Given the vast numbers of casinos currently plying their trade online, being able to separate the wheat from the chaff can be tricky. Unfortunately, there are plenty of disreputable operators in the industry who care less about their customers and more about profits.
And despite recent crackdowns which saw the introduction of stricter regulations in the UK, some online casinos continue to operate unethically. To help you avoid the usual pitfalls of gambling online, we’ve put together a guide which outlines some of the things you should keep in mind when searching for a suitable casino.
Although a positive reputation doesn’t necessarily guarantee value for money, it’s usually an excellent indicator of trustworthiness. So research an online casino before committing any cash, especially if you haven’t heard of them before.
Online resources such as casino review sites can help in this task and may offer some valuable insights. Check out our Genting, Grand Ivy and Casumo reviews for an idea of the things to look out for.
Brand prominence should also be taken in account during your decision process. A well-known online casino is far more likely to be doing things the right way than one on the fringes – more stringent regulations mean it’s now very difficult to become successful in the industry without observing best practices.
Again, this isn’t to say that you’ll find the best deals. But a casino that’s attained big-brand status should offer assurances with regards to trust, security and transparency.
Security is always going to be a concern when it comes to online transactions. To guard against attacks and theft, website developers use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption techniques in order to protect private data.
This is made possible by trusted third party companies such as Global Sign who issue SSL certificates to providers. These are basically small files that sit on a web server and secure the exchange of date. Once active the ‘http’ in front of a website address becomes ‘https’. Most browsers also display a small padlock in the address bar.
Two levels of SSL are commonly used: 128bit and 256bit. Although the latter is more secure, 128bit encryption remains more than adequate for the protection of private information. Clicking on the address bar padlock provides further information about the level of encryption being used by a site.
Internet casinos looking to operate in the UK need to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. The UKGC governs all gambling activities and only licenses operators which fully abide by its regulations.
Approved casinos must display their official license number on every pages of their site which offers gambling facilities. In order to verify authenticity, the UKGC also provides a search facility which allows you to find out more information about all of their licensees with details of any sanctions against them.
eCOGRA is another respected body which offers self-certification to online casino providers and takes a particular interest in responsible gaming. Certificate holders are permitted to use an official seal on their website. As with the UKGC, a search form is included on their website for verification purposes. So when you visit a casino, always be sure to check for trust marks such as a Gambling Commission or eCogra seal. Although the latter is mandatory, a site must at least display a UKGC license number.
Once you’re satisfied with an online casino’s legitimacy, you may want to turn your attention to the kind of operation its running. Glaring clues are often revealed in the kind of language used for the terms and conditions.
Most operators are adept at using word salad to conceal poor deals or harsh caveats. Although new regulations require online casinos to be more transparent with their offerings, particularly when it comes to wagering rules, certain casinos still use the small print to hide a multitude of sins. With this in mind, it’s worth scouring the T&Cs.
The Gambling Commission came down hard in this area in 2018. For those of you unaware, a wagering rule or requirement represents the number of times a bonus must be played through before any winnings can be withdrawn.
Time limits are also set which the player must meet before cashing out. The vast majority of online casinos use play-through rules to varying degrees. What constitutes an unreasonable wagering requirement is of course subjective.
Nevertheless, you should probably think twice about ‘taking advantage’ of a promotion that has play-through rules of over 50. In fairness, wagering doesn’t necessarily indicate a bad casino. But if you’re hunting for promotions, this is one area you’re going to want to keep in mind.
An operator which relies on a just a few software providers isn’t going to offer much in terms of variation when it comes to games. The most successful online casinos are able to offer their customers an expansive range of titles to choose from because they’ve been able to forge partnerships with numerous high-profile companies. This in itself is a strong indicator of a casino’s reputability.