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How to play Craps?
Craps is a dice game played against other players or a bank. Craps developed from a simplification of the Old English game hazard.
In craps, players may wager money against each other (street craps) or the bank (bank craps) on the outcome of one roll, or of a series of rolls of two dice. Because it requires very little equipment, craps can easily be played in less formal settings, and is said to be popular among soldiers. In such situations side bets are more frequent, with one or several participants covering or "fading" bets against the dice.
The rules of play against a bank or casino
Bank craps is a game played by one or more players against a casino. The casino covers all player bets at a table and sets the odds on its payout. Players take turns rolling two dice. The player rolling the dice is called the "shooter." Other players at the table will make bets on the shooter's dice rolls. The game is played in rounds, with the first roll of a new round called the "come-out roll". The second round resolves with a point being rolled or a seven.
To begin, a player wishing to play as the shooter must bet at least the table minimum on either the "Pass" line or the "Don't Pass" line (pass and don’t pass are sometimes called “Win” or "Right" and “Don’t Win” or "Wrong" bets for the outcome of a shooter’s round). The right to roll the dice is rotated clockwise around the craps table. A player next in turn to become shooter may refuse the dice, but can continue to bet on the shooter's rolls; the dice then pass to the next player willing to become the shooter. The shooter is then presented with multiple dice (typically five) by the stickman, and must choose two to roll with. The remaining dice are returned to the stickman's bowl and are not used.
At this point, the shooter makes a "come-out roll" with the intention of establishing a point. If the shooter's come-out roll is a 2, 3 or 12, it is called "craps" and the round ends with players losing their pass line bets (don't pass wins on 2 and 3). A come-out roll of 7 or 11 is called a "natural," resulting in a win for pass line bets (and a loss for don't pass bets). Either way, the come-out roll continues for the same shooter until a point is established. If the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled on the come-out, this number becomes the "point" and the come out roll is now over. The dealers will move an "On" button to the point number which identifies the point number to all players at the table. The shooter will now continue rolling until either the point is rolled or a seven. If the shooter is successful in rolling the point, the result is a win for the pass line (and a loss for the don't pass). If the shooter rolls a seven (called a "seven-out"), the pass line loses (and the don't pass wins). A seven-out ends the round with the dice being passed (clockwise) to the next player who wishes to become the new shooter.
A player wishing to play craps without being the shooter should approach the craps table and first check to see if the dealer's "On" button is on any of the point numbers. If the point number is "Off" then the table is in the come-out round. If the dealer's button is on, the table is in the point round where some casinos may allow a pass/don't pass bet to be placed, but the player should check with the dealer. All single or multi roll proposition bets may be placed in either of the two rounds. Between dice rolls by the shooter, there is a period for dealers to make pay outs and collect losing bets. When the dealers are finished, players are then allowed to place new bets. The stickman monitors the action at a table and decides when to give the shooter the dice, after which no more betting is allowed.
In a casino, players will make bets with chips on a specially made craps table with a table cloth made of felt that displays the various betting possibilities. In most casinos, craps table are double sided. The layouts on both sides of the table are identical, with the center bets in the middle. This allows for more players to participate. Players can make a large number of bets for each turn, round, or roll and should become familiar with the craps layout.
A casino craps table is run by four casino employees: a boxman who guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles coloring out players (exchanging small chip denominations for larger denominations in order to preserve the chips at a table); two base dealers who stand to either side of the boxman and collect and pay bets; and a stickman who stands directly across the table from the boxman, takes bets in the center of the table (hard ways, yo, craps, horn etc), announces the results of each roll, collects the dice with an elongated wooden stick, and directs the base dealers to pay winners from bets in the center of the table. Each employee makes sure the other is paying out winners correctly. Occasionally, during off-peak times, only one base dealer will be attending the table, rendering only half the table open for bettors or one of the two base dealers will assume the roll of the stickman.
