With economies around the world in a slump and unemployment on the rise, many people are turning to games of chance in the hopes of striking it rich and solving their financial woes permanently.

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While traditional lotteries and casinos remain popular, there are also an increasing number of ways to win money online. Of course, many of these options involve risk. Any time you put money up there is the possibility of losing it, but there are ways to cut your risks and there are even some sites that have options to win cash online for free. The fact is, not only is it possible to win, but people do it on a daily basis.

The first thing to consider when attempting to gamble and win, is that there are many scams out there.

For every person who wins legitimate money, countless others are suckered into prize schemes designed only to collect and sell your personal information. One rule of thumb is that if you did not enter a contest, you did not win, even if a flashing banner or a booming voice tells you the opposite. Also, any contest that requires you to perform a credit check, to give out personal information such as your bank account of credit card number, or to sign up for any number of unrelated (and often costly) offers, is not offering a legitimate prize. It is important to research any website or casino offering cash prizes before giving out your personal information or attempting to play.

Online casinos are one popular, and often legitimate, way to win money online.

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These casinos offer the same basic services as traditional brick and mortar casinos, and carry the same amount of risk. It can be particularly easy for those skilled in poker to win cash. Online casinos are either web-based, in which gamblers access the casino through their web browser, or download-based, which means that software must be downloaded in order to play. Fraud can still be a huge problem in online casinos, but there are numerous websites out there than chronicle complaints and keep track of which casinos operate using good business practices. Casinomeister.com and Wizardofodds.com both offer comprehensive guides to finding a legitimate casino and are a great tool when trying to win.

There are also a number of gaming sites that are not quite casinos, but still offer ways to win some decent money online.

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Pogo.com, for example, offers a variety of puzzle, card and logic games. While the focus is mostly on the fun of the games themselves, they do have daily, weekly and monthly draws for cash prizes. While paid members have access to more games and features, free members are also eligible to win. Other websites offer sign-up promotions that allow you to start playing for free. For example, Jackpotjoy.com offers 20 for anyone to play their Deal or No Deal game. What all of this means is that if you are careful to do research in advance, it is possible to win lots of cash online.