In less than three decades, online casinos have gone from not existing at all to becoming a global phenomenon. Worth billions of dollars a year, with millions of players, it’s also a sector that’s set to continue to grow.
So, it comes as no big surprise that there are literally thousands of online casinos out there competing for your custom. And, although the market is dominated by a number of big names, there are many, many more smaller casinos operating too.
Regulation of the industry is tight. This means that the vast majority of these casinos are honest and safe places to play. Inevitably, however, there are some that slip through the net. Generally, they are spotted and closed down before very long but often they do manage to defraud a few players while still operating.
As with many online fraudsters, they can be very convincing on the surface. But there are a few checks that you can make that will sound the warning bells and show that they are not to be trusted. So here are five features of legitimate sites than mean you know they are trustworthy.
A valid licence
Wherever in the world that they operate, to remain legal an online casino needs to be licensed by the appropriate authority. In the UK, where many are based, it is the UK Gambling Commission that is responsible for this and by visiting their website you will be able to find a full listing.
You should also find details of the online casino’s licence number on the footer of its home page so it is a simple question of cross-checking this against the official listing of the appropriate licensing authority. In many cases, it is hyperlinked directly to the licensing authority’s listing making it easy to check.
There are strong powers given to these authorities so you can be fairly confident that any casino not complying with the regulations should already have been forced to cease operating.
A secure site
Another obvious sign to look out for is that little padlock in the top left corner to confirm that the site is using SSL encryption. The site itself should also show somewhere in its information the level of encryption that is in force.
Because online casinos also handle sensitive financial information, they need to be PCI compliant and information about this should also be available.
For extra personal protection you should also look for online casinos whose password protection is strong. There should be a requirement for passwords to include special characters, upper- and lower-case letters and numbers too. Better still, search for a site that needs two-factor authentication.
Recognised Games Providers
The regulations governing games providers are nearly as strict as those governing the casinos themselves. This is important as you need to be able to trust that the games you are playing, from slots to roulette and blackjack to baccarat, truly are random.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of some of the biggest and most trusted names, but if you can find games from any of these on an online casino site you can be reasonably confident that it is a trustworthy one.
Along with the steady growth of the online casino sector, this has created a demand for reliable affiliate review sites to help sift out the best ones available at any given time. As part of the site’s due diligence, they check out the security credentials of the online gambling sites that they recommend. So, if an online casino listed it is almost certainly legitimate.
These review sites can also be especially useful in helping you to track down certain sites based on certain requirements. For example, if you wish to pay for casino games via PayPal, Gambling.com have listed trustworthy casinos that accept PayPal. This way, players can easily identify the online casinos that are safe and secure as well as meeting their requirements.
Casino chat forums
A less formal method of recommendation for online casinos comes in the form of the many online forums for online casino fans. This is where you will often find the earliest warning signs that a specific casino may not be totally above board.
So, if you find a casino being criticised for what seems to be a legitimate reason, give it a wide berth. Here are the sort of warning signs that other players may be flagging up.
- Slow payment – if a casino is not paying out winnings within a reasonable time this is a very suspicious sign. Another one is where casinos seem to only offer a very narrow choice of payment options.
- Failure to honour bonuses – if an online casino attracts new players with some generous looking bonuses but they are never credited to an account this is another very obvious red flag.
- Poor or non-existent customer support – it is always going to be suspicious if emails and messages are not replied to or the helpline is never answered. Most reputable online casinos are there to help players 24/7, either in person or via an automated service. This is signs of a good customer support service.
So those are the specific tips about how to play safe online. Add these to the common-sense ones like keeping your passwords secret and not using public Wi-Fi networks and you should be fine.
After all, millions of people play safely every day of the year. And now you will be perfectly well equipped to join them as soon as you like.