Is Online Bingo Fair?

I received e-mails from two different people this weekend who basically asked me if online bingo was fair or if the sites were run by scammers. One of the people mentioned that he’d done a little research on the matter and saw mixed opinions. So, this seems like an appropriate topic to address today.

Online bingo is fair if you play at a safe site. The online gambling industry is largely unregulated so pretty much anyone with a little money in the bank can set up shop. On the internet, reputation is everything. Until we get a worldwide governing body for gambling, we’ll have to rely on reputation to determine which sites are worth joining.

The key to getting a fair game of bingo is to stick with the big-name sites that you can research before you join. New bingo sites pop up all the time and it’s hard to get an idea of what those sites are all about. I’m sure most new bingo sites are legit, but there’s no easy way to tell for sure. For that reason, I prefer to stick with big name sites.

These are all bingo sites that have been around for a number of years. Based on my own experiences and talks with other players, these bingo sites know how to treat customers. They all offer high quality games but most importantly, they pay their winners.

Making Money
I should warn you that you shouldn’t go to online bingo with dreams of getting rich. The vast majority of bingo games on the internet run for fairly small stakes. Average wins are less than a hundred dollars. Bingo sites do host the occasional promotion with a massive prize pool, but most games are much smaller.

Bingo is more of a social game than a pure gambling game. Yes, there’s an element of gambling in the fact that you buy cards and try to win money, but that’s almost an afterthought. Visit any longstanding bingo site and you’ll notice that many of the players seem to know each other.

Online bingo is an experience. If you don’t have any plans for your evening, it’s nice to log in, play a few games and chat with people from all around the world. Bingo is a more lighthearted game than most other gambling games.

If your goal is to make money, there are other games for that. Sports betting, poker and blackjack all come to mind from that angle. And if you want to go for the really big wins, there are plenty of progressive jackpot slot machines that offer payouts in the range of a million dollars.

So to sum things up, online bingo is fair as long as you play at legitimate sites. It’s not the best way to get rich, but it’s fun and fair. I can think of much worse things to do on a slow evening.

How the Repeal of the Federal Sports Betting Law Changes the Way You Can Make Bets

Sports betting has been illegal in the United States since 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into effect.

Only four states were grandfathered into the law, including Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. And Nevada is the only one that has offered full-blown sports betting through land-based sportsbooks.

But New Jersey has been fighting against PASPA, taking their case to the Supreme Court to repeal the 26-year-old law. Justices overruled a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by a 6-3 vote, thus repealing the federal ban.

The Supreme Court noted that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment, which pertains to states’ rights.

What does the repeal of PASPA mean for American sports bettors? How will you be able to make legal bets now?

I’ll answer these questions by covering how Americans currently bet, why PASPA was repealed, and what you can expect in the future with legal sports gambling.

Is Sports Betting Now Legal Across The US?
No, the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t make sports betting legal on a federal level. Instead, it merely lifts the federal ban and opens the door for legalized sports gambling on a state level.

The justices believe that Congress has the option to decide what to do with sports betting. But they were against PASPA, because it forced states to ban the activity.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr wrote regarding the majority decision.

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

This is similar to how the Trump administration can order federal immigration officers to arrest illegal immigrants. But they can’t force an individual state like Arizona or New Mexico to arrest the immigrants.

The justices are giving Congress the option to deal with sports betting how they see fit. The House and Senate can ban the activity, regulate it, or ignore sports betting and let individual states decide.

How Americans Currently Place Sports Bets
The American government and professional sports leagues have feared sports gambling ever since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. This incident saw eight Black Sox players throw the 1919 World Series for gambling purposes.

It’s understandable why pro sports leagues have fought to keep the activity illegal. This is especially the case when considering that there have been smaller point-shaving scandals ever since 1919.

But keeping American companies from offering sports betting hasn’t halted the activity. Instead, a thriving offshore market has been operating in the US for over two decades.

Offshore sportsbooks started out by taking wagers via phone. When consumer internet became popular in the mid and late-1990s, the sportsbooks began accepting bets online.

