Before you play casino games online, you’ll want to make sure you have a realistic chance of cashing out your winnings. Unfortunately, this is an industry plagued with scams and rogue operators, so knowing how to find safe, trusted online casinos isn’t something you can afford to pass up on. So, how do you know if a casino is safe and honest? According to the experts, there are certain ways to know.
Look for a Valid iGaming License
There are trusted regulators in some countries that govern iGaming. They make sure the casino’s operators are people of good character (e.g. not criminals), and they keep an eye on the games and payouts to make sure everything is fair.
Licences from the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, or Curacao iGaming go some way to establishing trust. “The UK license is the golden ticket” says Leo Twin from GamblersPro.com, “it’s the one you can trust most as this regulator is the strictest.”
If a casino doesn’t have an iGaming license of any kind, play there at your own risk. It means there’s no trusted third party there to keep the operator in check. If they’re based offshore, that’s a license to do what they want with your funds once you’ve deposited.
Check What Software Companies Provide the Games
It’s a little-known fact that online casinos don’t usually run the games they offer. Some of them do have their own in-house games, but the majority of them run games powered by software companies like Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, Evolution, and others.
Every casino game has a house edge. This is the percentage that gives the casino its advantage. For example, blackjack has a house edge of 0.5% and most slot machines have an edge of 4% or more. It’s not a hard rule, but the bigger the house edge, the bigger the potential winnings should be.
Trusted software providers can be relied on to run honest games that keep roughly in line with the house edge over time. Award-winning companies like those listed above don’t run rigged games because their business model is so profitable that they have no need to do so.
“If you’ve never heard of the game providers, do some research. Casino magazines and big operators should offer games from them. If not, be careful,” Twin tells us.
“The sneaky ones bury these nasty clauses, so it can take some digging,” Twin says. Still, it’s better to spend 20 minutes studying the legal jargon than it is to lose your hard-earned deposits.
Consider the Payout Methods
Most big payment companies have legal obligations. They can’t allow scams to use their platforms or they could be held liable. For example, PayPal doesn’t allow online gambling payments in most U.S. states because it’s illegal for them to facilitate these transactions.
Therefore, a good way to check if a casino is legit is to consider what payment methods it offers. If a casino offers PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, and other legit payment methods that’s a good sign. If it only accepts cash transfers through Western Union and Bitcoin, that’s a warning sign.
Don’t confuse the withdrawal/payout fees a casino might charge with the fees a payment processor might charge. For example, if Visa charges 6% for international payments, the casino might have little choice but to pass that on to you.
Read Reviews and Testimonials
There are professional casino review sites that have teams of experts reviewing online casinos. They spend all day every day researching and reviewing casino websites. You can’t trust all of them, but there are some you can rely on to give you the real deal about how specific gambling sites treat players.
As well as these review sites, you can read existing and previous player testimonials. Nobody is more likely to tell you the truth than someone who has actually played at the casino. However, be aware that disgruntled players are more likely to leave a review than a satisfied player, so you have to take that into consideration.
Where can you find these testimonials? Sites like TrustPilot have no skin in the game (they’re not affiliates promoting something), so they are the most likely sites to give you honest reviews. The reviews are also written by users rather than by the site, so they have a bit more legitimacy than others.
Thankfully, there are many more honest, legit casino sites than there are rogues. This is especially so when you’re playing in countries where online gambling is legal and regulated.
You have to exercise a little more caution when playing in countries like the USA or Australia where online casino games are banned. In those countries, rogue operators know you have no legal recourse when they take advantage of you.