According to The American Gaming Association (AGA), the gambling industry in the US is worth $261 billion and supports 1.8 million jobs in 40 states (1); however, gambling has had a difficult (and illegal) history in the USA and it is just up until now that the path is being cleared.
Online Gambling: Types of Online Gambling. By Adrienne Welch & Danielle Crowley. Gambling is a hobby that American consumers demand and it is now an international network online. There are many kinds of online gambling which are easy for anyone to access.The selection varies from online casinos, to sports books to even electronic stock trading. Types of Online Casino Games. There are many casino games online. While some casinos may offer just slot machines, others can offer a lot more. Here is a list of the casino games that you can find online: Bingo. This is like your typical bingo game where you have to cover numbers in a specific pattern in order to claim bingo. When it comes to online gambling and demographic statistics, a UK study concludes that 17% of the population gamble online, resulting in £5.3 billion revenue for the online market alone.
Several anti-gambling laws have been in place since the great depression and gaming has been heavily regulated ever since. Some of those regulations haven’t been updated since the 60’s. Despite this, the widespread use of the internet (and online casinos) have made the betting scene change notably and laws have started to shift (2).
Today, the industry faces a rapid growth and increased revenue moving away from the stigma it once held, making it easier for people to access online gaming and betting.
Gambling Revenues in the USA
USA gambling revenues increased to over $160 billion in 2018. Now that sports betting is legal, most gaming experts and financial analysts predict the total revenues for US betting each year will top $200 billion. Whether it’s a lottery ticket, slot machines, sports bets, bingo, or poker, Americans love to gamble.
As each year passes, US state governments expand legalized and regulated games of chance, which encourages more gambling. 2018 was no different. Below is a breakdown of the revenue generated by each form of betting each year.
|INDUSTRY||2017 GROSS REVENUES||2018 GROSS REVENUES|
|Commercial Casinos||$41.2 Billion||$51.4 Billion|
|Tribal Casinos||$31.945 Billion||$32.801 Billion|
|Poker Rooms||$1.9 Billion||$1.9 Billion|
|Lottery Revenues||$80.55 Billion||$72 Billion|
|Legal Bookmaking||$248 Million||$430.6 Million|
|US Online Gambling||$247.5 Million||$306.5 Million|
|Pari-Mutuel||$295 Million||$299 Million|
|Charitable Games/Bingo||$2.15 Billion||$2.1 Billion|
|Total Revenue||$158.54 Billion||$161.24 Billion|
USA Casino Revenues
US commercial casinos generated $41.2 billion in 2017, a 3.7% increase year-to-year from 2016 and a new record for gross gaming revenues for US commercial casinos. New casinos in Maryland and New York added to the increased revenues in 2017. MGM National Harbor in Maryland was the most successful new casinos, but Del Lago Resorts, Rivers Casino, and Resorts World Catskills in New York state also contributed.
In all, commercial casinos generated $51,395,562,664 in revenues in 2018. The total represents a 3.5% increase over 2017. Commercial casinos sustained 737,450 jobs and paid $34.334 billion in worker income. The Las Vegas Strip generated $6.59 billion in gaming revenues in 2018, making it the top destination. Atlantic City came in second with $2.51 billion, which shows a strong 5-year bounce back from its $2.1 billion in 2014. Chicagoland, Baltimore-Washington DC, and New York City finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th among commercial casino markets.
USA Tribal Casino Revenues
The National Indian Gaming Council still has not released full tribal casino statistics, so the NIGC’s 2016 gross gaming revenues are the most recent official revenue statistics. In 2016, America’s tribal casinos generated $31.195 million in gross gaming revenues. That is up nearly $1.3 billion from 2015, which itself increased $1.4 billion from 2014. If one projected similar growth year-to-year from 2016 to 2017, one might expect to see gross gaming revenues in the range of $33.3 billion for 2017. To avoid speculation, we list the 2016 official statistics. The NIGC releases the previous year’s figures in June or July each year, so check back for the latest results.
Tribal casinos generated $32.801 billion in 2018 — a 3.5% increase over 2017. At its current pace, the tribal casino industry should overtake commercial casino revenues by the year 2030. Like the commercial gambling industry, a handful of tribal casinos launched sportsbooks.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians opened sports betting at their three land-based casinos, while the Pueblo of Santa Ana opened a sportsbook at Santa Ana Star Casino near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The bookmakers’ success could open the door for many other tribal sportsbooks across the United States.
US Poker Room Revenues
Nevada poker room revenues showed less than 1% growth, as gross gaming revenues were $118.46 million. The 2017 poker rake was $117.7 million. The Nevada figures were a minor miracle, considering that several Nevada poker rooms closed in the past year. MGM Resorts closed the Mirage poker room in February 2017, while the Hard Rock Las Vegas poker room closed in March 2017 and Luxor cardroom closed in May 2017. (The cardrooms for the Linq, Eastside Cannery, The Plaza, and Aliante Casino closed in 2016.)
Atlantic City’s seven poker rooms added $28.38 million in gross gaming revenues in 2017. Pennsylvania’s live poker revenues equaled $60 million. MGM National Harbor in Maryland collected $44.5 million in poker rake alone last year, which was the vast bulk of Maryland poker revenues in 2017. New York’s new live poker rooms, on the other hand, contributed only $6.7 million to the nation’s live poker revenue total. It is difficult to calculate accurately the live poker revenues for America’s 6,100+ live poker rooms. Tribal casinos contain many card rooms and they do not have to report their earnings to states. Thus, it is likely that some poker revenues might be listed under tribal casino statistics.
