While it’s not something that we like to think about all that often, the truth is that there are criminals out there looking to make our lives a misery online.
From phishing scams to stealing our personal information and payment details, the sad reality is that online crime and fraud are becoming more sophisticated – and the techniques are used smarter. According to one report, more than $56bn was stolen courtesy of identity fraud in 2020 alone in the US.
So, it makes sense to get your house in order when browsing the web, and if you are a regular online gamer, then knowing which sites are safe – and the parameters you should be looking for – is crucial.
To that end, here are just some of the credentials you should be looking out for when considering safe and secure new casino sites to join.
Typically, to offer its games online, a casino must have an operating license in place. However, not all licenses should be considered equal.
The two most stringent authorities governing the sector are the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority, and a recommendation is to consider only sites that have been handed a license by these regulators – even if you are located in the US, Canada, India, or anywhere else for that matter.
The reason for that is clear: those two authorities hold their licensees to account to the most exacting standards of quality, player safety and security. So, you know that if your casino has their approval, it will – for the most part – have in place the most rigorous online security systems.
We should also offer a word of caution about casinos licensed by the Curaçao Gaming Authority. This regulator is considered something of a soft touch, and when a casino fails in its licence application in the UK or Malta, it instead turns to Curaçao for approval. Likewise, some firms know that they can be a little more ‘laidback’ when it comes to security and user experience when approved by this quasi-regulator.
This is not to suggest that all firms with a Curaçao license are bad eggs by any means, but caution is very much advised.
Given that sizable sums of money are deposited into and withdrawn from online casino accounts daily, the best operators are those that have implemented the most robust encryption technology.
One of the clues is to look for the padlock symbol in the address bar when you type in a URL. This reveals that the website is verified by an independent body, and the ‘https’ protocol confirms that all information is kept safe and secure.
However, this is only one element. Casinos with a focus on security will introduce the most exacting encryption software, with SSL 128 or 256-bit the standard these days. This essentially turns your personal and financial data into a string of random code, making it almost impossible for hackers and fraudsters to breakthrough.
Secure payment providers
If you have a Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card, you may have come across the extra layer of protection that they have built-in.
Verified by Visa, for example, will often ask users to enter a code before a transaction can be completed. This is an additional mode of security that, while not mandated by the casino itself, helps to keep you safe when playing your favorite games.
It’s always recommended that you opt for the most secure payment methods in your play, and so if a casino doesn’t accept Visa and co – perhaps instead opting for some of the more ‘questionable’ e-wallets – you should maybe reconsider whether this is the right platform for you.
If you are planning to join a casino that has a UK Gambling Commission license, it’s well worth doing some extra digging.
As part of its licensing conditions, those firms must detail the level of financial protection they have in place should they go bankrupt. They are able to grade themselves in one of three self-explanatory categories: no protection, medium protection, high protection. This must then be communicated in the site’s terms and conditions.
The casino must also hold customer funds in a separate account to their own banking, which maximizes the chances that you will be repaid should it go bust. Some operators without such licensing requirements do not have to reveal their financial commitments – to that extent, should they go bust or disappear off the face of the Earth, they could take your money with them, leaving you with no recourse to get it back.
Casinos that are keen to uphold the security of their players will allow you to use two-factor authentication (2FA) to bolster your safety.
This is where you have a two-step process to log into your account, make a deposit, and so on. You will enter your username and password, but before logging in, you will have a secondary command to satisfy – often entering a code sent to you by email or text message.
It’s recommended that you implement 2FA in all of your online activities, but for online casinos – which are prone to hacking attempts – it becomes of paramount importance and means that even if your login details are compromised, you won’t necessarily be the victim of a more serious crime.
In the end, you might just be glad you did.