How to tell if an Online Casino is Legitimate
If you have not yet chosen what online casino to play at, you shouldn’t be in much of a hurry. Gambling in online casinos is an exciting and entertaining experience, but there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure that you have a rewarding experience – and do not get caught out by unfriendly bonus terms, or worse still a bad casino operator.
Most importantly, you want to give yourself some time to choose the best and most legitimate online casino so that you don’t run into problems in the future. Unfortunately, not all online casinos provide honest and reliable casino gaming. It doesn’t mean that online casinos are worse than their land-based counterparts - it's just that you need to be very careful when choosing the right casino, and it’s up to you to use due diligence to protect your hard earned money.
Factors Which Legitimate Casinos Share
So what should you do to know for sure the online casino is legitimate or not?
Well, first of all, you should check to see whether the online casino is licensed by one of the major gambling jurisdictions such as Alderney, the Isle of Man, Kahnawake, Gibraltar, or the United Kingdom. If the online casino is licensed and regulated in a well-recognized gambling jurisdiction so that it can offer real money games, then it demonstrates the casino’s commitment to fair and responsible gaming for its players.
For US casinos, these licenses will often come from the Caribbean or Central American countries. For example Antigua, Netherlands Antilles, Panama or Costa-Rica.
When a casino wants to obtain a gaming license, it must undergo a series of background and security checks and the online casino will typically get audited every year in order to keep their license. The casino’s operations are watched by the governing regulatory body and subject to its rules, and if the online casino operator violates any of these rules, the license which the company is operating under tends to be immediately revoked.
How can you find the license information at the online casino?
It’s recommended to look for a picture on the online casino’s website that shows the casino’s license. Some gambling regulators that issue licenses to online casinos show a list of their licensees on their own website, so it can be worthwhile checking that out too for peace of mind to make sure the casino isn’t being shady and displaying a license they haven’t actually got.
After you have visited the particular casino to check whether they have a license and in which gambling jurisdiction it was issued, you need to find credible reviews posted on the Internet. This step might not be as reliable as the first one but it’s still useful. In some cases, online casinos may be paying people to publish positive reviews about their websites.
Legitimate Casinos Have Tested Games
A major trust factor with online casinos is whether they are prepared to go through an audit of the fairness of their games. 3rd party outfits such as eCogra and Technical Systems Testing play millions of hands to make sure everything is 100% legitimate as far as the deal or spins go.
Casinos which have undergone this testing are happy to display links and badges to prove their fairness. When this is backed up with a license you can be very sure that the games are fair.
Which Software Provider?
Some casino software makers will only license to casinos which follow their rules as far as which countries and the payback percentages they offer. The giants like MicroGaming, PlayTech, NetEnt and IGT are very strict on this.
Overall Design of the Casino Website
In addition to checking whether the online casino you are interested in has a license and reading reviews, you are looking for any other information about the casino that will help to ease any doubts about its legitimacy. For example, the casino’s site and platform design. It is easy for an online casino to be promising users the most exciting casino gaming experience on the Internet, but when you access the site if you find it to be cluttered, unappealing, and difficult to navigate, it’s only going to make you question the casino’s integrity. If the site design looks amateurish and not consistent with what you would come to expect of a reputable online casino, don't trust it.
Multiple Contact Points
Also consider the fact that any legitimate online casino would care about its players and as such you should expect to receive excellent customer services from the casino. As part of the review process, each player should look into the quality of the customer support offered by the casino. Check to see how easy they are to contact, how quickly any issues are resolved, and how well the casino deals with its players if there is a problem.
Reputable casinos offer players many different ways to get in touch. They are open about their address and phone numbers, and do not hide behind a generic ‘support’ e-mail address.
Multiple Deposit Options + Fast Cash outs
Having a wide range of deposit options, especially services like PayPal, are a solid trust signal. Casinos with a lot of charge-backs and dodgy payment practices will struggle to get merchant accounts with the major credit cards, and the e-wallets will soon drop them. This means casinos with the full range of payment options are the ones to trust.
When it comes to reassuring yourself that you are dealing with a legitimate online casino, you want to be confident that when it comes to cashing out any winnings, you will receive it, and it should be in a timely manner, regardless of how much it is. Besides the initial security checks before you make your first withdrawal, one would expect a casino to pay out a user almost instantaneously.
If this doesn’t happen at a casino, and it takes more than several days to have the player withdrawal processed, this would be unacceptable. Any in-depth and honest casino review should note any reported problems with the casino slow paying its players, so make sure you’re reading reviews on credible review sites.
Legitimate Casinos – Making Sure It All Fits Together
Most online casinos are absolutely legitimate. When making sure you are safe it is really a matter of making sure all the factors above tie in together. If something does not seem right, then you should spend that few minutes checking out the details, or searching online to fill in any gaps.
My personal view is that the big name brands usually the best casinos – they have the best games, most deposit options and the biggest promotions. If you find a licensed casino with more than 5 years online, which is a known brand name, then the chances of them not being 100% legitimate are very slim indeed.
For US players Bovada fit this bill perfectly, they are part of the solid ‘Bodog’ family, and have been looking after US players more than a decade under that name.
International players are ‘spoiled for choice’, with many legitimate brands adding to their credibility by having a listing on the London Stock Exchange. My personal favourite is 32 Red, who run on the acclaimed MicroGaming platform. Not only do they tick all the right boxes as a legitimate operator, they give you a $32 for every $20 you deposit too – see www.32red.com for more.