A Few Thoughts about Online Gambling

“Online gambling” refers to a lot of different activities besides just poker. I thought I’d post about some of those activities here.

Online Casinos

People who don’t know any better think that when you play poker on the Internet, you’re playing at an “online casino.” But that’s not the case, usually. An “online casino” generally offers casino games, like slot machines, video poker, and blackjack. Sometimes an online casino will also offer Internet poker, but the poker aspect of the operation is almost a completely different sub-business. And most of the better online cardrooms, like PokerStars, don’t offer casino games at all. They just focus on what they do best–poker.

Online Sports Betting

People in the United States and other countries love to bet on sports. Watching a football game or any other sporting event becomes a lot more interesting when you have some money on the line. Online sports betting companies usually focus on their sports betting arm more than any other business activity, but they often also operate online casinos and online cardrooms as supplements to their main business.

A good example of this is Bodog. They’re primarily an online sportsbook, but they also offer casino games and poker.

In the United States, online sports betting is illegal because of the Federal Wire Act.

Online Bingo

Bingo is the most popular gambling activity in the world, and even groups of people who frown on gambling in general turn a blind eye to the “sin” that is gambling when it comes to bingo. United States players don’t play a lot of bingo online, because most Internet bingo halls don’t offer real money bingo games to US players anymore. But in the UK, Internet bingo is a hugely popular game.

Online Poker

Online poker is just the game of poker played over the Internet. The difference between poker and other gambling games is enormous. For one thing, you’re not betting against the house in a poker game–you’re betting against the other players. For another thing, a skilled poker player can operate at a positive expectation. With a few exceptions, almost all of the other online gambling games discussed so far in this post force the player to operate at a negative expectation. In fact, the only exception I can think of is sports betting, if you’re an extremely talented and skilled handicapper. You can’t count cards online, and even expert video poker players still operate against a house edge, small as it may be.

Online Gambling Funds

One of the tricky aspects to gambling online is getting money to and from whatever online gambling entity you’re dealing with. If you’re a player from the United States, you’re dealing with companies in other countries, so the processing fees for the money transfer fees can add up fast. And the passage of UIGEA made it even harder to transfer funds to and from online casinos–the bill specifically targeted this aspect of online gambling.

Should You Gamble Online?

That’s a decision for you to make, but my advice is to always obey all of the appropriate laws in your jurisdiction. I don’t know from what country you’re reading this. It might be completely legal in your area for you to place a bet. I don’t know how old you are, but if you’re under age, leave the gambling for when you’re old enough to do so legally.

If you do decide to gamble online, do some research, and try not to make foolish decisions. Rogue companies exist whose sole purpose is to take your money. Some companies in the industry, on the other hand, have sterling reputations. (Again, PokerStars is the best example I can think of.)