The offshore sports wagering industry has grown due to increased comfort with bookmakers and mobile compatibility. Many online sportsbooks work to establish trust with customers by making timely payments and offering good customer support.

Even with the Supreme Court repealing PASPA, offshore sportsbooks haven’t missed a beat. They’re still offering sports betting to 40+ states, minus those that have explicitly banned online gambling or acted against offshore operators.

Americans from over 40 states can google online sports betting and quickly find an offshore book. From here, you can make a deposit with options like Bitcoin, Visa, or MasterCard.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) issued an opinion that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting. The Wire Act makes it illegal to offer sports wagering across state lines.

This seemingly makes unregulated online sports betting illegal. Internet sportsbooks are basically violating federal law because the online version isn’t legal anywhere in the US.

But the federal government has chosen to ignore the industry for over two decades. And only a handful of states have strict laws against internet gambling.

We can expect the offshore betting industry to continue until either Congress and/or states begin taking serious steps to regulate the activity.

What States Will Legalize Sports Betting In The Near Future?
Given that New Jersey spearheaded the effort to repeal PASPA, it’s no surprise that they’reacting quickly to legalize the activity. In fact, former Gov. Chris Christie had already signed a sports betting bill before the pro sports leagues and NCAA sued him.

West Virginia is another state that passed sports betting legislation in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. The main question is which states beyond West Virginia and New Jersey are going to move on sports gambling.

Maryland’s sports gambling bill passed the House but not the Senate. This legislation called for a November referendum that would allow voters to decide on the matter.

Other states that are serious about sports gambling include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. They could all legalize sports betting within the next year.

Of course, Congress could place a federal ban on sports wagering in the future. But there are currently no plans for congressmen to discuss the matter any time soon.

Additionally, nobody expects Congress to take harsh action with little incentive to do so.

A number of other states will be interested in passing sports betting bills. Research from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that 32 states could legalize the activity within the next five years.

It’s impossible to put an accurate number on how many states will allow sports betting this early on. But I believe that it’ll be at least two dozen in less than a decade.

What Sports Will And Won’t Be Available For Betting?
The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for every betting option that Nevada sportsbooks currently offer. This includes professional and college sports, boxing, golf, horse racing, mixed martial arts, and international sporting events.

Standard types of bets offered with these sports point spreads, moneylines, totals (over/under), parlays, and teasers.

The main question lies in whether live betting and prop bets will be allowed. Certain sports leagues have asked states not to offer these options.

Live wagering allows bettors to gamble on outcomes during the game. For example, an NFL live bet might ask: “which team will score the next touchdown?”

Prop betting is based on individual propositions before the game begins. An example is: “which [basketball] player will make the first three-pointer?”

Even if some states oblige these requests, many bettors will be happy with the standard bets. After all, Nevada is currently the only state that can offer traditional betting.

Delaware and Oregon have sports lottery products, which basically amount to 3-team parlays. But both states eventually dropped their sports lottery offerings after legal threats from pro sports leagues and the NCAA.

When Will Online And Mobile Sports Betting Be Available?
The Supreme Court’s opinion doesn’t make a distinction between online and land-based sports betting. But it’s largely predicted that states will only offer land-based sports gambling in the immediate future.

Some states are already including mobile and online sports betting in legislation. New Jersey sportsbooks are planning to take bets online and through the phone.

But due to the Wire Act, states will only be able to offer internet sports betting within state lines. Something will have to change with regard to the Wire Act before this happens.

States have argued that without online sports gambling, they’ll continue losing money to offshore bookmakers. But don’t expect anything to happen on this front for at least 3-4 years.

Expect Daily Fantasy Sports Sites To Join The Sports Betting Party
Leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites DraftKings and FanDuel have advocated for sports betting. This makes it a guarantee that they’ll jump into the mix with their own sportsbooks.

The advantages for DraftKings and FanDuel are that they already have the infrastructure, customer bases, and brand recognition in place. They just need to partner with an existing casino within each state to participate.

Both companies are working with state gaming agencies to apply for licensing wherever legislation calls for online sports betting.

