Best Deposit Methods for Online Casinos for U.S. Players and Others
Updated October 9, 2012
Most of the professional gamblers we know in the U.S. who specialize in online casino play have officially changed their residency to Canada or Europe to avoid the hassles of dealing with deposits and withdrawals in the U.S. This means they've gotten bank accounts in Canada or Europe and can show proof of residency in Canada or Europe, such as a utility bill or bank statement showing an address in Canada or Europe.
U.S. players who've changed residency to Canada or a country in Europe can still use their U.S. passports as official ID with an online casino and online banking service.
Be aware that you may not be able to access casino software from an I.P. address in the U.S., even if you are an official resident of Canada or any other country where online play is not harrassed by the government. Some casinos just block access by all U.S. I.P.s. To play at these casinos from inside the U.S., you will have to arrange to access the casino through an I.P. outside of the U.S.
Professional gamblers who continue to do online casino play from within the U.S., at casinos that still accept U.S. players, either use credit cards for deposits or work out special arrangements with individual casinos. Be aware that if you use credit cards for deposits, you will have to be patient through the periodic outages when a credit card won't work. The casinos always work around these problems sooner or later.
Also be aware that you usually can't use credit cards for withdrawals. You will have to deal with checks or wire transfers for withdrawals if you are based in the U.S.
If you're based in Canada, Europe, South America, or anywhere else where Ecocard or Neteller are available, we'd strongly recommend Neteller as first choice, Ecocard as second choice. Both are honest and reliable, with reasonable charges and few hassles. Both can handle large deposits and withdrawals. We prefer Neteller to Ecocard because it is accepted by more online casinos.
Be aware that with either online banking option, you will be required to provide proof of identity and proof of address before you reach a significant level of withdrawals. A passport or driver's license or other form of official government ID will be required as proof of identity, and a utility bill will be required as proof of address. Your address on the utility bill will have to match the address you've provided for your account.
There are a number of other payment and withdrawal options available at most online casinos--check out the casino's banking page to see every option. For one particular country or another, one of these other options may be preferable to Neteller or Ecocard.
Credit, Debit Cards and Anonymous Gift Cards
For players who want to use credit cards for deposits, but not a card issued by a bank in their home country, there are ways to get credit cards that will usually work for deposits in any online casino or poker room.
One way to get such a card is to buy gift cards during a visit to a foreign country. (Make sure to buy the cards in a country that isn't hassling online casino play.)
Another way is to open a foreign bank account at a bank that will issue the type of card you need. (Again, you may need to establish an address in that foreign country to be eligible for such a card.) See our section below on offshore banking for our recommendations on the best European banks and types of accounts for your needs.
Again, there is one problem for all players in relying on Visa cards or Mastercards for deposits: The option goes through periodic shutdowns. You go in and try to use a card (or virtual card) at a place where you've used it many times before, and suddenly it won't work. Then you find that it won't work at any online gaming establishment. This goes on for a couple of weeks, then suddenly the card starts working again.
Visa and Mastercard may have been a primary deposit mechanism for over 10 years now, but for 10+ years this cycle has been a pain in the neck to players. That is why we recommend that long-term online players choose another option.
Paysafe Card is a non-Visa/Mastercard debit card choice that can be purchased over the counter in many countries, including the U.S. (Paysafe's web site provides locations near you where the card may be purchased.)
The good thing about the Paysafe Card in the past is that it didn't go through the periodic deposit shutdowns that players experienced with Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards. The bad thing is that it has nowhere near the universal acceptance of Visa and Mastercard.
Casinos will not usually accept Paysafe Card as a deposit method for players who use a U.S. address or IP to set up and fund their accounts. Again, you would need to set up an address outside the U.S. and arrange to access the casino through an IP outside the U.S.
Be sure to save any credit card or debit card or gift card even after you use all the money on it. You may have to send in a copy of the card to cash out. If you deposit by credit or debit card, you will usually want to withdraw by check, wire transfer, Neteller or Ecocard. Moneybookers or Click2Pay may also be available as a withdrawal option, although we found Click2Pay a terrible pain in the neck for higher-stakes players.
One problem you should be aware of with publicly-held online banking services like Neteller or Moneybookers is that they have to answer to shareholders about possible regulatory problems, and there are "potential regulatory problems" with online gambling in most countries in the world. Players in the U.S. found their accounts frozen overnight at Neteller after the U.S. government went after the company without warning.
For that reason we use privately-held e-wallet companies, like Ecocard, as much as possible for online play. Ecocard is an efficient, well-run, versatile service with lower fees than most others. Unfortunately, there are desireable online casinos that still don't accept Ecocard.
Note: At various times in our online playing careers we have run into a few casinos where Ecocard is available as a deposit option but not a withdrawal option, or vice versa. Be careful before depositing, no matter what method you use, that the casino has a withdrawal option you will be able to use.
Neteller went through a terrible period of bad customer service, failure to process withdrawals, and missing deposits after the U.S. seizures, but Neteller has been functioning normally again for years now.
Whether or not you are a Canadian citizen, you can use UseMyBank (also called "UseMyFunds") to fund your online play as long as you have a Canadian bank account with online bill-pay features, and you open your casino account in Canadian dollars. Acceptance of UseMyBank/UseMyFunds is now widely available among online casinos. And it's available to residents of many countries besides Canada (though not in the U.S.)
