Online casinos first became popular in 1997. After the first casino was launched in the Caribbean in 1994, the industry went mainstream four years later. Profits from Internet-based gambling sites shot from below $15 million in 1995 to $830 million by 1998.
Following the fast growth of the casinos, fake wagering sites started cropping up. The US proposed an unsuccessful ban on online gambling in 1999. Scam casinos continued to increase around the world. By mid-2000, thousands of people were reporting fraudulent activities on unregistered and unregulated casinos around the world.
More than a decade later, the online casino industry has changed. Almost every legitimate company has a license. Many casinos are transparent and communicate with players as often as possible. Fraudulent gambling sites still exist but it’s easier to identify them than it was in the early 2000s.
Below are the main indicators of safe online casinos and how they differ from fake scamming sites.
A casino’s legislation information has been an important checkmark of legitimacy since the industry grew popular. Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to introduce a license for betting websites. Since then, more than 150 countries offer similar licenses.
Many casino startups get registered in specific countries—mostly where government involvement with casinos is low. Caribbean countries are a haven for casinos. But due to lax laws and lack of government intervention when casinos are accused of fraud, some scam casinos have acquired licenses in the region.
In Europe, most companies acquire their casino licensing and registration in Malta and the UK. The latter has particularly strict laws, which means companies regulated in the region conduct fair and transparent business.
Clear Terms and Conditions
Fake gambling sites will often have ‘Terms & Conditions’ pages but they are full of vague wording. Some claim to have licenses but won’t produce license numbers or registration information.
By contrast, legitimate casinos are precise about their licenses, privacy policies and all issues that affect players. If you read a legitimate company’s ‘T & C’ section, you probably won’t need to contact the owners for further details. All the registration details and how the company handles various aspects of the casino are indicated.
Most casinos use data encryption techniques to keep players’ financial information private. That way, credit card numbers and details of bank accounts are secured as strings of code that can’t be revealed.
Game fairness is a major concern among players. But a lot of established casinos don’t seem to recognize that. Cases of well-known companies having games that glitch every time are rampant. Most of the casinos accused of having unfair games are often not new at all.
Depending on the game providers used, a casino can have both safe and unsafe games. New casinos seem to be better at keeping players safe than many established platforms. The startups implement advanced security techniques. They may work with established game providers, but upcoming sites are increasingly rejecting providers whose games are considered stale and unsafe.
To prove their games are provably fair and efficiently running, most casinos work with third-party software auditors. TST Labs and eCOGRA are the most recognizable auditors in the industry. If you find a website with links to either of the auditing company, the casino’s games are most probably fair and safe.
Fair games are powered by random number generators that pick a winner after a specific number of attempts. If the casino decides that a winner should be picked after every 30 plays, for every 30 pays, you will win once.
Registered casinos are not always fair. They may have license numbers and clear terms, but their payout ratios indicate they don’t pay everyone who wins. The best casinos have payout ratios of between 95% and 98%. That means for every $100 wagered, about $95 is paid out as winnings to gamblers.
Unsafe casinos will often have much lower payouts. There are times where legitimate companies have lower payout ratios such as when paying out money from lotteries. However, with regular games, any payout of below 80% may indicate foul play from the company.
Low payout ratios come from companies using unfair games. Instead of having games whose winners are determined by random number generators, casinos unfairly pick the winner. The games become rigged and very few people get to win.
Another reason for low payouts may be that game providers set their games to be won less than other games. Since providers make the games, they determine the algorithms to determine winners. Sometimes casinos collaborate with game providers. Casinos are professional businesses after all and they want to maximize profits as much as possible.
Reviews and Recommendations
If you don’t have the time to evaluate an online casino for safety, read reviews online. Numerous positive reviews will indicate a legitimate company whose players are happy. Lots of negative reviews indicate a company doing something wrong.
Reviews can be deceiving if the company is less than a year old. But if a company has been getting praise year after year since its inception, it’s probably managed professionally. Nonetheless, it’s important to read reviews to get an overview of what other players think of the casino.
Some companies look legitimate in every way when you scroll through their sites. By reading reviews and comments on casino forums, you can find details about the casinos you didn’t know before.
Finally, always check the domain name of the casino you intend to visit. Some fake companies start sites with nearly similar domain names to the legitimate websites. If you prefer to gamble on apps, confirm the legitimacy of the app you want to download. Some apps on play stores may have familiar names but are owned by unknown companies.