If we were to name one single determinant of an online casino’s quality, it would be how fast – and how consistent – its customers get paid. Suppose you’ve just won $500 playing slots at an online gaming site, and you request payment by check. If that check arrives within 5 days or less, chances are, you’re giving your business to a well run operation. On the contrary, if your payment comes in 3 weeks after much arm twisting and complaining, take your money and run: that casino operation is poorly run and does NOT value its customers.

More than 75% of most online gaming company’s marketing budgets are spent on “front end” promises.

The most common ploy is offering a competitive bonus, making claims that it’s the “best” or “biggest” bonus available. This point sells customers because they think they’re getting free money when they finally join a casino and deposit. In reality, bonus money comes laden with terms and conditions that make it impossible to convert into withdrawable cash. That “500% free cash up to $2000 per deposit” sounds great, but it doesn’t always work out in the player’s favor. Think about it: most brick and mortar casinos in Las Vegas or Macau NEVER offer any kind of cash bonus, unless you’re a high roller who has already lost thousands in their casino. You’ll be lucky to be given match-play certificates worth $20. They don’t need to bonus customers to death because it’s not really necessary. Cash is the currency of land based casinos and making things complicated with bonuses is unprofitable and would discourage most people from patronizing such an operation.

The second front end selling point is deposit options. After all, if you can’t get money into the online casino, you’re wasting your time unless like you to practice with play money. Nowadays, offshore online casinos have to play shell games with credit card processing companies in order to get money through the door. Most American credit card companies will deny any and all attempts to process money directly to an online casino, so you essentially send your money to a middleman who pays the casino all deposited funds (less a processing fee) when the monthly billing cycle finishes.

As a result, most online casinos are poorly financed, simply because they rely heavily on a processor to deliver deposited funds and not their own internal finance team. If a processor goes rogue or gets caught by law enforcement, the casino usually loses all its deposits, forcing it to close. There is little recourse to get your money back unless you can prove to whatever law enforcement agency handling the case that you were tricked, defrauded, or your minor child stole your credit card. Even then, you might only get pennies on the dollar. Ultimately, the financial relationship between customer and online casino is pure trust. You can’t take them to court because they operate outside the jurisdictions of the world’s most powerful law enforcement groups.

Next on the marketing list is the actual casino game operating software. In some respects, this is also a fairly reliable way to discern an online casino’s financial capabilities and legitimacy because casino software is very expensive. Top brands servicing USA offshore online casinos include RTG (Real Time Gaming) and Top Game. Most reputable operations use one of these platforms, which allows them to access progressive jackpot slot machines. If someone hits the jackpot for a substantial amount of money (in excess of $100,000 USD), the casino isn’t necessarily liable for the payment. In most cases, RTG or Top Game pays out the jackpot itself, much like pooled progressive slots in land based casinos in the USA.

Some USA facing offshore sportsbooks might use proprietary or startup casino software, because monthly fees for RTG or Top Game are high. There are also some USA facing online casinos that use their own software or pirate software. Always be wary when you play casino games with an unknown operating software brand. Some are rigged on purpose and not audited by external parties. This is in stark contrast to European online casinos, who offer industry leading Microgaming or Playtech software, both of which are audited on a regular basis per the online gaming regulations of each respective E.U. country.

Finally, many casinos try to sell themselves with customer testimonials, badges from industry watchdog sites, or lofty writing about their quality of customer service. In reality, most testimonials are fake and trust badges from industry watchdogs are bought. High quality writing about customer service is just rhetoric: there’s no way you can know for sure whether or not customer service is trustworthy because you haven’t used it yet. That’s why it’s best to visit a few online casino player forums and see which companies are true to their word.

All of the above: front end. What matters most, however, is the back end and getting your money paid out.

Obviously, much like customer service, you can’t judge a casino on this point until you actually have a balance to withdraw. So, in order to experience a casino’s payout process, deposit a small amount of money and make a withdrawal as soon as possible. Some casinos might require a minimum of $100 before withdrawals can be processed, in addition to completing Credit Card verification forms to validate your identity. These practices are not prescribed by law, but instead attempts to delay and discourage you from taking money out of the casino. Imagine if the Wynn in Las Vegas required you fill out a credit card form, provide proof of address, and 2 photo IDs? Wynn would be out of business in a wink. If you’re from the USA and playing at an offshore casino, you’re going to have to jump through these hoops until industry standards change.

Once all the paperwork is complete, USA customers can withdraw by Bank Wire, Money Transfer, or Bank Check delivered in the mail. Most casinos will stipulate certain requirements for each method, and might deduct processing fees from your withdrawal. Again, this is the state of the industry, not much can be done about it. If you’re from Europe or elsewhere, the fastest payment option is withdrawing to an e-wallet service like Neteller, Moneybookers, Click2Pay, etc. Europeans should expect payment within 24 hours from the top casinos if they use an e-wallet.

The instant your withdrawal is in the casino’s accounting system, start the stopwatch. If you’re in the USA and get paid in 5-7 days, congratulations, you’re probably visiting a solid online casino. Unfortunately, most casinos will take much longer and might use stalling tactics to delay payment as much as possible. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about people getting paid 1, 2, even 6 months after they request a withdrawal. In some respects, these customers are lucky they got paid at all. If this happens to you, collect your funds and close your account at the online casino. They’re not worth your time or money.

The old expression “Put your money where your mouth is” themes this blog post perfectly in seven words. Another expression to consider if you’re from the USA and patronizing an offshore online casino: “If they’re not payin’, don’t be playin’ “. Never give any gambling operation your hard earned money if they don’t intend to hold up their end of the agreement when it comes time to collect your winnings.