How Does Online Gambling Work?

This is a support article to our guide for people trying to help someone with gambling problems. The content intends to be informative, so you’ll know about various areas of the gambling industry to understand what the gambling addict is talking about.

support material for online gambling


Online gambling is becoming increasingly popular among people of all ages. With the click of a button, anyone can participate in a game that allows them to gamble with real money. But how does gambling work? In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of online gambling so you will understand the topic better.

We live in a digital world where almost anything imaginable is available at our fingertips: From ordering food to playing casino games on our phones. Technology has revolutionized how we interact with each other and our environment. Online gambling is no exception – it offers many opportunities we couldn’t dream about only 10 years ago.

Let’s learn about the most common parts of online gambling.

How Online Gambling Is Different From Land-Based Casinos

One thing you’ll see when you read about gambling is that some organizations call gambling gaming. We can only speculate about the reason. Perhaps it sounds less harmful, or they want to confuse the reader. Even organizations working with helping problem gamblers talk about gaming rather than gambling. We don’t; we call gambling, GAMBLING because that’s what it is.

There are some differences between online gambling and landbased casinos that we want to point out.

Online gambling, or iGaming as it’s sometimes called, has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its accessibility and convenience. Compared with land-based casinos, online casinos offer many advantages, making them an attractive option for gamblers worldwide.

  • Online casinos and sportsbooks are available 24/7 in mobile apps or on desktops.
  • The number of games is nearly endless. Last we checked, there were more than 15000 different slot machine games.
  • An online casino can never be full. It doesn’t matter if there is one person online or 100K.
  • The games are, in general, faster. Perhaps the slots are as fast in physical form, but games like online poker is 5-8x faster online.

For you as a relative or close affected other to a gambling addict. It’s essential to understand the problem of accessibility. For a land-based casino, at least the casino player needs to get to the gambling location before they can gamble. Online, the casino is always there.

Online gambling laws may vary from one country to another, but most countries permit some form of online casino gambling within their borders. Unfortunately for us trying to help people with gambling problems, regulations can only do so much. The Internet is vast, and even if online gambling isn’t permitted, people still play on unregulated casinos.

In markets like Sweden and the UK, unregulated casinos are flourishing. We can see what people search for in Google and which keywords casino affiliates try to rank.

The costs of running an online casino are low compared to physical casinos. It means that the return to player (RTP) is higher online, which we will discuss later. It also means that internet casinos can offer bonuses to lure new gamblers to their websites. These can be welcome bonuses, new deposit bonuses, or even free bonuses, often called free spins. More about that later.

As you already understand, online casino addiction is a tough nut to crack. At least the online casinos or betting sites don’t offer free alcohol to their players.

How To Block Online Gambling

Moving on from the differences between land-based and online gambling, let’s look at how to block online gambling. Blocking access to internet gambling effectively prevents people from engaging in it. It includes blocking live casino games, online poker games, sports betting, free spins, and mobile sports betting.

There are two ways this can be done:

  1. Self-exclusion programs like Gamstop, Spelpaus, or some state programs are offered in the US. You can find a complete list of these programs here.
  2. Using some blocking software like Gamban or Betblocker.

The first step for anyone wanting to block their own or a family member’s access to internet gambling is to ensure that you have restrictions set up on your computer devices. You can do this by using parental control settings or software available on both Windows and Mac operating systems. One program is called

As the name indicates, parental control programs are made to restrict access to the website for kids. But they can also limit adults’ ability to gamble online. You can, for instance, install the software with your gambling addict partner or friend.

The other option is to use third-party apps, such as Gamban, designed to restrict access to online gambling websites and gambling apps. Gamban has a comprehensive list of blocked websites across many countries, including the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

Finally, suppose someone still has difficulty controlling their urges regarding online gambling. In that case, several services are available where users can limit or completely stop any activity related to spending money on these sites. In some countries, the banks offer to block all gambling-related transactions. It could be another option for you to explore.

What Games Do People Gamble On?

People flock to online casinos for the vast array of games they can wager on, like casino slot machines, poker machines, lotteries, bingo, and live casino games. Online sports betting is also popular, allowing users to bet on their teams or events from the comfort of their own homes. Mobile gambling has become increasingly popular, with mobile apps and websites dedicated exclusively to real-money casino gaming! Online sports books offer betting opportunities on sports around the world.

