How to Choose a Safe Online Casino in 10 Steps (+Cheatsheet)
It can be done without relying on random ratings on the internet. Yes, it takes some time, but 100% effective as a reward for your efforts (moreover, a cheatsheet will be provided to make it easier).
There are literally thousands of online casinos on the gambling market so far. However, due to lack of proper international regulations of the online gambling industry, the industry is flooded with all possible kinds of crooks, who are thriving here. Sad but true.
On the other hand, the demand for online casinos is growing constantly from year to year. As a result, more and more people are getting outright scammed or, who are “luckier”, are provided with terrible services and attitudes to the clients (email and telephone spam, withdrawal has been “accidentally” canceled, etc.).
What can be done from the players’ side to fight scammers back? Well, there are basically the only two options we have:
You either have to rely on third-parties ratings (like this one)
Or make your own research each time before making a deposit
The problem with the first approach is that online casino ratings you can find on the internet are paid by casinos most of the time. Though to be fair, if a casino has bought its place in the rating, it does not necessarily mean that the casino is bad for players (that’s just how the industry works, and even online casinos with good intentions have to adjust to the sad reality). My point is that such ratings have been made to make more money in the first place, not to help casino players to figure out which online casino is worth playing or not.
Here’s a small tip. The bigger a casino rating website is (hundreds of online casinos reviewed, and the majority of them of course have got high marks), the higher chances that it is run by some commercial company (because relatively small blogs like mine can not produce content on the industrial scale), and the company is seeking to maximise its profits to please its shareholders, so that SEO’s can get their 7-figures bonus packages.
Anyway, the goal of the article is not to shill my blog and my casino rating but to teach you to make your own research so that you don’t have to rely on somebody’s ratings and opinions anymore. This is the only full-proof way to choose a trustworthy online casino, though it definitely takes some time and effort.
By “safe online casino” I mean basically these things:
The winnings in safe online casinos are distributed on a pure random basis (using RNG), and the casino can not affect the outcomes of the games it serves to players.
Your winnings are going to be paid, and without delays and unauthorized cancelations.
A casino does not annoy its clients with its “unbelievable” bonuses 24/7
Your personal data won’t be stolen or sold to other casinos
Players can enjoy the seamless gambling experience
With that being said, further, in the article I will provide you with 10 steps instructions on how to detect unreliable online casinos. I will make it in 2 forms for better processing of the information:
Picture of “The protocol how to choose a safe online casino” so that you can download and use it as a cheatsheet
Moreover, all steps will be also explained in detail
One important precaution before moving forward. Think of it as some sort of pre-flight checklist which pilots always use. Exactly as a pilot, you have to check all boxes in my instruction. Even one missing check-box is going to cause your airplane to crash (not every time, but we don’t want to take our chances in such important matters obviously).
To download the cheat-sheet, just give it a right-button mouse click and press on “save image” then.
Step 1. License and its verification
It includes, as the title suggests, these three things:
An online casino must have a gambling license, period. Sure, there are even reliable online casinos without any license (very few of them, obviously), but why would we make things more complicated than they need to be. Just play in licensed online casinos. As easy as that.
Gambling licenses were not created equal. There are tier 1 gambling jurisdictions: UK, Malta, Isle of Man, Alderney, Gibraltar. Tier 2: Curacao E-Gaming, Curacao Antillephone N.V., Kahnawake. And tier 3 garbage licenses: Costa-Rica, Cyprus, Curacao CIL. So, clearly stay away from the 3rd group and take online casinos from the 2d group with a grain of salt (though there are many decent ones here).
The most important part here is to verify that the license is valid. There are many online casinos claiming they have got a gambling license when in fact it is a lie. Here’s an example how to verify all 4 Curacao gambling licenses (yes, there are actually 4 of them).
Step 2. Personal information security
Every website on the internet must use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. It ensures that sensitive information that you are entering on the website (bank cards, your personal info, etc.) is protected from being intercepted by hackers.
How to tell if a casino website uses SSL protocol, which encrypts all transferred information? Very easy. On the top of your web browser, where the website's domain name is displayed, it must start with https://, not just simply with http:// (S letter stands for “secure'”). Moreover, all modern web browsers mark secure connections with a lock icon.
Here’s how it should look like.
