Online casinos have become quite a lucrative business in recent years, especially after the recent coronavirus pandemic that made playing at most land-based casinos impossible. Not all gambling operators operate their businesses to the same standards though. There are thousands of online casinos, not all of them equally well-regulated. Players themselves must always keep a watchful eye to determine whether the casino operates fully legally, or whether there might be some illegal activity in the casino.
To ensure the full legality of the casino, players can ask themselves a series of questions.
But first of all, check out a couple of our great online casinos:
Does the casino accept players from the player’s country of residence?
The first thing players must verify is whether people from their country of residence are allowed to use the online gambling site. Many countries do not allow online gambling for their citizens, or only allow a select group of operators to offer its services.
If a player is a resident of a country where online gambling is not allowed, they might still be allowed to register and deposit money in their account. The difficulties usually present themselves once the player wishes to stop playing and receive the money they won as a payout. The player might be asked for proof of residence at this stage. If they provide it, and the casino sees that they are from a country that they cannot provide services to, the player might experience negative consequences. These consequences could range from their account at the casino being banned, to their local law enforcement being called to inform them of their activities.
If it is unclear whether an online casino accepts players from certain countries, the wisest course of action would be to approach customer support and simply ask them. They will be more than happy to inform the players. If they refuse to answer, or their answers are vague, it is safe to assume that is not allowed for the player to use their services.
Does the casino have a good reputation, and can it be considered trustworthy?
Trustworthiness is not easily determined by a single person before playing at the casino. The issues might only present themselves once the player wishes to receive their payout, or they are experiencing difficulties with the systems or otherwise. Most untrustworthy casinos operate similarly to one another, which makes it easier for a player to recognize these faults if they know what to look for. A few of the most common methods of cheating players are the following:
- A casino refuses to pay a player the money they have won.
- They might offer a smaller payout in the hopes that the player has become frustrated enough with the casino to agree to this, just to get it over with;
- The casino tells the player they must play through more of their winnings before they can cash out, though this was never indicated beforehand. Some bonuses are subject to these rules, but money won from regular games is almost never subject to these additional conditions, at least not when it is won at a reputable casino;
- The casino has withdrawal limits that prevent the player from cashing out, again in the hopes that they might agree to a smaller immediate payout. If a player has won a million euros, they might say that they can only receive a hundred euros at a time. The player will never receive their full payout through this method, which is why they might again agree to a smaller immediate payout.
- The casino purposefully stalls the time in which the player receives their payout. The digital financial infrastructure always allows for instant payouts. It would, in fact, be more complicated to move the payout to a later date, as this requires additional programming to the casino´s financial systems.
2. The casino refers to one of their `abuse conditions´ and posits that the player has voided their right to their payout by breaking this condition.
These conditions are meant for players who ‘abuse’ bonuses. “Bonus hunters” try to make easy money by using a casino’s bonus features in unintended ways.
There are multiple ways in which ”bonus hunters” operate to abuse casino bonuses. Some of the following are:
- Multiple accounts registered by the same person:
Casino bonuses will usually not be shared between players. Many casinos have even stricter rules about this and will not allow more than one player per household. Due to the fact that casinos regularly track the IP addresses of their players, multiple accounts from the same address can be flagged as suspicious. The explanation could be as simple as a friend of a player logging in from their home on their own account, but the casino might still ask for an explanation to verify that nothing strange is occurring. If an explanation is not provided, it might lead to restrictions on the player’s account or even a ban from the establishment.
2. Saving bonus money:
Handling bonus winnings in a tactical manner, such that it is possible to boost the winning chances of the next promotion. This behavior will often be flagged if repeated too often.
3. Claiming multiple bonuses:
Occasional errors in the games´ software can allow participants to claim multiple bonuses. While this might seem enticing, it will most likely result in sanctions placed on the account once the casino established a player benefitted from the situation unlawfully.
4. Ignoring game rules:
Games, where the house has a smaller advantage towards the player, are often subject to further restrictions. Examples of games like these could be blackjack and poker, as skilled players could win these games quite reliably. The systems of the casino will often restrict a player from winning too much and using their bonuses on these games. Occasional players might still slip through the cracks. Once again, once the casino has established the player’s wrongful actions, it can result in sanctions on their accounts.
5. Breaking maximum bet limits:
One of the less visible and lesser-known rules that many bonuses are subject to, is the maximum bet amount for the bonuses. The casino would be allowed to remove the bonus if the player even goes a few cents over the stated limit.
While bonus hunters can be a real risk for casinos, some casinos simply use these measures as an excuse to deny players their owed winnings.
Is the casino in possession of all of the necessary licensing?
Casinos need to be in possession of a license to be able to operate legally. These licenses are given by the regulating organizations that formulate and enforce the laws and regulations concerning gambling operators. A gambling license can be given out from either the country itself or a country with a wider jurisdiction. For example, the Dutch gaming authority needs to approve any online operator who wishes to provide services to Dutch citizens, but the company can already be licensed in Europe through the Maltese gaming authority. The national license allows the country that regulates it to collect taxes on the company´s profits as well, while the jurisdiction license simply allows the company to operate internationally. The Maltese government would only be able to collect taxes from a casino that actually offers its services to Maltese citizens, which is not always the case.
If the regulating organization becomes aware of abuse from an online casino, they might involve themselves. Most respectable regulators act as mediators in these cases, where they will allow all parties to speak their part and act accordingly. If they agree with the customer that the operator has been acting unlawfully, they can force the operator to pay the customer what they are owed. In extreme cases, this might even result in the operator losing their license.
Not all regulators are trustworthy, unfortunately. Regulators from, for example, Costa Rica and Seychelles are very unlikely to offer help to customers in these cases. If a casino has a permit from one of these countries, there is good reason to consider playing there to carry a higher risk.