Slots machines remain one of the most popular ways people gamble online. Playing a slot machine involves pulling a lever and spinning three-to-five reels containing symbols such as cherries, bars, and numbers. If the player lines up matching symbols across the playline, they win according to how much was wagered—more about slots in a minute.

Online sports betting offers gamblers to live bet on things during a game. Before matches start or during them, use specialized markets offered by various bookmakers and betting sites. Markets include handicaps, totals (over/under), correct scorelines, Asian handicap lineups, half-time / full-time scores, and many more – meaning there’s always something new to try out each week!*

*(We must admit that sports betting isn’t an area we know that much about. If you want to know more, please google it.)

No matter what type of gambler your partner/spouse or friend is, online gambling can provide endless opportunities to gamble. Let’s take a closer look to some of the most popular games.

Live Casino Games

Live casino games provide a realistic and exciting gambling experience to players who want the feel of being in a real brick-and-mortar establishment. Live casino is the area in the gambling industry that has developed the most over the past 5-6 years. The number of games and their quality has improved immensely. The largest casino game provider in the world is Evolution Gaming. They have built their success on live casinos.

Online gambling sites offer live dealers and table games. Some popular live games are:

  • Baccarat
  • Blackjack
  • Roulette
  • Poker
  • Craps

Online casinos employ various technologies such as webcams, computer graphics, and audio systems, enabling players to interact with their opponents or dealers in real time. Players can also use chat boxes or voice chats for further interaction. The game providers have set up tables in a studio to make it look like a real casino.

Live casino has a social element to it that is attractive to many players. Talking with the other players gives them a sense of community and boosts the escape effect of gambling, making gambling even more addictive.

Slots Machines

Slots machines are a staple of the casino gaming experience. They have been around for more than 100 years, and their captivating sounds, bright lights, and exciting payouts make them one of the most popular games in any casino.

Nowadays, slot machines come in many forms: from classic ‘one-armed bandits’ to modern video slots with progressive jackpots that can reach 10s of millions! No matter what type one chooses to play, the basics remain unchanged – one place a bet pulls or presses the lever (button), and hope for three matching symbols on the reel. Online it’s often 4-5 symbols for the highest wins.

Chances are that you have played a slot machine in your life. The current online slot machines are different, though. There aren’t just 3-win lines anymore. Some games have +900 combinations to win. (Unclear how many ways the same games have to lose)

Here is a list outlining some of today’s most common slot machine types:

  • Fruit Machines: These resemble traditional UK fruit machines which feature bonus rounds and various ways to win as well as nudges and holds;
  • Video Slots: Advanced graphics, immersive soundtracks, and lifelike animations bring these machines to life;
  • Progressive Jackpot Slots: Every spin increases the potential jackpot amount until it’s won by someone lucky enough to hit all winning symbols at once;
  • Penny Slots: True to their name – penny slots allow players to wager just 1 cent per line – making them perfect for those who want an inexpensive way to enjoy spinning reels without risking too much money.

One of the first articles we ever wrote was about how the gambling industry manipulates (you can use tricks if you want) the games to make us believe we win, even if we don’t. We highly recommend you read that article since we discuss slots. Here is one of the videos from that guide:

Return to Player (RTP) is a term used in many online casinos that refers to the percentage of money wagered on a game that returns to players as winnings. Most casinos provide information about their RTP rates for each game so customers can make more informed bets. But, the RTP for a particular game can change between different casinos.

In our own experience, slot machines are highly addictive. Or at least many people playing slots show signs of gambling problems. Of the user coming to, over 90% plays slots (as at least one of their types of gambling).

Online Poker

Moving on from slot machines, let’s look at online poker games. An online poker is a popular form of gambling. Luck is involved in poker, but a good player will always win over a bad player in the long run. That sets poker apart from most other gambling types based solely on fortune.

