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Online Gaming - FAQ

I have never gambled on-line, but I would suppose that since you play the games from your computer, with no one watching, it would be a lot easier to do things like card counting or even using a computer to make your decisions. Is this true? Do on-line casinos have any way to check if you're cheating? Also, do you have a time limit to play each hand?

Gonzalo from Mexico City, Mexico

Yes, you can easily count cards when playing blackjack online. However, most casinos shuffle after every hand. For those that don't, software exists to tell you the exact correct play given any deck composition. However, such places generally have strict rules against card counters.

As long as you aren't playing at a multi-player table or live dealer, there is no time limit to play a hand.

You seem to know a lot about on-line casinos. I’m curious if the winnings are taxable income. I have tried the IRS site and they do not specifically mention off-shore or on-line gambling.

Dan from East Troy, USA

Yes, they are taxable. You are on the honor system to report the income. The casinos will not report any winnings to the IRS. It isn’t just on-line casinos, ANY net gambling winnings are taxable, regardless of where or how they were won.

Do have any knowledge about the policies of online casinos with regards to reporting winnings to the Internal Revenue Service? If so, please provide as much info as you can. Thank you.

Jack from Mesa, USA

I’m quite sure none of them report anything.

Hey dude I had a random question and I didn’t know who else to ask!! I won 12000 on an online casino. Should I cash it all out at once? Do I have to do anything related to reporting it on my taxes? If I don’t report it will I get in trouble? What would you do in this situation? Thanks for the help!!!

Anonymous

Whether to cash out it all out at once is your decision. Assuming you are a U.S. citizen you are obligated to declare the income on your next tax return. If you don’t you could be charged with tax evasion. However this sort of thing is largely on the honor system. You are also allowed to deduct any gambling losses in the same year against your winnings.

I enjoy your site a great deal. This morning I was reading your reviews of online casinos and your experiences with them and it seemed you inevitably lost everything on your deposits. I found this discouraging. Then I saw that you requested donations and now understand why you do so!

Anonymous

Since I started gambling on the Internet four years ago I am up about $20,000, about half of which is thanks to the Golden Palace. What you’re seeing in my reviews is just my most recent experiences, and like everyone else sometimes I lose for a month or two. However I just won $786 at Casino.Net and $2317 at Casino Kingdom. So I don't ask for donations to subsidize a losing gambling habit. Donations simply help me to keep offering this site to the public for free. Although in fact the donations come in through PayPal which I then usually use to buy things on eBay.

I am retained by a group to build an online casino. I have some questions and you seem like the person in the know. If I may...

  1. How much start up cash should be on hand
  2. How much would one expect to pay to build a first class casino
  3. Where is the best place to host with sufficient bandwidth a space
  4. Is there one company programming the backend, that you could reccommend as one of the best?

    Anonymous

    Between the cost of building the casino, cash reserves, and first year losses, you will need a minimum of $1,000,000 for a respectable Internet casino. The best place to host is outside my area of expertise. Since I have a relationship with almost all the major software providers I don’t want to be guilty of favoritism by mentioning a particular company. I know who I think I would go with but I won’t say who.

I would like to know if you put your real name, address, phone number, date of birth when you sign up in online casinos.

Anonymous

Yes, to all of those things. If some of the shadier casinos find you provided false information they will use it as an excuse not to pay you. Besides, these pieces of information are not that hard to come by for someone looking to abuse or steal your identity. Recently Crazy Vegas casino asked for my Social Security number, which I thought was going too far. I gave them a phony one. When asked for my mother’s maiden name, by anyone, I give the name of my cat.

When I play in free-play mode at an online casino does it have any effect when I play for real money? I think definitely not, but I wanted to check with you.

Anonymous

It shouldn’t. And I will vouch that any casino advertising on this site plays a fair game. Any casino I find cheating, whether in fun or real money, I will have no compunction to add to my blacklist.

What is the best betting system for a player to use when playing the online casino blackjack games that give the PLAYER the slight edge? Are there any systems when there is a positive player edge that can be used to most effectively gain maximum winnings with minimum chance of losses over the long run? Or would the best system be to bet the same amount consistently and follow the optimum basic strategy (and its exceptions for single deck) for all the hands played?

Anonymous

I would recommend flat betting. The expected return is the same regardless of how you bet, but flat betting is best for minimizing volatility and ensuring bankroll preservation.

