Keeping yourself safe online these days is of ever increasing importance with more risk and opportunity for players than ever before. In this article, we’ll explore the questions you’ll want to ask for new sites to help you evaluate them, and keep yourself safe.
An older man named Vince once said, “The best defense is a strong offense,” you could say that’s an extremely ‘Art of War’ style of mentality, but you must admit it’s very effective when it comes to any self-defense application. We’re assuming that protecting yourself from rogue gambling sites is indeed a high priority; that is if you like to keep your money.
Play detective, scope out new online casinos.
To keep yourself safe, you might want to play pretend and think about how you would go about setting up an online site that rips people off. I’m not saying that you would ever consider doing this yourself, only to get yourself a bit of rational perspective. It’s the same way you would walk around your house, pretending to be a burglar, exploring potential weakness.
Also think of online casinos in the opposite way, as if you were going to launch a large, successful, and reputable establishment. You’d want customer support, content on the games, the site/software to work right, and most of all you’d want your customers never to hesitate to come back to your website for more action.
If one considers how they would be the operator, it will not only help you avoid some potential snares, but it could help you understand the operation of legitimate sites as well. You need to develop a mental scorecard; you give the gambling site points toward being legit or being “sketchy”. Then you decide to play there or not for yourself.
There are many choices out there, even for legitimate sites; that’s why it’s a bit of rat’s nest to navigate it safely. With today’s technical knowledge being widespread, it’s relatively easy to set up a mini-casino if you have a copy of the core software and some graphic design skills. For under $1,000 you could theoretically create your online poker room. It’s the ability to manage many players, and to customize the look and feel is when things start to get more expensive for those managing online gambling sites.
Someone who’s less reputable could go the licensing route, buying a license to casino software, or even stealing the software itself. First going on the ‘up and up’ then looking for some short term players as well. These casinos will pop up for a few months then go dormant with everyone’s funds.
To avoid the trouble of getting played by a new casino, I’ve developed a bit of a checklist of questions I ask myself when evaluating new sites to play on.
How new are they?
New sites usually weird me out, and I tend to stick to old, proven, places that are highly recommended by the online gambling community. On the other hand, if you gamble enough online, you’ll be tempted to try out new sites because of the offers they present to new players. Some people make a career out of gaming at new casinos out of their loyalty offers. These players only seek to get a small percentage of return over time, and the approach takes discipline, but it’s usually successful. To pull it off though, you need to always sign up for accounts around the world, playing them until the initial deposit bonus is cleared, then cashing out and moving on.
Just because a site is brand new doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play there, it means you should consider it as a strike against them, though. You need to let the site earn your trust over time, think years, not months. Don’t go making your bets at a brand new site that you don’t know anything about and haven’t established any trust with, and you can’t get burned.
I think that maybe six months to a year is a good amount of time for a new casino to be up and running to be considered “safe”. Obviously, the longer they’re in operation, the more likely they’re to have excellent stability.
How’s their content?
Another way to review a site is to see if there’s some effort, money, and people behind it to look at its content. If you look at the site and there’s pages with lessons, information on the games, the software, the security; that’s always a good sign. The more words the better.
Look at the site’s blog and social media accounts. How many followers or subscribers do they have? Check out the blog and see how far back it goes, how many posts are published and for how long? Now I’ll ask these questions myself, as I write for sites like these, but there’s no reason you can’t use this little bit of knowledge for your online safety.
How’s their website and software?
To check the overall condition of the website might be to look for things like broken images, poorly designed logos, garbage domain names, and domains hosted in unbranded locations (i.e., rogecasion.superpublicsite.com). Do they have branded emails, or is it something like: [email protected]/gmail/hotmail.com?
How well online gambling websites software works can speak volumes about the company as a whole. Just think – this software is the moneymaker for them. It’s an online gambling firm’s most valuable investment. Without their software, there are no games.
Does the site look new and fresh, does it feature today’s graphic design trends? If it looks like something out of the 90’s with cookie-cutter graphics that don’t match, or worse – if you can’t visit it from a mobile phone, you might have a possible rogue site on your hands.
Can you get in touch with anyone?
If you’ve ever heard and agreed to the old saying, “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” The same holds true for companies and their customer service lines. Try out their customer service before you have the problem.