The dealers will insist that the shooter roll with one hand and that the dice bounce off the far wall surrounding the table. These requirements are meant to keep the game fair (preventing switching the dice or making a "controlled shot"). If a die leaves the table, the shooter will usually be asked to select another die from the remaining three but can request using the same die if it passes the boxman's inspection. This requirement is used to keep the game fair (and reduce the chance of loaded dice).
Types of wagers Line bets
The shooter is required to make either a Pass Line bet or a Don't Pass bet if he wants to shoot. Line bets are based around points.
Pass line bet: The fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet, also called the win line in some countries. A pass line bet is won immediately if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11. If the come-out roll is 2, 3 or 12, the bet loses (known as "crapping out"). If the roll is any other value, it establishes a point; if that point is rolled again before a seven, the bet wins. If, with a point established, a seven is rolled before the point is re-rolled, the bet loses ("seven out").
Don't pass line bet: The don't pass line bet is almost the opposite of the pass line bet. The don't pass bet is opposite in that it loses if the come-out roll is 7 or 11 and wins if the come-out roll is 2 or 3. A 12 will draw (this depends on the casino— in some places a 12 will win and a 2 will draw); either way a player cannot lose if 12 is rolled. A draw (the word "BAR," printed on the Craps layout, means "Standoff") on 12 is done to ensure the casino maintains a house edge regardless of whether players are betting pass or don't pass. If a point is established and that point is rolled again, the don't pass bet loses. If a 7 is rolled instead of the point being re-rolled, the don't pass bet wins. There are two very slightly different ways to calculate the odds and house edge of this bet. The table below gives the numbers considering that the game ends in a push when a 12 is rolled, rather than being undetermined. Betting on don't pass is often called "playing the dark side," and it is considered by some players to be in poor taste, or even taboo, because it goes directly against conventional play.
Pass odds: If a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is thrown on the come-out roll (i.e., if a point is set), most casinos allow pass line bettors to take odds by placing from one to five times (and at some casinos, up to 100 times) the pass line bet behind the pass line. This additional bet wins if the point is rolled again before a 7 is rolled (the point is made) and pays at the true odds of 2-to-1 if 4 or 10 is the point, 3-to-2 if 5 or 9 is the point, and 6-to-5 if 6 or 8 is the point.
Some casinos offer "3-4-5X Odds," where the maximum allowed odds bet depends on the point (three times if the point is 4 or 10, four times on 5 or 9, and five times on 6 or 8). This rule simplifies the calculation of winnings: a maximum pass odds bet on a 3-4-5X table will always be paid at six times the pass line bet regardless of the point.
As odds bets are paid at true odds, in contrast with the pass line which is always even money, playing pass odds on a minimum pass line bet lessens the house advantage. A maximum odds bet on a minimum pass line bet gives the lowest house edge available in the casino.
Don't pass odds: If a player is playing don't pass instead of pass, they may also lay odds by placing chips behind the don't pass line. If a 7 comes instead of the point coming, the odds pay at true odds of 1-to-2 if 4 or 10 is the point, 2-to-3 if 5 or 9 is the point, 5-to-6 if 6 or 8 is the point.
Come bet: A come bet is played in two rounds and is played similar to a pass line bet. If a 7 or 11 is rolled on the first round, it wins. If a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, it loses. If instead the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 then the come bet will be moved by the base dealer onto a box representing the number the shooter threw. This number becomes the come bet point and the player is allowed to add odds to the bet. The dealer will place the odds on top of the come bet, but slightly off center in order to differentiate between the original bet and the odds. The second round wins if the shooter rolls the come bet before a seven. If the seven comes before the number (the come-bet), the bet loses. On a come-out roll for the pass line the come bet is in play, but traditionally the odds are not working unless the player indicates otherwise to the dealer.
Come wagers can only be made after after a point has been established--on a come out roll the come bet is placed on the pass line as they are an identical bet.
