We’d all love to play casino games for free. And in this game, we’ll tell you how to. But the reality is that most players use casino and slot games to gamble with real money and to try to win real money. So in this guide, we’ll also tell you how to do this safely and sustainably.
Real money casinos are everywhere. The UK is the world’s largest market for online gambling, and you’ll be lucky to get through a day without encountering adverts or other promotions for casino sites. Of course, if you’re already a player, you’ll know-how involving the sector can be.
So how do you find your way around it!
In this guide, we’ll tell you how real online money casinos work, how you can use them safely, how to choose real money casinos, and much more.
Let’s have a look.
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Moving money around – the heart of the casino business
The online casino business has always been one of the pioneers of the internet.
Among the reasons for this are puritanism, and prohibitionist. And in this, gambling is rather like pornography, which has expanded from a rather niche business in a heavily regulated real-world to an absolutely gigantic one in a transnational world that has – at times – made it possible to get around local and national regulations.
So, the gambling world was waiting for the internet to happen in some ways.
Specifically, it was waiting for one thing – safe and secure online transactions.
Microgaming claims to be the first online gambling company. It was founded in 1994. This is the very early days of the internet, so this is a company that was ahead of the game. The same year, the first online financial transactions were made.
They were a long way from what we have now – it was a small bank in California – but the birth of internet banking made real money casinos possible.
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Payment processing for real money casinos
We won’t waste too much time on the history of payment processing, but we do want to give you an idea of what payment processing options are available at real money casinos today.
Good, safe banking is at the heart of successful online real money online casinos. Online casino sites know that banking is important to gambling consumers who are very often concerned about safety and security – as they should be, though not to the extent of paranoia.
Casino sites know that payment options are important to players, so they usually list the options on their front page.
Whether or not you should use a payment processor as the final arbiter of which online casino sites you use is up to you, but it’s pretty obvious that you can’t use a site that doesn’t offer the system you use to move money around.
Types of payment processing for real money online casinos
Payment processing comes in many shapes and sizes these days.
We split these methods into these categories:
- E-wallets and payment processors,
- Pre-paid cards and vouchers,
- Mobile payments.
However, this area is getting more complex, and more and more methods fit into more than one category these days. Look for specialist guides to each of the payment methods you’re interested in.
In most cases, a casino will default its payments of your winnings to the same accounts and methods that you used to cash up your account. Bear this in mind when you choose which to use. You should also learn how to preview payment methods, usually in an FAQ or about page, in order that you can check for fees and the pay-out timelines.
Using banks for real money online casinos
Most of us have a bank account. You can use your bank account or bank cards at almost every online casino site.
There are two ways to get money out of your bank account and into your gambling account.
Bank transfers are easily understood and used.
At a casino cashier screen, you’ll be asked to input your account number, the name of the bank you use, and its address. The casino will then supply you with their details, or perhaps a Virtual Account Number, which you’ll need to use to complete the transfer back at your bank’s website or over the phone (or even using a form in the bank if you want to be really old school!).
Transfers are slower than most other payment methods (they can take up to 10 days), but they are usually free, and they are trusted.
Bank debit cards:
Debit cards are probably the go-to option for most online transactions. It’s quick and easy to input your card details and click.
Payments by debit cards are almost always free and they are almost always instant.
Using credit cards at real money casinos
It is illegal in the UK to use credit cards at any casino site or for any sort of online banking. Any site offering you this option should be treated with extreme caution and probably avoided.
Using e-wallets at real money casinos
E-wallets are the oldest and best known of online payment processing systems, and you may find them referred to in a number of different ways.
Perhaps the easiest way to tell you what an e-wallet is is to tell you what the biggest e-wallet is – e-wallets are like PayPal.
PayPal is now a financial behemoth and has many of the features that you might associate with a standard bank.
It wasn’t always so sophisticated though, and the idea that you might be able to use PayPal to pay in a real-world shop would have seemed like a fantasy in relatively recent history.
E-wallets are designed to be used online, so it’s no surprise that they’re very easy to use. They’re very trusted these days with high-security features and so on (though you need to do your part too – we’ll cover this later). They’re an option that some gamblers like to use because they are a buffer between the internet and the bank account that you may well use to receive your wages and to pay your rent. You can also use an e-wallet – if you don’t like it to a bank account automatically – to limit your spending and as a safe gambling measure.