I have never gambled online before but wanted to give it a try-specifically at Pharoah's because of their generous video poker pay tables. I was not able to make a deposit because the only bank I have cards with forbids online gambling and every transaction I've attempted has been blocked. I really wanted to give this a try (and support some of your sponsors) but have had no luck. Before I give up completely on the idea, can you tell me if there are any ways around this problem? Also, have any recent determinations been made recently on the legality and regulation of online gambling? Thanks for your time.

Steve from Gresham, Wisconsin

Thanks for attempting to patronize my advertisers. Not many casinos accept credit card transactions, at least from U.S. players. In my opinion the most convenient way for U.S. players to get funds into an Internet casino is via Neteller. Similar to Paypal, Neteller is an online bank, but unlike Paypal, Neteller honors transactions with Internet casinos. I'm not the best person to speak on the legality topic but as far as I can tell nothing has changed but there is still no federal law that specifically says gambling on the Internet is illegal. Efforts have been made to pass such a law but the same bill has yet to pass both houses of congress.

I would like to play on line for free. Do the sites utilize your log in info to solicit? I want one that does not. I particularly like to play nine line Cleopatra but the online versions are not the same (that I have Found) What is the best no strings web site to play for fun?

Sue from The Colony, Texas

Yes, if you give your e-mail address to a casino they will certainly send you e-mail. However the reputable ones will stop if you ask. The less reputable casinos will not only market themselves but also share your address with others. The NetGaming casino sold me out to pornography spammers. Bodog lets you play without surrendering your email address, as do the Wager Works casinos, such as at the Hard Rock Casino. Incidentally, Casino Meister has a new page about combatting casino spam. My webmaster tells of his own problems with casino spam at VegasClick.com. I've never seen Cleopatra online. It's rare for an online casino to have the same slots found in land casinos.

I have been playing for "fun" at online casinos and am considering playing for real. However, some casinos state that when playing for fun the Windows RNG is used and when playing for real the UNIX RNG is used. Will the difference in RNG’s affect my win probability? Thank you!

Vicki from Mechanicsburg

That shouldn’t change the odds at all. The Windows RNG is probably not very good, but good enough for free play. However when real money is on the line a smart operation would use a proven good RNG on their own end.

I have searched high and low to find a governing body of Internet gambling. Is there one?

John G. from Barrie, ON

Short answer, no.

Question: I am NOT a lawyer! But somehow I have the idea that online gambling violates some sort of legal statutes here in the states. If so, then are not people sort of publicly admitting to breaking the law when they state in emails,etc. to you or you yourself that I played online casino X and won/loss Y dollars. Of course the law is probably overwhelmed with REAL crime but if folks are going to admit in writing that they have broken the law then the law does not have to work hard to prove the fact. So it seems that folks should be careful about they tales of online gambling experiences in public forums. Seems like it would not take a whole lot of work by some DA to say look for all those folks in his jurisdiction with such admissions and charge them with whatever DA charge people with.

Anonymous

As far as I know the number of players to be prosecuted for gambling on the Internet is zero. So far efforts have been aimed at choking off the industry at the payment processing level, which has only moved those services outside the country as well. Laws directed at the player are simply not enforced. There are lots of poker celebrities who publicly earned seats at the big poker tournaments by playing poker online, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them have been prosecuted . However, Washington State recently made playing poker online a felony, so I might be nervous in the Evergreen State.

Can you give some of the best sites, books references and online resources in detailing how one should start an online offshore (out of USA) casino? Thank you and very nice informative site.

Matthew from Toulouse

Sorry, I don’t know of anything like that in print. However, here is my own two cents.

  1. You should have at least a million in reserves to cover the normal ups and downs of gambling.
  2. Go with a high end experienced software company with a good reputation.
  3. Abide by your own rules. If a player outsmarts you on a bonus or promotion pay him and then cut him off if you wish.
  4. Take it easy on the bonuses. I would rather reward players after they play according to the value of their action.
  5. It is hard to overstate the importance of good customer service. Try to get to know your players, especially the best ones, on a personal level.

Remember, you can sheer a sheep many times but you can slaughter it only once.

With Congress grandstanding now over Internet gaming, how do you view the future of the industry?

Daniel L.

First, it is important to remember that the U.S. only accounts for half the market. Outside of the United States I think the industry will become more legitimate as the United Kingdom takes a greater role. However, as publicly traded companies, most of the U.K. operations out of respect for U.S. laws no longer accept American players. This will leave American players with a greater percentage of less reputable organizations to choose from (Bodog excepted of course). So, the short-term effect will be that American players are less protected and more likely to be cheated. In the long term, hopefully we will come to our senses and learn all over again that prohibition doesn’t work and repeal this stupid law. This will likely take several years.

