There are many illegitimate online casinos that are unsafe to use.
Online casinos must be regulated by recognized gaming authorities.
Playing at an online casino involves sharing sensitive information, so it’s vital to pick an online casino that prioritizes cybersecurity.
Among the many legitimate and legal online casinos, there have been even more illegitimate gambling sites with unsavory business practices and cybersecurity concerns. Now it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re playing (and spending your money) at legitimate online casinos.
Here are 7 steps you can take to make sure your next online casino is trustworthy:
Check the online casino’s board registration.
Verify the SSL certificate.
Read reviews of the online casino.
Make sure they use third-party software.
Look for legitimate deposit and withdrawal methods.
Stick with online casinos owned by reputable gaming companies.
Review all bonuses carefully.
1. Check the online casino’s board registration
Every legal online casino must register with a legitimate gaming regulatory authority. These gaming boards verify that an online casino uses fair gaming practices, including third-party random number generator (RNG) gaming software. They also make sure the site meets high standards for digital security to protect users’ sensitive financial data.
In New Jersey, all online casinos must be registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). Look for the DGE seal and language stating that they are “authorized by the State of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement” or abiding by the “Casino Control Act.” You’ll typically find this information in the footer of the online casino’s web pages.
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is an encryption feature that hides the details of sensitive data during input and submission, preventing it from being stolen. All online casinos should have an active SSL certificate in place because users regularly add financial, contact, and other personal information into the site.
You can verify that an online site is using an SSL by checking the URL. If it starts with HTTPS, where the “S” stands for “secured,” the SSL is intact. But if a URL starts with HTTP instead, security is an issue.
Any online casino that doesn’t have an active SSL should be avoided.
3. Read reviews of the online casino
Casino review sites explain the pros and cons of online casinos, including game selection, banking options, customer service, bonus offerings, and more. Here at Great.com, we review legal online casinos and sportsbooks in New Jersey. Other casino review sites call out illegal or illegitimate online casinos, such as those that aren’t properly regulated or have shady business practices, like not paying players.
Some frequent casino goers host blogs where they review online casinos. But some writers are paid by casinos to say nice things, which means biased information. Other casino bloggers try to be as unbiased as possible, which can be a great way to hear a user’s perspective.
Lastly, you can find user reviews on Google, casino review sites that welcome user comments, and on the online casino’s mobile app store page. These reviews can be a mixed bag. Some are written by people paid to write nice reviews about casinos. Others are honest reviews from casino goers.
Note that bad reviews don’t always indicate an illegitimate online casino. For example, some users will write that an online casino wouldn’t let them withdraw their winnings. In some cases, these reviews are for legitimate online casinos, but their complaints are the result of not reading the terms and conditions, failing to meet playthrough requirements, and having their withdrawal rejected.
4. Make sure they use third-party software
Online casinos don’t make their own digital gambling games — they purchase the rights to host a third-party game on their site to ensure that fair RNG software is being used. Even exclusive games — those that bear the casino’s brand and are marked “exclusive” — are created, managed, and reviewed by third parties.
Some examples of trusted third-party software providers in the online gambling space include:
The other level to this is that a regulatory board must regularly review the online casino’s site to make sure the RNG is working as intended and there is no cheating — from casinos or players. In New Jersey, the DGE reviews online casino games to make sure they’re fair.
5. Look for legitimate deposit and withdrawal methods
If you find an online casino that lets you deposit and withdraw using a variety of trusted methods, like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, you’ve probably found a legitimate online casino. That’s because these banking companies only work with legal and trustworthy partners to protect their own brand and business, as well as the security of their funds.
It’s also important that an online casino offer multiple deposit and withdrawal methods. That means convenient and easy access to your winnings. Plus, the best online casinos give you a clear estimate of how long each withdrawal method takes, helping you pick the best one for you.
Note that all legit online casinos have a verification process to complete before they release funds from your account. But they should abide by their estimated timeframe or alert you when there’s an issue, such as not meeting playthrough requirements on a bonus.
6. Stick with online casinos owned by reputable gaming companies
Many legitimate online casinos in New Jersey (and throughout the U.S.) are owned and operated by industry titans, like Caesars, Hard Rock, Borgata, and more. It’s best to look for those affiliations when choosing a legit online casino so you know you can trust the site you’re using. These companies are in the business of creating legitimate and exceptional gaming experiences, and it’s in their best interest to play by the rules because their whole brand is at stake.
7. Review all bonuses carefully
Most online casinos offer welcome bonuses to new players, either deposit-matching or no-deposit bonuses. Legitimate online casinos may have very generous offers, but the playthrough requirements should be reasonable. Illegitimate online casinos advertise offers that sound too good to be true (because they usually are) and make it hard to access terms and conditions to verify playthrough requirements.
Read the terms and conditions, specifically looking for information about playthrough requirements, the time limit to meet requirements, and deposit matching guidelines and limits. Terms and conditions should be easy to access, such as through a link on the signup page or as plain (but small) text on a signup page or bonus advertisement page.