There are seven simple things you need to research before you sign up to any casino if you want to ensure a long and happy gambling career. You should learn them well and always remember them no matter how appealing a website might seem at first glance. This is the list that will one day save you from ending up broke. If you’re new to gambling, this is a no brainer. Do not start gambling until you understand the following tenets. If you happen to be a veteran gambler…well, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every once in a while.

Rule Number One: Make Sure It’s Legal

Gambling when it’s illegal is a rookie mistake. You just don’t do it. You don’t gamble when you’re 18 if you have to be 21 to be allowed to. You don’t gamble in someone’s basement. And if you think it’s ok because it’s online and it’s remote, and it’s virtual, then think again. Laws are laws, and they extend to you whether you’re in some illegal poker parlor or on a legitimate casino website. If you live in a country or state where it is illegal to gamble you don’t do it. If it is illegal to gamble online where you live, you don’t do it. You follow the local law of the jurisdiction in which you reside. If you don’t like it, you relocate. End of discussion.

Rule Number Two: Do Your Research

I have gone on in depth about rogue casinos, eCOGRA, wagering requirements, and all the things you need to know before you start gambling online. You need to do your research if you’re going to play with your own, very real money. Remember that not all casinos are honest. You have to make sure they are licensed. That they are tested by a third party. You need to follow the links provided for their certification. You need to make sure the place you’re going to bet your money at is legit. And after you’ve determined that it is legit, you need to make sure the terms and conditions match your expectations. Find out what’s required for the bonuses. Is there a wagering requirement? How much do you have to wager? Even simpler things are important. How many games do they have? Are they your type of games? Do you like the graphics? You need to do your research, which leads me to…

Rule Number Three: Check Out the Free Play Option

There is a free play option. Did you notice? It’s there for you to find out whether or not you like the casino you’re about to tie up all your money in. You should play through all their games for free. Get a feel of how they pay out. Learn how the games are calibrated. How do they feel? How do they sound? Do you like how they look? Do you like the user interface? You will be spending a lot of time at the online casino, and you need to make sure you like it. This is what the free play option is for. That, and for you to practice your skills, but that’s another story.

Rule Number Four: Customer Support is King

You might think you never need to deal with customer support. But the fact is that one day, unfortunately, you probably will. There might be a glitch. There might be a software issue with an update. There might even be a problem with cashing out your bonus (you did read the terms and conditions, right?). Fact is, you will probably need customer support eventually. So make sure you take some time to come up with a fake problem before you even sign up and see how the staff handles you. Are they knowledgeable? Are they courteous? Are they helpful? Are they easy to reach? Figure this out sooner rather than later. Because you don’t want it to be too late when you do.

Rule Number Five: Cashing Out

I don’t mean just your bonus (you did read the wagering requirements, right?). I mean withdrawing money. How easy is it to do? This is where hitting the forums pays off big time. There are several online forums out there where players just like you aggregate to discuss their casinos and share stories. Are there any horror stories where people complain that it is really hard to withdraw money? Don’t sign up there! Some casinos charge withdrawal fees, other casinos don’t. Make sure there is an easy way to receive your cash. This usually involves an e-wallet service, such as neteller or paypal. You need to know exactly you will get your cash in hand and how much it will cost you in fees.

Rule Number Six: Is the Bonus Any Good?

Seriously, is the bonus any good? There is no excuse for it to be sub par in today’s day and age. online casinos are jumping through hoops to entice new players, and they will go to great lengths to impress people with dazzling bonus offers. If a bonus seems flimsy, that casino is not worth your time. Be careful, though. Make sure you read the fine print. A bonus might look good at first glance, but turn out to be a dud, crippled by rules and regulations that make no sense. Don’t let yourself become a victim. Do yourself a favor and do some comparison shopping.

Rule Number Seven: The Software Platform

This might sound unimportant, but it actually does make a big difference. Each casino has its own software license, and the differences are more than just cosmetic. On the surface, all you see are the graphics. All are excellent, but one might appeal more to some and less to other. Under the hood, the software deals with random numbers differently as well. But the main difference is that some offer more games others offer better interfaces, while others focus on better graphics. Make sure you pick the software that suits you best.