Rolling the Virtual Bones

by Gareth Branwyn for Digital Living Today

There are no drinks in an online casino, but if youre a wanna-be James (or Jane) Bond, the thrill of the game — and its potential pay-off could still make you tipsy with excitement. Be warned, though the Web is still in its Wild West phase, online gaming is definitely its rowdy saloon — complete with card sharks and gunfights. As you log on to spin the ol roulette wheel, there are a few things you should always keep in mind:

Know the laws. The global nature of the Web makes assigning legality difficult but that doesnt stop countries from doing it anyway. There are a number of U.S. laws currently in the works and several that are already on the books (the 1961 Wire Wager Act, for example). While legislation is primarily focused on regulating the casinos themselves, its still in the gamblers best interest to make sure that all bets are legal.

Verify the sites legitimacy. Yahoo alone lists over 500 gaming sites in its directory from the small and shady to sites backed by time-honored and established casinos. The sheer number of choices makes it difficult to figure out who youre dealing with on the other end. There are a few good ways to make sure that youve logged on to an above-board site. One is to stick to the big names. The majority of bricks and mortar casinos have ventured into the online world. Also, take a look at how hard theyre examining you. A good rule of thumb – the more questions they ask, the better. Usually, the more they want to know, the more careful and up front of an organization they are.

Love your debit card. Many sites offer several methods of payments credit cards or e-trade-like debit systems are common. Just to be safe, its a good idea to stick to the debit system. If nothing else, itll help you curb those late-night trips to the computer.

Stick to just for fun sites. If it really is the thrill of the game and not the cash registers cha-ching that gets you going, consider visiting some of the sites that offer games just for the fun of it. Bricks and mortar heavyweights Harrahs Entertainment, Inc. and MGM Mirage, Inc. have both recently announced plans to launch gambling sites that dont accept wagers in the coming months. Plus, the sites will award cash and other prizes making the pot that much sweeter.

Overall, being careful with online gambling isnt a whole lot different from acting responsibly when walking into a physical casino. Do your homework, know your limits, and relaxafter all, this is supposed to be fun.

And remember, even if youre home alone, you can still yell, Vegas, baby, Vegas! as you boot up.

***DLT Tip: For more information on current laws and sites, check out www.igcouncil.org, www.americangaming.org or www.igamingnews.com

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