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As popular an activity that online casino gambling is, it seems somewhat surprising how many people don't understand all the ins and outs of how the industry operates and is regulated - or at least, how it should be regulated. However, considering we're talking about a global, internet-based industry that was spawned as recently as the early nineties, not to mention the fact that gambling, in general, is a very touchy matter, it's not hard to see where this misunderstanding comes from.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of online resources committed to setting things straight. One of the most important resources for any online gambler is eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA). eCOGRA is a non-profit, independent standards authority helping to make online gambling a globally regulated industry with international standards. They conduct independent payout percentage audits and issue "Fair and Safe" Seals of approval to online casinos that meet their strict requirements.

eCOGRA also offers an "Approved Portals" page, which are essentially third party sites that provide online casino reviews, bonus information, game rules and strategy and betting news. For digging up the finer details of choosing an online casino to play at, eCOGRA approved portals are excellent resources. Of the approved sites listed here, the most comprehensive resource that we came across was a portal called Online Casino Suite. In addition to in-depth reviews of government regulated online casinos, including eCOGRA casinos, Online Casino Suite publishes information on software providers (the underbelly of the entire industry), daily news and a gambling blog (which tries real hard to be entertaining, but is informative, none the less).

There are many other good resources on the World Wide Web, but unfortunately, there are even more gamblers who do not know where to turn for unbiased information. Remember, it all begins with legitimate resources. Above all else, players should always inquire about the software platform powering an online casino and where the casino is regulated. The leading software providers that have been independently tested for inherent fairness are Microgaming, Real Time Gaming, Vegas Technology, Cryptologic, Wager Works, Playtech and Boss Media. There are others, but these are the one's that power the vast majority of licensed and regulated online casinos. In terms of regulation jurisdictions, the best are widely considered to be in the UK, Malta, Alderney, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Curacao, Antigua Barbuda and Kahnawake. Some are stricter than others, but all of these have earned themselves a rightfully credible reputation.

The problem is that far too often, newbie online gamblers buy into the first website they come across and don't even take the time to validate the software platform or where and even if the online casino is being regulated and monitored on a consistent basis. This type of blind trust not only puts the player at great risk of getting shammed, but also keeps them from taking advantage of some of the better free offers out there.

Indeed, there are plenty of free offers, for just like in the land-based gambling industry, online casinos face stiff competition between one another and must give away free stuff to attract players and keep them loyal. The most alluring of the free offers is, of course, free bonus money, which in essence, are not entirely free. Most of these bonuses require a minimum deposit and a minimum play-through (meaning the bonus money must be gambled over a certain number of times its original value). Still, the best bonuses are capitalized into free cash by players who know what types of bonuses to look for and how to play their cards right.

Again, online gambling portals are a great resource for finding the best bonuses. At the aforementioned portal, Online Casino Suite, we came across a casino bonus money page that listed what appeared to be some very generous bonuses, including one for $888 Free at Rushmore Casino. After doing some further research, we found these bonuses to indeed be the real thing. And that's what navigating through the online gambling industry is all about - seeking out the real thing. If you get yourself educated before jumping in, you'll have yourself a safe and fair experience gambling online.
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