How to Find Safe Online Gambling Sites

Finding a safe place to gamble online can be a daunting task. Thousands of sportsbooks, casinos, poker rooms, and daily fantasy sports websites would love to take your money. You need a way to sort out which ones you can trust and which ones should be avoided.

We’ve decided to use our decade of experience gambling online to build a list of things to look for and research before playing online.

How Long Have They Been in Business?

The first thing we look at when considering whether or not to play at an online gambling site is how long they have been in business. Just like everything else on this list, this isn’t a 100% indication of good or bad, but it offers a clue.

Online gambling sites that have been around since the late 1990’s or early 2000’s have long track records of customer service. We’ve played at many newer gambling places also, but they had other positives in their favor like familiar ownership groups or management teams that we trusted.

Just because a site has been online for years doesn’t mean they are still reliable. Make sure you check the rest of the tips on this page even if they are well established.

Are They Licensed and if so, Where?

Almost every online gambling website is licensed somewhere. The fact they are licensed really doesn’t mean much unless they are licensed in a jurisdiction that has strong gambling laws and a track record of protecting consumers.

You can buy a license to offer an online gambling site in many countries around the world with little or no requirements other than the fee. Just because a site is licensed in one of these countries doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be trusted, but it is an additional piece of the puzzle.

What Software Platform Do They Use?

It used to be that a gambling site would only use one software provider. While this is true for some places today, many of them offer multiple software platforms combined to provide superior gaming experiences. The software platforms that a gambling site uses can help you decide if they can be trusted or not.

We’re always wary of any casino or poker room that uses a software platform we’re not familiar with. We like to see established brands like Microgaming, Real Time Gaming, Rival Gaming and other older brands. There are casinos that have went under using all of these software platforms, but for the most part the sites that use these are run by stable companies.

Seals of Approval

You will see many different seals of approval plastered on online gambling websites. Feel free to investigate them further if you wish, but our policy is simply to ignore all of them.

While we’re sure there are legitimate ones that can and do help players, it’s just too easy to create your own watchdog or seal of approval site.

Reviews

Reading online reviews is a good way to gather information about a gambling website, but there are a few things to watch for. Many website owners get paid to promote online gambling sites so they always have positive reviews.

Take some time to find a few websites that offer real reviews. See if they have any negative reviews or negative issues in any of their otherwise positive reviews.

Once you find a few sites that offer objective reviews you can start investigating the sites they recommend. We never blindly follow a suggestion, even one that comes from a site we trust. Just use these reviews as a small piece of the overall decision on where to play.

Complaints

The Internet is filled with complaints about all kinds of products and businesses. Even the best products and businesses have people complaining about them on forums, message boards and websites.

Online gambling sites are no exception. The secret is learning to separate the real issues from the ones that aren’t important.

For example, many complaints stem from bonus offers. The casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms offer these great looking bonuses and people sign up to get them without reading the terms and conditions. Then they complain when they don’t follow the rules and the gambling site refuses to give them the bonus.

While the responsibility to read the terms and conditions falls squarely on the player, it doesn’t stop the player from complaining about it and claiming the gambling site took advantage of them.

When you find complaints about places you’re considering playing take the time to read and research them before ruling a business out.

Legal Options

Is the gambling site licensed and regulated in a country that offers any legal recourse if something goes wrong? Many of them aren’t but some are.

The safest thing to do is assume you can’t fight any battle with an online gambling site through the legal system. Even if you can the likelihood of coming out ahead is small. Either you will spend more than you can win in legal fees or the site will have nothing left to take when you do win. You have to consider the chances of coming out ahead and it’s rarely good.

Deposit Options

Don’t place too much of your trust based on how easy it is to make deposits. Remember that even the worst thieves in the world want to make it as easy as possible to get your money into their place of business.

It’s still a good idea to see if they accept the most popular forms of deposits. Any gambling establishment that doesn’t accept Skrill or Neteller, even if you can’t use them, may be a place that requires additional investigation.

