Odds Shark Top Casinos

Guides to Online Casinos

​​If you're not familiar with them, online casinos can seem very complex. There are many different aspects to them, and trying to start playing at one can be a bit daunting. That's why we at Odds Shark have put together this definitive online casino guide, containing everything you need to know to find the best gambling site for you, start playing, and start winning.

How We Rate Online Casinos

Every online casino is different, but they have a lot of things in common: there are tons of games to play, promotions to claim, and loyalty or VIP programs to progress through. We at Odds Shark rate casino gambling sites based on how these aspects and more compare to what you'll find elsewhere.

Each of our casino ratings consists of two sections: Summary and Value & Benefits.

Summary

The Summary section consists of how well a casino performs on desktop and mobile - how easy the site is for users to navigate, if there are any features missing from one or the other - as well as how compelling the welcome bonus, often the most valuable casino promotion, is for new players.

Value & Benefits

The Value & Benefits section of our ratings is focused on the long-term player experience. We look at the available promotions to determine how valuable a casino is to play at over time. Additionally, we take into account whether or not a casino has a loyalty or VIP program, and how rewarding it can be to climb up through.

Lastly, we assess how good the casino's customer support is and how many support channels are available. Whether you're playing at an online casino in the USA or anywhere else, customer support is one of the most important aspects of the gambling experience.

For a more detailed look at how we rate online casinos, including subcategories, please visit our casino reviews page.

man at laptop with poker chips for online casino

Choosing the Best Online Casino For You

You are a unique individual, and so what you'd like to see an online casino offer might differ from what others are looking for. Gambling sites are much the same way; while the goal is to cater to everybody at least a bit, they all have their unique strengths and weaknesses.

What to Look For In An Online Casino

Many online casinos have strong game selections, numbering thousands of titles, but it's important to note which games are available to play. Slots will always be the most prevalent type of game, but you should consider which other games are available, and how many of them there are. If you enjoy playing sic bo but a gambling site only has one or two versions of the game, you may want to look for another casino with more selection or variety. In the case of slots, there are even unique software developers who may or may not have their games available at the casino of your choice.

You should also review which bonuses or promotions are available before you decide to sign up at an online casino. If your intent is to play for real money, do the bonuses seem fair or valuable to you? Can you see yourself being interested in using them over time? While the welcome bonus is the most impressive offer, meant to get you in the door, looking at a casino's other promotions should help you decide if it is the best one for you.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, does it support the banking methods that you wish to use? A casino might seem really great and check all of the boxes, but if there's no way for you to add money to your account and you intend to play for real money, there's no getting around that. True, an online casino might add more banking methods eventually, but it also might not happen. You should seek to play at a casino that supports what you're looking for now, not one that will only be able to meet your expectations in the future.

How to Gamble Online

It is not difficult to start gambling online, though there are a few things that you need to do beforehand.

Sign Up for An Account

The first step is to find an online casino that you'd like to play at, or at least one that offers a similar experience to your ideal one. You'll need to sign up for an account in order to play for real money, and you may be asked to further verify via email or SMS. Some casinos may even let you sign up through your existing social media profiles, which can be a convenient option.

Make Your First Deposit

The second step is to make your first deposit. Before you sign up, look at the casino's available banking options and ensure you are comfortable using at least one of them to add funds to your account. To win money at a casino, you need to be using money to play; while many casinos offer free play options, they are meant to be for fun. When you make your first deposit, you'll also have the option of claiming the casino's welcome bonus - typically a large amount, or several smaller ones broken up over multiple deposits, that can extend your bankroll beyond what you've initially deposited.

Verify Your Identity

In order to gamble online, the last thing you need to do is provide your chosen casino with documents that verify your identity, such as a passport. This technically doesn't need to be done until you want to make a withdrawal, but it can be done at any time. The casino requires such verification to ensure that the money being withdrawn is going to an actual person.

Once you have done these three things, find a game that looks fun and get ready to start gambling online!

Bonuses and Rewards

One of the aspects central to any online casino are the promotions that they offer to new and recurring players. Bonuses are a great way to help players extend their bankrolls and try new games.

Types of Casino Bonuses

There are many different kinds of bonuses, including:

Welcome bonuses, which are the big introductory promotion a casino offers to all new players.

Match bonuses, where the player deposits an amount of money and the casino matches it by some percentage.

Free spins bonuses, where the player deposits an amount of money and the casino rewards them with free spins for a specific game.

