When playing at an online casino, you’ll come across all kinds of terms and definitions you may not be familiar with, with lots of terminology that applies exclusively to online gambling. We’ve provided an overview of some of the most common online casino terms and what they mean so you can be better informed before playing for real money at our recommended casino sites.
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An offshore casino is one that is licensed and operated from outside of the country you live in. The term ‘offshore’ can conjure up some negative connotations, but playing at a licensed offshore casino is usually your best and safest option. Offshore casinos that are licensed by reputable gambling jurisdictions must run in line with strict laws and regulations to ensure player safety at all times, and these sites are regularly audited by third-party industry authorities to check everything is running above-board. As the gambling laws differ in each country and many governments do not issue online casino licenses, playing at an offshore casino is often the only option for online punters.
Instant-play, also known as no-download play or browser-play, is the preferred format offered by most modern online casinos. Instant-play is where you can access casino games directly over your Web browser without having to download any software, with games powered by Adobe Flash and Java software so they are compatible with PCs, Macs and all data-enabled mobile devices.
Free play, also referred to as demo play or practice play, is where the online casino vendor allows you to sample games for free in demo mode. Obviously, real money cannot be won when playing in free mode, but free play gives you the chance to sample different games, hone your strategy or get the hang of how a game works before wagering any of your own money.
Geo blocking, also known as region-blocking, is where your internet provider automatically recognises the address of an online casino site and blocks you from accessing it. Region blocks exist to protect the differing online gambling laws, as not all players are legally allowed to access all casino sites. Geo-blocks don’t necessarily just restrict access from the full casino – you may be allowed to play at a certain site but just not access games from a particular software developer. All the casino tables on our website have been geo-targeted to recognise your IP location and only recommend top-rated online casinos that accept players from your country.
A VPN (virtual private network) is a service that masks your IP (Internet protocol) address to encrypt all data sent between your computer and the Internet. This allows you to appear as though you are accessing the Internet from a different country, so VPNs have become increasingly popular for online players who want to get around any online casino geo-blocks. Using a safe and trusted VPN service can also provide you with an extra layer of security when gambling online and are highly recommended for all Web-based players.
Loyalty program/reward scheme
Leading online casino operators offer loyalty programs to reward players for continued play. When you sign up for an online casino account, you will automatically become part of your chosen casino’s reward scheme, where you will start accumulating points for every real money bet you place. The rate at which you accumulate points and move up through different loyalty tiers varies at each casino site, but many of the loyalty programs share a similar format. Once a certain amount of reward points has been accumulated, you can exchange loyalty points for bonuses like cash prizes, free credits, free spins and even real world prizes. Your loyalty status can also help gain you VIP membership at an online casino, giving you access to higher deposit limits, faster withdrawals, personalised service and invitations to exclusive events and competitions.
Matched deposit bonuses
Online casinos offer various exclusive incentives to entice players to sign up, with one of the most common incentives being a matched deposit bonus. A matched deposit bonus is where the casino vendor will match the amount of real money you deposit to your online casino account by a certain amount. For example, if a casino site is offering a 100% matched deposit bonus up to $100, this means you can deposit $100 of your own cash to the casino, and the vendor will match it by an additional $100, giving you $200 of real money to play with. The larger matched deposit sign-up offers are often distributed in instalments, for example, a bonus of $1600 may be spread out in $400 matches over your first four real money deposits. These welcome bonuses are a great way to boost your online casino account, but be aware that they come with terms and conditions you should always read through first.
Free spins bonuses
Free spins are essentially credit awarded to players at online casinos to use on selected real money slots games. They usually accompany match deposit bonuses or other rewards to offer more value to a new registration or loyal player. In the UK, they are advertised as ‘extra spins’ or ‘fair spins’ at sites such as Rizk.com and BGO.com to abide by new gambling advertising standards set by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and UK Gambling Commission as of October 16, 2017.
Wagering requirements (also known as play-through requirements) are attached to most online casino bonuses, and work to safeguard the casino vendor from bankruptcy. A wagering requirement is the amount of money you must spend at an online casino before you are able to withdraw any of your bonus money or cash won using your bonus credits. This information can be found in the fine print of any casino bonus offer and should always be checked over before you make a real money deposit to ensure you understand what’s required of you. Wagering requirements are typically between 20X and 50X the size of your bonus offer. For example, if a bonus comes with a 20X wagering requirement, it means you will need to spend 20X the amount of your bonus at the casino before you can withdraw your bonus money.
RNG stands for random number generator, and is the type of software used to power the games offered at online casinos. Think of a RNG as the computerised equivalent of a real dealer, as this is the technology responsible for dealing cards, spinning roulette wheels and determining where slot machine reels land. RNG’s use advanced mathematical algorithms to ensure all results are genuinely random and unbiased. The leading online casinos have their RNG software certified by independent third-party auditors like eCOGRA to ensure they are producing unbiased results at all times.
RTP stands for return to player, and refers to the theoretical percentage of money a player can expect to win back from a casino game over time. For example, if an online slot machine claims to have a RTP of 93% and you place $100 in bets, theoretically you can expect to win back $93 of your money. It’s important to note that RTP rates are calculated over the long term, and it does not mean you can’t lose your money in the short term. Online casino games typically offer better RTPs than land based casino games.
Software developer is the term most often used to describe the creator of online casino games. Finding an online casino that offers games from leading software developers is one of the key features when choosing a real money site to play at. The best casino software comes from such award winning providers as Microgaming, Net Entertainment (NetEnt), BetSoft, Play’n Go, Playtech, Quickspin, Evolution Gaming, Ezugi, iSoftBet and NextGen Gaming.
Online casino game terminology
There aren’t many game terms that are unique to online casinos, with games like slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, scratch cards, baccarat, craps, keno, lotto and bingo using the same terminology as their land based counterparts. Live dealer gaming is the only unique concept – these are games hosted by real human dealers from casino studios, which are streamed to your computer in real time using a live video feed so you can watch the game unfold in real life. You can read out detailed beginners guide to online casinos to understand the ins-and-outs of playing slot games, tables games, number games and niche games on the Web.