Withdrawal Options

We always want to see if there are multiple ways we can get our money out. Withdrawal options always depend on where you live, so familiarize yourself with which options are available in your country.

The lack of options or the abundance of options doesn’t rule out a gambling site but if there are at least a couple ways to process withdrawals that we have access to it is a positive.

Balancing the Risk and Reward

We’re sure it sounds a little funny to read about risk and reward when talking about online gambling, but the reason most of us gamble is to have a chance at a big payout (reward) from time to time.

Any time we gamble we risk our money, but there is no reason to risk it more than necessary. The risks involved with playing online are real, but making sure you play where you will get paid when you do hit a big win is important.

Laws

With thousands of jurisdictions there are thousands of different laws around the world that are supposed to regulate online gambling.

Different laws create issues for players who access these gambling sites from all over the world. The laws where you live and where the gambling site is located can and will affect your ability to play.

Another problem is these laws change all of the time. New laws are passed and old ones are changed. It’s almost a full time job to keep up with all of the legal issues surrounding online gambling.

Some countries can’t control online gambling so they try to regulate the banking laws about funding online gambling accounts. The United States has dealt with this over the past several years.

The bottom line is you need to keep somewhat up to date on the laws in your country so you aren’t taken by surprise the next time you try to move money into or out of your favorite online gambling site.

When Good Gambling Sites Go Bad

Sometimes good gambling websites go bad. Financial problems usually create these situations, but there are other possibilities. It’s really not important why this happens. What’s important is recognizing the warning signs so you have a chance to get your money out before things go too bad.

The first indication is when withdrawals start taking longer to process than they have taken in the past. This doesn’t always mean a casino, sportsbook, or poker room is getting ready to go under, but it isn’t a good sign.

It’s bad when payments start taking two weeks instead of one, then four weeks and then a couple months. Our policy is if the payout time doubles we instantly try to get all of our money out. It might not be fast enough to save us, but we refuse to sit still and sink with the ship without at least trying to save our money.

Don’t ever put more money into any online gambling website once the payouts start slowing down. There’re plenty of other places to gamble.

It’s a good idea to stay up to date on the popular withdrawal methods available in your country. Sometimes payment delays are directly related to the withdrawal method you are using. You may be able to request a different method.

You may also be able to avoid panicking about a slow withdrawal if you know your method is slow for every gambling site and not just the one you are using.

Another possible red flag is when communication stops or slows down. If a gambling site stops communicating with players it’s almost always a bad sign.

Play for Free First

Take the time to try out the gambling platform for free before making a deposit. Send the support staff a couple different questions to see how fast they respond. Call them if they offer a phone number for support.

While none of these things is a 100% assurance that they are trustworthy, they can give you a good feel for how they handle customer service. You may also find that you don’t care for their platform or software so you can cross them off your list.

Split Your Play

Though this falls more into the safety measures after the fact instead of investigating beforehand, you should consider splitting your play over two or three different gambling establishments. Not only does this reduce your risk, it has other benefits as well.

If you are a sports bettor, having accounts at different sportsbooks will give you access to different lines. You can pick the best line for the game you want to play. Casino and poker players who split their play can often get bonuses at all of the places they play.

Putting it All Together

Finding the safest gambling sites doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. It can take some time and effort to make sure you find safe places to play, but isn’t a little effort worth it to feel safe?

Use all of the tips listed above about every poker room, sportsbook, and online casino that you consider playing at and you will quickly see which ones are worthy of your trust and which ones should be avoided.

Don’t forget that you only need a few places to play out of the thousands of options. You can and should be picky about where you risk your gambling entertainment dollars.

Conclusion

Use every available resource before depositing your money at an online gambling establishment. You can use this page like a checklist for every place you consider and build a short list of places you trust. As you investigate new gambling sites and learn more about old ones you can add and subtract from your list.

By keeping an updated list you will always have a few safe places to play.

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