As any experienced casino player will tell you, one of the most important things to consider when deciding to play casino games for real money is casino selection.
Given the huge variety of casinos available online these days, the amount of profit and enjoyment you receive from wagering on casino games is greatly influenced by the casinos you choose.
Before you decide on an online casino based on your preference for the games they offer, there are some essential checks players should do to ensure that the operator provides services to players residing in your legal jurisdiction.
Also, it is advisable that you do some background checks to give peace of mind before making real money deposits. Not all online casino can be trusted, and some are safer than others.
Casino Licence Check in Under 3 minutes: The Players who really MUST DO IT!
You may find the very thought of casino licensing authorities to be a little on the dull side, but disregarding the importance of these gambling regulators and player protection institutions could be a costly mistake. There are undoubtedly disreputable online casinos out there, and players need to be mindful of the shady practices that some less than honest operators employ.
It could be that they are a scam operation which has been set up to tempt players to sign up and deposit money in return for bonuses that seem to be too good to be true (and usually are). Depositing money is all well and good but when you come to withdraw you will find that you have got absolutely no chance of seeing your money again. It could happen that that they have gained a reputation for inferior customer services and even though you will get paid eventually, you shouldn’t be made to jump through various hoops to do so.
These are a few simple examples of what can go wrong. Rogue operators can be very sneaky as we know and will employ endless tricks and tactics to prevent players from ever receiving casino winnings. Casinos that are licensed under a respected authority keep within the rules issued by the authority or face the financial consequences of losing their casino licence. Alone this can be some comfort and reassurance.
You can tell which authorities have licensed a particular casino by scrolling down to the bottom of the casino home page and looking for the relevant logos. But players still need to be alert, especially with the smaller casinos, as anyone can put a logo on their website to add some credibility where none exists. There are a couple of extra checks that you would be advised to make.
We can talk about that later but for now, let’s take a look at the most common licensing authorities that you will come across.
Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA) – an independent, regulator who is responsible for both online and offline gaming in Malta.
United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) – regulates every type of gambling in the UK including the National Lottery.
Gibraltar Gambling Commission – governs all gambling (including internet) in Gibraltar.
Alderney Gambling Control Commission – regulates all forms of gambling in Alderney which also applies to internet gambling.
Curacao eGaming – governs all forms of gambling in Curacao which primarily comprises of internet gambling.
Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission – controls all gambling in the Isle of Man and both online and offline operations.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission - controls gaming sites which are registered in Kahnawake (Canada).
As you can tell, some of the licensing authorities which are listed above have been set up with the sole aim of trying to govern online operations in the jurisdiction they arbitrate.
Casino operators have the option of being regulated by one or more licensing authorities which makes it a bit of a grey area, particularly with the established international online casinos. That being said, it is almost always a case that for a casino to be regulated under a licencing authority, they must have an official presence in the jurisdiction and serve the countries population.
Take for example the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. A casino which is based in the UK or provides services which people in the UK, has to be registered by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. So, if you are in the UK, that is as good as any benchmark to use, if a UK based online casino has not been registered with the UK Gambling Commission, then it’s possible they have something to hide.
If you take the time to carry out some research, you will see all sort of complaints about most of the above-listed gambling authorities. You have to take into account that the reason for most of the complaints is that claims against casinos have been turned down by the authorities, so the people posting on the online forums are probably somewhat biased in their views.
The one authority from the above list which seems to get more than its fair share of complaints is the Curacao eGaming authority. Curacao appears to be very slow to respond to complaints, and it is argued that they don’t have the rights to be a licencing authority at all. That might be something that you should bear in mind if you chose to research casinos licenced by this regulator.
The steps you should take to check the credentials of an online casino to some degree depend on what kind of player you are.
If you are someone who enjoys playing at the same casino most of the time and that is one of the big names in the industry, then you don’t have to give it too much thought. Bet365, Ladbrokes, or William Hill, for example, are about as squeaky clean as it is possible to be as they have a distinguished history of bookmaking offline.
If on the other hand, you are the type of player who is always on the lookout for new casinos to play at, well, that is a different story. As this type of player has usually exhausted all of the well-known casinos, the hunt is on to find others which offer enticing bonuses for new users. There is nothing at all wrong with this casino strategy. Many players use multiple casinos to find better gaming experiences and take advantage of casino bonuses offered, but if you are this kind of player, then it is advised that you need to be particularly vigilant of rogue operators.
Go to the bottom of the Homepage of a casino and look for a gambling commission logo (it should be one of those listed above)
Visit the website of the relevant gambling commission, clicking on the logo may take you directly, but check URL to confirm, and check to see if they have in fact granted that casino a licence. The website should have a list of all approved casinos.
If a casino does not have a licence, it is strongly advised that you leave them well alone.
If they have not got a licence but are falsely claiming they have, then you should report them to the relevant authority.
In the first instance, you are advised contact the Gaming authority or commission that the casino is licensed with to address your concern.
A criticism of some of the licensing authorities is that when there is a problem they can be pretty slow in dealing with it, at times, it looks like they don’t want to get involved.
Even though it is quite rare, you can run into problems with the more significant casinos in one way or another, but one solution with whatever problem you may be having is by taking the matter to a self-regulation service.
There are a couple of these which have a good reputation
eCogra - The official definition of eCogra from their website states that they are in force to ensure that players are adequately protected, the games are fair, and that the casino operators act responsibly. That is all well and good if you are dealing with a reputable casino but if it is a fly by night operator, even eCogra will struggle to resolve any problems. Making a complaint to eCogra is as simple as filling in an online form with all of the details of your gripe with the casino.
Resolver. If you are in the UK, there is a fantastic service which can help you with casino-related problems (or any consumer type problems for that matter). Resolver.co.uk is a free to use service whereby you use a drop-down menu to choose the company (casino) you wish to make a complaint about and fill in the online form. The complaint is delivered directly to the casino which you are complaining about, and as it has been set up in conjunction with Martin Lewis and his Money Saving Expert website, it has some clout because the casino will know that you are well advised.
The steps you need to take to verify the legitimacy of a casino may seem a bit unnecessary on occasion but is they are not a known brand taking a few minutes to check their licence save you the money you deposit and the horror of losing out on a big casino win.