The Ultimate Guide to Real Money Online Casinos for US Players
I’ll start with some good news. The offshore online casino industry is thriving. Many brands have been welcoming US players for 10 years or more – and depositing / withdrawing winnings is easy.
Key to enjoying slots, live dealer games and traditional table games is to know which brands to pick. I also recommend a 3-part safety check before you deposit. This page covers the US online casino scene in a lot of detail. Only longer running brands which have built solid reputations are covered.
Here is what you will find on this page:
- Trusted Brands: The table below includes 4 casinos with 5+ year track records, and the best support teams in the business.
- Free Chips / Spins: Which US-friendly casinos offer you real money play without the need to deposit (excellent deals here!)
- Welcome Bonuses: Including a heads-up on the details of clearance rate and multiple deposit bonuses.
- High-Roller Casinos: If you have a bigger bankroll, you’ll be looking for some specific rewards.
- Legal Status / Setup: Exactly what laws govern gambling online, and which don’t affect individuals.
- Safety and Trust: The three steps I recommend before making a deposit.
- Payment Options: Easy ways to get your money on board, and your winnings back out again.
- Software Providers: Which software houses supply US online casinos, and which are best for different games.
- US Casino Slots: An overview of the slots available at offshore casinos, including jackpot games and mobile options.
- Table Games: This section includes traditional casino table games and the new streamed live dealer ones.
- Wrap Up: Which USA casinos tick every single box, so you can safely enjoy the games.
That is a lot of information! To make things clear, I you’ll find my summary of 4 leading brands in the table below.
Table: US Casinos with Strong Reputations and 5+ Years of Service
US Casinos with No-Deposit / Free Spins Bonus Deals
If a casino is worth visiting, they will be confident enough to let you try out their games for free. Free spins deals are a win-win for the player and the casino. You can try some games, see if you like the selection – and win some real money, without needing to deposit. For the casino, they get the opportunity to showcase their games – and if they impress you enough – to get a new customer.
Below you will find the easiest ways to grab some real-money casino play without a deposit.
$22 Free Play at Slots.lv
This casino is part of the Bodog family. They specialize in slots, though you will find many other games. The rewards are excellent for both new and regular players. I love the easy $22 free offer. Here are the steps to get it:
- Register a Player Account: No credit card details are needed
- Hit ‘My Account’: Via an icon at the top of the homepage after registration
- Click ‘My Bonuses’: Here you see a list of all the bonuses available to you.
- Hit ‘Claim Bonus’: Once you locate the $22 free play, simply claim it
What I like about this offer is that you can still get the generous (200%) welcome bonus at any point down the line. I also like the big list of slots from Rival Gaming, RTG and Revolver (+ exclusives).
Check out www.slots.lv now and grab your $22 in real money play completely free!
More free spins offers for US players can be found as part of my ‘Free Spins Special’ (coming very soon to SNG Planet!).
Best US Casino Welcome Bonuses
Before I get to specific deals, here is how you should think about approaching any casino bonus. There is more to think about than just the amount and the percentage match!
- What is the play-through (or wagering) requirement?
- Will you be able to withdraw your bonus cash, or is this for play purposes only?
- What other benefits are involved? This can include free spins, free chips or casino tournament entries.
- What is the time limit of your bonus? Look for at least 30 days to make sure that you have time to meet the play-through.
- Are any games banned? Some casinos will void your bonus if you bet on certain games, or wager more than a set amount per bet / spin.
- How well will you be looked after once your welcome bonus is gone? The best casinos have rewards in place for their loyal players, the worst do not!
This covers the basics. There are also extra rewards for certain deposit method, free chips for playing on mobile devices, or even extras for sharing on Facebook.
Below you’ll find details of my pick for the best US casino deposit bonus - along with a link to a separate page which goes into a lot of depth on this topic.
#1 Bovada Casino Deposit Bonus
At the biggest US online casino, Bovada.lv, you’ll get a big 200% welcome bonus package, up to $5000 in total.
There are several things to like about this offer. First, you can take in in 8 instalments. Bovada understand that not everyone is able (or willing!) to part with the full $5000 first time. By splitting it up, you get to try out the games before you deposit more.
The play through is an average 35x your deposit + bonus. Slot play counts at 100% of this play-through, while table games are weighted (craps does not count at all!). Once you meet the wagering requirement, your bonus is transferred to your real money account. You can then withdraw it at any time.
