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by: Thomas G..
With few exceptions, casinos on the Internet are unregulated; many disappear just as quickly as they appear, leaving angry �winners� in their wake. With a few precautions, online gamblers can significantly reduce their chances of running into difficulties in collecting their winnings.

Number One: Do your homework! It is in the player’s best interest to be as informed as possible of what to expect from any casino. Check the casino’s web site thoroughly. Look for a 24 hour, toll-free customer service number. Make sure that the casino has an e-mail address for customer service, and send an inquiry to determine the casino’s response time. Does the casino’s site offer instructions for cash-ins? How long can you expect to wait for a check? Do they offer ACH transfers to your bank account? Do they charge fees? Who is the e-cash provider? Is the cash-in amount removed from your casino account immediately, or is there a delay?

After researching the casino’s customer support and cash-in procedures, check gambling forums on the Internet. Seasoned online gamblers post experiences with online casinos on these boards. If a casino has payment issues, you’ll hear about them. If you cannot find information on any given casino, ask for feedback - but “newbies” are strongly urged to READ BEFORE ASKING. If you ask about a casino that has been discussed at great length in the not-too-distant past, you will likely be “flamed” mercilessly.

Number Two: Document your Deposits!

You have done your homework, chosen a reputable casino with good support and no cash-in fees, and you are now ready to make that historic first deposit. A word of caution: online casinos and e-cash companies are notorious for double-charging credit cards for purchases and for charging your card even when the purchase has been declined! Your best defense is to DOCUMENT YOUR PURCHASES. Write down the date, casino name, amount of purchase, and the card used. It wouldn’t hurt to check your credit card’s available credit, before and after playing, to verify that you have been charged correctly (especially important if your purchase was declined). If you find an error, contact the casino and/or e-cash provider as soon as possible, and be detailed in your communication to them! It’s a good idea to send an e-mail with all details included (be careful about including your full card number though - e-mail can be intercepted), and to save a copy of the e-mails sent and received. These types of problems are usually easily resolved, but can be alarming.

Number Three: Cashing In

When you decide to cash in your winnings, follow the procedures outlined by the casino exactly. Document everything - dates, amounts - and keep copies of all e-mail communications regarding the cash-in request. This is important, because problems can and do arise - especially when a new player cashes in for the first time at a casino. Depending on the cash-in amount, casinos may require the lucky player to sign a form, which includes a record of all purchases made prior to the cash-in. The player must then fax this form, along with a photocopy of the front and back of the credit card(s) used to make the purchases and possibly a photocopy of a picture identification card, to the casino - and they will not process the cash-in without this documentation. Keep these forms and note the date that you faxed this information. If procedures are followed carefully, you will probably have no difficulties in collecting your winnings.

Number Four: What If They Won’t Pay?

Sometimes, for whatever reason, players run into problems when it comes to collecting the fruits of their labors - their hard-won money! In this event, the player should first try to resolve the problem by dealing directly with the casino and e-cash companies. It is advisable for the player to be as diplomatic, but firm, as possible - but occasionally this does not work. Again, document everything. Keep all e-mails sent to and received from the parties involved. Players’ advocates are available, when all else fails. Players can submit complaints to certain sites which act as mediators between the player and the casino. Other organizations, such as the Online Players’ Association (OPA), assist members with player issues as well as offering promotions to members from approved casinos.

Unfortunately, online gambling is not always a “safe bet,” but if players take the initiative and the responsibility to be informed and prepared, it can be a fun and profitable pastime. Have fun, and good luck!

© Copyright 2004 Gambling Online Magazine This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


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