The vast majority of online casinos are legitimate, but sadly, there are a few bad apples who ruin it for everyone. I’ve seen many casino scams in my time, and I’m going to share some of them with you today. I’ll also teach you how to avoid them.
Scam casinos can make your life a living hell. It goes way beyond just losing a deposit in the worst cases. Unfortunately, there are some really bad actors running rogue casinos. As you’ll see, these online casino scams target you in many different ways. But in the end, they’re all about stealing your hard-earned money.
So, what are the worst online casino scams? How can you avoid them? Grab a cold one, settle in, and let me show you!
Casino Scam One: Outright Deposit Theft
This is by far the most common online casino scam. In fact, it is the endgame of most casino scams, although they all have different ways of doing it.
Deposit theft is exactly what it says. The casino entices you to make a deposit, then makes it impossible for you to withdraw your money. You sign up, register, and the casino either closes your account or freezes it while putting up endless hoops to jump through before you can reactivate it. Then, the customer support staff strings you along or ignores you when you try to get answers.
These operators know that most people will get frustrated and give up if the deposits are small. How likely are you to spend days and weeks chasing a $20 deposit? After all, time is money, and it’s just better to cut your losses at some point.
The more malicious ones will play the long con and win your trust over a series of smaller deposits and withdrawals which go without a hitch. Once you trust them, they lay the trap with a huge reload bonus offer. What happens if you take it? You guessed it—they close your account, freeze it, and either give you the runaround or stonewall you.
But bigger deposit thefts will enrage most players, who will be highly motivated to get their money back or make the casino pay with reputational damage. As a result, these online casinos don’t last as long, and the operators keep shutting down sites, moving to other offshore countries, and reopening new brands to run the con again.
How can you avoid these online casino scams? First, read our casino reviews. We have blacklisted several casinos and are always on the lookout for other rogue casinos to expose. Also, look out for telltale signs:
- Unrealistically large deposit or reload offers
- No transparent information about the operator on the casino site
- Predatory terms and conditions in the small print (which you should always take at least five minutes to read)
Casino Scam Two: Rigged Games
This casino gaming scam is fairly simple. They run rigged games which let you win for a while, but ultimately rinse you of every penny. This one doesn’t require 4D chess or deviousness fit for a Bond villain, just good old-fashioned rigged software.
The scam casino software companies which create rigged games are fairly well-known by most people who play regularly online or work in the online betting industry. Respected casinos don’t work with them, and respected casino software companies don’t usually work with casinos that do. That’s an important thing to note, because it is the first step to avoiding rigged games. If you see Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt, or other powerhouse casino software companies in the mix, it’s highly likely that you’re dealing with a legitimate online casino.
However, scam casino operators have gotten wise to this, and as a result, they run pirated versions of otherwise legit games. They’re much more difficult to spot for the untrained eye, because they are clones of the original games with a tweaked code to cheat you. So, how do you spot these online casino scams?
- First, you should use your intuition. If there are other red flags which point to a potential rogue casino, such as not having a valid online gaming license, that’s a bad sign.
- Second, trust experts to guide you. That’s what we’re here for!
- Lastly, you could drop an email to the software company directly and ask if this casino is running legit games. They’ll usually let you know pretty quickly if something is amiss. Just make sure to give them a few business days to respond.
Rigged and pirated games could be coming to an end with the rise of Provably Fair casinos. However, they still exist today, so you’d better pick your sites carefully to avoid any potential online casino scams.
Casino Scam Three: Ransomware
Imagine yourself logging into a new casino, credit card at the ready, and you download the app or desktop client as instructed. For doing so, you get an extra-large welcome bonus and some free spins on your favorite slots. You’re feeling lucky, and you dutifully download the software and click install.