I mentioned how the Wire Act will prevent states from offering sports betting to other states. But DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to offer intrastate online sports wagering.

How Will Professional Sports Leagues Be Impacted by Legal Betting?
The NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NCAA teamed up to sue New Jersey and stop them from offering legal sports betting. But the NHL, MLB, and NBA have since softened their stance.

All three leagues indicated that they knew sports wagering would be legal at some point. Their main issue is ensuring that the laws protect sports integrity and that the leagues receive some of the revenue.

The revenue would compensate leagues for additional costs arising from sports wagering, including education, investigations, and monitoring. But if the deal is favorable enough, they could end up with big profits too.

Studies have shown that sports gamblers watch NFL games about 20 times more than non-gamblers. An increased number of people gambling on sports bodes well for the leagues.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban noted how the decision figures to increase the value of sports franchises.

“I think everyone who owns a top four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double,” said Cuban. “It can finally become fun to go to a baseball game again.”

John S. Clark, a professor of sport management at Robert Morris University, noted that sports betting will bring some black-market betting to the forefront.

“I don’t know if it necessarily means it will create more gamblers,” said Clark. “but it brings some of that money that’s underground to a legitimate, taxable place. It could be a boon for the states.”

A Lot Must Be Worked Out With Legal Sports Betting
Pro sports leagues and the NCAA still hold some sway in this matter. And it could create conflict as states look to iron out the basics of regulated markets.

A big issue is a matter of how much compensation leagues will receive. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to collect 1% of total wagers as an “integrity fee” for his league alone.

This money would help cover the NBA’s six-year, $250-million deal with sports analytics companies Second Spectrum and Sportradar to monitor stats and watch for potential point shaving.

But American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman explains that 1% is too much for sportsbooks, which only collect a small amount of “juice” from the losing side.

“A legal sports book realizes 3.5 to 5 percent in revenue,” said Freeman. “A 1 percent ‘integrity fee’ on all money wagered legally by Americans, as proposed by the NBA, amounts to 20 to 29 percent of total revenue.”

Freeman added that each league requiring such fees would eventually make it unprofitable for anybody to run a sportsbook.

Taxes are another concern. Pennsylvania’s legislation proposes that sportsbooks pay a 36% tax on profits, which would be the highest in the country.

The high rate would likely be passed on to the consumer. If the juice is too high at legal sportsbooks, then bettors will stay with online offshore bookmakers until things change.

Conclusion
The Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA is a step in the right direction for bettors. This decision indicates the court’s belief that states shouldn’t be told how to act regarding sports gambling.

Instead, Congress needs to make a clear distinction on the matter. And they’re unlikely to ban the activity outright with several states moving forward.

New Jersey, West Virginia, and a few other places will already be offering sports betting by the time Congress acts. Therefore, congressmen are likely to impose light framework, rather than ban or legalize sports betting on a federal level.

The big concern I have is that the sports leagues have too much pull in the matter. Furthermore, the proposed fees reduce potential profits for sportsbooks.

It makes sense why the leagues would want additional compensation for having to monitor potential match-fixing. But 1% of total wagers for one league (NBA) is simply not happening.

Consider that Nevada alone accepted $4.87 billion worth of bets in 2017. This means that the NBA would receive $48.7 million of the total handle from one state.

If all five major sports entities demand 1%, then the sportsbooks would lose money just by operating. Therefore, a more-sensible resolution needs to be worked out.

Regarding the market’s timeframe, a few states could be up and running within a year. New Jersey and West Virginia have already passed legislation and are moving forward with PASPA dissolving.

But it’ll probably be 3-5 years before we see a sizable number of states with legal sports betting.

Live Dealer Casinos

You use the same type of interface on your computer to make playing decisions as you would in the non live dealer games. Once you make your playing decisions they are displayed on a monitor of some sort for the live dealer to see and act on. Here is a step by step example from a live dealer blackjack game.

You click on the chips to place a $25 bet at the live dealer blackjack table. The dealer deals two cards to you and two cards to herself. You have a jack and an eight for a total of 18. The dealer shows a seven. You hit the stand button and the dealer sees your action on her monitor. She turns up a queen for a total of 17. You win the hand and she inputs the win on her end and you are credited with a $25 win.