Online poker is only legal in the US in Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (March 2023). Online poker sites allow players to join virtual tables with real money or play money stakes, giving them access to tournaments and cash games worldwide. The most popular games are:

  • Texas Hold’em
  • Omaha
  • Seven-Card Stud

The poker experience online is very different from a live poker game. In a live game, you have a physical deal who shuffles and deals the card. Everything takes a long time. (Yes, we have played a lot of pokers ourselves.) You can play heads up (1vs1) online or by a table. Depending on the table you sit by, you can play up to 100 rounds per hour. Often online poker players play on multiple tables as well. (When we played, we used to play on 14 tables simultaneously.)

One reason many gambling addicts play poker is that they believe they are better than they are. The truth is that 95% of poker players lose. Still, it might be hard to argue with a compulsive poker player.

Online Sports Betting

Sports betting has become increasingly popular, with many people turning to online gambling sites for their bets. Sports betting is often an entry point for customers. Some of the biggest online casinos started as sportsbooks. Then they converted the customers to casino players since the casino is more profitable for gambling companies.

With internet sports betting, bettors can place wagers from anywhere, anytime, without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Online gambling sites make it easy and convenient for users to participate in sports betting by providing a platform to view odds and place bets quickly and securely.

Another service some betting sites provide is online sports streaming. They buy the rights to show football matches so their customers can see them for free (and do live bets).

Regarding legality, it depends on what country you live in since laws vary from one jurisdiction to another; however, some countries are starting to regulate online sports gambling while others remain opposed due to concerns over security issues and other negative aspects associated with online gambling legalities. In the US, 25 states allow online sports betting as of March 2023.

Sports betting, like poker, has an element of skills to it. That is probably the main reason so many bet too much on sports. The bettors believe they are only unlucky. One question you can ask if someone close to you might be a sports betting addict is: Do you bet on matches you don’t look at? If that’s the case, he/she isn’t betting for entertainment. They are betting to win money, a warning sign of problem betting.

Online Bingo

In traditional bingo halls, players are limited to playing only one game at a time, which can be frustrating for those seeking a different experience. Online bingo sites, however, can run multiple games simultaneously thanks to their servers, which means players have access to a broader range of games. This variety prevents players from getting bored with the same game and also provides the opportunity to explore other casino games available on the site.

Moreover, online bingo players have the added benefit of opening multiple game tabs simultaneously. It means they can have a 75-ball bingo game running in one tab, a 90-ball bingo game in another, and a faster-paced game in the third. As a result, online bingo offers a level of convenience and flexibility that is unmatched by traditional bingo halls. Overall, online bingo provides a more varied and dynamic experience that appeals to a broader range of players.

Bingo is rarely the only thing a gambling addict gambles on, but since problem gamblers often gamble on many types of gambling, bingo can be one of them.

What Are Casino Bonuses?

Casino bonuses are very popular with online gamblers, and the industry markets them as improving the chances to win. But do they?

The casino bonuses come in many forms, including welcome and reload deposit bonuses, which offer players a certain amount of bonus money when they make an initial or subsequent deposit into their accounts.

Bonus TypeDescription
Welcome BonusesRewards for new players when they sign up at an online gambling site. These bonuses usually come in the form of free cash that is awarded once the player makes their first deposit. The bonus amount is typically expressed as a percentage or dollar value match of the initial deposit.
Reload Deposit BonusBonus that offers extra cash to existing customers when they make additional deposits into their account after the initial deposit. These promotions are often offered multiple times a year, depending on the player’s activity level at the online gambling site.
Free bonus or no deposit bonusOnline casinos often offer “free bonuses” as part of marketing themselves. A free bonus can be part of a welcome bonus or a way to reactivate a player. Sometimes, the free casino bonus is money, but more often, it’s free spins on a slot machine.
Table of bonus descriptions

Other casino bonuses are available, such as no-deposit bonuses (and loyalty rewards programs where players can receive points for playing games that can be redeemed for prizes like cashback or merchandise from the best online casinos.

But, of course, there is a catch. Why would casinos give players free money? Each casino bonus comes with a turnover requirement. It means the players must turn over the bonus money and often the deposited money to be able to withdraw any money.


You deposit $100 and get a 100% deposit bonus. The turnover requirement is 30x the deposit + bonus. It means that you need to bet $200*30=$6000 before you can withdraw anything.

Casino bonuses are a way to keep players on a casino site. The idea that it increases the chances of winning is false. The bonus only ensures you don’t deposit money and withdraw them again directly. Giving you the illusion that you “get extra money” is smart, though.