Bovada (like many US casinos) welcome Bitcoin deposits. With lower transaction fees and faster withdrawals, more and more players are making the switch. You’ll get enhanced welcome bonuses with this method – starting at 300%. There are also specific bonus deals for fans of table games.
You have 90 days to claim all the bonuses.
After this Bovada provide a loyalty scheme, weekly reload bonuses and a lot of one-off promotions. This brand became the biggest US friendly online casino by treating their loyal players really well.
Bovada provide a wonderful mix of RTG, BetSoft and Rival Gaming slots. They have Live-dealer table games and a unique mobile blackjack format called ‘Zappit Blackjack’ too.
Check out www.bovada.lv for the full info / bonus terms.
To save space on this (long!) page, I'll refer you to my Best Casino Bonus Deals page for more US-friendly offers.
US Casinos for High Rollers
For players looking for bigger bet action, there are additional factors to look at before choosing a casino. If you are ready to deposit $10k or more, then you’ll want to be treated as a VIP.
Fortunately, there are offshore casinos well equipped to deal with bigger bankrolls:
My checklist looks like this:
- Dedicated VIP Hosts: You’ll expect personal treatment, offers and customized deals
- Fast Withdrawals (no limits): Not only should you check that withdrawals are fast, you should also make sure there are no weekly / monthly caps in place.
- Big Stakes Games: For table games fans, Live Dealer games have the biggest stakes. If you are betting big, then the peace of mind which comes from watching the cards being dealt is also a plus.
In my experience there is only one casino which ticks every one of the high-roller boxes for US based players – Bovada.
You’ll find a VIP Club level, known as the ‘Red Room’ at Bovada.lv. Every player here is looked after individually. With extra comps including trips to sporting events (on top of the big bonuses).
Bovada also have a live dealer casino, high-limit slots and big deposit / withdrawal limits. If you switch to Bitcoin – those withdrawals will be the fastest in the business.
Add to this a big welcome bonus, and huge choice of games from multiple software vendors – and you have a high-roller US casino which ticks every single box.
Check out the Red Room and games at www.bovada.lv for yourself now!
US Online Casinos and the Law
This section looks at Federal Law, State laws and licencing jurisdictions.
It also clears up a common misconception.
That misconception is that it is illegal for an individual to gamble at an online casino under Federal Law. Simply put, this is nonsense.
The most quoted (or should I say misquoted) law of all is the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ or 2006. This was what caused the big poker and gambling brands to leave the US in a hurry.
Known as the ‘UIGEA’ this act only refers to:
- Casino / Gambling Site Operators; and
- Banks and Financial Networks
It makes it illegal for US casinos to process payments, and for banks to facilitate them.
Individual gamblers are not even mentioned.
Offshore, different laws apply.
The casinos which welcome US players are based in other countries. These include Antigua, Curacao (used to be called the Netherlands Antilles) and Panama. They are licensed by these countries and operate under their laws. In fact, these countries strongly state that they are welcome to take players from anywhere in the world. There is a long-running dispute at the World Trade Organization between Antigua and the USA. Antigua is looking for compensation for the restrictive US situation. While it is unlikely the US will pay, it is still great to see the small countries making a stand!
Now, banks are still not allowed to facilitate financial transactions… though there are plenty of ways to get money onto and off of these offshore casinos.
For the individual, state laws are more important.
State Laws and US Online Gambling
Most State laws (and I have reviewed them all!) were drafted a century or more ago. Some refer to Federal laws (see above), while others predate the internet and even telephones.
There are some exceptions. Utah and Washington State are the best examples. Both explicitly and recently outlawed online gambling by individuals. At the other end of the scale are New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. These states regulate online gambling instead of criminalizing it. There are already big international brands in place, you can find out more about these casinos elsewhere at SNG Planet.
Here is the most important fact of all:
No individual from any state has ever been indicted for gambling at offshore casinos – not one.
Furthermore, nobody has been indicated under the UIGEA for simply gambling online (some casino operators did fall foul of this law, though it never got as far as a courtroom).
I will cover more on the operating licenses that online casinos need (even the offshore ones!) in the section below. This covers my simple 3-part checklist for making sure your gambling experience is safe and easy.
