If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of online casinos, this page is for you.
Nearly every online casino available has the same setup — and I’m only saying “nearly” because I’ll admit that I haven’t seen each and every one. Just hundreds of them…
You’ll start with a Main Page that usually has the most flash and visual excitement. Most of the time, the casino logo will be at the top, often slightly to the left. In that same area there is usually a menu for the other pages on the website with helpful titles like “Games”, “Banking”, “Promotions”, and my favorite, “Help”.
Underneath this area is usually a large animated window with bonus offers, jackpot winners, or sexy people doing casino-type things. Take what enjoyment you can from it, but it will probably be the least useful thing on the site (though it may give you info on the latest special offers, or tell you what the progressive jackpot is up to — so don’t skip it entirely!).
In or near this area will generally be a nice big button or two that lets you download the casino software, or (depending on the software manufacturer) access the “Instant Play” casino for online-only gameplay. We’ll talk about downloading and installing, including the timeless “download versus Instant Play” debate, on another page.
Below the big multimedia area of the front page, you’ll usually find another menu more or less similar to the one I described above. Sometimes you’ll see the overall “games” section broken down into individual categories, like “slots” “blackjack”, “roulette”, et cetera. Online casinos, like many websites, often have several different ways to get where you need to go…but sometimes there is only one best way, so familiarize yourself with the various places that menus can appear!
USA online casinos generally have fewer things on the front page; this reduces the visual clutter but may indicate fewer helpful resources (it’s usually harder to find a payout percentage for a US casino, for example). Also — and this is just my opinion, so don’t hurt me — European online casinos tend to look more stylish and modern, whereas US websites can sometimes look about five or ten years behind the times.
There’s also nearly always a little strip of inconspicuous menu items, at the bottom of the page or just the bottom of the main window. This will have all of the really boring and totally essential informational sections, including the Terms and Conditions (which is an absolute must-read before you sign up to an online casino website). If you’re feeling friendly, click on the “About Us” link and get a brief (sometimes nearly non-existent) history of the online casino company.
Below or above that menu row is often a little row of logos that tell you very important but not necessarily essential things about the casino. Payment methods may be listed here (i.e., the logos for Visa, MasterCard, Webmoney online casinos, etc.), as well as the software company’s name, various security and third-party testing certificates, and a little sign that lets you know that only people 18 or older can play here. You may even find quick links to places like Gambler’s Anonymous, Gambleaware.co.uk, or other ‘Responsible Gaming’ websites.
Either one or the other of those bottom-row menus will have links to the company’s Privacy and Fair Gaming policies. If you get a really helpful casino, you’ll also have a link to the Payout Percentages, which can also sometimes be accessed by clicking on the logo of the third-party testing company– the most prolific of which is TST (Technical Services Testing).
And finally, there is frequently a ‘very bottom’ area where the casino will talk a bit about itself — either as self-promotion or to declare things like the name of the parent company, the country where it is located and licensed, and other helpful but very rarely needed details.