Because of the come bet, if the shooter makes their point, a player can find themselves in the situation where they have a come bet (possibly with odds on it) and the next roll is a come-out roll. In this situation odds bets on the come wagers are presumed to be not working for the come-out roll. That means that if the shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out roll, any players with active come bets waiting for a come-point lose their initial wager but will have their odds money returned to them. If the come-point is rolled the odds do not win but the come bet does and the odds are returned. The player can tell the dealer that they want their odds working, such that if the shooter rolls a number that matches the come point, the odds bet will win along with the come bet, and if a seven is rolled both lose.
Don't come bet: A don't come bet is played in two rounds. If a 2 or 3 is rolled in the first round, it wins. If a 7 or 11 is rolled, it loses. If a 12 is rolled, it is a standoff and the player has the option to revoke their bet. If instead the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 then the don't come bet will be moved by the base dealer onto a box representing the number the shooter threw. The second round wins if the shooter rolls a seven before the don't come point.
Don't come wagers can only be made after the come-out roll when a point has already been established. Odds can also be placed on a don't come-bet just like a pass line bet; in this case the dealer (not the player) places the odds bet on top of the bet in the box, because of limited space, slightly offset to signify that it is an odds bet and not part of the original don't come bet.
Single roll bets
Single-roll bets or proposition bets are resolved in one dice roll by the shooter. Only the stickman can place these bets for players, and they are located at the center of most craps tables. The bets include:
2 (snake eyes, or Aces): Wins if shooter rolls a 2.
3 (ace-deuce): Wins if the shooter rolls a 3.
Yo: Wins if the shooter rolls 11.
12 (boxcars, or midnight): Wins if shooter rolls a 12.
2 or 12 (hi-lo): Wins if shooter rolls a 2 or 12. The stickman places this bet on the line dividing the 2 and 12 bets.
Any Craps: Wins if the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12.
C & E: A combined bet, a player is betting half their bet on craps and the other half on yo (11). One of the two bets will always lose, the other may win.
Any seven: Wins if the shooter rolls a 7. This bet is also nicknamed Big Red, since the 7 on its betting space on the layout is usually large and red.
Field: This bet is a wager that one of the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will appear on the next roll of the dice. This bet typically pays more 2:1 or 3:1 if 2 or 12 is rolled, and 1:1 if 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 is rolled. Unlike the other proposition bets which are handled by the dealers or stickman, the field bet is placed directly by the player.
The Horn: This is a bet that involves betting on 1 unit each for 2, 3, 11 and 12 at the same time for the next roll. The bet is actually four separate bets, and pays off depending on which number is actually rolled, minus three units for the other three losing bets. Many players, in order to eliminate the confusion of tossing four chips to the center of the table or having change made while bets are being placed, will make a five-unit Horn High bet, which is a four-way bet with the extra unit going to one specific number. For example, if you toss a $5 chip into the center and say "horn high yo," you are placing four $1 bets on each of the horn numbers and the extra dollar will go on the yo (11).
Whirl or World: bet is a five-unit bet that is a combination of a horn and any-seven bet, with the idea that if a seven is rolled the bet is a push, because the money won on the seven is lost on the horn portions of the bet.
On the Hop This is a single roll bet on various easy way combinations of 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 on the next roll of the dice. This is a bet on a single number being rolled as opposed to the multi-numbered field bet. When presented, hop bets are located at the center of the craps layout with the other propostion bets. If hop bets are not on the craps layout, they still may be bet on by players.
Multi roll bets
These are bets that may not be settled on the first roll and may need any number of subsequent rolls before an outcome is determined. Most multi-roll bets may fall into the situation where a point is made by the shooter before the outcome of the multi roll bet is decided. These bets are considered "not working" in the new come-out roll until the next point is established, unless the player calls the bet as "working." Casino rules vary on this; some of these bets may not be callable, while others may be considered "working" during the come-out. If a non-working point number placed, bought or laid becomes the new point as the result of a come-out, the bet is usually refunded, or can be moved to another number for free.