Nevada poker rooms increased their total rake from $118.45 million to $120.1 million. On the other hand, Atlantic City poker revenues dropped from $28.38 million in 2017 to $27.028 million in 2018. Pennsylvania’s live poker revenues remained in the $60 million range. MGM National Harbor remained high with over $45 million in poker rake, while the New York state live card rooms continued with a week haul with a little over $7 million in revenues. As always, it’s difficult to gauge total poker revenues, because tribal casinos include their poker rake with their other casino games.
Ultimately, the official US poker room revenues remained steady at $1.9 billion. 2018 showed the US poker industry holding steady after two years of decline. Fewer Las Vegas casinos have card rooms than they did ten years ago, but 2018 did not have any major Vegas poker rooms close. 2016 and 2017 showed a marked decline. MGM Resorts closed the Mirage poker room in February 2017, Hard Rock Las Vegas’s poker room closed in March 2017, and the Luxor cardroom closed in May 2017. In 2016, the cardrooms for The Plaza, the LINQ, Eastside Cannery, and Aliante Casino closed. Still, the United States has over 6,100 poker rooms, so the revenue stream remained steady throughout 2018.
New Jersey Online Gambling Revenues
US online gambling produced $247.5 million in revenues in 2017. New Jersey’s online gambling industry continues to grow. In 2017, the combined revenue of Atlantic City’s online casinos and poker sites was $245 million. That’s a 21% increase from 2016 when New Jersey’s iGaming niche generated $195 million. Delaware added only $2.4 million in online gambling revenues, which was an 18% decline.
Mike Lawton of the Nevada Gaming Control Board said online poker revenues are included in total poker revenues for the state, so it is hard to get official statistics for Nevada online poker. Given the fact, only two Nevada online poker sites exist and state regulators try to hide the small revenue stream, one can assume Nevada’s iPoker stats are tiny. Nevada has about twice the online gamblers as Delaware, so $5 million is a safe assumption. Those poker revenues are not included in our figures, though, because they are included in Nevada’s overall poker stats.
New Jersey grabbed the lion’s share of legal US online gambling revenues in 2018 with $298.7 million. Five years into its experiment with online gambling, New Jersey’s online casino and poker portals continue to grow apace. Delaware and Nevada both have regulated online poker, but despite the Multi-State Internet Gambling Association (MSIGA), their revenues were negligible. Pennsylvania will be a huge factor in 2019, but its online poker and casino industry was still getting off the ground in 2018.
Interstate online gambling faces a severe test in 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice declared in January 2019 that interstate online poker is illegal under federal law, striking a blow to the MSIGA pact between Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. The New Hampshire Lottery sued because its online lotto ticket sales are endangered by the 2019 DOJ opinion, while New Jersey and Pennsylvania filed their own lawsuit to protect their online poker and casino industries. Whatever happens with the legal cases, US online gambling revenue growth should be significant in the coming year, because Pennsylvania’s iGaming industry launches.
US Lottery Revenues
Like the tribal casino revenues, compiling an official list of lottery revenues takes a bit longer each year, because of the patchwork of state-run lotteries and multistate lottery associations. In 2016, US lottery ticket sales were $80.5 billion. The projected figures for 2017 are expected to exceed $85 billion, due to upticks in the sale of scratchcards and the increases in the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot sizes. Scratch-off tickets are the biggest contributor, with the Powerball and Mega Millions multi-state lottery association games contributing the second and third-most to the revenue pool.
New York state had the biggest lottery ticket sales, with over $10 billion. California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas were next in line. Each of those four states had between $5 billion and $6.5 billion in lottery sales.
The combined revenues of US lotteries for 2018 sit around the $72 billion mark. The U.S. Census Bureau releases the official lottery revenue statistics each year. So far, the Census Bureau has not released official 2018 lottery revenues. The 2017 lottery total was $71.826 billion, while the 2016 lottery statistics were $72.649 billion. That shows a regression of nearly $800 million from 2016 to 2017, though that number reflects a statistical anomaly in lottery drawings more than a loss of interest in the state and multistate lotteries.
State politicians are leery of allowing legal online gambling, though, because they fear it would harm lottery sales. Departing Michigan Gov. Bill Snyder vetoed an online poker and casino bill in December 2018, because he said lottery taxes are higher and iGaming would hurt lottery sales (thus tax revenues). Given the recent trends, it’s a safe bet that US lottery revenues in 2018 were around $72 billion for the year. Mega Millions and Powerball drawings continue to dominate national attention, while their revenues increase year to year.
United States Legal Sportsbooks
The revenue figures for US legal sportsbooks came from Nevada and Delaware in 2017. Nevada bookmakers won $248 million from sports bettors in 2017, which was a record year. New forms of betting on eSports helped, though the growing impact of William Hill USA on the Nevada sports betting scene helped. Even hockey betting was up in 2017, thanks to the inclusion of the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL. The Golden Knights’ surprising first-year performance helped drive local sports betting, though it was general NFL, Super Bowl, MLB, NBA, and March Madness betting which generated the most revenues.