Before You Play: Making Sure that an Online Casino is Safe
Here are some ‘golden rules’ to make sure you are playing at a safe online casino. Checking through them only takes a few minutes – and can save you a lot of headaches later down the line.
- Is Your Casino Licensed? There needs to be a lot of trust / solid reputation spanning several years before I will consider a deposit at a casino without an operating license. For the offshore US casinos, these are provided by the Caribbean / Central American countries which the casinos are based in. These are Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, Panama and Kahnawake (a tribal reserve inside Canada).
- Are the Games Fair? Independent auditing companies test casino games. They make sure that the spin of slots (or roulette wheels) and the deal of cards is random. These are tested over millions of deals, so than any statistical anomalies would show up. Look for Technical Systems Testing, iTech Labs, iGaming Labs or eCogra certification before you sign up.
- Will You Get Paid? Two related points here. First, that a casino has a solid reputation for on-time payments. Second, that there are no minimums or maximum withdrawal amounts. It is common to find casinos where small bankrolls get trapped by minimum withdrawal limits. You might also find it difficult to get big wins out, with some operators restricting you to $3000 per month (for example).
Reputation is key as ever. Casinos which have built their brand reputation carefully over a number of years have a lot of ‘Skin in the game’. These are rarely the biggest US casinos by chance.
Of course, even after you have checked the license, game fairness and payments – there are other factors. These include deposit options (and withdrawal options), which are covered directly below. There is no point playing at even the safest casino if you can’t find good games. This information comes next, with a look at slots and table games in two separate sections.
Deposit and Withdrawal Options at US Online Casinos
This section is a quick summary of the main deposit and withdrawal options. There are plenty of detailed articles here at Sit N Go Planet. These cover payment methods in detail. For those who want this level of detail – my Casino Deposit Methods main page is the best starting point.
Why Bitcoin is #1 + How to Use Bitcoin without Volatility Risks
Bitcoin has come from an alternative used by a few geeks to a mainstream casino deposit option in just a couple of years. There are some great reasons to use it. These include low fees, fast transactions and not needing to wait around for a paper check when it comes to withdrawals.
Many people are justifiably concerned about the volatility of Bitcoin. The press is full of stories about it shooting up in price and then plummeting.
The fact is that you can use this as a simple deposit option, without needing to hold Bitcoin for more than a couple of hours.
Setting up is simple, and once it is done, you’ll be free to gamble at any offshore casino (and withdraw your wins) very easily. Since you will deposit with Bitcoin as soon as you have bought it, and the casinos change this into dollars right away – the volatility risks are as low as you want them to be. Here are the steps:
- Create a Bitcoin Wallet: I recommend doing this at one of the popular exchanges. That way you won’t need a separate account setup to buy the Bitcoin. Examples include Coinbase, Blockchain.info or Bitwala.
- Buy Some Bitcoin: You can do this cheaply via an exchange, you will need to transfer cash from your bank, which will be exchanged almost immediately.
- Deposit at Your Casino: No need to keep the Bitcoin for long. As soon as you have some, you can deposit! Using Bovada as an example. You go to the cashier, then choose Bitcoin as your deposit option. You then copy the ‘Receiver Id’ (or scan the QR code if your wallet is mobile) and send the BTC from your wallet using this. Bovada will receive it in minutes, convert it to USD, and you’ll be ready to hit the tables.
Withdrawing is simply the reverse process. You create the receiver Id in your wallet, give this to Bovada along with your withdrawal request, and they send you the BTC. You then go to your exchange, and you can sell the Bitcoin for dollars.
This whole process is no more complex than using PayPal, only swapping the receiver Id for an e-mail address.
Once you see the bigger bonuses and quicker withdrawal speeds, the benefits become clear.
Bovada have a short video which will take you through the entire process – see www.bovada.lv and click on ‘Bitcoin’ to see it.
Other Deposit Methods
Your main alternative is the good-old credit card. Banks will try to block these transactions, though they do not often succeed. Visa, MasterCard and sometimes Amex / Diners Club all work, with individual casinos specifying the brands taken.
It is important that your card can make overseas transactions in order to work.
Don’t worry if the banks block the transaction. You will not lose out. No money gets taken from your card – the deposit simply does not happen.