It’s so easy to set up an account and to pay-in to a real money casino with an e-wallet:
Simply select the option from the cashier drop-down and select the amount you want to deposit, before inputting your password when asked to complete the transaction.
The vast majority of e-wallet deposits are free, but you may pay a fee to the e-wallet company to receive money – even if the casino does not apply any fees.
By far the most popular e-wallets in the casino world are PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill. There are plenty of others though, including lots of national variants. If you’re using e-wallets check that you’re eligible for bonuses, some welcome offers exclude Skrill or Neteller or both.
Using pre-paid cards and vouchers at real money casinos
The internet doesn’t exist! And that can be an issue for some people. Not everyone has a bank account. Not everyone has a bank account with internet banking and the facilities to use it easily.
Pre-paid cards and vouchers are the easiest way to get physical cash into the ether of the web.
They work very simply. You buy a card or voucher – perhaps online, or perhaps in a physical outlet – and hand over cash in person to give it value. The card has a code or number or password that you can input in order to transfer money from it to the online retailer or casino site of your choice.
Like e-wallets, they put a buffer between the rest of your accounts and the internet. And they’re even more effective than e-wallets at limiting spending if you use them in the physical variant.
Not all pre-paid cards accept payments.
PaySafeCard, Entropay, and Ecocard are popular prepaid cards but a lot of the big debit and credit card providers are now offering prepaid cards.
Using mobile payments at real money online casinos
Most internet access is now via a mobile device. Casino sites are overwhelmingly aimed at mobile users these days. Games work on mobiles, even live casinos.
And there is a steadily growing list of mobile payment methods. Using a mobile is great, but using a mobile and a bank card isn’t quite so convenient.
Mobile payment methods come in a couple of shapes: payments that use your mobile bill, and those (one really, Apple Pay) that is a tool to use your bank accounts via mobile.
These methods are designed for ease of use with mobile and they’re very fast to use – you just need to use your phone number.
Boku is probably the best-known system in the UK.
Payforit (also known as Pay by Phone, Pay by Mobile, Pay Via Phone, Charge to Mobile, Charge to Bill, or Mobile Pay) is also well known.
Both put a charge on your mobile phone bill or use pre-paid credit.
They are safe and fast and the main drawback is that they cannot take withdrawals and with all conversions, there is some cost involved. Check the terms and conditions on each method you check out and at the casino sites you’re considering.
Apple Pay is a product of…. Apple! It’s available to iOS users and it’s an app that basically becomes instant access into your bank accounts.
Using other payment methods at real money casinos
We can’t give a fully comprehensive guide of all payment methods here. It’s becoming increasingly common to find cryptocurrencies – especially Bitcoin – on offer at casino sites, usually through e-wallets.
There are also some other payment methods available and we urge you to do your research whichever one you use.
Because your first concern is:
Using real money casinos safely
We think that using real money casinos with safety has three components:
- Using safe sites
- Your personal cyber safety
- Personal and financial safety.
You should be au fait with all of these before you start playing at real money casino sites. And we’re here to help you!
Finding safe real money casino sites
Playing for real money comes with real consequences, and while the casino world is now much more secure than it has been in the past the world will never be free of scams.
You need to know that the sites you use are safe for you to use, and the best way to do this is to use only legal, licensed sites.
In the UK the only sites that can legally offer gambling services to UK based players are those licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.
All sites must display their licence on their front page, and you should be able to click through and check the licence at the UK GC’s own website – this should also tell you if the company has had any issues in the past.
You can do more though by checking that the sites you consider are good quality. Scammers – if they’ll excuse us being so rude – are not usually interested enough in hard work to produce a good quality site. A site that works well, that allows you to look round, and that offers a very good range of high-quality games is a great sign.
You might want to check out reviews and forums just to be sure.
The site should also be cyber secure.
Never ever use a site that doesn’t have a padlock to show that you have secure access. Take a bit of time to check out what they tell you about their encryption, payment security, and data protection and privacy policies too.
Most sites will tell you they are the best in the business, but hopefully you can see beyond the marketing hype and check out that they have great systems. Again, reviews and forums might help you.
Check out our selection of the best high roller casinos here if you like betting big!
Staying safe while you use real money casino sites
Out there in the wild wild web, you need to show some savvy to keep yourself safe too.
