If you are playing casino games online, trust must be one of the foremost considerations when choosing where to play. Not only are you parting with money in exchange for a service provided by an online entity who you’ll never meet face-to-face, but you have to believe that the service is fair and legitimate. And gambling, being a ‘vice’ industry, doesn’t always come with a reputation for honest and integrity. Unfortunately, it’s not just players who perform tricks to manipulate the odds (read about card-counting here). There are a few stories out there about rigged software or casino operators who go bust owing their customer base $100,000s in unpaid winnings or unsettled account balances.
The good news is that the vast majority of online casinos behave honourably. And to help you find those and be sure that you are getting value for money in your wagering, here are a few hints and tips on what to look out for when cruising for a legit gambling site.
The number one consideration here is licensing.
Whether it is the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, any of the US’ new online regulators, or the recently-formed Ontario iGaming, wherever you are you must only play at casinos that have a license from the appropriate jurisdictions. Strict regulators set the rules on how an online casino must operate and their remit covers all these areas:
- Games must be properly audited by a 3rd party like eCorga to ensure they are fair and all outcomes of ‘events’ like spins and card turns are completely random.
- Players must be protected– they must be given the appropriate tools to set limits on their spend and given advice on how to deal with problem gambling.
- The business must be well run – player balances should be ring-fenced to ensure the are protected in the event that the business goes bust
- Advertising Standards – offers for new and existing customers must be fair and transparent with terms and conditions easily accessible
- Action must be taken to prevent fraud – online casinos are used by criminals to launder cash and regulators enforce Anti Money Laundering strategies through their licensing conditions.
Over the last decade or more online gambling regulation has become stricter to protect consumers and you can see how with all these important issues kept in check by regulators it’s critical that you make sure that licensor information clearly displayed before signing up and spending your money.
Published Payout Rates
Another indication of legitimacy is published payout rates on a site. These show the percentage of money paid out in prizes as a percentage of all the money wagered through games provided by a casino. Typically, the figure is around 95% and good casinos will publish the figure somewhere on there home page. The important element here is that it must be verified by a 3rd party software testing house or accountancy firm. You can also visit pages like this one where you can compare online casino payout rates to find one with the highest return to player.
Random Number Generators
Now, a word on RNG or Random Number Generators.
If you read up on how online casinos work then you may well find this phrase used quite a bit. It refers to the mechanism used to generate the result of a card hand, roulette spin or slot spin. Complex computer algorithms are behind the action and at licensed casinos they will have been verified by 3rd parties once again to ensure they work properly. Essentially a computer is simulating what happens on a live casino floor – that is how these games work and it should put your mind at rest that the action is fair and above board.
Live Dealer Games
If you still don’t trust the algorithms behind RNG casino games then the good news is that you can still play online, but this time interacting via live video stream with a real-life croupier dealing real cards or spinning a real roulette wheel. Just like in real life, the croupier will shuffle cards between hands and bring out new decks on a regular basis. And you can watch as this happens, thereby removing any uncertainty you may have over the honest and integrity of events. Live dealer tables are now found at every online casino offering Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Baccarat and many other format and if you have a hard time trusting an online casino they are a good way to go.
The Importance of Reputation
Finally, let’s look at the importance of reputation. Betting with a well-known brand with a global reputation is a good way to feel like we can trust the house. Big names like Bet365, 888 and MGM don’t want scandals on their hands and they have built their reputation up over many years. Some are even listed on the world’s big stock exchanges where they have a duty to their shareholders and rules on business management and practices are very strict. Breaking these rules would have serious consequences for the management teams of these firms and the future of their businesses.
So, if you are worried about legitimacy you may wish to consider restricting yourself only to those big-name operators with that kind of experience and a reputation to uphold.
We hope this short guide will help you to feel at ease placing your bets and give you a good background knowledge to take with you next time you step onto the virtual casino floor.