Hard way: A bet that the shooter will throw a 4, 6, 8 or 10 the "hard way", before he throws a seven or the corresponding "easy way". A hard way is when both dice show identical values, also known as "doubles," so 2-2 is hard way 4.
Easy way: Opposite of hard way is a bet that the shooter will throw a specific easy way (either 4, 6, 8 or 10), before he throws a seven. An easy way is a value that does not have two dice identical, so 3 1 is easy way 4. These are rarely available as bets except by placing on a point number (which pays off on easy or hard rolls of that number).
Big 6 and Big 8: A player can choose either the 6 or 8 being rolled before the shooter throws a seven. These wagers are usually avoided by experienced craps players since they pay even money (1:1) while a player can make place bets on the 6 or the 8, which pay more (7:6). Some casinos do not even offer the Big 6 & 8. The bets are located in the corners behind the pass line, and bets may be placed directly by players.
Place and buy: Players can buy or place any point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) by placing their wager in the come area and telling the dealer, "place the 6" or "buy the 8". Both place and buy bets are bets that the number bet on will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. These bets are considered working bets, and will continue to be paid out each time a shooter rolls the place or buy point number.
Place bets are paid at odds slightly worse than the true odds, while buy bets are paid at true odds, but a 5% commission is charged. Traditionally, the buy bet commission is paid no matter what, but in recent years a number of casinos have changed their policy to charge the commission only when the buy bet wins. Some casinos charge the commission as a one-time fee to buy the number; payouts are then always at true odds. Most casinos usually charge only $1 for a $25 green-chip bet (4% commission), or $2 for $50 (two green chips), reducing the house advantage a bit more. Where commission is charged only on wins, the commission is often deducted from the winning payoff--a winning $25 buy bet on the 10 would pay $49, for instance. The house edges stated in the table assume the commission is charged on all bets. They are reduced by at least a factor of two if commission is charged on winning bets only.
Lay: A lay bet is the opposite of a buy/place bet, where a player bets on a 7 to roll before the number that is laid. The lay bets pay true odds, but a 5% commission is charged. In some casinos the commission is only charged if the bet wins. Like the buy bet the commission is adjusted to suit the betting unit such that fraction of a dollar payouts are not needed.
Fire Bet: Before the shooter begins, some casinos will allow a bet known as a fire bet to be placed. A fire bet is a bet of between 1-5 dollars (the Rio in Las Vegas allows up to $10) in the hopes that the next shooter will have a hot streak of setting and getting many points of different values. As different individual points are made by the shooter, they will be marked on the craps layout with a fire symbol. The first three points will not pay out on the fire bet, but the fourth, fifth and sixth will pay out at increasing odds. The fourth point pays at 25-1 (a maximum of $125 for a $5 bet), the fifth point pays at 250-1 (a maximum of $1,250 for a $5 bet) and the 6th point pays at 1,000-1 (a maximum of $5,000 for a $5 bet). Note that the points must all be different numbers for them to count towards the fire bet. For example, a shooter who successfully hits a point of 10 twice will only garner credit for the first one on the fire bet.
The expected value of all bets is negative, such that the average player will always lose money. This is because the house always sets the paid odds to below the actual odds. The only exception is the "odds" bet that the player is allowed to make after a point is established on a pass/come don't pass/don't come bet (the odds portion of the bet has a long-term expected value of 0). However, the "free odds" bet cannot be made independently, so the expected value of the entire bet, including odds, is still negative. Since there is no correlation between die rolls, there is no possible long-term winning strategy in craps.
Maximizing the size of the odds bet in relation to the line bet will reduce, but never eliminate the house edge, and will increase variance. Many casinos have a limit on how large the odds bet can be in relation to the flat bet, with single, double, and five times odds common. Some casinos offer 3-4-5 odds, referring to the maximum multiple of the line bet a player can place in odds for the points of 4 and 10, 5 and 9, and 6 and 8, respectively. During promotional periods, a casino may even offer 100x odds bets, which reduces the house edge to almost nothing, but dramatically increases variance, as the player will be betting in large betting units.