Cybersecurity has come on leaps and bounds, and, again, we want to stress that the vast majority of online casino users will never have the slightest contact with anything even resembling a scam.
You need to do the basics though.
Make sure you have good antivirus software installed that includes ransomware and malware protection.
Keep your computer or device up to date with the latest updates to all software, as many updates are corrections to security issues.
Practice good online security. Use unique passwords at every site. Don’t use your gambling passwords on shared networks or shared computers – and if you do make sure you’re extra careful and make sure you log out.
If you have a real money casino account keep an eye on it.
And be careful around any financial transactions online: your bank, e-wallets, anything, you should use all available security options on your phone or computer and you should always know how to lock or recover your accounts if you think they may have been compromised.
You also need to follow the law.
Sites cannot offer you gambling services unless they’re licensed, and you need to follow the rules too.
If you’re not allowed to play at a site because of your age or where you are then please don’t try to get around the rules.
If you’re asked to provide information then do so fully and honestly. Most sites will demand that you prove who you are before you are allowed to withdraw money. Most players consider this a pain in the neck, but it’s important to help keep the whole sector safe from money laundering and other criminal activity, and the farther away from casinos scammers and criminals are the better as far as we’re concerned.
Playing real money casino games safely
The final way to keep yourself safe around real money casinos the most important. That is to keep yourself safe.
Gambling is great fun. And that’s the way you should think of it.
The healthiest way to think of your gambling is as entertainment. That way you’ll accept that you need to pay for it – as you pay for every entertainment – and you also need to understand that the payment comes in the shape of lost bets.
If you don’t gamble safely at real money casinos you could well find yourself in trouble of all sorts.
So how do you do that?
That attitude is perhaps the best defence you have.
A realistic assessment of the gambling sector is perhaps best achieved by looking at the figures at the top of the industry.
Bet365 is the biggest UK-based casino site (it’s also a sports betting site), and it has annual revenues of £2.86 billion with an operating profit of £660.3 million.
Profit for casino companies is lost bets for consumers.
And the casino industry makes enormous profits.
If you start to look at the mathematics of casino games you’ll soon come across terms like “house edge”. The house edge is what a casino site expects to make from a game. That doesn’t mean that games are unfair, or aren’t random in the way that you are told they are – they are, but these games have been cleverly designed and those random events take place within a framework and with results that deliver that profit.
None of this means that you won’t have a great time betting. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t come out ahead, or even win a gigantic prize. All of those things are possible, but the average long-term gamers experience is that they will lose relatively small amounts of money.
That’s if they play safely.
It’s once you go beyond this and lose large amounts of money that you could really get into trouble.
You can do a certain amount to keep yourself safe:
Learn about safe gambling practices and keeping an eye on your gambling behaviour. Sites now offer good tools to help you do this including timers and limiters and limits on spending, losses, and deposits.
Be aware of danger signs of addiction too. That might include not being honest about your gambling behaviour if you’re asked. Getting angry or uncomfortable if you’re asked about your gambling or if you have to think about never gambling again.
You should avoid gambling when you’re upset or if you’re trying to deal with difficult emotions.
You should only ever gamble with money that you can afford to lose – all of it.
And you should set limits on your spending and the time you spend on a site for each session.
Read up on safe gambling and find out about the support you can access before you need to.
And enjoy yourself!
Enjoying real money casino games
You should enjoy yourself at real money sites.
Our advice is to learn how to assess a welcome bonus before you pick a site. And learn to assess a site. It’s rare – in our opinion – that just a big welcome offer is a worthwhile reason to play at a site.
So after you’ve done all your safety checks look at the games that are on offer, look at the quality of design, look at the look of the site – if you hate pink you don’t want to be staring at pink every time you load up your favourite slot.
Good sites also offer ongoing promotions and a loyalty programme for regular players. Be sure you have the payment options and times that you want as you sign up.
Online real money casino sites can be a social experience now, thanks to live casino games and social media. Perhaps that’s something you’d like to add to your experience.
Real money casino sites have been around since the 1990s, and now millions of people use them every day. You can join them quickly and easily and do it safely too with the advice from this guide.
We salute you and wish you good luck!
Real Money Online Casinos Q&A
It is possible to play online casino games, including slots and live casino games, for free, but most players who are interested in these games want to win prizes, and that means playing for real money.
