You should always be careful when spending real money on the Internet, and playing at an online casino is no different. While there are plenty of excellent, safe online casino sites operating legally and completely above board, there are also plenty of rogue operators out there hoping to scam unsuspecting players out of a few dollars. We explain how to tell the good guys from the bad guys and how to spot unsafe casino websites which should be avoided at all costs.
Licensed and safe online casino websites
Characteristics of a safe online casino
The easiest way to figure out which online casinos to avoid is to learn how to identify the characteristics of a safe casino site. When playing real money casino games on the Internet, the casino you choose should always tick the following boxes:
- Security – It should be protected by a minimum of 128 Bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer) digital encryption, which scrambles all information sent over a secure site so your personal details can’t be intercepted by a third party. You can tell if a website is protected by SSL encryption by looking at the URL bar – if protected it will have an icon of a padlock and the address will begin with “https://”.
- Licensing – The site must be licensed by a reputable online gambling jurisdiction, which ensures the operator is running within the strict laws set by its country of certification. Casino sites with legitimate certification must undergo a long application process to ensure they support player safety and responsible gambling practices, offer fair games using genuine random number generators (RNGs), are financially sound and operating free of any criminal activity. You can find an online casino’s jurisdiction license at the bottom of the casino homepage, or within its ‘About’ section, with the best licenses coming from the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, Alderney, Curacao, Isle of Man and Kahnawake.
- Software – The casino should only be offering software from leading, trusted game studios with upstanding reputations within the online gaming industry. The best software developers include NetEnt, Microgaming, BetSoft, Evolution Gaming, Ezugi, Play’n Go, Quickspin, Yggdrasil, iSoftBet and Playtech, amongst others. Games from these software providers are of the highest quality, use certified RNGs and are regularly audited by third-party authorities like eCOGRA to ensure all results are fair and unbiased.
- Payments – A selection of recognisable deposit options should be offered to allow players peace of mind when transferring real money to the casino. The payment options offered vary between each site, but the most popular deposit methods include Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard and direct bank transfers.
- Customer Service – Just because a casino is operating online, does not mean players should be left in the lurch if a query or problem arises. Trustworthy online casinos all offer dedicated help desks, with trained staff on standby to assist with any questions or issues you may have in relation to payouts, security or general enquiries.
How to tell if an online casino is dodgy
The standard for certified online casinos is very high these days, so you can usually tell if an online casino is legitimate from first glance. If it is poorly designed, looks cheap or quickly thrown together, it is not worthy of your time. A good online casino should look impressive, be quick to load and provide a user-friendly platform with a large selection of games on offer.
Another piece of advice if you’re unsure whether a casino is legit or not is to run its name through a quick Google search. There are plenty of player forums, reviews and blacklists available which will provide information about whether the casino should be avoided or trusted.
Legitimate casino bonuses
Some cowboy operations will attempt to lure players in with exuberant bonus offers, promising free money, real world prizes or cash matches. As most leading online casinos also offer large welcome bonuses, it can be difficult to identify the legitimate offers from the dodgy ones.
The legitimate bonus offers are subject to wagering requirements, which means a player must spend a certain amount of money at the casino before they can withdraw any cash made from bonus money – information which can be found within the terms and conditions of any bonus offer. Wagering requirements are dreaded by players, but their purpose is to safeguard the casino from bankruptcy, so they are a necessary evil.
Rogue operators are likely to offer a bonus that has no wagering stipulations, making it very tempting to players. When it comes to identifying which casino bonuses can be trusted or not, the golden rule should always apply: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Trustworthy online casinos
Figuring out how to identify the good online casinos from the bad can be a daunting and time consuming task, so we have done the hard work for you. Our team of writers and gaming enthusiasts have thoroughly tested all of the online casinos endorsed on our site before they receive our recommendation, so you can be sure these sites are all safe and trustworthy.
It is important to be aware not all online casinos cater to all players, as some are blocked within certain countries depending on differing gambling laws. For a full list of all the safe casinos accepting players in your country, refer to our casino table at the top of this page. This list has been geo-targeted to recognise your location and only offer trustworthy casino sites that cater to players from your region.