Since several of the multiple roll bets pay off in ratios of fractions on the dollar, it is important that the player bets in multiples that will allow a correct payoff in complete dollars. Normally, payoffs will be rounded down to the nearest dollar, resulting in a higher house advantage. These bets include all place bets, taking odds, and buying on numbers 6, 8, 5, and 9, as well as laying all numbers.
These variants depend on the casino and the table, and sometimes a casino will have different tables that use or omit these variants and others.
* 11 is a point number instead of a natural. Rolling an 11 still pays "Yo" center-table bets, however the Pass line does not automatically win (and the Don't Pass line doesn't automatically lose) when 11 is rolled on the come-out. Making the point pays 3:1 on Pass/Come odds bets (1:3 on Don't Pass/Come odds); all line bets are still even money. This slightly reduces the odds of a natural and of making the point in general, increasing the house edge on the pass line.
* 11 pays 2:1 on the field. This variant is normally used when 12 pays 3:1, and further lowers the house edge on the field.
* Big 6/8 are unavailable. These bets are equivalent to placing or buying 6 or 8 as points, which have better payout for the same real odds, so Big 6/8 are rarely used and many casinos simply omit them from the layout.
Since all bets have a house advantage, and a negative expected value, the optimal strategy is to be the house. Failing that, one can reduce one's average losses by only placing bets with the smallest house advantage.
The pass/don't line, come/don't line, place 6, place 8, buy 4 and buy 10 (only under the casino rules where commission is charged only on wins) are the best bets with the lowest house edge in the casino, and all other bets will on average lose money between three and twelve times faster because of the difference in house edges.
The place bets and buy bets differ from the pass/don't line and come/don't line, in that place bets and buy bets can be removed at any time, since they are one-time propositions, whereas pass/don't line bets and come/don't line bets must be resolved as "win or lose" once placed.
Among these, and the remaining numbers and possible bets, there are a myriad of systems and progressions that can be used with many combinations of numbers.
An important alternative metric is house advantage per roll (rather than per bet), which may be expressed in loss per hour . The typical pace of rolls varies depending on the number of players, but 102 rolls per hour is a cited rate for a nearly full table . This same reference states that only "29.6% of total rolls are come out rolls, on average," so for this alternative metric, needing extra rolls to resolve the pass line bet, for example, is factored. This number then permits calculation of rate of loss per hour, and per the 4 day/5 hour per day gambling trip:
$10 Pass line bets 0.42% per roll, $4.28 per hour, $86 per trip
$10 Place 6,8 bets 0.46% per roll, $4.69 per hour, $94 per trip
$10 Place 5,9 bets 1.11% per roll, $11.32 per hour, $226 per trip
$10 Place 4,10 bets 1.19% per roll, $12.14 per hour, $243 per trip
$1 Single Hardways 2.78% per roll, $2.84 per hour, $56.71 per trip
$1 All hardways 2.78% per roll, $11.34 per hour, $227 per trip
$5 All hardways 2.78% per roll, $56.71 per hour, $1134 per trip
$1 Craps only on come out 3.29% per roll, $3.35 per hour, $67.09 per trip
$1 Eleven only on come out 3.29% per roll, $3.35 per hour, $67.09 per trip
More important than any particular system is simply to follow the same principles as with most casino games:
* play within one's means (i.e. within one's budget, a.k.a. bankroll)
* pick a specific system per shooter or per session, and stay with that system
* set limits on how much one will lose in a session (dollar amount or number of successive losses)
* set win goals for the session, i.e. resist the urge to pour all profits into the next bet to increase winnings (or worse, to use a Martingale system to attempt to recover losses)
* above all do not bet on the assumption that a number is either due to come up or due to stop coming up (see gambler's fallacy)
Besides the rules of the actual game, certain unwritten rules of etiquette exist while playing craps and are expected to be followed. Many consider these guidelines as important as the actual rules themselves. New players should familiarize themselves with them before approaching a craps .
