An online casino is exactly what it sounds like, a website-based casino. You can play most of them for free for practice and fun or with real money. All the games you would find in a brick n’ mortar casino are online like poker, blackjack, roulette, slot machines, baccarat, craps, pai gow, and more. And, online casinos generally offer better payouts than land-based ones, especially with slots and video poker. However, for example, the odds for single deck blackjack, baccarat and roulette are the same in real life as online. Some websites allow you to download their casino software with all the lights, bells and whistles of a real casino and some are strictly online-play only. Online casinos are generally licensed in the country in which they are located. Antigua, Curacao and the Dominican Republic are a few countries that offer licensing. With that in mind, check your local laws before signing up. Don’t rely on the website as not all are safe and some may be trying to steal your identity. For someone new, getting started can be confusing and dangerous before you even place your first bet. Keep your personal information safe and stay within the law, and you should be fine. Before joining an online casino, make sure gambling on the Internet is legal in your location. Then, learn the rules and strategies for each casino game. Make sure the site you choose is licensed and find some unbiased reviews by other gamblers. Test out the site and see if you can play the games online or if you must download the software. Check out the different bonuses and promotions currently running. Good bonuses can make or break your decision on choosing an online casino. They are that important. Be sure to read the terms and conditions associated with each bonus because they will find a way to screw you over if you're not careful. Find out the payment options and make sure there is a wide variety. And, always try the free play option to test out the casino and get a feel for how it operates before dropping any real money. Here are a some more tips to consider before breaking in: Dependability: Though it isn’t that common anymore, test the streaming quality of the website. There’s nothing more frustrating than the page slowing to a crawl in the middle of a game. Also, research what company runs the casino and make sure they’re credible. If there’s a problem, is there 24/7 customer support? Most online casinos offer it. Look at the forums to see what people are saying. What is the payment transaction speed? Security: Is the online casino licensed in a legal jurisdiction? They have to go through extensive background check in the license process. Your personal security such as credit card information is guaranteed as part of the licensing agreement. Is the website audited by a third party for approved fairness? See if the software is developed front end (what you play on) and on the server website (where the game logic is). Your personal information is held offline and many online casinos take out insurance against fraud. Bonuses: What kinds of bonuses or VIP programs are offered to new players or loyal ones? Do they offer sign-up bonuses, cashable bonuses or sticky bonuses (non-cashable)? Look for a variety of game and tournament options and quality promotions. Are there specific promotions suited to your best game, like blackjack or poker? Before you begin, check the amount required for deposits, minimum bets and bonuses. If you think you can get away with only staying with a website long enough to use up your initial sign-up bonus and quit, you can’t. Don’t do it. They will label you as a bonus abuser and stop offering bonuses to you altogether. Now, you’re itching to get started, right? Well, here are some top-rated websites to get started on. They all offer sign-up bonuses but it’s important to differentiate between free bonuses and match bonuses. These are generally on top of other daily, weekly and monthly promotions. Good luck! Ladbrokes – £25 new player offer, £100 welcome bonus. Eurobet - 100% monthly reload bonus, £25 live casino bonus, tons of instant play casino games. Titan Bet - $1 million progressive jackpot payouts; tons of slots and tables games like live dealer roulette, blackjack and baccarat. PartyBets - PartyPoints rewards program, Marvel progressive slots, multi-hand blackjack, European Roulette and more. William Hill - £150 sign up bonus with a £35 minimum deposit.