Never ever deal with casino websites with unsecured internet connections. It is a huge sign of incompetence, not to mention that it is simply unsafe.
Step 3. Check out if a casino operates on the territories it is not supposed to
Some countries are very strict on which online casinos their residents can play. We can use such knowledge to our advantage. For example, if an online casino accepts players from the UK without having the UK gambling license, it is a good sign that they are crooks. The same is true for online casinos which accept US players without a particular state’s gambling license.
Also, some software providers restrict their games in some territories. For example, Netent is well-known for such limitations. Hence, if an online casino allows you to play in Netent games from restricted countries, it is also a bad sign (you can check out the restricted countries list on a particular provider’s official website).
Step 4. Software providers library and verifying they are not fake
A reliable online casino always has to offer a wide selection of games from the leaders of the gambling industry (a rating of software providers). It is a good sign to have at least some of them on the casino’s platform.
Also, you have to verify that the software is not fake. I made an article how to detect fake video slots (the same techniques can and should be applied to any other online casino games).
Step 5. Assess customer service
A decent online casino must have these communication channels:
live “chat” (is becoming the gold standard of the industry)
real address of the company that operates the casino (many players neglect it), so that you can send an official legal complaint
Also, I would ask in live-chat something to assess how responsive it is. A good idea would be to ask something like this: “bro, wanna lose all my savings in your casino, also I am from a restricted country, can we work it around”. You know what to do if they help you with such “issues”.
Step 6. Assess how the casino promotes itself
Marketing is a necessary part of any business, especially it is true in the gambling industry, where the competition has reached enormous levels. So to say, an online casino would not survive without some marketing strategy. However, many of them act clearly unethically, which also usually means that they treat players as shit.
So to speak, our “red flags” here:
A casino promotes online gambling as a constant income opportunity (some of them do it overtly, though some of them just imply it). We all know that “the house always wins” in the long run, don't we?
Step 7. Assess the quality of payment options
The more reliable payment methods (such as: Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, Neteller, Ecopayz, Paypal, etc.) an online casino provides the higher chance it is not a scam. It is the case, because those companies are rather picky about with whom they work.
Step 8. Check out if a casino has self-blocking options for addicted gamblers
Unfortunately, the majority of gambling regulators do not introduce centralised self-blocking service for addicted gamblers, as, for example, the UK gambling commission do.
Hence, the only option for such people is to ask the casino to block themselves (in each casino separately). If a casino does not provide a self-blocking option, it is a strong sign you are dealing with shady entrepreneurs at the very least. Also, some online casinos do have self-blocking options on paper, but very reluctant to actually self-exclude players on their requests.
Step 9. Assess bonus policy
This one is my favorite “red flag”. Very easy, but super effective. Just know, an online casino can not afford to have too generous bonuses and operate in a fair way at the same time.
What do I mean by too generous bonuses? Online casinos with tier 1 gambling licenses tend to have little or no bonuses (due to high license fees and taxes). Trustworthy online casinos with tier 2 licenses can afford 100% up to 200EUR (with 35x-50x wager), may be 100% up to 500EUR (with 50x+ wager).
Something like 300% up to 1000 EUR (with low wager) is clearly an unsustainable business model. These guys make up for such bonuses somewhere else (spam, addicted gamblers are incentivized to gamble more, payment delays, withdrawal cancelations, “you have violated bonus rules, so we confiscate the whole balance”, etc.)
Step 10. Last but not least, don't rely on forums and ratings
Basically each guide on how to choose a safe online casino recommends to do it, which is a huge mistake. I have already covered at the beginning of the article why it is the case. Moreover, legit players’ complaints are deleted, so you can not rely on forums as well.
You have to become comfortable with the thought that you are on your own here. Such websites might have been designed to help players at the beginning, but there is no guarantee that they have not changed owners or simply have not been sold out since then.
Hence, they do more harm than good for players, mostly confusing them.
Here you can see how my approach is very different from what you can usually come across on the internet. I truly believe this is the best you can do. Why? Because with my approach there is simply no trust needed. You just have to follow some procedure and assess simply measurable things. No opinions of unidentifiable people on the internet are involved, only facts.
Following carefully through all 10 steps is basically 100% guarantee of the casino’s safety. I can not name any scam or semi-scam online casinos that have managed to meet all 10 criteria without being detected at some point.
Check out other Beginners FAQ news: