Online gambling has been around for over two decades now. Like the internet itself, internet-based cardrooms and online casinos have grown much more sophisticated. That said, many gambling websites are also fake storefronts for seedy organizations that want to leech your money, or outright phishing hotbeds. In general, you should follow a few guidelines to ensure your safety when you choose to gamble online. Here are the big ones:
Only gamble in licensed casinos
You can’t just go opening casinos willy-nilly. Like any other business, a casino needs a permit. Moreover, any gambling-based organization needs to be licensed in almost all countries. Most have a GCB, i.e. gaming control board, as a government agency that regulates and enforces laws on gambling. A casino’s license is its evidence of legitimacy. This applies all the same for an online casino. The issue, though, is that online casinos are much more elusive than physical ones. Many scam online gambling sites swindle unsuspecting customers for years on end before some agency takes them down. So the first thing you should do on any gambling website is check their license. They will usually have an ‘About Us’ section with the license and address information. If you cannot find anything even after scoping out the landing page thoroughly, it’s a red light.
Check if you have lock sign on the left of your URL
In order to make actual money, you have to transfer money into the virtual wallet of the chosen gambling platform. Moreover, all legit gambling websites require you to fill in basic personal biodata and ID. Such sensitive information means that security should be paramount in any gambling website worth its salt. The good news is, you can easily find out how strong the security is. All you have to do is check for SSL encryption. Without going into the tech details, suffices to say that SSL certificates are the industry standard in user security. Having SSL means that your data and privacy is safe to input for that site.
It’s also very easy to check. Because the major modern browsers – Chroma, Opera, Firefox – all come with a ‘lock’ icon to the left of the URL/search bar when a site with SSL encryption is loaded. On the other hand, sites without SSL encryption will have exclamation marks instead of locks.
Read the terms and conditions
Gambling websites are a dime a dozen. It is a saturated market. And as with any such market, gambling sites run lucrative ads and promos to draw customers in. Most gambling websites offer a sign-in bonus. It is likely that on your journey through online casinos, you have come across ludicrous offers such as 400% bonuses or free spins for days. But the thing is, they rarely if ever come with no strings attached. The free spin bonus might require you to put real money in to retrieve them. The 400% bonus might have an equally demanding wager requirement. Gambling websites are ultimately out there to make money, not unlike casinos. So it is always a good practice to read through terms and conditions on any website before you invest your hard-earned cash. If it’s too good to be true, be wary.
Compartmentalize your savings
A large chunk of online casinos out there are dodgy. Not only do they use predatory tactics to swindle you, they will also be often vulnerable targets for hackers. Now, you can usually prevent these problems easily – you could always hand-pick reputed sites based on thorough research. But why take a chance? There is a much easier way to ensure you don’t suffer a huge financial loss. Set up a different savings account and debit/credit card just for online gambling. If you prefer using bitcoin, have a separate local bitcoin wallet just for gambling. Firstly, it will make sure you don’t suffer a financial disaster in the unlikely event that your data gets stolen. Secondly, it will encourage responsible bankrolling.
Be extra careful about downloadable content
Many online casinos will have their in-house apps. These are executables you can download to play casino games from that platform without using a browser. Many will also offer extra incentives such as bonuses only given to app users. Unreliable websites can make you download spyware. Stick to web browser-based gambling sites, and if you do download apps, make sure the site is 100% legit and has enough reputability.
Many websites will also require you to sign up and verify your account with personal information and payment options. This is, in fact, a mark of a legit platform. Just make sure that you do not create multiple accounts, as it is deemed unfair means by many online casinos.
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