in an online casino, keep in mind that you’re risking your money in multiple ways. Not only are you gambling on games of chance, but there’s also the risk involved in doing business with an offshore company that’s possibly skirting the law where you live.
So only play with money you can afford to lose.
Good luck and have fun.