Probably the very first thing that came to your mind when you first heard about online gambling was
Is it safe to play in online casinos?
The short answer to this is yes, it is safe as long as you choose the right casino. And that immediately leads us to the next question that is a bit more complicated to answer:
Which online casinos are safe and trustworthy?
We’ll look into just that below by touching on:
- Casino licenses, being the single most important information that should be your No.1 priority to check
- Some other factors such as operating times, support, banking details and bonus terms as these might be also worth watching for
- Basic rules to protect yourself by keeping your gaming in the fun zone at all times
Online casinos became one of the biggest internet industries in the recent years and accordingly, there’s a plethora of providers out there. But unfortunately a whole bunch of them operates unfairly in many ways. It’s not easy to find the trustworthy and safe casinos even for the seasoned online gamblers, not to mention newbies. So without further adoo let’s see what we should pay attention to when searching for a safe online casino.
This is the very first thing you should check when choosing an online casino. Luckily it is also one of the easyest info to obtain.
When we are talking about a gambling provider’s license we mean what country or territory provides them a license to operate as an online gambling provider. Since all jurisdictions differ in their requirements towards online gambling providers they are not equal. Simply put some are stricter and better than others.
License shows us that under what regulations the casino is operating and more importantly what responsibility the licensing authority takes in a possible dispute between the player and the casino. And trust me, there are enormous differences here.
Just to be on the safe side let me quickly mention here that we never ever play in a casino that has no license whatsoever.
Here are the links to the official websites of Gaming Commissions
The Weakest Licenses
This category includes gambling licenses from Belize, Costa Rica and Panama.
These are the jurisdictions where it’s quite easy to get a gambling license as authorities are not really interested in who requests a license as long as the license fees are paid. So transparency suffers here, which makes it easy for an operator to get a license and stay in the background or even disappear without a trace if he finds that necessary for whatever reason.
These jurisdictions do not investigate on player disputes at all and offer no guarantees to players and in case of any problems players have to take matters in their own hands. That does not necessarily means that any casino with such a license will not help you with your problems, it just means that if they are not willing to help you, there’s not much you can do and you’re all by yourself to deal with them.
Let’s face it, problems usually start to arise when it comes to withdrawal rather than deposits. When the support becomes unresponsive at this point, you know you have a problem.
My advice is to stay away from casinos licensed in these countries even though there are many trustworthy operators among them. If it’s too late however and you already have a cashout or other problem you can still put some pressure on them by turning to a forum or other prestigeous portal dealing with them to raise some public awareness. A lot can be achieved by the power of the public.
In order to get a license here both the operator’s financials and player protection are considered. While licence holders from these territories are generally trustworthy, there could be exceptions so it is definitely worth looking into other factors as well.
A few years ago Curaçao would easily be categorised to the lowest category, however since 2014 they improved their system immensely after the Netherlands Antilles government realized the long term importance of online gambling to the economy and started to act accordingly.
The Safest Casino Licenses
If you pick a casino with a license from one of these you’re already set for a good start. Not only are acquiring a license in these jurisdictions is the most diffucult, but operators there are continuosly monitored for fairness and financial stability. More than that, if you can’t resolve a dispute with your casino you can escalate the issue to the regulator directly.
Finding All the Facts
All casinos display their licensing information in their home page footer, often along with their license numbers. If you can’t find it there, look in their “About Us” or “Terms and Conditions” section. But the more it is hidden, the more your suspicion should grow.
In case of 32red for instance (see the image left below) they show us not only that they have a UK license, but we can check their license information directly on the UK Gambling Commission’s website by clicking a link.
The Royal Panda website footer (see image below to the right) does not feature a link to the licensing authority page, nevertheless they provide the license number and you can easily check for yourself on the website of the Malta Gaming Authority http://www.mga.org.mt/gaming-sectors/remote-gaming/licensed-operators/
It is worth proof checking the actual license on the license provider’s database, as there are some casinos out there that flat out lie about their licensing and display bogus information on their website. If you can’t find the information or not sure about your thing, you can also ask them for a copy of their license through the support.
Reputation and Age
Although the age of a casino doesn’t determine anything, it’s still a good indication of reliability and safety if its operating smoothly for over years now. Lots of great brands were just recently launched however, and they can offer just as great of a service as those veterans of the market.
If however you are more cautious you can stick with the already tried brands that are on the market for more than 5 years. It costs you nothing and get an extra layer of security. Also don’t forget to pick from the top license category described above in order to minimize chances of problems.
Other Signs to Watch
Bonus is Not Everything
While this is not primarily a question of trustworthyness let’s just briefly touch on this as well.
It is important for you to carefully read through the bonus terms. Search for the small print and learn the details in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises later. If a casino hides the terms or buries them too deep on it’s website, that is by no means an acceptable way of doing business and should be noted as a warning sign. Sometimes there’s only one general t&c for all bonuses offered, as opposed to providing a unique and easy-to-overview terms for each promo. For me personally this shows a certain level of amateurism and indolence and reflects poorly on any operator guilty of this.
Other things you might want to be aware of before depositing for a bonus are the wagering requirements and eligible games, the time limit you have to meet those requirements, the maximum winnings limit and most importantly which countries are excluded from the promotion. If for some reason you are unsure of something, be sure to ask support via email or live chat. This way you can test them as well, hitting two birds with one stone. Remember, better safe than sorry, a question doesn’t hurt but misunderstangings can!
Customer support is another important factor when considering a casino. Why? If you are around for some time you probably know that. If not, then believe me that dealing with the right person can mean all the difference between fun entertainment and pure frustration.
