Gamblers go for online gaming

The players call it “online gaming” and it’s one of the hottest hobbies on the Internet. We’re not talking shoot-em-up video games. This is marketing double-speak for online gambling.

There are hundreds of web sites featuring Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and virtual slot machines. Some also feature other forms of gambling like Bingo, Keno and sports betting.

While these web sites may have names like “Virtual Vegas” and feature the standard games you find in a casino, when you check the fine print, you’ll find that almost none of them are actually located in Nevada.

Based offshore
It is illegal to host gambling sites in the United States and Canada. Most gambling web sites are based in the Caribbean, though some may be based in Australia, Africa, in a European country, or even on First Nations Reserves.

Nevada has recently passed a law allowing state-licensed casinos to set up online sites. But only those located in the state, or in countries where gambling is legal, will be permitted to use those sites.

Some sites
If you are looking for action, and don’t know where to start, (<A href=&qut;http:/”> is a Canadian-based gambling portal with columns, news, reviews and more. ( is a large online gaming “clearinghouse” site.
This site is a great place for a beginner to test the waters, as in addition to a huge number of links to casinos, there are also reviews, news stories, tutorials and tips sections.

The average beginner may not be aware of complicated taxation issues, for example (yes, the government wants a piece of your action too).

Gambling tips
If you are an avid casino player and do not want to play online, you can still use the Internet to help you sharpen your game. There are a number of experts with their own web sites. Some charge a fee for their “tip sheets”, but you can get a wide range of free tips from browsing what they do put in the free sections of their sites.

GambleUP ( is a gambler’s search engine that can help you find just the right tutorials, tips, and information.

Free sites
You can also go to many casinos and play the games for free – as long as you don’t enter your credit card and personal information, you can’t be billed. In “demo play”, you can have the thrill of the game without the risk, as you play for points instead of cash.

There are also dozens of sites that allow you to play for free – but still let you win cash or prizes. Many of these sites, like (, have their own currency or chips handed out to players who participate in forums, chats or certain games.

These casinos feature a cash or chip pay out that you can redeem for prizes on the site. Pogo’s games include chat forums that allow you to type messages to other players during the game.

Safety questions
How safe are online gaming sites? In fact, there are few complaints about the online gaming industry, because it is so tightly regulated. However, some casinos are better than others at dealing with customer service complaints.

On the Gambling Grumbles site (, players can sign up to post their personal experiences with online casinos. Grumbles are sorted by casino name, so you can quickly check to see if anyone has been stiffed.

You’ll even find critical comments about the sites’ own advertisers. The site managers try to mediate disputes, and it looks like an excellent place to turn to if you do encounter trouble on the virtual tables.

Read the fine print. Check out the casino’s background documents, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page, legal disclaimers and statement of ownership.

Legitimate gambling sites will tell you where they are registered, and which country’s laws govern their conduct. If Price-Waterhouse Coopers, the Interactive Gaming Council ( or another independent and trustworthy company audits the casino, chances are good that you are reasonably safe playing there – if not, you may want to check out another site.

Addiction help
The privacy, anonymity and easy access that online gambling affords does pose a danger to the compulsive gambler. If you have trouble with an online or offline betting problem, visit Gambler’s Anonymous (

If you have a family member, friend or loved one who is suffering from a gambling addiction, visit Gam-Anon (

Both sites are based in the US but have information that can help. In Canada, the Responsible Gambling Council ( is based in Ontario, and offers a lot of helpful information and links to other Canadian resources.