With almost three quarters of the population indulging in some form of betting, gambling might just be the UK’s national pastime. And there’s no easier way to indulge your passion than with a quick online flutter especially with online roulette. In the world of the online casino, you’re never inappropriately dressed, or too loud or too quiet, or too poor or too rich. And you’ll rarely have to wait for a vacancy to appear at your favourite table.
But it’s the rich diversity of the games that can really make an online trip so special. In a land-based casino, you’ll only have a few options in front of you. But in an online environment, the possibilities are almost unlimited. You’re likely to see a host of different games supported. Blackjack, roulette, live roulette, baccarat, poker and slot machines are the most popular. But you’ll probably be able to try your hand at other games, from baccarat and pai gow, to keno and red dog.
But it’s not just the choice of games, but the different flavours that many of them come in. Take blackjack, for instance. At the best casinos, you can play a simplified and fast version of the game, or you can instead treat yourself instead to a graphical showcase, with sophisticated options and features that make for the most luxurious experience. Alternatively, you may be able to try multihand blackjack, playing five hands or more at a time. Or you might be able to load up a version with a progressive pot of money that builds and builds as players try and fail to hit the jackpot. Some variations have stunning bonuses, while others use interesting rule changes that vary the play. You could even try a single-deck game that, in a few cases, even eliminates the house edge. And that’s just blackjack – we haven’t even got to slots yet, where over 1800 different versions are available across UK casinos. Same applies to other games like roulette, in an online environment at many casinos you can choose between standard online roulette and live roulette streamed from different themed rooms.
These days, you’re not simply playing against a computer, though. Casino software often allows you to interact with the dealer, and with other players. You can chat away about any subject under the sun – or turn off the sound or text completely for a more focused experience. At their best, the graphics and sounds are stunning. But if even those aren’t enough for you, you can fire up a Live Dealer version, making you feel as though you’re right there in a real land-based casino.
So it’s safe to deposit money online?
Yes, as long as you choose a reputable and safe online casino to play roulette or any other games you won’t have problems. The top 10 table above lists casinos that we have signed up to and played roulette ourselves, they are established casinos with a great reputation and years in the industry. Most of the major casinos use the best of encryption techniques to ensure that criminals can’t get hold of financial details. If you’re worried about security, open an e-Wallet or e-Money account, like Neteller or Skrill/Moneybookers. These give you almost instant deposits (withdrawals usually take eight to 12 hours), and will mean that your credit card details aren’t disclosed, or stored on the computers of numerous casinos. PayPal is, in some ways, an even better option, and is almost totally secure, even if the casino is a criminal outfit. However, PayPal isn’t generally offered as an option, and may carry extra costs.
In general, your card details should be safe with reputable casinos – they take security of players’ funds very seriously, and will go out of their way to protect your details. However, an e-Wallet is a great way of adding further protection.
Are They Legal?
In the UK, gambling is essentially legal and tax-free, as long as you’re at least 18 years old.
In the USA, though, the situation is rather muddier, and has been so since the introduction of the notorious UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) legislation in 2006. On the face of it, this act concerned anti-terrorism. But at the last minute, changes were slipped in that gave it a rather more anti-gambling focus. The real problem is that the measures are so poorly worded that, eight years on, nobody can be really sure what the law is. And who does it affect? Players of skill-based games like Poker? (And could ‘skill-based’ be extended to blackjack?) Do the laws cover only those states where online gambling has been made illegal?
Whatever the true situation, many casino operators chose to exit the US market altogether, rather than risk being caught up in a UIGEA net. In 2011, ‘Black Friday’ saw a range of well-known poker sites become the targets of Justice Department investigations. These would result in Full Tilt being taken over, and PokerStars abandoning the USA. Since then, many sites have simply refused to have anything to do with the USA gambling markets. There are signs that the USA authorities are looking to relax their laws, and a string of US states have legalised online gambling, and are now trying to invite operators to open up. However, the online presence may well be limited in the short term, and casino operators may need to have a bricks and mortar presence in order to participate.
None of this is likely to significantly affect UK gamblers, although extra funds from US customers may help the bottom line of the largest casinos.
What if I have a mobile device?
Many (although by no means all) casinos have support for the most common mobile devices (Android, Apple iPads/iPhones). The type of support will vary. Android devices can usually play Flash-based casino games. Most sites, though, have dedicated mobile suites which offer versions specially optimised for the smaller screen. Large buttons and clear interfaces are vital when using mobile devices – even those tablets with large 9in or 10in screens – so it’s sensible to look for dedicated mobile support where available.
What are Live Dealer games?
Traditional computer versions of blackjack, roulette and other types of game use a Random Number Generator, or RNG. This effectively picks a number at random – on a European roulette table, for example, it might pick a number between 0 and 36. Whichever number comes out will decide your fate. Choosing a random number doesn’t seem like a terribly exciting way to spend an evening, but the software front-ends do a great job of disguising their one-dimensional nature. For all the excitement generated by the supposedly spinning reels and the various tunes and visual effects, though, the entire outcome tends to come down to whether the number originally picked for you was good or bad.
Live online roulette games, on the other hand, are more like the real thing. They are filmed in a ‘real’ casino, with a ‘real’ dealers serving up the cards. Good quality video lets you see everything that’s going on, and you can often speak directly to the dealer, or to the other players at your table. Because cards are dealt out to you, the whole thing feels far more authentic. And, indeed, it is. But only to a limited extent. With a few exceptions (notably Vuetec, who beams video directly from a genuine gambling hall), the ‘casino’ is actually a studio set created specifically for the purpose. (This is done for practical reasons as much as anything – it’s easier to handle the lighting and keep disruptions to a minimum if using a tailor-made set.) The croupiers may, in fact, be professionals. But many are chosen more for their looks (busty blondes being particular popular choices in the online world) than their actual experience. The feeds often come not from Britain, but from Eastern Europe, with Latvia particularly popular. Nonetheless, Live Dealer games are undoubtedly more exciting, and do a good job of bringing the glamour of real casinos into your front-room.
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