The One Step Guide to Online Casino Safety

Judging a Safe Online Casino by its Cover: Why licensing jurisdiction is everything.

Judging a Safe Online Casino by its Cover: Licensing Jurisdiction is Everything

When you were growing up, did your parents or mentors every teach you don’t judge a book by its cover? I’m sure you understand the meaning of this age-old idiom. And in many ways, it is excellent advice. You should never judge or negatively label anything or anyone without giving it a chance; finding out for yourself if it’s worthy of appreciation. That’s all well and good for most things in life, but not online gambling.

Joining a disreputable casino site can be a devastating experience. It can result in anything from identity theft to financial ruin; both of which have long-lasting consequences. If you’re lucky, the rogue operator takes your first deposit and disappeared into the great blue yonder. If not, you could end up investing time and again into games that are fraudulently designed to rip you off – much more so than the legitimate, low-edge casino games we choose to play.

Any educated gambler knows very well that every single casino game is built to favor the house. Only knowing we have a chance to win makes it fun. It provides an entertaining experience that’s worthy of our spare cash. Take away that reasonable chance, and what you’re left with is disappointment, despair, and downright illegal activity.

Judging a Safe Online Casino by its Cover

In years past, evaluating the legitimacy of an online casino was a tedious task. There were multiple features you had to look for, sifting through a website’s many pages and terms of service, reading the fine print… Who wants to do that?

While this method was extremely effective for those who took the time to do it right, most people didn’t. Instead, they went to one of thousands of the world wide web’s online gambling review websites and trusted the information they found there. But iGaming affiliates are comparable to the online casino industry. Some sites are safe, and some are not.

Some affiliate reviews sites are great. They’re honest, diligent in their reviews, and updated regularly with helpful information. Others are biased, lacking any integrity, saying anything and everything they can to get players to click their links. And why wouldn’t some do this? Let’s not forget, just like the casinos, affiliates are looking to make money. So if you can’t trust every casino, you can’t trust every review, either.

The good news is, thanks to the increasing rate of iGaming regulation in some parts of the world, no one has to go through all that trouble anymore. In fact, the whole process can be narrowed down to the evaluation of one single item.

Jurisdiction of License and Regulation

Kim Kardashian Playing Poker with Mirrored Sunglasses

If you want to know if an online casino is safe, go to its website, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and look for the licensing info. The jurisdiction in which an operator is licensed and regulated is more telling than Kim Kardashian playing poker in mirrored sunglasses… yeah, she really did that.

There are good jurisdictions and bad ones. Any province of Canada (B.C., Ontario or Quebec) is good. Each hosts its own self-regulated iGaming website, but you must live in that province to access its home-grown gambling operation. Any US state that regulates iGaming is also good, but the same stipulation exists. Outside of these, you’re looking for any country in Europe.

If you come across a country name you don’t know, look it up on Google or Wikipedia to find out where it is. There are several small island nations off the coast of Europe that North Americans may not be familiar with, and several of them make good business out of licensing iGaming operations. So if you’re not sure, look it up! It only takes a couple of seconds.

Safe Licensing Jurisdictions

The UK is top of the line. UKGC sets the standard for bet practices, player protection, anti-fraud and anti-money laundering, the works. Malta and Isle of Man are right up there, too. Gibraltar, Alderney, Estonia, Cypress, Latvia – pretty much anywhere in Europe. France, Italy and Spain are also top-notch, but they are ring-fenced like Canada, so you can only access those sites if your physically located within their respective borders.

The same goes for any direct regulation by a US state. Acceptance of American players means nothing. If a US-facing operator isn’t regulated in the US, it can’t possibly be licensed and regulated by a responsible authority. Which brings us to…

Lax Regulatory Jurisdictions

Anything that doesn’t qualify under the description above is not a jurisdiction that you can put 100% trust in. Costa Rica, Curacao, Panama – places like these love to dole out licenses and collect fees for them, but they take no responsibility for the legitimacy of the companies they license. They offer little, if anything, in the way of a legal framework.

Costa Rica, for example, has only one rule – do not accept players from within Costa Rica. Anything else goes. Operators can appear one day, disappear the next, taking all player account balances with them. So long as they don’t violate that one rule, Costa Rica’s government won’t do a thing about it. There are absolutely no player protections in place; no one to turn to if the worst happens.

Similar licenses are sold in Panama. Curacao isn’t as bad, but it’s not much better, either. The fact that Curacao licensees can accept American players is very telling. Look at it this way. If it’s illegal for people in New York to gambling online, and a Curacao licensed site is accepting New Yorkers, it’s pretty clear the regulations aren’t all that tight.

Double Check the Credentials

Once you’ve scrolled to the bottom of the online casino’s homepage and determined where it is licensed, you can go one step further to make sure the license is genuine. The safest online casinos will provide a logo for the licensing jurisdiction, and link it back to their licensing info on the regulatory body’s website. Clicking this logo should prove the license is valid and active.

If there is no clickable link or logo, you can take a moment to look up the regulatory authority’s website. For instance, if it’s in Malta, search for “Malta Gaming Regulator”, or “Malta Gaming License”, etc. These searches will lead you directly to the Malta Gaming Authority, found at www.mga.org.mt.

Then, from the regulator’s website, you should be able to search for the casino name or the owner/operator company, generally listed in the copyright info (bottom of homepage).

Of course, if you’re not finding the information you’re looking for – no license info, no name of owner/operator, no valid license number – if any of this is difficult to find, you know it’s time to move on. Don’t waste your time on a website that isn’t making this search easy for you. Remember, it should be a quick, one step process. If the website seems like it has something to hide, it probably does. It’s not a safe online casino.

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