This guide will introduce you to real money online casinos and teach you how to work with them safely.
How do I find a safe online casino?
Safety should be your first priority when you are playing online. We think security comes in three forms: Site security – finding safe sites, Device and cyber security – learning how to set safe passwords, keeping viruses out, etc., and Personal safety – keeping your gambling behaviour on the right side of the line, and keeping your personal information safe. The first step is to find a safe site. For that you need to use only sites that are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Check this on every site you look at and click the link to read the account details at the UK GC. Without this licence you must never use a site.
How do I fund real money online casinos?
Real money on the internet means taking real money and making it virtual! There are a lot of options to do this now, and we’ll go over some of them. We split them into these areas: Banking – more traditional methods like bank transfers, debit cards, and even cheques, E-wallets – online-only accounts like PayPal allow you to fund an account and then transfer money where you want to. Pre-paid cards and vouchers – these allow you to take cold, hard cash into the virtual world by buying cards that give you a balance and a passcode to unlock that money. Mobile payments – more and more players are using mobile devices, and that has meant a number of new means of transferring money that are specialised to those devices including Apple Pay, Boku, and various Pay by Mobile systems. Crypto – many casinos now accept new blockchain currencies like Bitcoin. Most do so through intermediary apps or sites like PayPal.
Is it safe to use my bank account at real money online casinos?
It should be. You need to see that licence remember, and make some checks that a site is legitimate and run by a legal company. Make sure you use all the tools that your bank gives you to stay safe online, including two-factor authentication, and good quality passwords.
Is it safe to use my credit card at real money online casinos?
NO! You must never use a site in the UK that allows you to fund your play with a credit card. This is illegal in the UK and will not be a licensed gambling activity. You should get away from any site that offers this option and please consider reporting it to the UK GC yourself.
Is it safe to use e-wallets at a real money online casino?
It should be, with the same provisos: licencing, a safe device, and using your online accounts safely. The most popular e-wallets in the gambling world are PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller. All of them are legitimate, but need to be used with care like any other online tool.
Is it safe to use pre-paid cards and vouchers at real money online casinos?
It is. Pre-paid cards can be used as a way to set limits on your spending too, as they rely on real money being converted into a payment card account. The most popular – in fact almost the only one in the UK – the pre-paid card is the Paysafecard. This is a legitimate company and can be used with confidence – but always with care!
Is it safe to use mobile apps at real money online casinos?
It should be if you find a safe site. Apple Pay is more like a cross between a bank account and an e-wallet than the new apps. There will probably be very tight restrictions on deposit amounts on most mobile payment apps. This is because you are using your future mobile phone bill as a means to fund your account, so it is a form of credit.
Is it safe to use cryptocurrencies at real money online casinos?
Yes, it should be, but you should be cautions. Cryptocurrencies are becoming more “legitimate” and regulated (although they are terrible for the environment) and most of them can be used with confidence. However, this is a new area of the economy, and players need to understand it properly before diving in. Cryptocurrencies are used as speculative ventures and they may go up and down in value quite quickly. Stick to legitimate sites, and in our view, it is worth asking why a site might offer ONLY crypto payments, so be double sure to check the licensing and safety of any such site.
How do I deposit at real money online casinos?
In the UK you will need to be legally entitled to play gambling games for money. That means that you need to be over 18 and you need to be able to prove it. You may need to provide an ID document, a proof of your address, and proof that you can pay your bills when you sign up at a site.
What are real money online casino promotions?
Most casino sites offer promotions of many kinds. Almost all of them include a welcome offer that is offered to players who sign up and deposit for the first time at a site. You can access these promotions simply by signing up and depositing – though we recommend you read our guide on how to understand these offers first.
Is my money safe at real money online casinos?
It should be. As part of their agreement with the UK gambling commission, gambling sites are supposed to keep player money in a separate account so that it is protected. However, it is a good idea to avoid having too much money in your casino accounts and to take out any money you don’t think you’ll need.
Do I have to pay fees at real money online casinos?
You may have to pay fees depending on what systems you use to fund your account and to withdraw your money. The vast majority of deposits are free, but, for example, there is often a charge for BOKU deposits. Withdrawals sometimes come with a fee, and reading the banking terms and conditions is something you should do whenever you assess a site.