Delaware, which had legalized sports lotteries, generated the remaining $6 million in sports betting revenues. Delaware’s sports lotteries require players to make parlay bets of 3 or more games. Delaware sportsbook revenues should increase significantly in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s repeal of the PASPA sports betting ban. Delaware plans to open legal sportsbooks at Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway on June 5, 2018. New Jersey sportsbooks at the Atlantic City casinos and Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport should follow suit quickly. US sports betting revenues should have a big jump in 2018.
Given the landmark US Supreme Court decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as unconstitutional, US sports betting revenues increased significantly. Several states (New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia) legalized sports betting in the months after the May 14 SCOTUS decision. Led by New Jersey, the new sports gambling jurisdictions generated $129.6 million in a little over 6 months of activity.
Meanwhile, Nevada benefited from the additional media coverage given to sportsbooks, so it generated $301.0 million. In all, the legal US sports betting industry generated $430.6 million in revenues – a $182 million increase from 2017. The number should increase significantly in 2019, when New Jersey and Mississippi feature a full year of sportsbook operations. Pennsylvania bookmakers also launched in late 2018 and early 2019, which should boost numbers greatly.
US Pari-Mutuel Racebook Revenues
Pari-mutuel racebooks generated $300 million in revenues in 2018. Pari-mutuel wagering is the legal term for betting on horse racing and dog racing. Bettors receive winning for the thoroughbreds, harness racers, or greyhounds which finish in the top three of a particular race (win-show-place). Pari-mutuel wagering also includes a variety of trifecta bets and parlay bets, which pay out more, but hit for the bettor less often.
Dog racing now is allowed in only 5 US states, as the Florida electorate voted to ban greyhound racing (Amendment 13) in the coming years. Most greyhound tracks continue to act as off-track betting facilities (OTBs), offering simulcasting and wagers at over 200 race venues worldwide. Churchill Downs, site of the annual Kentucky Derby, continues to generate almost 60% of the racebook revenue ($175 million) in the United States. Besides the world-famous Louisville-area horse track, Churchill Downs Incorporated owns racetracks and even a few land-based casinos across the United States.
The US pari-mutuel racebook industry must find new ways to drive customers or die a slow death in America. Race betting declined significantly in the past generation due to competition from the lottery, tribal casinos, online casinos, and mobile betting. After the US Supreme Court repealed the federal ban on sports betting (PASPA) in May 2018, sports betting should grow significantly in the coming 5 to 10 years. US pari-mutuel racebooks face another major competitor, so they’ll need to find innovative ways to bet on horse and dog racing or that $300 million total will decline.
For generations, charitable bingo halls have generated cash for civic organizations, veterans groups, religious groups, fraternal organizations, firefighters, and other charity organizations. Charitable bingo remains a major focus, but organizations also hold raffles, poker nights, and sell pull-tab games to the public.
As lottery betting and tribal casinos have increased over the past two decades, charitable gaming and bingo participation has decreased in many states. Charitable gaming is a major source of fundraising for nonprofit organizations in the United States. The numbers haven’t declined across the board, as Michigan’s poker nights (millionaires clubs) increased greatly from 2002 to 2012, due to making it easier to attain a charitable gaming license. Even in Michigan, though, the decline since 2012 has been significant. Meanwhile, Minnesota increased its charitable gaming revenues significantly, as part of a plan to fund the Minnesota Vikings’ football stadium.
As the US population has increased in the past 16 years, the number of charitable organizations holding bingo nights and raffles has increased. That means the overall decline in charitable gaming revenues was slight, from $2.2 billion to $2.15 billion, though the decline in revenue-per-venue and real money value due to inflation is stark.
Each US state organizes and regulates charitable gaming in their own way. Groups pays taxes to the states, but otherwise remain coy about their fundraising. Different states have different terms for their games (Millionaire’s clubs, pickle games, fish games), which adds to the confusion. This makes a completely accurate total of charitable gaming revenues more an estimate than an official tally. Charitable gaming revenues stayed in the $2.1 billion range for 2018.
What Is Online Gambling in the US?
The gambling industry in the United States is the sum total of all forms of legal betting. US gambling includes commercial and tribal casinos, state and multistate lotteries, sportsbooks and racebooks, real money online casinos and poker sites, as well as charitable gaming and bingo halls.
US gambling statistics do not include unregulated online gambling, local bookies, organized poker games in your neighborhood, office pools, fantasy leagues, or March Madness brackets. Because such gaming is unregulated and untaxed, it is hard to get accurate statistics for them. The American Gaming Association and other groups estimate yearly betting turnover of illegal gambling, but the AGA’s data is an educated guess.
In this US gambling report, Online United States Casinos stick to the facts. Most of the statistics below are compiled from state regulatory agencies. Each month, gaming commissions, gaming control boards, and state lotteries across the United States produce gambling statistics. We’ve collected the latest gaming data and compiled it into several gambling categories, which we present below.
Is Gambling Legal in the US?
Many forms of gambling are legal in the United States, but no form of gambling is legal everywhere. Because the United States is a constitutional republic with a federated system of government, the USA is a patchwork of state and federal gaming laws. That makes gambling legality complicated in the United States. What it does mean is Americans who love to bet can find places to live with permissive gambling laws, while Americans who dislike gambling can find states where gambling is 100% banned.