A good support makes it fast and easy for you to handle all possibly arising issues, like deposits and withdrawals or bonus and free spin promo matters. Ideally, they are friendly, helpful and competent. But unfortunately many operators do not pay enough attention to this part of their business. Sometimes the support personnel’s only goal is to make you making a deposit. Usual baits are ‘very special’ and ‘exceptional’ personal bonus offers with a time limit, but as soon as you are done with the payment or have a real problem that needs some effort to be solved, they just don’t care anymore.
The real test of the quality of a support service at any particular operator is the first time you encounter a problem. So, I would propose you either try out them for yourself or trust us and play at those online casinos listed here that are proven to be helpful, fast and reliable.
Banking is another feature that makes the most trusted online casinos stand out. Most of them offer a wide variety of payment methods, the most popular being credit cards and various third party e-wallet services like Neteller, Skrill (ex-Moneybookers) or recently PayPal.
Before depositing, it is your best interest to check their official site to see what withdrawal methods are available and under what conditions (minimum process amount and payout time being the most important here). Avoid those rooms where there are a large number of pay-in options besides just one or two pay-out options (namely bank wire and cheque), or where the minimum payout threshold is suspiciously high (like $200) or withdrawals are subject to ridiculous fees.
When the Biggest Risk is Not the Casino
Now let’s look at the player side of safe gaming, as you as a player can do much more harm to yourself than any operator. Playing online casinos can be very entertaining indeed, and that’s exactly the reason to do it in the first place. But if you overlook some unwritten laws of gambling, that can have a massive and not so fun impact on other parts of your life.
Casinos Always Win
Heard that a few times? That’s beacuse it’s true. Without going into too much details on house edge or payout percentages let me just give you a real life example:
A slot game with a payout percentage of 98.5% will pay back players 98.5% of all money staked on the game. This means that that particular slot makes on average 1.5% for the casino of every wager made on it (House edge). Of course you can still win on this slot right now, and even win big. But the casino will eventually make a profit on it independent of what individual players will become winners and losers. Therefore they are not interested in whether the jackpot is won by a regular player or someone who just made his or her first ever $20 deposit and hit the spin button the first time in his or her life.
What all this boils down is that it’s better forget all the woodoo, superstition or juju stuff. If you win it’s because you are lucky and has nothing to do with being Wednesday 7 pm, snowing or Uranus crossing your ascendant right now.
If you start searching patterns in your winnings you’ll eventually find one, albeit a false one and one that will cost you a lot of money.
Never Stake More Than You Can Afford to Loose
This is one of the core principles. If you’re risking more than you are comfortable with that will affect your play in a negative way. You’ll also find your mind wandering around your gambling during the day, whether you are at work, with your family, your significant other or your friends. And you’ll get frustrated and they will notice.
Tip: Make up your mind in advance about the amount you are ready to spend on gambling. You may dedicate 3% of your monthly income for example. Once you decided, stick to your decision whatever happens. No matter if you have a winning streak or can’t even play a round more because of a lack of chips. Once you deposited your casino cash, consider it lost. That’s not your money anymore. If you loose it on day one, then you’re not playing for another 29 days. Once you deposited that money, never look back or start thinking about whether that money could have bought your kid a cool new bike. It couldn’t since you wrote off that money in the moment you deposited.
I have two tips for you from an article with the title „Top 10 Tips for Beating Casino Tactics” I’ve just read:
- Don’t drink
- Know when to quit
These are really good tips, only the article should have been titled “Top 10 Tips for Not Losing Our Shirt”. Seriously, these are basics and have nothing to do with beating the casino.
So never play when drunk. It’s pretty awkward to wake up not remembering your balance at the end of the session or being unsure whether you actually redeposited or was just planning to do so. Some real emberassments and nasty surprises can come out of this.
The other point, knowing when to quit however is easier said than done. If you win and you feel it’s a nice result, just stop playing. Remember, it’s always better to stop at the top. Also, if you lose and kind of bothers you, just stop playing. Stay sober!
Tip: What I do is having a limit for both winning and losing and when I reach that mark, I just stop playing. I sit down playing a slot with $20, and that is all what I have for the day. If that is gone, I’m finished, close the lobby and look for something else. If I get lucky and make it to say $86, I immediately decide when to quit. It can be $70 or $50, the main thing is that I stick with the decision I made for the first time, no matter how do I feel later. With this simple trick I can keep my dignity and never leave the table disappointed as I did exactly what I decided to do. If I would hit the spin button at $71 and my balance would drop to $68.5 that would be a violation of my own terms.
If You’re Struggling
If you think you have a problem being consistent with your rules, or you receive feedback from others that something is wrong with you then it’s time to take action. The earlier you face a problem the easier it is to handle. First things first, get your casino account closed or exclude yourself from playing through the support. Then you can contact Gamcare or Gamblersanonymous online to get some tips and advice on how to move forward from there.
If you are still in doubt about a casino after all these tips, double check it on the internet. There’s a lot of forums where fellow gamers share their -often hard earned- experiences. Search for payout disputes, support feedback and all the stuff you are interested in.
A practical search term might be “X casino scam” or “X fraud“. Watch if relevant comments are fairly recent, as a 2 year old post might be of little help and relevance to you. Don’t be too harsh though, remember that unhappy people are far more likely to share their frustration than satisfied customers, so use your judgement. There’s a lot of happenings going on with casino brands and some operators excel over time while other’s services suffer from a merger or management change.