Casinos serving the US market are hugely experienced with getting your deposits on board. They have to be, since without deposits, their casino would not run. I always recommend you chat with the support team (live chat, phone or e-mail) and find out the best options for you. Money transfers and pre-paid credit cards are alternative options. Having said that you will find your credit card works at a different time. This is down to the cat and mouse game the operators play with the bank networks – a game they usually win!
Withdrawal Methods from US Friendly Casinos
Other than Bitcoin, which is super-fast, most withdrawals from US online casinos happen via a paper check. This is mailed or couriered to your door. Most casinos offer one free check withdrawal per month. Look out for operators which charge for this – and avoid those. Banks will accept the checks no problem. While this is not the fastest withdrawal method, it does have the benefit of being reliable.
You can chat with the support team of your chosen casino for alternatives. Bank wires or money transfer services can be used. Note that unless you are a high-roller, the casinos will usually pass on the admin fees to you.
Software Providers for US Casinos (Slots and Table Games)
Casino brands rarely produce their own games. In fact, none of the US offshore operators do this.
Instead, they license software for their cashier, and the slots and table games you’ll enjoy to software houses which specialize in creating this.
For US casinos, the biggest international brands like MicroGaming and NetEnt are unable to license games. Instead, different software houses – some of which have been running for years – provide the games.
This explains why you will see the same games at many different casino brands. Here is a quick run-down of the main casino software providers that supply US online casinos:
- RealTime Gaming: More commonly known as RTG, this software powers the most US casinos. There are 100’s of slots available, including games with huge progressive jackpots. RTG were ahead of the field when it came to table games. Their blackjack, craps and roulette were considered the best worldwide for years. While the graphics are now on the plain side, these are still very enjoyable.
- BetSoft: This casino software house specializes in 3D slots. The titles are amazing. They include animated avatars, complex (visually) bonus games and symbols which come alive on the reels. BetSoft slots have been likened to console-game quality by many commentators.
- Rival Gaming: For slot fans, the Rival Gaming range has something for everyone. There are games with progressive bonus rounds (called iSlots), simple 3-reel games and lots of 5-reel video slots with just about any theme you could imagine.
- Arrows Edge: This is a smaller slot software house. They produce some quirky and innovative titles. These include several games which go close to being movie and TV tie-ins, without stepping on the copyright!
- WGS (Vegas Technology): This is another ‘full spectrum’ US casino software provider. They have been around since the ‘Download-only’ days. You’ll find full cashier functionality, video poker, table games and a lot of slots in their range.
With no-download casinos becoming the norm, many smaller software houses are starting to get exposure on the big brand sites. In the US this includes the innovative games of Revolver Gaming (check out ‘Reign of Gnomes’) and Pragmatic Play. This list is sure to grow, great news for slots fans.
Slots at US Online Casinos
My best estimate is that between BetSoft, RTG, Rival, WGS and the smaller software providers, there are 1500+ slots available at US casinos.
While a proportion of those are legacy (older video slots and traditional 3-reel games), many are brilliant.
You will find a ton of information on the slots from the different software providers on the linked pages. There are multiple individual reviews of games from each provider. To keep this page from getting cluttered, I have recommended a few games from each of my favourite providers below:
- RealTime Gaming: Classic video slots, with many innovative and colourful new titles too. RTG slots drop jackpots (including multi-million dollars progressives) at random. I recommend the newer ones, with Orc vs Elf and Birds of Fury well worth a look. You can find out more in my detailed RealTime Gaming Slots Guide.
- Rival Gaming: This is the best all-round selection, with 100’s of themed video slots to choose from. While the ‘iSlots’ get all the publicity, there are many more besides. I like ‘Alien Spinvasion’ and often spin Blazin’ Buffalo. Lots of options covered on my detailed Rival Gaming Slots page.
- BetSoft: These games look stunning, with 3D animations and special effects. Some are complex, which is a mixed blessing. While they have a lot of fans, these games are a long way from classic slot gaming. A great starting point is ‘Good Girl / Bad Girl’, I am also a fan of ‘Alkemor’s Tower’. Once again, my BetSoft slots guide will show you the highlights.
- Arrows Edge: While these games can’t match the graphics of BetSoft or Rival, there are a lot of enjoyable titles from this up and coming software house. These include Star Slots (based on a famous movie…) and Lilly’s Pad. For a refreshing change and solid game-play, these are worth a spin. See my detailed Arrows Edge slots guide for more.