In Which States Is Gambling Legal?
US gambling laws are complicated because each state deals with its own gaming interests and social mores. Nevada is the most pro-gambling states in the United States, as Las Vegas and Reno are gambling destinations. At the same time, Nevada is one of a handful of states which bans lotteries — because it would compete with the billion-dollar resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Kentucky bans casino betting, though it is the center of the United States horse racing (and horse betting) industries.
As a general rule, legalized gambling has expanded greatly in the past 25 to 30 years. After the Indian Gambling Regulation Act of 1988, tribal casinos expanded to 28 states. California and Oklahoma are two US states with huge tribal gaming industries, but dozens of others exist. The expansion of tribal gaming caused US states to liberalize their commercial casino industries, so states like Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, and Kansas expanded casinos greatly. Pennsylvania legalized casino betting at racetracks and now collects more gaming tax revenues than any states besides Nevada.
Lottery gambling has grown exponentially, too. The Powerball and Mega Millions have the biggest lottery jackpots in the world. State lotteries’ scratch-card tickets generate the most tax revenue. Meanwhile, online and mobile casino gambling and poker betting has grown in popularity. While many Internet gaming sites are unregulated, legal online/mobile gambling exists in 4 states and is expected to be legalized in other US states in the coming years.
Utah and Hawaii are the only two US states which have a 100% ban on all forms of gambling. In Utah or Hawaii, you can’t visit a casino, buy a lottery ticket, make a sports bet, or even play in a bingo hall. All 48 other U.S. states have some form of legalized gambling. In the USA, many southern states restrict gambling significantly, because of the social conservative values in many states. Despite that general statement, all southern states can’t be pegged as anti-gambling.
Alabama bans gambling (even lotteries) in anything but tribal casinos, while Mississippi has dozens of casinos on the Gulf Coast and Tunica County. South Carolina bans most forms of gambling, while Florida allows expanded gambling for the Seminole Tribe and even 8 counties throughout the state. Texas bans all but lottery betting and horse racing, while its neighbors, Oklahoma and Louisiana, allow casino betting; Texans flock to those casinos.
Types of Gambling
Readers might be wondering about the types of gambling that takes place inside the United States. Below is a glossary list of the betting opportunities Americans have, along with a quick description of each form of gambling. We provide revenue data for each type below.
- Commercial Casinos: Owned by private companies and publicly-traded companies alike. Commercial casinos can be land-based casinos, riverboat casinos, airport casinos, racetrack-casinos (racinos), or casino cruises. Many have Class III or Las Vegs-style slot machines, while others use Class II Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) or Video Gambling Terminals (VGTs).
- Tribal Casinos: Owned by Native American tribal gaming authorities and based on Indian reservation lands. A landmark 1986 US Supreme Court case (Cabazon v. California) stated Native American reservations are sovereign lands (and thus able to house casinos) if they were recognized by the US Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs Bureau by 1934 or before. The Cabazon case led to the US Congress passing the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which says Indian tribes which reach a gaming compact with the states they are inside can have casino gambling with Class II slot machines. States can tax tribal casinos for the cost of regulation but can tax more, if the state gives special concessions like statewide monopolies on certain gaming types.
- Card Rooms: Card rooms can exist inside or outside a land-based casino. Many Las Vegas Strip casinos and Atlantic City have their own poker rooms. In certain states, commercial card rooms or poker clubs exist. The Bicycle Club, Hollywood Park Casino, and Cameo Club in Los Angeles are a few examples of private card rooms. Tribal casinos like WinStar World Casino, Choctaw Casino, Mohegan Sun, and Foxwoods have poker rooms.
- Charitable Games: Charitable gaming takes many forms. In most places, charitable gaming organizations host bingo nights, but other forms of gambling are allowed. Not-for-profit charitable gaming organizations sometimes host Las Vegas Nights (Millionaire Clubs), raffles, bell jar competitions, pickle card contests, and pull-tab contests. Pickle cards and pull-tab tickets are similar in many ways to a lottery scratch-card. Bell Jar gaming is a kind of raffle.
- Bingo: Bingo is the most popular and widespread form of charitable gaming. Church groups, veterans’ groups, police and firefighter organizations, medical research groups, and civic organizations all host bingo nights. Organized bingo nights might be found in a dedicated bingo hall, a community center, or a VFW outpost; online bingo has become widely popular as well.
- Lotteries: State lotteries have existed since the early days of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress funded the war partly with lottery betting. In the latter half of the 20th century, many US states enacted state lotteries to produce public school funding and scholarship funding. Since the 1980s, the multistate lottery associations, Powerball and Mega Millions, have grown to include 44 US states apiece. State lotteries also sell scratch-cards, the best revenue producer.
- Sportsbooks: Legal sportsbooks are found in land-based casinos in Las Vegas. For the past 25 years, sports lotteries are legal in Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. After the US Supreme Court struck down the PASPA federal ban on sports betting in the 46 other US states, any US state can legalize sportsbooks. Delaware and New Jersey plan to open sportsbooks in the coming weeks, while 5 other US states have sportsbook legalization bills in committee. Lawmakers in 13 other US states are discussing the legalization of sports betting.