Wizard, Now that on-line gaming is going to be illegal in this country, wondering if you could speak to any ways (as I’m sure they’re out there) to get around this problem. I assume setting up an off shore bank account is a good first step, but from what I’ve read, on-line casino IP address’ will be blocked in some way which will prohibit American citizens from getting access to them.

Gene from New York City

According to my interpretation, this law does not make gambling online illegal. The bill seeks to choke off Internet gambling by making it illegal for U.S. banks to directly fund casino accounts. However, they stopped accepting credit card transactions years ago. This law only addresses what nobody was doing anyway. Any business outside of the United States is not obligated to respect our laws in their own country. Some are choosing to anyway, some are not. If your Internet casino of choice is still accepting U.S. players, I suggest you be honest about where you live and continue to use whatever method of payment you were using before. Personally, I find Neteller to be the most convenient.

I play at Bodog using Neteller. Do you know if they have any plans for deposit & withdraw if neteller & others quit accepting U.S. players? If you win, a check would be worthless if banks won’t accept it.

Ron from Tulsa

I’ve received lots of foreign checks from Internet casinos. They never came on casino letterhead. Often I didn’t immediately know whom the check was from because they looked more like generic money orders. So if it comes to this I think Bodog would use a generic looking check or money order that your bank wouldn’t be able to easily trace back to the sender. Besides, I don’t think Neteller is going anywhere.

I am curious about the current online gaming law. I won a free wagering account ($75) at an online sports book and have managed to turn it into nearly $200. I know that you are not an attorney, but is it ’legal’ to cash out and present the check at my bank? Or, when I present the check, will alarms sound and a net be dropped from the ceiling, capturing me? I fully plan on claiming my winnings, albeit small, on my Federal taxes. I always remember that the only thing Al Capone ever did time for was tax evasion! Thanks for your time and consideration wiz! Best of luck to you!

Rob from Pittsburgh

I’m not an attorney, so I’ll refrain from giving an opinion on the legality. For practical purposes checks from Internet casinos and sports books are sent from generic accounts, usually out of Canada. From looking at the checks you wouldn’t know whom they are from. I have never once heard of a bank not honoring such a check (unless it bounced), or anyone being prosecuted for attempting to cash a single check. So, my advice is go ahead and cash it. You should do so inside with a teller, because some banks don’t like foreign checks deposited in an ATM.

Due to the ridiculous legislation passed an few months back, it has obviously become more and more difficult to deposit money into my online poker accounts, including Bodog. :) Without aiding and abetting, could you possibly share with your readers some creative ways to overcome this obstacle or at least provide a list of the known still active deposit sites. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Ed H. from Indianapolis

My webmaster, Michael Bluejay, addresses this very subject in our January 31, 2007 newsletter. To expand on the Visa cards, another friend suggested using prepaid Visa cards, which can be purchased at some banks and at Walgreens.

Dear Wizard, are there any online casino games that offer a positive edge to a player using an optimal strategy, and if so where can I find them? Many thanks and keep up the good work!

Bill from London, UK

Sadly, I can't think of any. Global Player used to have video poker over 100%, and some Boss Media casinos had a blackjack game with a player advantage. However, all such casinos either closed their doors, or removed the good games. If anybody else knows of any new straight up advantage games online, I'm all ears.

Some Playtech blackjack games have a ten-card Charlie rule. What is the value of that?

Anonymous

For the benefit of other readers, a "ten-card Charlie" rule means that if the player gets to ten cards, without busting, then it is an automatic winner.

According to my simulation, the probability of the player getting to at least ten cards is 1 in 60 million. So, it lowers the house edge by about 0.0000017%.

According to your review of Gamesys N.V. software, the Player bet in baccarat pays 1.0282 to 1. You note the player advantage is 0.02%. If we ignore the 24-hour time limit rule, is there a way to have an advantage on this bet, even after the 10% commission on net gambling session wins?

Anonymous

Yes! Keep playing, betting the same amount every time, until you are up any amount of money. Then quit, wait 24 hours, and repeat.

To be specific, the advantage per bet is 0.0233341%. The overall advantage following this strategy is 90% of that, or 0.0210007%.

There may be other equally good strategies but if anyone has a superior strategy, I'm all ears.