Plenty of individual reviews and overview (software guides) can be found here, see the Online Slots main page for info.
Here are the casinos, along with the slot software they offer.
- Bovada: RealTime Gaming, Rival Gaming, BetSoft and a few titles from up and coming software houses.
- Slots.lv: Rival Gaming, RealTime Gaming, Revolved and Pragmatic Play
- BetOnline Casino: WGS (Vegas Technology)
- Drake Casino: BetSoft + Arrows Edge
- Slots Capital: RealTime Gaming
Real Money Table Games at US Friendly Casinos
There are two categories of casino table games. These are the games you play against the computer, and the live dealer games which involve a real-time stream with a croupier from a remote studio.
Both types have their place. Software only games are a lot faster and can be enjoyed for lower stakes. Live dealer games have a social / interactive element.
What strikes many players is the huge choice of table games online. Sure, you will find the classics like Blackjack and Roulette. It is the number of variations of each game which catches the eye. Some casinos have developed unique games with non-traditional elements. A great example is Zappit Blackjack (at Bovada), which allows you to discard one of your cards before you bet.
Here is a flavour of the software (non-live) table games available to US casinos:
- Blackjack Variants: You’ll find single and double deck games, multi-hand and regular 6-deck. There are side games like perfect pairs, European (no-peek) variants and Spanish (cut deck) rules. Unique games include blackjack switch, pontoon, blackjack burn and the mobile-friendly Zappit blackjack.
- Roulette Variants: US and European wheels can be found at online US casinos. Some casinos offer French Roulette (with better odds than either of the standard games). There are also multi-player roulette games.
- Casino Poker Games: This is where the number of options starts getting huge. Some of the games have creative names (as the popular name is often licensed). You will find 3-card poker, casino holdem, Caribbean stud, Let it Ride, Pai Gow and many more. Many of these games also feature big prize side-bets (keep in mind that the house edge is usually much bigger for those).
- Craps: RealTime Gaming have an excellent online Craps game, and you will find this from the other software houses.
- Others: Plenty more to pick from, if you like the simple ‘War’ you can find that at online casinos. Rummy also runs.
For the biggest selection of casino table games, it is hard to beat Bovada. They not only have a ton of software-based green-felt action, there is also a live dealer casino option.
Live Dealer Table Games at US Friendly Online Casinos
Not all offshore casinos offer live dealer table games. The exceptions are BetOnline Casino and Bovada. These games work by using a live feed of real dealers and allowing you to bet on the games using your computer.
What I like about these games is the social element. This is optional. You can text chat with the dealer and other players while you play. Dealers won’t type, though they will often respond verbally. The downside of these games is that they are slower than the software versions. You will also find higher minimum bets in many games.
Popular live dealer games include Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and Casino Poker games.
Some casinos offer free chips to try out their live dealer studios. You’ll get a $25 free chip for BetOnline casino for this.
Find out more about this innovative new direction for casino gaming in my detailed Live Dealer Casino Games section.
Other Casino Games at US Real Money Online Casinos
A quick list here, covering the many other games available. These are in three main categories; Video Poker, Keno / Bingo and novelty games like scratch cards or game-show style games.
Keno is popular and comes with a lot of different themes and game-play variations. It is video poker where you will find the biggest choice. There are all the traditional titles (jacks or better, deuces wild, joker poker) plus the bonus poker games (double bonus, double double and so on). You will also find multi-hand games and plenty of unique entertaining variations too.
Wrap Up: Which Real Money US Casinos Tick All the Right Boxes?
A ‘perfect’ real money casino (if such a thing existed) would tick the following boxes…
- Secure, tested and trusted brand.
- Free play introductory offer + easy to complete welcome bonus
- Excellent ongoing rewards for loyal players
- The latest slots, preferably with choices from multiple software houses
- Live dealer table games, plus a big choice of software table games
- Works on mobile devices as well as desktops (including Apple products)
No casino ticks every single one. The closest is Bovada, which has everything except for the introductory free play deal. Their welcome bonuses are fast, which makes up for this somewhat.
If free chips are top of your list, you will find many of the same games at Slots.lv (though no live dealer casino!).
I’ll leave you with the table from the top of this page. By the time you have scanned through the in-depth info on this page, my comments on each casino will make a lot more sense!
Good luck at the tables - Mark
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