I like to call the support before I make any bet at a new online casino. If there’s no phone support, that’s a huge red flag for me. It starts feeling fragile and light without a phone number for credibility. I know that it doesn’t take much effort at all to set up a toll-free number and an auto attendant. If they haven’t gone this far, what other corners have they cut?
I don’t settle for the voice prompt or auto-attendant, and I usually wait to get in touch with an actual person. I still like to talk to a real person, even if there’s not a business that I need their help with right away. I like to ask them a lot of questions and gauge whether or not I want to play there. If there’s no one to answer the phone, it’s not a be all end all, but it’s a point against them with respect to their online credibility.
Did you check out their forums?
If an online casino doesn’t have a landline or cell to call or text, they should have forums then. If they don’t have either, chances are the place is super new, or probably a rogue gambling site.
The same way that you look and review their other online content, you want to examine the substance on the forums. Do they have a lot of activity, are there many discussion threads, are there actual conversations happening there? When you start to ask these questions and look for the credible pieces to an online reputation that can’t be faked.
What’s the internet saying about them?
It’s sometimes hard to believe all of the marketing hype coming from a company’s forums, site, and social accounts. When you want to take that extra step of due diligence, you’ll want to seek out a 3rd party recommendation.
There are public ranking sites that list out casinos, displaying their deals and vouching for their reputability. There are also clubs, groups of gamblers that meet around a particular gambling topic (like no-limit Texas Hold’em Poker for example), or based on local or regional locations.
These online communities are a great resource to check out a website if you’re on the fence about depositing money there. Usually, people don’t post about what an awesome time they’re having playing an online game. People are far more provoked to post negative reviews once they’ve been burned, as nothing upsets a guy more than taking away his money. A new site can’t go very long without some dirt hitting the internet about them.
How fast do you get your cash out?
You need to stay on top of how fast you’re getting your money back when you place a withdrawal order from the account. Withdrawal speeds are the single most important factor to consider when judging the reputability of an online casino. The biggest red flag is when they start slowing or stopping their payouts. Money in is no biggie, money out is where you get paid, and that’s where the entire character of the operation will then be revealed.
Slow cash outs that come “eventually” can still be signs of trouble. The longer it takes for you to get your money from an online casino or gaming site, the longer it could be tied up in some Ponzi-type craziness. The longer you wait, they longer you’ll ask yourself, “Where’s my money?”
Other Tips to keep you safe:
- Keep a separate account for gambling – Keeping a separate account for your gambling does two things that are beneficial for your right out the gate. One, it allows you to keep track of all of your gaming activities for budgeting and tax purposes. Two, it adds a layer of security, keeping your gambling funds in an entirely separate account limits access to only those financial resources.
- Only enter payment information into SSL – Always verify you’re on a secure site before making secure communications. This type of thing should be a no-brainer. If you look to the left of the address bar and don’t the “https://” in green with a lock, then you should never enter any payment information. You might want even to think twice about any information. The SSL signifies a publicly verified domain has an encrypted key on their server to protect the information you enter on the web-based form.
- Keep your passwords reliable and difficult to guess – What we mean is to follow general password health. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Choose strong but memorable phrases that incorporate special characters and fluctuation of cases, and alphanumeric characters. If you don’t want someone to figure out your password, and transfer your money to their account late at night, make sure you have a strong password that people can’t up and guess. To go the extra mile, change your passwords periodically. Having a password vault software can help with this, but if you only have few passwords, you can stick with the pen and paper method.
- Don’t leave too much money on the books – Try not to keep more than a few sessions worth of money on your accounts for several reasons. When you have a lot of money on the books, you tend to gamble more. You’re also leaving that money in the hands of the casino. Until you get it, they have it. The larger the amount, the more you’re gambling that someday, you can’t process the withdrawal. It’s also an excellent idea to practice this with your gambling account as well. Don’t have too much wrapped up in your accounts to avoid other gambling losses and possible seizure.
- Play several sites to spread risk – For some of the same reasons you don’t want to have a lot of money left in one online account, it’s a good practice spreading your money between accounts. Try to play at sites that are owned by different companies or entities for an apparent reason.
New games and new websites are fun to visit and play but never let your guard down. Taking a few extra minutes to check out a site can be fun in its own way, and it’s always worth avoiding getting ripped off. It’s often great advice never to gamble more than you intended to lose, and then it will always be fun.