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Traditionally, the way customers participate in the online casino experience is through a download of the casino software. That has been the usual starting point. And it is what various casinos do with their various software options that often constitute the difference between a casino that is appealing and a casino that is not.

We won't lie to you; having the right software provider is very much a difference-maker. But there is no "right" or "wrong" answer there. As far as players are concerned, the preferences truly vary when it comes to what is coveted in terms of games and software. Obviously there are prominent providers, such as Microgaming, Playtech, Realtime Gaming and Net Entertainment, among others, and one of these companies is liable to have something featured that others may not. So it's a matter of "to each his own."

To start playing the customer will download the software. That brings us to another consideration, which is the time that it takes to download the software. Some casinos like to highlight the fact that they have a quick registration process, and that will include the download of the software. If it's slow, a player can be lost. When players get into the actual software, that is when the experience more or less begins.

That's because that is where they will first encounter the navigational abilities of the software, as well as the layout of the menu that is viewed through the casino "lobby." Usually the individual games are downloaded as well. The more games you want to play, the more downloads you will do. You'll find that you are going to conduct your activities right through the software. You'll not only play, but you can deposit, request a withdrawal, get customer help, check balances and track your play right through the apparatus. Some software performs better than others. And these are some of things we will let you know about.

One of the things that also needs to be pointed out, because it can assume a certain degree of importance, is that even though two casinos may have the same software provider, that does not mean they are going to have the same exact games. Let's explain that. Software companies generally have a certain number of games that they have made available, and when an online casino takes all of those games and puts them into its software download, that is said to be a "full suite" of games. But not all casinos carry the full suite. With Microgaming, for instance, there is always a certain amount of wiggle room. The company produces over 600 games, and some casinos indeed have all of them. But some may elect to carry 400 or 500 of them. So you may want to check on the casino websites to see how many games they say they have.