- Horse Racing: Horse racing has been legal in many US states for generations because betting on horses is considered a less dangerous form of gambling — and one wealthier Americans enjoy. Horse racing, harness racing, and greyhound racing involve pari-mutuel wagering, in which one bettor’s win means other bettors lose. The horse bettor competes against other bettors and not the racebook, though the bookmaker sets the odds based on betting volume for each horse. Off-track betting facilities now exist, with simulcast horse races and betting on historical horse races. Because the horse betting industry has struggled, many states now allow slot machine gambling at horse tracks.
- Online Casinos: Online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks were a huge industry in the USA until 2006 when the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The UIGEA banned all forms of Internet gambling which were banned for interstate telephone lines under the 1961 Wire Act. From 2007 to 2011, this meant casino sites, online cardrooms, and bookmaker sites. A 2011 US Department of Justice opinion reversed the DOJ’s stance on online casinos and poker sites, so four US states now have legal online casinos and poker sites: New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. New York, California, and others might follow suit eventually. It is estimated that between 65% to 85% of casino revenue in the US comes from real money slots.
- Smartphone Betting: In most parts of the United States, mobile casino and poker sites are banned or unregulated. Now that sportsbooks are legal, live/in-play smartphone betting apps could become legal. Tom King of the Readyfire smartphone trivia apps says legal US sports betting will transform Android and iOS gaming apps in America.
Other Types of Wagering: Other forms of gambling takes place in the United States. 50 million Americans bet on Super Bowl office pools and March Madness brackets each year. Though it’s illegal, so many people engage in office betting that authorities look the other way in most cases. Fantasy football and fantasy baseball leagues involve small season-long wagers. In over a dozen US states, fantasy sports have been legalized, but in many other states, fantasy sports betting is allowed to happen. Some argue that daily fantasy sports gaming sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are sports wagering, but they exist in a gray area. Over a dozen US states have legalized DFS sites. Jai Alai is a legal form of sports betting in Connecticut and Florida.
It’s the age of the internet and mobile devices, and gambling is bigger than
Despite that, the ways to gamble haven’t really changed that much, although
the ways to access gambling games and services most definitely have.
If you’re new to gambling, this snapshot of all the different ways to do so
will serve as your guide through the jungle of gambling. Think of it as a sort
of summary, taking all the different threads of betting and gambling and weaving
them into one easy-to-understand tapestry which you can scan quickly to decide
what’s for you and what’s not.
If you see something you like, feel free to delve further into it by clicking
the associated buttons, where you’ll find more in-depth information on each way
So, let’s get started with casino gambling. We’ll then look at sports
betting, poker, numbers games, and even the global stock and commodities
Playing casino games is without a doubt the most fun way to make and lose
money ever invented.
Whether shooting dice, spinning reels, or playing card games, casinos both
online and in the real world offer lots of ways to entertain yourself while
giving you a shot at walking away with money in your pocket, too.
The move online has revolutionized
casino gaming forever. It’s
now possible to play slots and other games from literally anywhere, whereas
before you would have had to make tracks to wherever the casino was.
Some of the key differences between playing at online casinos and land-based
- Online casinos almost always
offer a much bigger selection of games. Some have literally thousands of
slots titles alone.
- The minimum bets are usually
lower at online casinos. This is directly related to the lower cost of
- Online casinos give almost
everyone a bonus and ongoing comps, whereas land-based casinos reserve those
perks for the high-rollers only.
- It’s possible to jump around
from one online casino to another, claiming bonuses as you go, without
having to move from your sofa.
- Despite these advantages,
many players do still prefer the land-based casino experience. It’s hard to
beat the tasty food, cold beer, and the “vibe” in a fun, well-run casino.
Types of Games
Whether you decide to play online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, you’ll
need to know the differences between the various games. No two are exactly
This section will help you develop a better understanding of how each game
works. If you see something you like and want to learn more, each game has a
button linking to a much more detailed page on that game.
Slot machines are pretty much the same online as they are in the real world,
with the objective of creating lines of matching symbols to score cash prizes.
The range of online slots today is incredible, from classic 3-reel games with
one or two ways to win to flashy, movie-themed slots with hundreds of ways to
win and multiple bonus features such as “free spins rounds” and “picking games”
offering instant cash prizes.
Jackpots also vary greatly and can range from a few hundred clams to several
If you fancy something which doesn’t require much thought or strategizing,
but which can still get your adrenaline pumping, slots are the way to go.
To learn more about slots, such as how to pick the games with the biggest
jackpots, click the button below.
There are only a few games in the casino which involve skill, and blackjack
is one of them. In fact, there are professionals who make a full-time living
playing blackjack online.
If you don’t know how to play already, you’ll be glad to know it’s incredibly
simple. You play against the dealer and will be dealt a number of cards, and
whoever gets closest to 21 without exceeding it will win the hand.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, such as what number value
each card is assigned in the quest to hit 21.
In all blackjack games, you’ll initially be dealt two cards, and can request
to either “hit,” which means to take another card, or “stand,” which means to
play with the two initial cards you’ve been dealt. Be careful if you choose a
“hit,” because exceeding 21 means you automatically “go bust,” or lose.
Learn more about the incredibly popular game of blackjack by clicking the
Sometimes it’s nice to not have to think about your next move and to just
relax, have fun, and let Lady Luck do her thing.