Rules related to casino security
Players are not supposed to handle the dice with more than one hand (such as passing them from hand to hand before rolling) nor take the dice past the edge of the table. The only way to change hands when throwing dice, if permitted at all, is to set the dice on the table, let go, then take them with the other hand. This reduces or eliminates the possibility of the shooter switching dice by sleight-of-hand.
When throwing the dice, the player is expected to hit the farthest wall at the opposite end of the table. Some casinos refer to throws that do not hit the opposite wall as "Mellenberg Rolls." Most casinos will allow a roll that does not hit the opposite wall as long as the dice are thrown past the middle of the table, occasionally a short roll will be called a "no roll" due to the more controllable nature of such a roll. The dice may not be slid across the table and must be tossed. Typically, players are asked not to throw the dice higher than the eye level of the dealers.
The dice cannot land in the boxman's bank, the stickman's bowl (where the extra three dice are kept between rolls), or in rail around the top of the table where players chips are kept. Dice can land on players bets on the table, the dealer's working stacks, on the marker puck or with one die resting on top of the other. If a die or both dice leave the table, it is also a "no roll" and the boxperson will examine the dice before letting it come back into the game. However, the player may request the same die or dice.
When either of the dice land on or come to rest leaning against chips, markers, or the side of the table, the number that would be on top if the object the die is leaning on were removed, is the number that is used to make the call.
If one or both dice hits a player or dealer and rolls back onto the table, the roll counts as long as the person being hit did not interfere with either of the dice, though some casinos will rule "no roll" for this situation.
In most cases the shooter may "set" the dice to a particular configuration, but if they do, they are often asked to be quick about it so as not to delay the game. Some casinos have "no setting" rules.
Dealers are not allowed to touch the players or hand chips directly to a player, and vice versa. If "buying in" (paying cash for chips) at the table, players are expected to lay the cash down on the layout, which the dealer will take and then place chips in front of the player.
Many craps table layouts state "NO CALL BETS". This means a player is not allowed to call out a bet without having at least the right amount of chips on the table. If the chips exceed the bet, for example a $100 chip is placed and bets called out of "$25 on five and nine", the dealer will say "it's a bet" and return $50 change to the player. The dealer doesn't have to actually place the bet in the proper place on the table to constitute a valid bet. This method is consistent with the fast action of the game, allowing a player to make a last-second bet while the dice are about to be thrown. The NO CALL BET rule may exist to prevent confusion on the amount bet, possibly going back to the days of 25 cent tables. For example "three fifty" could mean $3.50 or $350. If the dealer is not clear about the intention of the player he may state "no bet" and push the chips back to the player.
Like any other table game, the casino can ask a player to leave the table or the casino for any reason.
The rules of play against other players
Recreational or informal playing of craps outside of a casino is referred to as street craps or private craps. The most notable difference between playing street craps and bank craps is that there is no bank or house to cover bets in street craps. Players must bet against each other by covering or fading each others bets for the game to be played. If money is used instead of chips and depending on the laws of where it is being played, street craps can be an illegal form of gambling.
There are many variations of street craps. The simplest way is to either agree on or roll a number as the point, then roll the point again before you roll a seven. Unlike more complex proposition bets offered by casinos, street craps has more simplified betting options. The shooter is required to make either a Pass or a Don't Pass bet if they want to roll the dice. Another player must choose to cover the shooter to create a stake for the game to continue. If there are several players, the rotation of the player who must cover the shooter may change with the shooter (comparable to a blind in poker). The person covering the shooter will always bet against the shooter. For example, if the shooter made a "Pass" bet, the person covering the shooter would make a "Don't Pass" bet to win. Once the shooter is covered, other players may make Pass/Don't Pass bets, or any other proposition bets, as long as there is another player willing to cover.
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