The Proper Tools: Hardware & Software
At its most basic level, gambling online
requires two critical components: a computer compliant with gambling software and access to the Internet.
IfJ. Phillip Vogel is considered a leading authority in online gambling. He has written for most of the major gaming publications worldwide including Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Gambling Online, Bluff, and many more. He is also the author of a series of best-selling gambling books collectively titled The Real Deal. He is the founder of online watchdog site TheOPN.com at www.theopn.com and currently serves as the Editorial Director for Poker Life magazine.
you bought your computer within the last five years, chances are that you're already equipped with the necessary hardware to gamble online. (As a rule of thumb, if you have Internet access your system is ready.)
While you don’t need to have the latest, state-of-the-art computer in order to gamble online, if you're working with an older model system, you will need to check to see if your computer is up to the task. Most online gambling sites provide a list of the minimum requirements needed to handle the software. This information can be found typically under the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQ) page and sometimes on the ‘Download’ page itself.
Generally speaking, the typical minimum requirements are:
- Windows XP/2000/98/95/NT
- 64 MB of RAM (Random Access Memory)
- 256 color VGA monitor
- 30 MB of Hard drive space
- 14.4 Kbps modem
In addition to these minimum requirements, you’ll also need an Internet browser such as Microsoft Explorer or Netscape. If you’re system does not have a compatible browser, updates may be downloaded from the Microsoft or Netscape web sites.
Having established that your computer meets these minimum requirements, the next step is to install the gambling software from the selected site onto your system. This software contains all of the information your computer needs to allow you to gamble.
In essence, the software IS the casino or poker room or bingo hall whatever type of site you have chosen to play.
(Note: Sportsbooks typically don't require any software, only an active, funded account.)
The software is always free of charge and accessible directly from the site or sometimes via a CD-ROM that can be requested from the site.
While the majority of sites favor downloadable software (software that requires its key components be downloaded directly onto the users computer) many sites now offer software platforms that allow users to skip the download process. Platforms such as Java or Flash are designed to allow players near instant access to the games with minimal hassle. Unfortunately, these platforms often (though not always) sacrifice realism for convenience with the end result being a less-than-perfect simulation. Happily, many sites now offer players the option to choose the version they would prefer to play.
Once you have selected a platform, the rest is easy. For a downloadable software package, click the link that says 'download' and the computer basically does the rest.
For the other versions, simply choose the appropriate Flash or Java option and get ready to play.
Opening a Player Account
The final steps before you can become an online gambler are to register and fund your account. To register, simply fill out the registration form provided by the site after the software has been installed. This form requires basic personal information (name, address, etc.,) as well as a selected user name and password so you can access your account.
Always remember to keep this information in case your forget it.
Once you have registered, you may begin playing ‘For Fun’ (free) if the site has such an option, or you may deposit funds and begin playing for real. While banking options vary with the site, the process is generally the same. Click on the 'Deposit' option; select one of the methods (i.e. credit card, electronic check, pre-paid ATM, etc.), choose an amount and transfer that amount into your player account. Bear in mind, however, that depending on your selected method, initial deposits into an online gambling account may require you to do a little more ‘paperwork’.
For example, you may opt to open an account with an online money transfer service such as NETeller or Firepay. In that case, you’ll need to open an account with them first, fund that account and transfer those funds to your player account. While this requires a little extra effort, it provides even more protection for your sensitive financial information and is well worth the time.
Once the funds have cleared and are in your player account this can range from immediate availability to several weeks, depending on the deposit method you can begin playing for real.
Congratulations, you’ve become an online gambler.
An Expanding Industry
You’ve now learned what it takes to become an online gambler. While at first it may sound complicated, it's really nothing more than finding a site, getting the software, and getting cash into the account. Of course, it really doesn’t end there, does it?
Just as any gambler learns and grows, so too does the online gambling industry. Sites are always evolving, developing new and faster software with more realistic games, or creating specialized VIP and comp programs that provide patrons with bigger bankrolls and higher rewards.
Some companies are even expanding into new directions such as mobile gaming and interactive television that will allow gamblers to play their favorite games just as easily as making a call or changing a channel. There’s truly no end in sight.
So, while today you may be playing at the perfect casino or poker room, tomorrow may present you with an even better version, greater accessibility and even better selection.