Now, imagine that your phone locks or your monitor goes black. You tut, sigh, and tap some buttons or click your mouse. Yet, instead of reloading the casino, your screen displays the following message:
“Your device has been locked by JokerX123. All your files now belong to us. To reclaim your device, send 1 Bitcoin to the following address within 24 hours or all of your files will be destroyed: 1AUvLXqvW4NqV62SH151M5iY7sp1SuDsZu.”
You laugh, sit back stunned, and try to find the close button, but it doesn’t exist. You have been the victim of ransomware, and most computer security analysts will tell you there’s not much you can do. You can either abandon the device or pay up.
If you think this is science-fiction, think again. In 2017, the Wannacry ransomware worm wreaked havoc on Windows computers worldwide and was said to have affected as many as 200,000 computers affecting organizations like Renault, Honda, Saudi Telcom, and England’s National Health Service.
Thankfully, casino ransomware attacks aren’t on this sort of scale, but they are serious and can demand some large amounts. I’ve heard of some demand around $1,000 worth of untraceable cryptocurrencies. Many people will pay that amount to maintain access to their precious photos and files.
To avoid ransomware attacks and other online casino scams, you can refuse to download software and apps unless you are 100% certain they are from legit operators. Alternatively, you can make it a habit to play on mobile flash casinos or instant-play versions directly from your web browser. It may not be as convenient as a casino app, but since this casino scam can ruin your tech devices, you have to ask if the extra convenience of an app is worth it.
Casino Scam Four: Identity Theft
Identity theft is a global issue these days, and identity thieves have stolen $107 billion in the US alone in the six years running up to 2017. That’s a lot of money, and identity theft can devastate its victims in more ways than just the money lost.
Rogue casinos are often run by identity thieves or will sell your data and details to people on the black market. They’re either scammers themselves, or they’re a pipeline for information which scammers purchase. Either way, they’re criminals, and you want to avoid these casinos like the plague.
There are a number of ways they can pull this off:
- First, they can act as a legitimate casino and let you play games so as not to arouse your suspicion while they sell your registration details in the background.
- Alternatively, they can freeze your account after you make a deposit and ask you to upload an ID document and proof of address.
- Lastly, they may directly steal your information and card details to create cloned versions of your credit cards. This is the least severe version of the three possible scenarios, although it won’t seem that way when the charges begin to appear on your account. You should consider using some other payment methods on gambling sites to avoid this.
The reason why these online casino scams work so well is because experienced players know that even legit casinos ask you to upload documents and confirm your identity after a while. They have to do that to comply with Know Your Customer and anti-money laundering laws, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
The only way to avoid this is to be absolutely sure you are dealing with a legitimate online casino. You’re going to have to upload your documents at some point. So, your only defense is being sure you aren’t dealing with a dodgy offshore casino site run by crooks.
Thankfully, data protection laws are becoming stronger in the US, Europe, Australia, and many other countries. Avoid online casino scams by sticking with gambling sites based in countries that punish the mishandling of data severely.
Casino Scam Five: Refusal to Pay Winnings
This happens, and you would be surprised by how big some of the names and brands are which engage in this kind of trickery. There are household names in Europe which have blatantly refused to pay wins, and yet they continue to do business because the general public is unaware.
Because it really is written in the terms and conditions, and you agreed to those when you signed up. It may be colder than an Arctic winter, but it’s a legal fact, and they can get away with it when they’re based in certain jurisdictions.
The only way to avoid these thieves and their online casino scams is to do your homework and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate gambling site. Some of them publish blogs and news stories when players win big, and this is one indicator that they can be trusted.
I don’t want to scare you off of online gambling and make you believe that you’re likely to get scammed. The truth is, you can take measures to virtually eliminate the possibility of being scammed. Knowledge is power, and after reading this, you’re now more aware of the most common online casino scams.
I recommend sticking with top-rated casinos who have a proven track record of paying wins fairly. These are the only kind you’ll find recommended here. Using an alternative payment method rather than a credit or debit card is another wise move. If you do those two things and use your common sense, you’ll avoid 99% of all online casino scams and can happily play casino games online for years to come.