Safety is of paramount importance in all trades and industries, but while it’s obvious to wear a hard hat on a building site, it’s a little less clear how to stay safe on a casino site!
Indeed, if you’re new to the world of online gambling, it can be a confusing landscape if you don’t know what to expect. It can feel worrying handing over personal and private information to sites you’re not familiar with, particularly new casino sites might seem suspicious, but as long as you educate yourself on what to look out for, you can play happily and free of concern.
It’s important to be aware of both the operators’ and your own responsibility in upholding online safety protocols. Here are the main factors to consider when determining whether a site is cyber safe.
Check a casino is licensed
The first thing to look out for when choosing an online casino site is whether or not they have a licence. All reputable online gambling operators will be officially licensed in the country their company is headquartered. Common licences you will see are the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), Malta Gambling Authority (MGA) and Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA).
A license legitimises the casino’s name as it shows it abides by certain safety protocols that make it trustworthy with your money and data. If you go to the footer of any casino site’s homepage, you should find details including the company’s name and the country in which it is licensed to be sure the site is legitimate.
Check the URL
Only use operators whose website carries an SSL certificate – this is clearly displayed in the URL bar with an https:// protocol rather than http://. This tiny difference means a lot – it shows that it is a secure site – thankfully, browsers are becoming stricter with online security nowadays and will often alert you if a website you visit is not secure.
You should also look out for the padlock symbol in the URL bar to indicate that a payment gateway is secure. Just like with online shopping, you shouldn’t risk giving payment information to any site which doesn’t uphold these safety standards.
Responsible gambling is a priority!
Before you sign up to a new online gambling website, it’s important to brush up on the facts of responsible gambling to be aware of the risks. All operators are required by law to have an easily-accessible responsible gambling policy so that if things get out of hand, you can take a break or exclude yourself from their site. Check their customer service options to see if they are open about what help is available and check in the site’s footer if they work with programmes like GambleAware and GamStop to be sure they take it seriously.
Equally, it is your own responsibility to make sure you play within your budget. If you feel yourself succumbing to the temptation of “chasing” (trying to win money back after losing), then it’s smart to set some monetary limits so that you only bet what you can afford to lose over a given time period. This will help to ensure that online gaming remains a pleasurable pursuit – it’s best to stick to the adage of “when the fun stops, stop.”
Casinos are in the business of attracting as many people as possible to their sites, which is why you’ll typically see them offering a ton of obscure payment options such as Skrill, Neteller, WebMoney, Paysafecard, Eco Payz, eWire, Wirecard, Giropay, and so on.
There is no “best” or “safest” payment method, it really does come down to personal preference. A popular payment method for many online gamblers is PayPal as it is the most efficient. Using PayPal means you don’t have to continuously type out long credit card numbers, plus it is incredibly secure with your money. It has a highly rated customer dispute system which allows you to spot suspicious activity in your account and reclaim lost money in a flash.
Be wary of flashy offers
A general rule of thumb that applies to many aspects of life is: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Many hackers or phishing websites may attempt to lure in prospective gamblers by advertising unrealistic offers such as matching bonuses and free spins with no wagering requirements.
Remember, casinos don’t tend to give away money for nothing. Be sure to find out how free spins work as they are a perfectly good and legitimate bonus to come across, but they only exist for the casino to eventually make some profit. If the deal seems suspicious, do your homework and read our casino reviews to ascertain whether or not they are real, or check out competing casinos to see if they offer similar deals.
Similarly, make sure you are familiar with the casino’s terms and conditions before you sign up and place a deposit. Some illegitimate operators exploit loopholes to avoid large cash payouts, while others may be slow to pay your winnings – a sure-fire sign that something isn’t right. Good casinos are upfront with their payout time frames and usually list them in a table in their terms and conditions. Again, do your research and check reviews to make sure a site is right for you.
Your identity is yours and yours alone!
When you sign up to a reputable online gaming site, you will be asked to provide personal identification documents such as a scan of your driving licence or passport. This is to ensure that you are the person you claim to be. It is a legitimate and crucial protocol which prevents identity fraud, money laundering and underage gambling. If a website does not ask you to provide any proof of age, we strongly recommend you do not proceed further.
If a casino has a legitimate licence and abides by GDPR laws, it will not hold on to this information any longer than is necessary, so you don’t need to worry about your data being breeched.
Once you’re signed up to a legitimate website, remember it is your responsibility to look after your data. Like with any online account, never share your password and do not leave yourself logged in on multiple devices. Ensure your account is protected with security questions that only you know the answer to.
GDPR is short for The General Data Protection Regulation and all casinos must comply with its rules. This means you are free to ask the gambling operator to send you copies of the data they have stored on you at any time. You can also ask to have yourself deleted from the system, so if you are concerned over security, make sure you exercise this right. Casinos will also give you a choice to opt-in or opt-out of being contacted by SMS, email and push notification.
Other details you could look out for
If all of this is not enough, be sure to check for these policies listed in a site’s terms to be extra secure in your decision to sign up.
- Deposit limits – good casinos offer these to ensure players do not overspend and to protect them from losing money in credit card fraud
- Audit certificates – legitimate casinos display these to show they uphold standards
- Technical testing – trustworthy casinos are tested by eCOGRA for fairness and payouts and TST who check randomness of results and return-to-player percentages