Roulette is the ideal game if you like the sound of that. The objective of
this game is to throw a ball onto a spinning wheel and bet on which number,
color, row, column, or square it will land in.
If that sounds complex, don’t worry; it’s extremely easy once you start
playing. To begin, you can just bet on red or black and learn from there.
Most roulette players agree that there are few feelings more thrilling than
going on a run and watching your money double several times in a row. On a
streak of five wins, a $10 starting bet could be worth $320 in under a minute.
If you want to know more about this seriously fun game of pure chance, click
the roulette button below.
Gambling games featuring dice are about as old as civilization itself, and
the undisputed king of casino dice games is craps.
To put it as simply as possible, the objective is to place your bets on the
craps table, picking from a number of possible outcomes once the dice are
For example, on the “come out roll,” you simply bet on either the shooter or
the casino to win. The shooter then rolls the dice and either wins or loses, and
that’s literally it.
Be aware that the craps table is enough to make most people’s heads spin when
first encountered, but this game is a lot simpler than it first seems. Don’t be
intimidated by the slight learning curve involved, because this is one of the
most rewarding casino games of all.
To learn more about how to play craps and the odds and intricacies of the
game, click the button below.
Video poker is one of the only games in the casino which, if the right
variant is played with perfect strategy, can return over 100% to players in the
Yes, you read that correctly. You can beat the house when playing these
simple 5-card poker machine games.
As with all poker games, the aim of video poker is to make the best possible
5-card hand, combining cards you start with and cards you trade for. As always,
the Royal Flush is the best possible combination and will pay most relative to
your initial bet.
Winning video poker depends on A) which variant you are playing, and B) your
video poker strategy. Get started learning about both by checking out the
in-depth video poker page below.
Baccarat is a simple card game which has been preferred by the rich,
aristocrats, kings, and people of importance throughout history. It’s known as a
favorite game of high-rollers. Yet today, anyone with any sort of bankroll can
play baccarat online.
It’s a remarkably simple game. You bet on either the player, the banker, or a
tie, and when the cards are dealt, whoever has nine (or the closest to it
without exceeding it) wins. Tens and face cards are worth zero, so if you got a
King and a five, your total would be five.
This is one of the few card games you don’t participate in but simply bet on
the outcome of.
There are a few little intricacies, such as the banker’s cut and baccarat
card values, that are worth knowing about before you start playing. Click the
button below to learn the rules, the odds, and how to play baccarat.
Sports betting is probably the oldest form of gambling of them all. From
early cavemen betting on fights and horse races to ultra-modern stadiums packed
full of elite athletes, sports betting has evolved into a global mega-pastime.
These days, it’s possible to bet on just about anything sports-related. The
most popular sports to bet on are horse racing, soccer, American football,
basketball, baseball, cricket, and combat sports.
Sports betting has taken on a new lease of life in the mobile era, and it’s
now possible to bet on all sorts of propositions through “in-play” betting. For
example, when a soccer team gets a penalty kick, it’s possible to bet on the
outcome in real time.
Types of Wagers
There’s a little bit more to sports betting than simply throwing your money
down on an outcome. There are a few different types of bets you need to be aware
of. Let’s take a look at some of those now.
This is the simplest form of bet and the one you’re most likely already
All that needs to happen for you to win a moneyline bet is for the team or
athlete you pick to win.
For example, if Arsenal FC is playing Manchester United and you pick Arsenal,
who then wins 3-1, you win.
Pay attention to the odds of any moneyline bet you are thinking of placing.
Bets on the underdog will always pay more than bets on the favorite.
Continuing with our previous example, if Arsenal is 2/1 (+200.00) to win and
you bet $10 on it, you’ll win $20, whereas if they had been 4/1 (+400.00), you
would have won $40 from the same $10 bet.
Total bets are sometimes called over/under bets, and the concern here is what
the combined score/points will be at the end of the game or match.
For example, in the Manchester United vs. Arsenal example, a total bet could
look like this.
You’ll need to pick whether Arsenal is likely to score more than three goals
in the entire match. You can pick over or under, and bets will pay accordingly.
If they score exactly three, this is called a “push,” and the bet is refunded.
Total bets are notoriously hard to predict, but some betting wizards sift
through historical data and notice opportunities. It’s your call as to whether
or not you engage in this type of betting. It’s always optional.
When you first encounter point spread betting, it can seem a little
confusing, to say the least.
Yet once understood, this type of bet is both popular and highly lucrative.
Let’s say the Steelers are playing against the Cowboys in a football game.
The point spread might look something like this.
In this case, the Steelers are the favorites. Don’t worry about how realistic
this scenario is; it’s just an example!
So, if you bet on the Steelers to win, they’ll need to do so by a margin of
more than 6 points for the bet to come good. For example, they’ll have to win
Likewise, if you back the Cowboys and they lose the game by less than 6
points, your bet will still pay. It will also pay if they win outright.
Point spread betting is a little more complicated than straight-up moneyline
bets, but this type of betting is incredibly popular because there are lots of
hidden opportunities for knowledgeable bettors.
For example, if you see a team marked as the clear underdog with a large
point spread and you definitely don’t agree, then that’s a good opportunity to
make some money. Bet that the game will be a lot closer than the bookies
indicate with their spread, and if you’re right, then count your cash.