Some regulators might help you but are a bit less stringent in how they enforce the regulations on operators. Regulators from Curaçao and Gibraltar might decide to offer some assistance, but it is certainly not their highest priority. It is not guaranteed that their help will result in a favorable outcome either.
Casinos with licenses from Alderney, the Isle of Man, or Malta are considered very trustworthy. As such, they will offer full mediation and support of players who have been wronged somehow. They value their status as reputable organizations, which is why they make their assistance in these cases one of their highest priorities.
How does a casino’s revenue stack up against its payouts?
Casino revenue does not always indicate that a casino is not trustworthy, but it could be a sign of irregular activity if their jackpots far exceed the amount of money coming in. Either the operator is lying about the jackpots they can pay out, they are lying about how much revenue is coming in or they have an undisclosed secondary source of revenue. This might be possible if the company is part of a larger conglomerate, but this is especially unlikely for smaller operators who limit their operations to their own country.
There are slot games that give maximum payouts of ten thousand times the initial stake. If a player plays with a bet of one hundred euros, they could receive a payout of 1 million euros. Most smaller casinos will not be able to pay this amount of money without going out of business.
Online casinos are often opposed to visible limits in the games they have on offer, as these might drive some of the more high-rolling customers away. Some of the smaller, less scrupulous casinos might install withdrawal limits so that they are not required to give the player their full payout.
Before a player chooses a casino, it would be wise to verify their financial capabilities and whether it is realistic to expect them to pay the players the amounts of money listed in their games. Unjust withdrawal limits will often result in players never receiving the full payout.
Which games does the casino have on offer?
Most players have a game that they would say is their clear favorite. As players have different preferences, gambling sites will make attempts to provide games for as many players as possible. Casinos with only a single type of game on offer generally have few customers. As such, most successful casinos have as many games as they can possibly provide.
What is the language level of the online gambling site?
Casinos will usually translate their website into as many different languages as possible. By doing this, they ensure that as many people as possible can make use of the services they provide. Offering services to people in their own native language means that the casinos will also need to meet the customer support needs of the people who speak that language. Unfortunately, this is not always sufficiently done. Most customer service workers provide their services in English or their own native language, usually an Eastern European language. Most software providers of online casinos are based in Eastern Europe, which is why the customer support workers are often located there as well.
Most reputable casinos will try to keep the language on their site as clear and concise as possible to avoid possible confrontations with customers. If customers are unable to understand the terms and conditions set by the website, it might prevent them from playing there.
The quality of customer support?
The terms and conditions of online casinos can vary quite a lot. These variations mean that it is important for people to have somewhere where they can ask questions. These questions can be asked at the customer support department. Customer support will usually go through a live chat initially. If the live chat is not sufficient to solve the problem, the customer might be given an e-mail address or a phone number for further support. They might also be directed to the FAQ, where the questions that customers ask most frequently are compiled after which it After which it may be possible for the customer to contact them through an e-mail address. Aside from the right support, they will also often be an FAQ posted on the website with the most frequently asked questions to customer support.
Many smaller casinos often experienced issues with their customer support, being understaffed and being unable to help all customers who come forward with questions. These waiting times are often one of the most heard complaints for smaller casinos. Unfortunately, it seems customer support is often not a priority for the online gambling sites as it costs quite a substantial sum to hire more customer support workers. This money will usually be spent on other, more profitable matters. Customer service does not directly generate profits by itself. If a casino has the choice between investing in a new slot game or hiring two customer service workers, it will usually pick the game.
Bonuses and bonus terms and conditions?
One common marketing strategy of online gambling websites is to offer bonuses and promotions to their customers. The most popular and most common bonuses by far are geared towards new customers. These bonuses serve to entice them into registering at the casino and making a deposit to their account. Once they have registered their account or deposited money, they will receive a bonus. This could be something like free spins on certain games or a certain amount of bonus money, but this varies between the different casinos.
These bonuses are usually subject to certain conditions before they can result in a payout. A common condition is that the player must use the bonus money as their bet a certain number of times. Once the player has, for example, used it as a bet five times they can receive their winnings as a payout.
User experience and the convenience of using the gambling site is one of the most principal factors in the players’ decision to keep playing at a casino. Players do not want to waste their time because a game will not load, or they cannot find the game they are looking for.
In most cases, the bigger casinos have better websites. They can hire more personnel with higher qualifications to design and maintain their digital infrastructure. There are exceptions to this rule though. Some gambling sites have instead decided to adopt a more predatory approach towards guiding player behavior. They design the website to be intentionally obtuse and confusing, in the hope that players might spend money without staying long enough to win anything
The way a website looks can tell players a great deal about the quality they can expect. If a gambling site appears slow, ugly, or otherwise outdated, it might be best for players to search for someplace else to play.
Do they offer a mobile casino?
Most people have access to smartphones these days. With the advent of smartphones also came the advent of smartphone gambling. As such, most online gambling sites have mobile functionality as well. Smartphone availability allows far more people to make use of the casino’s services, which is why most online casinos will enable smartphone functionality as soon as possible. A casino without mobile support excludes a large part of its possible user base. If they do not offer a mobile casino, it could
What are the deposit and withdrawal options and fees?
One thing for players to be careful of is whether the casino has free deposit and withdrawal options or whether there are fees associated with it. Different players prefer different payment methods for their play. Some might prefer PayPal, but others might prefer less commonly used services such as Skrill or Neteller. Not all casinos accommodate all payment services, so it is especially important that players are aware of the available services before they deposit money into their accounts.
If a casino fulfils all of the aforementioned points, it could be considered to be among the best casinos in the industry. Most casinos will not score perfectly on all of the aforementioned points. If they do, it would mean the player has found the best casino in the industry.