Cashback bonuses, where a percentage of what a player has bet and lost over a period of time is returned to them to play with again. Cashback bonuses may need to be activated by reaching out to a casino's customer support staff, or as part of a VIP program.

No deposit bonuses, where a casino gives away a small credit to new or established players. This type of bonus is very rare and often has strict guidelines about how it can be used.

Promotions are very useful for players to take advantage of, because they ultimately allow them to play for longer, though there are some strings attached. Every bonus has a wagering requirement, which is the amount of the bonus you'll need to bet before you can withdraw anything you've won using it. Individual game types also contribute towards that requirement differently: bets on slots may be worth 100% of their value, but bets on blackjack or other table games may only be worth 5%.

man playing live dealer game at online casino

Live Dealer Games

One of the more interesting offerings at online casinos are their live dealer games. Live dealer games seek to emulate the experience of playing casino games at a land-based casino, with a dealer standing at a table and controlling the action. However, as opposed to players physically being there, the game is broadcast over the internet, and players can join from anywhere.

Some of the more common live dealer games found at an online casino include baccarat, blackjack, and poker. Due to its unique format, there are also games available that you wouldn't expect to traditionally find at a casino, such as adaptations of popular game shows and other chance-based games.

Live dealer games are among the very limited number of games at an online casino that can only be played for real money. However, we still recommend trying them out, as they provide an incredibly unique experience.

Online Casinos on Mobile

With the rise of smartphones over the past fifteen years, catering to mobile users has become one of the most important challenges for online casinos. The ability to gamble on mobile and tablets is something that the vast majority of casino sites now offer. Some casinos even offer standalone applications so players can simply tap an icon on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device instead of having to navigate to a website and log in every time.

Gambling online using a smartphone or tablet is largely the same as doing so on desktop. You can still play all of a casino's available games, make deposits, and claim promotions. The only difference is that the navigation is usually different to accommodate the smaller screen size. This might mean that there are more collapsable menus, or there may be a navigation strip along the bottom of the screen to take players to the most popular pages.

Another thing to be aware of when playing at an online casino on mobile is that like all rich media, it can take quite a bit of data if you're not connected to a wi-fi network. If you just want to grab a minute or two here or there, it's likely fine, but for longer sessions during trips, you should look to connect to a network or use a device that can.

Banking Methods

In order to win real money at an online casino, you need to be using real money to play. To add money to your account, you'll need to make a deposit using one of the various banking methods that a casino offers. The majority of casinos online tend to accept the same methods of payment, though some may have more banking types available than others.

Common Deposit Options

The most common type of banking method accepted by online casinos are credit cards. At least Visa and Mastercard are accepted at every online casino in the USA, with some also accepting American Express or Discover Card. Using a credit card to play at an online casino is as safe as using it to shop online anywhere else, but the biggest downside is its perpetual availability. When using a credit card to add funds to your casino account, you want to make sure you are only adding what you can afford.

Similar to credit cards, Interac cards allow you to use the money from your bank account to make a casino deposit. It is arguably more convenient than using credit cards, since it's not something you'll need to pay off in the future, but you similarly want to take cautions not to overspend. While a credit card bill can be paid off over time, Interac uses the funds you have right now.

Another popular banking method is eCheck. These are electronic checks that allow for increased safety and security, as the casino never gains access to your banking details. While not every online casino accepts them, and there may be a processing fee attached, eChecks are incredibly simple and convenient to use.

Lastly, casinos may accept funds from eWallets like EcoCard. Also known as ecoPayz, EcoCard is an eWallet owned by Mastercard, so you can be confident in your safety. eWallets are a bit unique amongst banking methods as you need to take an extra step to add money to them, but as a result, your online casino of choice never has even indirect access to your banking information. EcoCard and eWallets in general are a solid option for those who only want to be able to use so much money at a casino at once.

Responsible Gambling

While there are few things that can match the great feeling that a bit win creates, gambling addiction is a serious problem. Online gambling is meant to be fun, and no one, from us here at Odds Shark to the casinos themselves, wants anyone to deposit or bet more than they can afford to spend.

The majority of casinos online offer several protective measures designed to promote responsible gambling and encourage players to step away when needed. These measures include allowing players to opt-in to deposit and betting limits, as well as instituting cooling-off periods. If the other options aren't sufficient, players are also able to temporarily or permanently close their accounts.

To add limits to your account, it's often as simple as reaching out to the support staff at your online casino. However, if you are experiencing a crisis, there are resources available: reach out to the National Council on Problem Gambling's 24-hour helpline at 1-800-522-4700.