This post about how to avoid online casino ripoffs is aimed at players in the United States. Most of the advice here applies to you regardless of where you live. But some of the advice applies specifically to U.S. citizens. (That’s where I live, so it’s hard for me to write from another nationality’s perspective.)
I’m a fan of the online gambling industry. But you do need to be cautious when it’s time to choose an online casino. Not all online gambling companies operate fairly.
Most of the games are fair, sure. Most online casinos lease software from reputable companies to power their games. They offer the same odds you’ll find in a traditional brick and mortar casino.
What you want to be cautious of is choosing an online casino which doesn’t pay out your winnings in a timely fashion. The majority of legitimate online casino complaints relate to customers who are having problems getting paid.
This post covers that issue and other major considerations you’ll encounter when you’re deciding how to online casino ripoffs.
1- Decide on your comfort level as it relates to risk.
The main thing you need to understand about gambling of any kind is that it involves RISK.
You risk losing money in exchange for the possibility of winning money.
When you’re playing at an online casino rather than a traditional brick and mortar casino, you have additional risk factors to consider.
For one thing, if you live in the United States, the legality of this hobby is questionable. To the best of my knowledge, no one in the USA has ever been arrested or convicted for playing online casino games for money.
But in most states, online casinos are illegal.
Even though you’re unlikely to be arrested or convicted for playing at an online casino, you still face dealing with the types of companies that don’t mind skirting the law.
The legal theory that most online casinos operate from is that the gambling is taking place in THEIR country of origin, not yours. So the laws about online casino gambling in say Oklahoma don’t apply, because the casino is located in South Africa somewhere. (That’s just a random example.)
At any rate, I don’t want to recommend to anyone that they break the law. But I am willing to give my opinion–it’s unlikely that you’ll face legal action for playing casino games online for money.
2- Look at what kind of software the casino uses to power its games.
Most reputable online casinos lease their software from a well-known company like Microgaming or Playtech. Unfortunately, casinos using either of those 2 software packages are unavailable to players in the United States.
Realtime Gaming is another popular software package that’s US-friendly. Another casino software that might be worth noting for US players is Rival.
A casino that uses proprietary software might be a good idea, or it might not. I’ve read an anecdote at Michael Shackleford’s site, the Wizard of Odds, about a player who played an absurd number of bets on the pass and don’t pass options at the craps table. He only won 25% of the time.
If you know anything about craps, you know that you should win those bets close to half the time. In a small set of results, you might indeed see a 25% win rate. But over the number of repetitions discussed in that post, it’s next to impossible.
You might spend some time reading reviews of the various software packages before settling on a given casino. Keep in mind which games you want to play. Some software packages have better blackjack software, for example.
Learning how to choose an online casino has a lot to do with understanding your preferences and catering to them.
3- Think about jurisdiction governs the operation of your prospective online casino.
If you follow Casinomeister, you know that he’s probably as big an expert on the online casino industry as anyone. He has definite opinions about which licensing jurisdictions provide more oversight.
In other words, casinos with licenses from some jurisdictions are more likely to rip you off than some casinos with licenses from some other jurisdictions.
He categorizes the jurisdictions as follows:
- Isle of Man
Not Very Strict
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- Curacao N.V
- First Cagayan Philippines
Remember earlier when I mentioned understanding what your tolerance for risk is?
Think of this categorized list of licensing jurisdictions as one way of assessing the risk of an online casino in a given jurisdiction.
I’m NOT suggesting that just because an online casino is licensed in Costa Rica that they’re going to cheat you. Many online casinos based there provide honest games and excellent customer service.
When you’re choosing an online casino, you’re putting together an overall picture of the casino’s trustworthiness. The jurisdiction where the casino operates is just one part of a bigger picture.
4- Look at the casino’s about us page and think about how you feel about the information presented there.
Keep in mind that many online casinos have bare-bones about us pages because they’re welcoming to players from the United States. They have a need to keep some of their information vague because they don’t want to face retribution from U.S. authorities.
Yes, I know I said earlier that no one has been arrested or prosecuted for playing online casino games. But online casinos aren’t “playing” online casino games–they’re offering them to customers to play.
Legal authorities in the United States prefer to focus their enforcement activities on providers of illegal activities rather than on their customers. The police would much rather arrest a drug dealer than a junkie. (Not that I’m comparing online casino gambling to drug use–I don’t think they’re even in the same ballpark.
5- Read actual reviews and actual forum accounts of actual play.
When you search Google for online casino reviews, keep in mind that not every review posted on every website is a real review from a real player. In fact, I’d wager that most of these reviews are NOT real reviews. Most of them are just gussied up advertisements for these online casinos.
You see, the online gambling industry is one of the most lucrative in the world. Online casinos are willing to pay large amounts of money to advertisers to market their products to their customers. An average casino player is worth at least $1000 to an online casino–probably more.
As a result, online casino information websites have a financial incentive to publish positive reviews. Also, since most businesses are focused on ROI (return on investment), they’ll often hire hack writers to produce these reviews. After all, the more money they spend on the reviews, the lower their ROI becomes.
What do you need to do?
Look for reviews which “feel” legitimate and honest. If you read a glowing review full of marketing speak–especially one that has nothing negative to say about a casino–ignore it and find another, more legit review.
Reviews in forums are often better, because they’re more likely to have been written by an actual player. But shills even post reviews in forums.
The other problem with reviews in forums is that people who are angry are often tilted the other way. Lets’ face it. People who lose money at an online gambling site sometimes get unreasonably mad and blame the casino.
Again, the guideline for how to choose an online casino involves getting a good overall picture of the casino before signing up and making that first deposit.
6- Decide what games you want to play and make sure your prospective casino offers them.
It would be silly to sign up for an account at Slotland if you’re a blackjack and craps fan. That casino offers nothing but slot machine games. (They have a couple of video poker and blackjack style slot machines, but they’re not the same thing at all.)
All legitimate online casinos have a page on their site which describes the games available at the site. If the game you want to play isn’t well-represented, stay away from the casino.
Also, a lot of people who enjoy table games are keen on the new webcam casinos. At these properties, you play blackjack, craps, roulette, and other table games with real dealers over webcam technology. These are called “live dealer” casinos.
And yes, they do indeed hire real live dealers–usually attractive women–to run the games. Many players think these casinos offer a more authentic gambling experience.
7- If you have a gambling addiction of some kind, just say no to all of them.
You’re the only person who can diagnose yourself with a gambling addiction. But if you do have a problem gambling compulsively, you should stay far away from online casinos. There’s no upside to betting on casino games online if you have impulse control problems.
Research has demonstrated that the brain activity of a gambling addict is significantly different from that of a normal person without a compulsion. I don’t recommend trying to moderate your gambling if you have a problem. Total abstinence is the only reasonable solution.
Gambling addiction can ruin your live just as easily as dependency on alcohol or drugs.
Learning how to avoid online casino ripoffs has a lot to do with assessing your goals as an online gambler. You also need to know what your tolerance for risk is.
When you’ve taken those into account, you’re ready to start doing some of your due diligence. Read as much on the internet as you can about any online casino you’re considering.
Start by making a small deposit. Move up in stakes after you’ve tried the games and feel confident that the casino is going to take care of your cashouts in a timely manner.