Live dealer roulette games work much the same way except usually you only see the person spinning the wheel and the wheel. The betting surface or table layout is usually digital, just like when you play at the online casino without a live dealer.

Live Dealer Casino Games
The only games offered by live dealer online casinos are those that are popular enough to warrant having dealers and those that are live dealer friendly. The perfect example of a live dealer friendly game is roulette, where the casino can take multiple wagers and only have to spin the wheel once.

Here is an overview of the most popular live dealer games. While these might not be the only games you can find, they cover well over 95% of all the live dealer games available online.

Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular live dealer game played online today. It is a little more labor intensive for the casino than baccarat and roulette, but the larger player base makes it worth offering.

Each player places his or her bet and then the dealer gives each player two cards as well as taking two cards herself. Each player decides whether to hit, stand, double, split or surrender (where available) and the dealer completes the action. After all players have acted the dealer flips over her second card and completes her hand.

Live dealer blackjack plays just like it does in land based casinos but it can be a bit slower overall as the dealer has to wait for all of the players to act. Of course they have to wait for all of the players to act in land based casinos as well, but as they are insulated by the Internet some players take longer in online live dealer play than they would in land based action.

Roulette
Roulette is one of those games that are well known just about anywhere you go in the world. Even if you don’t play you are probably familiar with the spinning of an ivory ball within a roulette wheel. Players can place bets on a wide range of possible outcomes including black, red even or odd which pay even money all the way up to bets on a single number that pay 35 to 1.

Roulette wheels are available in double zero wheels, usually called American roulette, and single zero wheels called European or French roulette. The single zero wheels offer a lower house edge than the double zero wheels. Most live dealer casinos offer single zero wheels, so they are the ones you should play on if you have a choice.

When you play live dealer roulette you pick how much you want to bet and what you want to bet on. For example, if you want to wager $20 on black you click on the chips to select $20 and then click on the roulette layout to place your bet on the black area. The dealer then spins the roulette wheel and drops the ball in the wheel. As the ball lands the bets are paid out and then the bets for the next spin are placed.

Baccarat
Baccarat tends to play well as a live dealer game because the dealer performs all of the game actions after the player places their wager. This is another game like roulette where the casino can take just about any number of wagers without it changing the current hand or slowing things down.

Players place their bets on tie, banker or player and then the dealer deals out two hands of two cards each. There are set rules that must be followed and each hand either stays or receives an additional card. Then the winning wagers are paid and the bets for the next round are placed.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker is only available at a few live dealer casinos but it is quite popular in regular casinos and in online casinos. You play a three card poker hand against the dealer and when you win the payout based on the strength of your hand.

Sic Bo
Sic Bo is a dice game that is very popular in Asian markets. Offered by a few live dealer casinos, you place bets on what you think the outcome of the roll of the dice will be. Once all wagers are placed the dice are revealed and you are paid out based on the bets you placed. Different combinations pay different amounts based on the odds of them landing.

Casio Holdem
This version of poker is not the same as Texas holdem that you can often see on television. Though it is based on Texas holdem it is a table game designed for single person play against a dealer. There are a few different variations of this game available in live dealer casinos, and it is not available everywhere.

The player makes an ante wager and the player and dealer receive two hole cards. The dealer turns over the three community cards called the flop. The player then may fold or make an additional bet to finish the hand. If the player makes the extra wager the last two community cards, the turn and river, are turned face up and then the winner is determined.

Payouts are determined by the strength of your winning hand. In different variations the bet sizing is different.

Live Dealer Software Providers
There aren’t that many live dealer online software solutions, but the main ones offer a superior gaming experience.

The main three companies are Evolution Gaming, Playtech and Microgaming. One of the newer entries into the market is Global Gaming Labs.

See below for quick overviews of each platform that includes the games they offer to their players. Just to be clear, these are the companies that provide the backend working environment for the online casinos that offer the live dealer games. You don’t play these games at the sites owned by the companies below; you play at the online casino’s websites who lease these solutions.