Again, if you want to be able to use UseMyBank with an account in a Canadian bank, be sure to open your online casino account in Canadian dollars. If you have already opened your account in another currency, it is usually a terrible hassle to change to another currency, with high potential for misunderstandings and locked accounts.
You sign up for UseMyBank from within the online casino cashier. UseMyBank basically allows you to use your Canadian bank's online bill payment service to make deposits. It is 100% free to players, and your privacy is 100% protected by your bank.
UseMyBank deposits are credited instantly to your online casino or poker account and are eligible for instant withdrawal. UseMyBank is fast and easy to set up.
Western Union is a deposit option at many online casinos and poker rooms, and it's a pretty good option if the casino will pay your transaction fees, which can be more expensive than the fees for other deposit methods.
You will have to contact the online casino for the name and location of the recipient to whom you must send your deposit. (You will probably not be sending the deposit directly to the casino; instead you will be sending it to an individual person who will pick it up for the casino.)
If you have used Western Union previously, be aware that you should not automatically use the same recipient name and location that you have used before. You have to contact customer support for the recipient to use each time you deposit.
You will also have to contact the casino to let them know that you have sent the deposit, and provide the "money transfer control number" of the transaction. The casino will have someone pick up the money and credit it to your account. Note: If you send information about your deposit by email rather than online support, it may take several days for the deposit to be credited. Online support can usually credit your account within hours.
Some tips: Western Union has various weird policies about money transfers that you should be aware of to avoid inconvenience. For example, if you want to send an online transfer from the U.S., Western Union will insist on calling you to confirm the transaction. And, when they call you, they will ask if you are sending money to a business, and/or if you personally know the person to whom you are sending money. If you say that you are sending money to a business, or that you don't personally know the person to whom you are sending money, they will refuse to process the online transfer for you.
In the U.S., there's a lot of legal debate over whether any local state law applies to online gambling and poker, since the actual betting occurs outside of the state. We don't really know the answer to that, since no player has ever been charged, but here is the opinion of Lawrence G. Walters, Attorney at Law (excerpted from
Breaking Down the UIGEA):
While state law supposedly provides the substantive basis for determining whether gambling financial transactions are prohibited under the Act, the application of state law to Internet commerce may result in insurmountable constitutional problems for the government. All state laws that seek to regulate global commerce such as Internet gambling may be unconstitutional under the “dormant” Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
Under this argument, state laws which regulate national (or international) commerce are unconstitutional, since such commercial activity should only be regulated at the federal level. The reasoning behind this legal principle relates to the need for efficient and uniform execution of commercial transactions over state lines. It would be unreasonable to require a merchant to anticipate and comply with a hodgepodge of inconsistent state laws when attempting to engage in commerce at the national level.
For this reason, industries such as the railroads and airlines are generally only subject to national, as opposed to state, regulation. Thus far, the courts have not hesitated in applying dormant Commerce Clause principles to attempted state-level regulation of Internet commerce. Virtually all state-level restrictions on Internet commerce have been struck down on this basis. While this argument has not been considered by the courts in relation to online gambling, the courts should be expected to use a similar analysis to that which has invalided state laws attempting to restrict commercial adult websites..
Free games are available at every casino and poker room we list for any players restricted by law from playing with real money.
Recommended Offshore Banking Options for Funding Online Play
Updated April 28, 2007
At Blackjack Forum, we have opened offshore bank accounts for our online gambling funds, and established offshore residency. We play online through IPs in the country where the offshore account is located.
We use our offshore bank account to fund Ecocard and Neteller accounts. This gives you maximum protection from hassles caused by the U.S. government, banks, and credit card companies. And offshore accounts provide other benefits beyond allowing you to continue with online play without hassles.
Offshore bank accounts are 100% legal, and it is 100% legal to fund your online play through offshore accounts. Offshore banks typically charge much lower fees than U.S. banks for international wire transfers and for cashing international checks. Plus, an offshore account gives you a way to get your money out of U.S. dollars during periods when the dollar is shrinking in value relative to other currencies.
Note: While it is fast and easy to open a personal account at many offshore banks, it is usually much more complicated to open a business account.
Banking In Canada
If you can get to Canada, you can open a bank account there as long as you have a passport and other government-issued ID, such as a driver's license. (We like RBC Royal Bank for online services, numerous branches, low fees and other account features).
Be sure to call the specific branch of the bank at which you wish to open an account to make sure in advance about their requirements, and to make an appointment. Many Canadian banks will not be able to help you open an account without an appointment.
As mentioned above, if you open a bank account in Canada, you can use UseMyBank to fund your online play wherever these services are accepted. Again, if you want to be able to use UseMyBank, be sure to open your online casino account in Canadian dollars. (If you already have an account in another currency, you will have to call customer support at the casino to close that account and open another one for you in CAD.)
You sign up for UseMyBank from within the casino cashier. UseMyBank basically allows you to use your Canadian bank's online bill payment service to make deposits. It is 100% free to players, and your privacy is 100% protected by your bank.
Banking in Europe
There are a number of other offshore banking options we like in Europe, and some of these accounts can be opened online and by mail, so you don't have to travel to the bank to open the account.
See our March 2007 Blackjack Forum article "Complete Guide to Offshore Bank Accounts for Funding Your Online Casino and Poker Play" for more detailed information on offshore accounts. ♠
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