Online gambling is becoming the nation’s favorite way to play, but with the hundreds of sites that exist to cater to those who would rather gamble in the comfort of their own home, how can you be sure that your information and money are secure?
While online gambling is strictly illegal on a federal level in the United States, it is legal under some state laws. But in most states, it is either illegal or a grey area, which means that in those states especially, online gambling isn’t regulated. If you reside in a state where online gambling is illegal, we recommend you proceed with caution.
In some states, like Pennsylvania, the laws for online gambling are ambiguous, and it is unlikely that you’ll be arrested for playing. But don’t let your guard down just yet. Non-regulation of online gambling sites by your state government means that the state government has not gone through the existing sites to make sure that they are safe for their states’ users. Because they haven’t been thoroughly combed through, you run a greater risk of accidentally choosing a site that will put your information in danger.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a state in which online gambling is legal, you and your information will be safest if you join a United States- approved gambling site. On these sites, the operators need to meet a number of rules laid out by the government, such as periodic software checks, age verification, and valid licensing, to name a few.
The online gambling community is tight-knit, and there are many forums and sites that exist to help potential gamblers find a reputable place to spend their time and money.
You first want to pay attention to the negative reviews, as they will give you insight in to the worst of the worst encounters and experiences that users have had on that particular site. Some things to look for within the negative reviews are users talking about slippery sites that use loopholes within their terms to get out of paying you, sites that are slow to pay or have a record of not paying their patrons, and sites whose offers seem too good to be true.
These are just a few things to look for among the many that may send up the red flags. Ensure that the reviews you’re reading are from unbiased sources; in other words, do your best to seek out user reviews instead of reviews done by a website. In some cases, certain websites that specialize in online gambling site reviews will take money from the site being reviewed in exchange for a good review. This is obviously a problematic situation for a user who is visiting the review site for an honest opinion when trying to decide where they should place their trust.
The advancement in the features of online gambling sites may mean that they are using more than one software provider to accommodate their needs. Checking the software that a site uses isn’t a totally fail-safe method of checking the legitimacy of the site, but it does contribute to the overall picture that can be painted of the website.
Look for established software brands, such as Rival Powered and Real Time Gaming, and keep an eye out on the forums for any other established software companies that may be entering the scene.
Doing some independent research on legitimate software companies can only aid you in your search for an online gambling site, and a little background knowledge can go a long way.
Don’t be fooled! Seals of approval that may be displayed on a site are meant to comfort the prospective player by causing them to think that if the site has been ‘approved,’ it is safe. But the reality is that seals of approval can be easily fabricated and added to a site without the actual approval to back them up. Legitimate seals of approval DO exist, but it is better that you take these out of the equation because they are so easy to fake.
Customer support is an important part of your search, and should not be ignored. Though a quality customer support system isn’t necessarily an indicator of site safety, it is an important thing to check.
You can do this by, again, reading reviews done by previous customers on forums and in comments. Or you can go with a more hands-on approach. Test out each method of support that the site offers, whether it is email, live chat, or a phone number.
Come up with a few questions beforehand, and measure the response time (if you are contacting them via email), clarity of their answer, and how willing they are to help you sort out a potential problem.
Even a legitimate site can have a bad customer support system, so it’s important to make sure that if a problem does arise, there will be a team there who will be willing to do what they can to help you.
Ease of making a deposit does NOT equal a more legitimate site. In fact, the ease of deposit making, whether it is easy or more difficult, has absolutely no correlation with the site’s safety. An unsafe site wants your money just as much as a safe site does, and certain sites go through more checks to ensure their own safety by verifying that the money you are depositing is yours and will not put them in a legal position.
When you’ve chosen a site and begun to play, there are still a few more things to keep in mind.
If you are using an online gambling site, you have a personal responsibility to keep up with relevant law changes. This goes double if you are using a site that is not operated by the country you live in. Although law changes may not come very often, it’s important that you are familiar with the laws and rules of gambling in both your country or state, and the country where the site is licensed.
Not only does this give you a more solid picture of your legal protection, but if a law changes dramatically for the country that your site is licensed by, you’ll want to know so that you can take the appropriate measures of collecting your money and taking your information off of the site in case it is shut down or is somehow otherwise legally compromised.
The research and information that you do before you sign up doesn’t end there.
It’s important for your safety and security that you’re always up to date.
You’ve completely vetted the site, checked its licensing, read and reviewed user comments, and you make a point to keep up with the laws, so now you’re home free, right? NO!
Solid and secure sites can still experience turmoil that may cause them to close unexpectedly. This is generally due to financial issues, but it certainly isn’t limited to that. You should be aware of a few warning signs that may allude to a site closure.
Warning sign 1:
Your withdrawals have always taken ‘x’ amount of time in the past, but now it’s taking longer.
This isn’t a nail in the coffin by any means, and could just indicate temporary financial setbacks within the site, but it is in your best interest to keep track.
Keep a small book of your withdrawals, and include the amount, the date you requested the withdrawal, and the date you receive your money. Having a good record that will track the site over a period of time can show you if the site is slowly taking a nose dive, and will show you if the site has taken an obvious dramatic turn for the worse.
Warning sign 2:
You emailed customer service two weeks ago and haven’t gotten a response, though they’ve been quick to respond in the past.
Again, this can be due to a few things unrelated to the stability of the site, but it’s good practice to keep an account in the back of your mind. A slowdown in responses from the site to its players, especially if the communication and responses have been frequent and quick in the past, is a red flag.
If you think this is occurring, look to the forums. Other players in your position are most definitely wondering the same thing, and getting different accounts of the situation can help you paint a bigger picture.
These are not the only two warning signs, but they are two that are easily trackable if you keep a good record.
You can never go wrong with having more information on your side. Start with this list, and expand on it for yourself based on the criteria you may have when you are making your choice.
From knowing the laws, to knowing a few warning signs of a potentially failing site, we hope that these eight tips have helped you to be more confident not only while you’re looking for a site, but also while you’re playing!