Licensed online casinos operating in your domestic market are generally all very safe. They also offer a recourse in case of issues through the payment processor, your bank, or the operator itself. Unlicensed casinos, crypto casinos, and other operators registered in dodgy jurisdictions (e.g., Curacao) can definitely be unsafe.
Newcomers to real money online casinos are usually concerned about their cash and personal information falling into the wrong hands. Fortunately, licensed gambling sites in the US and others across the globe have been addressing this issue by using several security features. This article will answer the question "are online casinos safe" by looking at the ways these sites protect their patrons.
Are online casinos safe for anyone? To give you a complete answer, we need to define what "online safety" means.
Online Casino Safety Explained
Preventing hackers or criminals from acquiring one's private information is how most people define online safety. In fact, stolen identity is a more concerning threat than stolen money since criminals have several ways to take advantage of one's data such as taking a loan under the victim's name.
Money is the second concern among most players such as sending cash to a rogue casino and never seeing it again as the website shuts down the next day. Players can also lose money from unfair games where the house has the advantage. Everyone wants to play at a site where their money is secured and they are getting a fair chance at increasing their bankroll.
Thankfully, licensed casinos have been addressing the concerns of their patrons for years. These sites have security layers to prevent identity theft and are regulated by official offices to keep players safe.
Security Encryption for Online Casino Safety
Casino security comes from its digital encryption technology, which is a method of creating a private link between the website's server and your browser. If there is no encryption layer within this link, every information you send is viewable to anyone who has access to the site. These data include your login credentials, personal info, credit card numbers, and payment information.
Encryption technology uses cryptography on the data to make them unreadable to anyone apart from the casino server itself. All information you send to the casino will appear as a wall of letters, numbers, and symbols that do not make any sense to anyone, making it impossible for criminals to steal your data.
You can determine whether a licensed online casino has the appropriate security protocol to encrypt your data by checking their URL. Its address should say HTTPS instead of HTTP where the S means security. Take note that this is the oldest way of checking the site's security protocol. For modern browsers, look for the padlock right next to an online casino's address. Padlock symbols indicate that a site has an encryption security layer. You can also click on the padlock to know what kind of encryption a site is using.
Regulating Online Casino Safety and Fairness
Because real money is involved, the online casino industry has regulators to make sure all operators are following specific rules and standards. These rules are intended to protect patrons of online casinos as well as prevent minors from gambling and criminals from taking advantage of these websites. Gaming licenses are also a way to provide players with peace of mind, letting them know that someone has their back should anything happen to their money while playing online slots or table games.
It is important to note that regulators are limited to the online casinos running within their respective jurisdictions. You will not find a regulation office that foresees all gambling sites.
Licensing offices share certain rules with other regulatory bodies such as its requirements for online casinos to have a know-your-customer (KYC) process. KYC or AML measures are the reasons why you need to submit an ID or documents to verify your identity. Preventing money laundering can keep the casino from getting into legal trouble and endangering everyone's money.
On the other hand, certain regulation offices are much stricter with their rules such as the Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA). Operators applying for an MGA license must have the financing and management capabilities of running an online gambling site within their jurisdiction. Malta's regulation office conducts a thorough investigation of an applicant with the help of local authorities. Essentially, all MGA licensed operators must have the means to pay the winners of their online casinos. This includes lucky winners of progressive jackpots that amount to more than millions of dollars.
Fairness is another important aspect of strict licensing offices when it comes to regulating operators, which comes down to games' RTP. Every licensed online casino must be transparent with the house edge or the chance for their patrons to win their games. In addition, the operators, players, or other parties must not influence the RTP of any online gambling games.
Online Casino Payment Security
Digital transactions are the most common reason for regular land-based casino patrons to avoid online gambling sites. Once a player allows the transaction to go through, there is a moment of anxiety spent waiting for their money to appear on their account. Everyone dreads the time when their balance is zero or unchanged after making a deposit and waiting for more than an hour.
Safe online casinos usually provide one or more secure payment options that provide consumer protection to their customers. One of these features allows customers to dispute fraud transactions, such as ones sent to rogue casinos. This protective measure comes from the Fair Credit Billing Act which protects cardholders from fraudulent charges and billing errors.
Providing a wide selection of payment options is what players should consider when finding a legit online casino since not all people are willing to use their credit cards. Other secure alternatives include an e-wallet services such as PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill. These services act as a private link to your credit cards and bank accounts, allowing you to make a deposit or withdraw your winnings without the card company knowing about your transactions. E-wallets also have fraud protection that can reverse illegal transactions.
Be wary of Bitcoin casinos that only accept cryptocurrencies and are not licensed to operate in any jurisdiction. Crypto transactions are always irreversible, making it impossible for anyone to retrieve their stolen funds. It pays to check on the legitimacy of a casino first to know if it is safe such as having a verified license and a responsive support hotline. It is important to note that there are numerous legitimate crypto casinos and cryptocurrencies that allow players to protect their personal information by playing anonymously.
Online Casino Audits for Safety and Fairness
One of the requirements for operators to obtain a license is to go through third-party auditors such as eCOGRA and Gaming Laboratories International. Auditors conduct non-biased testing and inspections among all licensed online casinos. These audits ensure a gambling site is complying with its respective jurisdiction's standards.
Auditors are responsible for testing the RNG of all casino games running on licensed gambling sites. All game RNG must generate unpredictable results before they can run on any real money online casinos. Common RNG algorithms used for different applications have a recognizable pattern. While most people cannot see these patterns, certain individuals can predict the results and will take advantage of their insight.
To ensure casinos are transparent to their players with their house edge, auditors also test the return to player (RTP) rate of casino games. RTP is the statistical probability of how much you are likely to win over a period of playing a specific game. If you are to play $100 worth of spin of an online slot with an RTP of 98%, you are likely to get $98 after a certain time. Auditors make sure every game within an online casino has the advertised RTP rate.
Security is another aspect third-party auditors check among online casinos. These inspections check on the vulnerability of a website or find possible security holes and exploits that hackers may use. Operators are alerted if their platform is non-compliant with the jurisdiction's standards they are following.
To quickly answer the question "are online casinos safe?", it really comes down to the gambling site's use of encryption technology and safe payment options. You can also see how safe an online casino can be with its license and third-party auditor seal.