Prop Bets and Specials
Live betting has changed the nature of sports betting forever, making it
possible to bet on an endless number of outcomes while the game or match is
For example, going back to our Arsenal versus Manchester City example, let’s
say Arsenal is awarded a penalty kick in the 80th minute. You can place a single
bet, unrelated to any other bets you’ve made, as to whether or not they’ll score
This definitely adds an extra element of excitement into sports betting.
Suddenly, a boring corner kick or standard tennis serve becomes a potentially
profitable betting opportunity for those ready to capitalize.
Specials bets are a different animal altogether and don’t even necessarily
revolve around sports betting. For example, you can bet on which city will have
the coldest weather this weekend, or whether or not a certain celebrity couple
will announce a pregnancy before the end of the year, or who will win a TV
From fat cats in pinstripe suits smoking cigars while enjoying a game of
high-stakes Texas Hold’em to Joe Poker playing against players from around the
world in an online tournament, poker is more popular today than ever before.
This is one of the most exciting games of them all since it’s possible to win
based on pure psychology and/or skill, rather than having a winning hand.
Different Types of Poker
Despite its popularity, many people don’t understand at first that there are
different types of poker. Texas Hold’em is definitely the best-known, but it’s
not the only game in town.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular poker games and how they
This is the mac daddy of all poker games, played by legions of fans all over
The objective is simple enough – you need to make the best possible 5-card
hand, according to Texas Hold’em poker hand ranks, using the two cards you are
dealt and five community cards on the table.
The best possible Texas Hold’em hand is a Royal Flush, which would consist of
a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit, whereas the lowest is a high
card, which would be something like a King versus your opponent’s 10.
Playing Texas Hold’em is a lot of fun, and unlike many other gambling games,
it’s one where skill and psychology are involved. This is what allows
professional poker players to make a living playing it.
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7 Card Stud
This is a stud variant of poker, and while not as popular as Texas Hold’em, 7
Card Stud is still played at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) events every year.
Each player is dealt 7 cards, three facing down, and four facing up. The aim
of all poker games is to make the best possible 5-card hand, so you’ll need to
decide what your chances of winning are by peeking at your down-facing cards as
they are dealt and assessing what hands you have or are likely to make when the
up-facing cards are factored in.
Unlike with Texas Hold’em, there are no community cards in 7 Card Stud. The
seven cards you are dealt are the cards you will play with.
While all players will be able to see your up-facing cards, only you can see
your down-facing cards, and vice versa. This is where the intrigue and
excitement lies and what allows for “bluffing” and other poker tricks.
Ultimately, the poker hand ranks are the same, with a Royal Flush being the
best possible outcome. If you have one of these, you’ll want to bet big.
Sound complicated? Play a few hands, and you’ll soon pick it up.
Omaha has some similarities to Texas Hold’em, but there are some definite
In this game, there are five community cards and four “hole cards,” which are
your own individual cards no other players can see.
The objective is the same as other poker games – you need to make the best
possible 5-card hand. In Omaha poker rules, this has to be done using three
community cards and two hole cards. No other combination is accepted.
Having four hole cards, as opposed to the two in Hold’em, changes the game
quite dramatically and makes it possible to make big hands more often.
If you understand Hold’em, you’re 90% of the way there to understanding how
to play Omaha poker.
You’ve probably played the national or state lottery at least a few times,
but thanks to online gambling, you don’t have to wait for the weekly draw
It’s worth noting two things here. First, there are a few different types of
lotto games. Second, these almost always offer the worst odds in the house, with
only the luckiest players making any money.
Unlike some card games and sports betting, lottery games are down to pure and
simple chance. There’s nothing you can do to alter the outcome or improve your
It’s estimated that in the UK alone,
52% of people buy scratch cards, and the average player spends $416 annually
That’s a heck of a lot of money for such a small country, and when the view
on scratch cards is expanded globally, there’s a truly phenomenal amount of
money being spent on them.
The objective of scratch-offs is to find matching symbols – for example,
three of the same car symbol – after scratching off a layer of (usually silver)
film. Of course, when playing online scratch cards, this is done automatically
by clicking a button.
Scratch-offs are so popular specifically because they don’t require any
thought or strategizing. They’re just a fun game of pure chance, with prizes
ranging from a few bucks all the way through to hundreds of thousands.
State and national lotteries are a well-known phenomenon, and those who win
them can instantly join the leagues of the mega-rich.
The idea is simple enough – you pick various numbers (usually five or six)
from among a pool of possible numbers. If your numbers come up, you win a share
of the available prize money. The more numbers you match, the more money you
win. If all your numbers come up, you win the jackpot.
The rules of each state lottery will vary slightly, with the UK lottery being
slightly different from the New York State lottery, for example.
Again, your odds of winning are low. Think one in millions, depending on the
Keno is found at lots of online casinos, but it falls squarely into the lotto
games category because that’s exactly what it is.
There are multiple different variants of keno with a few unique twists such
as extra or special balls, but the objective of all of them is the same. You
make various number picks from 1-80, place your wager, and wait for the keno
hopper machine to make the draw.
The more numbers you match, the more money you win. The hopper machine will
make 20 picks in classic keno, and the top prizes are reserved for those who
match 15. It’s possible to get paid for matching just two, though.
