Placing a wager on red or spinning the reels is no longer restricted to the high flyers in Monte Carlo or on the Las Vegas Strip. The online age has brought all the classic casino games, and plenty of new ones too, within the reach of anyone who has a laptop or a smartphone. The industry is huge and was valued at more than $66 billion for 2023.
Broadly speaking, that’s good news for everyone. The industry is thriving, which benefits the economy, and the number of providers makes for a competitive marketplace, which benefits the players. It means they can enjoy a great range of games and special promos like free spins and bonuses. You can read more about the free spin offers that are available from Netent’s useful guide.
The downside is that any activity that generates that volume of transactions will also be a magnet for fraudsters, hackers, and other varieties of cybercriminals. If you lose some money because you have an unlucky day playing games of chance, that’s the risk everyone takes at the casino. But having your wallet emptied or your personal data taken by an online scammer is another matter entirely. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe and to avoid the risk of serious losses.
1. Perform due diligence
There are dozens of casino platforms out there, from global names that have been around for years to brand new providers. The latter can often be a compelling option, as they tend to have the latest software and they are likely to offer generous incentives to attract customers and tempt them away from the established sites.
The vast majority will be trustworthy but do your due diligence. Check the site is licensed by a recognized body like the Kahnawake Gaming Commission or the UKGC, and ensure they use adequate encryption. Both these things should be obvious from the home page, as a reputable site will place security and licensing at the top of its agenda. If they are not clearly indicated on the home page and you find yourself having to burrow around in the “about us pages” for information, that’s cause in itself to be suspicious, and you might be better advised to look elsewhere.
2. Check your own security
You can use the most secure casino platform in the world, and you’ll still be in trouble if you leave your phone lying unlocked on the bar in a busy pub. Take basic security measures such as ensuring your handset is set to automatically lock the screen when not in use, and using either strong passwords or ideally, biometrics to unlock it.
Keep your antivirus and malware software up to date, too, even on your smartphone. Today’s hackers are no longer focused on Windows PCs, and while viruses are less commonplace on Macs and mobile devices, they do exist. The most common way that malware gets onto a smartphone is when you download an app from a third party, meaning not from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. Now that in itself presents a dilemma for casino players, as Google and Apple don’t generally list casino apps on their stores. It’s just another reason to perform that due diligence we mentioned!
3. Keep personal information personal
One of the great things about the latest casino games is the social aspect. You can chat to other players as you sit around the virtual blackjack table, just as you would at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. The difference is that in a physical casino you can see exactly who you are talking to, and you’ll be a little guarded if they start asking too many questions.
Online, there could be anyone behind the avatar, and usernames mean nothing. It’s fun and liberating to be whoever you want, but cybercriminals will use that mask to wheedle information out of you. Keep the chat general, and if you encounter someone who seems over-anxious or insistent about knowing your name, location or other details, politely change the subject. Also, just keep in mind that the likelihood of meeting the man or woman of your dreams around a virtual blackjack table is slim, so treat anyone who seems too good to be true with a healthy dose of cynicism.
4. Consider the payment options
Any online transaction that involves transferring money carries a degree of risk, whether you are paying bills via online banking, picking up some Black Friday deals or putting a bet on red in an online roulette game. Casinos will offer a variety of payment methods for transferring money into your gambling account and for withdrawing the winnings.
We could talk for an hour on the merits of different payment methods such as card payments, online wallets, crypto, and so on, but the important thing is to make sure your method of choice is supported. If you use a provider like Trustly, for example, it makes sense to find a casino where this is available, as the whole point of it is to eliminate the need for you to share your bank details with other parties. Also check payment transfer times and what, if any, charges or commissions are applied, as these can vary dramatically from one casino to the next.
5. Check for player protection
These days, the best casinos are all about responsible gambling. Just as a good pub will quietly intervene if a patron has one drink too many, a good casino will help you to know when it’s time to stop and will offer support to anyone for whom gambling is becoming a problem.
It’s a little like the point about security and licensing earlier. Casinos that take player protection seriously tend to advertise the fact on their homepage. It says a great deal about the company’s ethical and moral compass, so even if you don’t need this kind of protection yourself, giving your business to casinos that do is the right thing to do.