Determining Legitimacy and Ranking Online Gambling Sites

We’re pulling back the curtain to show you how we rank online gambling sites. Understanding how we determine legitimacy and our review process can help you make smart decisions when you look for a casino, poker room, or sportsbook online.

On this page, we show you what we look for in a gambling site and how our team of gambling experts approach reviews. Read on to learn all you need to know about how we separate legit sites from questionable ones.

Legitimacy and Safety

Our first step is determining which gambling sites are legitimate and which don’t deserve your trust. We aim to steer you towards safe, legit sites while keeping you clear of those with red flags, using the following criteria in our rating process.

Company Background and Reputation

Company Background and Reputation

We only recommend sites with a proven track record of being fair and safe with their customers. We also check that the company behind the site doesn’t have owners who have histories with untrustworthy sites.

Licensing and Other External Control


Many of the sites we recommend have received licenses from respectable gambling authorities, such as those issued by gaming bodies in Curaçao eGaming and the Malta Gaming Authority.

To acquire those licenses, online gambling operators must go through a thorough review process covering games, payments, and more.

Most legit sites have licenses, but there might be exceptions as long as there is external testing of the games, payments, and security protocols Some gambling sites subject themselves to third-party control, such as the online casino testing organization eCogra.

Safety Measures

Safety Measures

Legitimate gambling sites go the extra mile to protect their customers’ personal information and financial data by installing various safeguards. Using technologies such as encryption software (TLS, still listed as SSL in some cases) protects customers from hackers looking to steal data and/or money.

Reasonable and Upfront Terms

Terms and Conditions

We only stick to platforms with reasonable and easy-to-meet terms of service. That includes terms tied to signup, bonuses, deposits, and withdrawals. While we understand the need to include rules and guidelines, they shouldn’t trouble or mistreat the players.

All terms should be listed clearly on the website of any online casino or sportsbook. Sites that hide that information away, or don’t include it, aren’t to be trusted.

Fast and Competent Support

Support 24/7

The best gambling sites make it easy for their customers to contact them via phone, email, and chat. And they make their customer service representatives available anytime, day or night.

Value of the Experience

Once we’ve determined that a gambling site is legit, we move on to what players can expect once they’ve signed up. The value of your experience at a specific gambling site is derived from both subjective and objective factors like the ones below.

House Edge/Vigorish/Rake

House Edge

Legitimate gambling sites make money not by scamming customers but by charging them a small fee for making bets with them. This fee goes by a different name depending on what you’re wagering: it’s known as rake in poker, house edge in casino games, and vigorish (vig, margin) in sports bets.

The lower the fees, the better value for the players. For example, a decent roulette table comes with a house edge of 2.7% or lower, we don’t like to see more than 5% margin on popular NFL markets, and 5-10% is a reasonable fee for poker SNGs.

Bonuses and Promotions

Bonuses and Promotions

Top gambling sites attract players by offering generous bonuses and promotions. These perks come to both first-time and regular players. We want to see sites that offer generous bonuses and promotions with reasonable terms and achievable wagering requirements.

Variety of Products and Services

Product Variety

The variety of gambling options at your disposal is important. More games, more betting markets, and more poker formats help you to find options you like and give you better chances of choosing more profitable games and markets. You also get to have more fun! You get more from your money, both objectively and subjectively.

Convenience and Ease of Use

It’s important that you’re comfortable using a gambling site that you’ve chosen to join. That’s why we make it a priority that each site we recommend is simple to navigate and use, even if you’re a beginner. We use the following criteria to determine this.

User Interface

User interface

Can you find everything you’re looking for without any problems? Is everything where it should be on the site?

You should be able to zip around a gambling site and play the games you like and/or make the bets you want to make with ease. If not, you could end up wasting time or making unnecessary mistakes that cost you money.

Mobile Experience

Mobile Experience

Many gamblers like to use online casinos and sportsbooks when they’re on their phones and tablets. That’s why we check the mobile version of each gambling site.

You should be able to easily work the controls and optimize the experience of using the smaller screen. And ideally, you should be able to use most features and games through the mobile version of the gambling site.

Variety of Banking Methods

Banking Method Variety

You want a solid variety of comfortable and cost-effective payment options. For example, you might prefer traditional methods of banking, such as credit card or check. Or you might want to use more modern methods like cryptocurrency. The gambling sites we recommend cover all the bases.

For example, we recommend sites that have at least two traditional payments (credit cards, MatchPay, bank wires, checks) and two cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, USDT).

Payout Speed and Fees

Payout Speed

Gambling sites should be prepared to process your withdrawal requests as soon as possible, especially with cryptocurrencies. We also check to see if there are fees involved in your withdrawal requests. We wouldn’t recommend a site that applies unnecessary fees, which would cut into your potential profits.

We expect such payouts to go through within 48 hours max and other options shouldn’t take more than 2-10 days, depending on the method.

Our Process

Now that you know what we look for in gambling sites, let’s talk about how we evaluate their performance in these departments. We take every step of the process very carefully so that we can give our recommendations (and warnings) with confidence.

We Pick the Right People

Pick the Right People Icon

Our gambling experts are the backbone of our operations, and we only choose people with extensive experience in the online gambling world. When we assign them a review, we ask them not to discuss the site before everyone’s done so that they can make an independent judgment.

We Perform a Background Check

Background Check

This entails looking at the folks who are running a particular gambling site. We make sure that they have the proper experience in the online gambling world. And we also double-check to see that none of them have been involved with sites with bad reputations in the past.

We Go Through the Entire Site

Site Browsing Icon

We really take a deep dive next. That requires looking at the games (for an online casino or a poker room) or the betting markets (for a sportsbook) and checking terms and conditions and all the other information found in the footer and the help section of the gambling site.

We Open a New Account and Make a Deposit

Make a Deposit Icon

We want to go through the experience just like our readers would, so we open up an account next. And we don’t let the site know that we’re actually evaluating them, so the experience is as true to the real thing as possible.

We Sample the Product on Different Platforms

Product Platform Test Icon

Our reviewers then love the next part because it requires them to make sports bets or play online casino games and poker (sometimes all three if the site is all-in-one.) We ask them to do that from their computer and their phone so that they get a feel for how a site presents itself on different platforms.

We Complete the KYC Procedures and Request a Payout

Request Payout Icon

Since we want to give our customers a complete overview, we then complete the KYP process and ask them to get paid. That means offering the necessary documentation (usually ID and proof of address) and requesting a withdrawal. We want to know how smooth the entire process is.

We Talk to the Support

Talk to Support Icon

We then figure out a reason to get in touch with the site’s customer support team (question about bonuses or deposits, markets, anything relevant and realistic). Our experts check to see how quickly they get a response and if the support comes through with what they need.

We Look for Complaints and Feedback from Other Customers

Customer Complaints Icon

Just in case we’ve missed anything, we then take a look at what others are saying about the site. In particular, we look to see if there are common complaints about the site that might be worth double-checking.

We Summarize Our Impressions and Finish Our Rating

Summarize Icon

At this point, the team members who’ve been doing the reviewing compare and contrast their findings. We come up with a consensus on every key aspect of the site’s operations, with safety being the most important, followed by entertainment value and then convenience. All of it contributes to our overall rankings.

Whats next?

Now that you know our process of ranking gambling sites and the factors we take into account, you can start looking for sites you might want to use or avoid. The following links can help.

Jim Beviglia
Get in touch with Jim
About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.