Despite the poor odds, keno is a highly enjoyable game, and that’s why so
many people play it.
The days of old ladies with blue rinses holding up bingo cards and collecting
on them are still well and truly alive, but these days it’s much more common to
find people from all walks of life playing online bingo.
There are a couple of different variants of bingo, with 80-ball and 90-ball
variants being the most common, depending on whether you’re in North America or
Online Sports Gambling
Whichever type you choose to play, the objective of bingo games is to “mark
off” numbers on your bingo card as they are “called.” In the real world, this
will be done by a bingo host, whereas online it is done by a computer program in
When you make a winning pattern, which could be a straight line across, a
diagonal line, or something else entirely (depending on the bingo variant), you
will win a cash prize.
Unlike in the real world, where you’ll need to stand up and call out
“BINGO!”, online versions will pay out cash prizes automatically.
It’s a game of pure chance, just like all lotto games, so don’t worry about
learning bingo strategy or anything like that. The objective of bingo is to have
fun, and that’s one thing that’s guaranteed.
Other Types of Gambling
We’ve already covered the most popular forms of gambling online above, but
there a few others you won’t necessarily find at an online casino or sportsbook.
These include the following.
Most people have encountered a raffle at some point in their lives. Schools,
workplaces, and organizations of all kinds hold them to raise funds for good
causes or other purposes.
The point of raffles is simple – you buy a ticket for a fee, and if it’s
drawn from the “hat,” you win the associated prize. This could be a cash amount,
a car, tickets to a gig, or a teddy bear, depending on the type of raffle.
Raffles are a lot of fun, but they’re also a game of pure chance. You won’t
normally find them at online casinos as a game in and of themselves, but some
casinos have regular prize draws for cars and holidays, which are run exactly
the same way as raffles.
This is about as simple as gambling can get, and your odds are 50:50 – unless
a trick coin is being used, of course!
Betting on a coin toss is as simple as choosing heads or tails. If you win,
you double your money, whereas if you lose, you walk away with nothing.
We’ve encountered a few digital coin toss games at casinos online, but
they’re mostly played in the real world. Online casinos don’t tend to like games
where they don’t have an edge.
Warren Buffett might strongly disagree with our inclusion of the stock market
as a form of gambling, but even the Oracle of Omaha isn’t always right.
The fact is, stock trading, commodities trading, binary options, spread
betting, derivatives, and the countless other ways to play the stock market are
exactly that – gambling.
There are now countless online brokerages and platforms to play the financial
markets online, and some people have been seriously successful in making
tremendous amounts of money doing so.
However, as of yet, nobody has devised a perfect system for predicting the
stock market (not for a lack of trying, mind you). Until that day comes, there
will always be an element of chance with buying and selling stocks and shares,
trading commodities, and all of the other ways to bet money on the outcome of a
stock or asset.
Which Type of Gambling Is Best?
The best type of gambling for you really depends on what you’re looking for.
If fun is your main objective, then it’s difficult to go wrong with video
slots or roulette. These games require little thought, and the rush of going on
a winning streak is difficult to describe until it’s experienced first-hand.
If making money is your objective, it’s best to stick with a skill-based game
such as poker or blackjack. There’s no way to win any game every time, but these
are games you can improve at over time, and there are many professional players
who make a living playing these games.
If you just want a shot at the big time, with no thought required, then
lottery games are your best bet. However, the odds of becoming a millionaire are
terrible. The odds of winning the UK lottery, for example, are approximately 1
If you’re a sports fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of a given sport, then
obviously sports betting is your best bet.
There are plenty of pro sports bettors (see
Billy Walters), and while nobody can predict the outcome of a sports event
perfectly, the more you know, the more success you will generally have.
Unlike casino games, where the odds are always tilted slightly in the favor
of the casino, no bookmaker can perfectly predict what will happen in the world
of sports, either, and so it’s definitely possible to win any given bet.
If you feel the fun has stopped and you’re now gambling because you need to,
rather than want to, you might be addicted to gambling.
Some signs of gambling addiction include:
- Gambling money you don’t have
or borrowing to gamble
- Keeping your gambling
activities a secret from partners or loved ones
- Strained relationships as a
result of gambling
- Feelings of shame or
helplessness after gambling
- Mood swings if you can’t
- Financial problems as a
result of gambling
If you recognize any of those symptoms or are suffering in any other way as a
result of gambling, help is available. Click the button below to go to our
resources for overcoming problem gambling page.
As you can see, gambling is a part of human life, and we as a species have
invented a way to place a wager on the outcome of just about anything.
Just as with drinks, sports, travel, or anything else people do for fun,
there are different “strains” or “types” of gambling to suit different tastes
and types of players. Which one suits you best, only you can decide.
Remember that while it’s entirely possible to make money gambling, in most
cases the house will have an edge. This is especially true if you play casino
games, rather than play poker or bet on sports or the stock market. The main
reason to gamble is for fun, and not as a full-time money-making pursuit.
Whichever form of gambling you decide on, you’ll need a little luck to walk
away in the green. No matter what happens, though, you’re sure to have a lot of
fun along the way, and that’s why there are so many ways to gamble.
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We wish you the best of luck and hope you bring down the house!