In general, free bonuses come with higher turnover requirements. But then the turnover isn’t on any deposits but on the potential money you won with the free spins.

Online Gambling Payments

One area that you, as an affected other, can interfere with is payments. There are many ways players can deposit and withdraw money from online casinos. In countries like Sweden, the players can connect their bank accounts directly via a service called Trustly. Trustly allows users to ban themselves from using their service, as do many other payment providers. Here is a print screen from one casino.

As you can see, this casino accepts 27 different payment methods. It sounds insane, but most of them still need a debit or credit card to make a payment or add money to the account.

If you share finances with the person, we highly recommend you talk with your bank about separating your accounts. If you’ve spoken with the gambler, and he/she wants to stop, the next step could be that you take responsibility for the finances in the family. Problem gamblers shouldn’t have access to any money. Here is a list of things you can do to protect your finances.

  1. Avoid lending money to someone with a gambling addiction.
  2. Refrain from paying off the debts of a spouse or partner with a gambling problem.
  3. Order new credit or debit cards for yourself as a precautionary measure.
  4. Update passwords for online banking and other payment methods to secure your accounts.
  5. If you share bank cards with a partner who has a gambling problem, consider canceling or cutting them.
  6. Keep a close eye on your mail for suspicious letters or bills related to gambling.
  7. Never sign any documents without understanding their contents, mainly regarding financial matters.
  8. Take control of your finances and seek professional help, if necessary, to manage the effects of a gambling addiction.

See the complete list of things you can do here.

What Is Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gambling, safer gambling, and sustainable gambling are popular terms in the gambling industry. You’ll hear about them, and your partner/spouse/friend might talk about it too. Even if it sounds good, if a person has gambling problems, there isn’t anything like responsible gambling anymore. An alcoholic can’t drink anything. It’s the same with a gambler. But we still want you to know the term and what it means (in the industry)

Responsible gambling involves understanding how to gamble responsibly and setting boundaries for yourself when playing casino games or using top online gambling sites and apps. Responsible gambling allows players to enjoy playing at casinos online without putting themselves in financial jeopardy or compromising their mental health. Here are a few tips on responsible gambling:

  1. Set Limits – Before playing casino games, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to it. You should also limit your turnover requirements to avoid overspending when playing with real money.
  2. Take Breaks – Playing too many hours at a time can lead to fatigue and bad decision-making, which can put your bankroll at risk. Make sure you take regular breaks while playing, such as bonus spins, to remain in control of your gameplay.
  3. Know When To Stop – While having fun is important if things aren’t going well, know when enough is enough and walk away from the game before further losses occur. It will help protect your finances and mental health when visiting online casinos.

By following these guidelines, players can ensure they have an enjoyable but safe experience playing at the best online casinos available today!

Another term, in the industry (and now, even people working with problem gambling are using it ) is “gambling harm.” We think gambling harm is just an attempt to whitewash the term problem gambling or gambling addiction. But that’s what people talk about when they talk about gambling harm, the consequences of gambling addiction.

How Can You Use This Information?

Online gambling can be an entertaining and rewarding experience. Something you sure will hear as a counterargument if you talk to a gambling addict. Knowing the basics of online gambling will help you stay focused when you talk with the gambling addict. The better you understand how bonuses and games work, the harder it’ll be for the gambling addict to gloss over their gambling behavior.

We know the gambling opportunities are nearly endless online. We haven’t talked much about gambling apps, but there is some information in the main guide. We warmly recommend you install Gamban or Betblocker on the phone and desktop of the gambler but know that it’s only one tool. It is possible to delete it, so the person better work with the underlying causes of the addiction to become genuinely free.

Read More

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  • This article focuses on how you can protect yourself from a gambling spouse. If you want to read about support for spouses of gambling addicts, we can recommend our extensive guide how to help a gambling addict, or read an interview with a gambler’s daughter, use these links.

  • husband with gambling addiction?
  • We recently received an email from a woman with a gambling addicted husband. Perhaps you can relate to her story and have similar questions. Then the post about how to help a husband with gambling addiction can help you too.

  • How to help an addict who doesn’t understand his problem.
  • We want to create the ultimate guide for relatives of someone with gambling problems. An ultimate guide would: