“Next Shooter….ummm, if there is one????”. If you’ve visited any big casino lately, no doubt you’ve felt a little lonely, as if you were in a ghost town. Well, to be honest, you ARE in a ghost town. Gambling centers like Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, Biloxi, and others are all hurting, and not because they’re paying out big winners.

The economic hard times have put the screws to casino operations, threatening or eliminating dealer jobs, eliminating comp programs, and left them begging for big name entertainment acts that will perform on the cheap. In fact, many local neighborhoods that surround the famous Las Vegas strip are upside down: foreclosures, rising living costs, and general unemployment have forced people out of their homes and onto the streets or some other state entirely. What’s more, Vegas’ biggest customer base, which originates from California, is hurting badly as well: the state is in a huge budget crunch, and people are nearly out of disposable income.

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Unlike big investment banks and mortgage companies, suffice to say, casinos WILL NOT be getting a bailout. There are no tears for the casino business in good times or bad, since it is a cash oriented operation that normally returns huge profits to owners and investors. Now, however, casino stocks are plummeting, making shareholders nervous and watering the mouths of bottom feeders looking for a bargain. Moreover, the act of gambling is still somewhat socially questionable, and concerns about problem gambling also fuel a standoffish attitude towards the casino business in general.

Where does this leave online casinos? Well, at present it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The regular challenges that face online casinos, such as credit card processing, licensing fees, etc are now amplified as fewer people gamble online. Most people will think twice about depositing at an online casino if their credit card is almost maxed out, or if they’re writing rubber checks from their bank account. So to be clear, yes, online casinos are hurting, particularly those that cater exclusively to the USA market. European facing online casinos are weathering the storm, in part because major economies in Europe like Germany and France are coming out of recession.

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Does all this mean I can get a good value at an online casino?

Well, that depends. If online casinos are skating by on a skeleton operation, chances are, they’re not going to go out of their way to hand out overly generous bonuses or prize promotions. If anything, you may find that some casinos are more stingy: it may require more effort than normal to collect a payout, customer service wait times might be longer due to less staffing, and perks for high rollers scarce. If you’re playing from Europe at at European casino, it’s business as usual. If you’re from the USA, however, and playing at a start up casino, chances are, you probably will not even get a Christmas card from them this year.

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In order to mitigate the new barriers online casinos are erecting between themselves and customers, we recommend the following:

  1. Use an E-wallet to Deposit - E-wallets are the most reliable, easiest way to fund your casino player’s account. More importantly, they are the simplest method to collect payouts. If you’re waiting for a payout to arrive via check in the mail, by ACH credit, or bank wire, you’re going to be waiting longer than usual. You may even have to pester the casino repeatedly to get your cash. With e-wallets, casinos can pay you out almost instantly, that is, IF they have sufficient funds in their merchant e-wallet accounts.
  2. Be more persistent with Customer Service - Remember, casinos are a business that thrive on people losing money. So, if you have a question about the software, a particular casino game, or need help withdrawing money, it’s highly likely customer service may not even reply to your emails, nor actually fix the problem after you’ve called them. This is because they’re hoping you gamble your money away while they “sort things out”, in which case, they’re no longer on the hook to help you out with your problem. So, if you have a legitimate question for customer service, plan on emailing and calling them multiple times in order to get an answer. That’s just the reality right now.
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  4. Stay away from start up casinos or casino with bad reputations - We’ll probably catch some flack from some new casino marketing teams; but the reality is, if you play at a new casino or a casino that has struggled with a bad reputation, there’s a strong probability that you’re going to have issues getting money out of them. New online casinos are notorious for running on shoe string budgets. Moreover, casinos with bad reputations will just keep your money, change terms and conditions, alter bonus policies, or otherwise screw around so that you can’t collect your winnings, nor convert your initial deposit into actual cash. Our recommendation for such situations is simple: If you don’t want problems, don’t even think of playing at problem casinos. You’ve been warned.

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Overall, if you take anything away from this article, remember that online casinos are suffering just like brick and mortar casinos. To that end, only play at the online casinos that are trustworthy, have operated successfully for more than 2 or 3 years, and who are well financed so that you can get your payouts in a timely manner. If you’ve been playing at a questionable casino site, it’s advisable that you close that account, collect your balance, and play elsewhere. Never be the “last rat on the sinking ship” of an online casino: it’s a surefire way to be stiffed.

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