If you are new to online gambling, here are a few tips intended to make your experience an enjoyable and safe experience.
1) Do your homework before venturing into a gambling site. Sign up with one or more of the free, preferably reputable, message boards where experienced players and others exchange news and views about gambling sites, promotions, gambling software providers and gambling in general. You will soon get a very good idea of which gambling sites to avoid. If you have webcast capability on your PC there are weekly online gambling programs that can provide useful up-to-date information on gambling sites and what is happening in the industry. Online e’zines are also an excellent source of balanced on-line gambling news.
It is recommended that a player visit a site that is an IGC Member, remembering to confirm the membership status on the IGC Member Page. If the IGC logo is displayed but the site cannot be found on the IGC Members page then contact the IGC to confirm the status of the site’s membership.
2) There are literally hundreds of online gambling directories, and not all of them are trustworthy. If you are looking for good gambling sites check out the ones who can afford to advertise on large gambling directories and then balance that information with what you learn at point (1) above.
A player should consider entering gambling sites directly, and be wary of entering via partner programs. Most of the reputable gambling portals (please check the IGC Members page and search the Services for “Gaming Portal and Information Site”) write original reviews of the sites for review by players before they wager online.
3) Like a player, a reputable operator will want to verify the bona fides of its players. The problem is that reputable operators are sometimes targeted by individuals who may try to commit fraud against their business. In an effort to ensure that the player is who they claim to be, an operator may seek additional personal information.
Before you give any gambling site the details of your credit card or bank account, check the site over carefully for the following:
- IGC membership.
- Player support details in case you need some assistance or want to ask a question (write these down with your player details before play).
- The name of the software provider (write this down).
- The name of the e-cash provider.
- Where is the website licensed? Make sure you keep this on your records.
- The auditor of the casinos payouts and name of the company verifying the random number generator (if available) ?. actions aimed at ensuring fair play.
- Have a test run or two – try small amounts before you decide to bet big (eg deposits and payments).
Does the site offer twenty-four hour support with telephone and email contact addresses and toll free lines? This is the norm for good gambling sites and you should not accept anything less. Some may offer real time interactive support. If you want to take extra care, try emailing their customer support and/or calling the 1800 support number prior to wagering, with a question, such as, what gambling software do they use? See if you get a response. No response, or no response to an email within 24 hours, is not a good indication, you should consider looking elsewhere for another website for your online entertainment.
When registering and playing at a site, it may also prove wise to write down the phone number of the customer support (hopefully there is one), and, for the “write to us” forms. Fill in any registration form BEFORE opening an account and ask for a working e-mail. Otherwise it could be difficult to contact the site if it is down for technical or “other” reasons. Keep a list of phone numbers, e-mail addresses and your account numbers from all of the gambling sites you join, and save a copy of all e-mail offers in the event their site is unavailable.
It is also recommended that players look for a physical postal address on the website in conjunction with a (digital) email address. This adds another level of comfort to your experience, seeing that the operation has a physical entity and is more than an email address on the surface that can easily be set up and operating from any location.
Ask yourself, what is the site like in general terms? Is the presentation professional and does it have relevant information upfront about licensing, software, e-cash and the legal requirements? A poorly presented site with insufficient information is frequently the sign of a cash-strapped or questionable operator.
Knowing the software provider for the website is an important factor, to ensure that you are playing safe, fair games with acceptable odds. You are entitled to know the identity of the software provider. If a casino refuses to divulge this information, this is also a reason for caution.
Quality casinos will often have their RNG (random number generator), or payout percentages, reviewed by an independent testing agency, a government body or another reputable body such as one of the Big Six audit firms. As an example, some sites have their payout percentages certified by a reputable accounting firm and published monthly on their website. A commonly held tenet is that the payout percentage for games using a RNG should be in the 97 to 98 percent range. Many casinos now offer a very useful reprise facility that enables a player to check their wagers and game history.
Several leading software providers are IGC Members – for additional information refer to the IGC website Members link to search for services provided.
Similarly, the name of the e-cash processor should be clearly stated. This is important as it provides security and confidence that you will be paid efficiently. Again, while not an exhaustive list, please check the IGC Members page and search the services provided for Members who provide a service such as “e-commerce solutions” service. Some of the major suppliers have their own e-cash companies that insure player accounts up to a specified level while some of the larger operators have their own e-processing system. Again, as a means of assistance, it is recommended that you check to see if the company is an IGC member. New gamblers are advised to test the water before making larger bets. If hesitant about gambling online, it might be a better course of action to make small wagers at a site and to then cash out. This will test the speed and efficiency of the gambling site’s finance system. Credits back to credit cards should take no longer than 7 to 10 days (sometimes sooner). Gambling sites will generally accept your money by credit cards, debit cards, bank wires / transfers, ecash wallets to name a few. If winnings are credited back to your credit card, it will only be up to the amount of your original deposit (this is a bank regulation). Anything over that will be sent to you by bank wire or check (be wary of the latter).
Things to check onsite: Does the gambling site charge you for these payments and how much? Some of the charges levied can be unfair. How long does your payment by bank wire take? It should not be longer than 10 days. Growing numbers of gambling sites are now fitted with online statements that you can access at any time to check the state of your player account – this is obviously a desirable quality. In any gambling site there should be a service that enables you to demand an audit trail if you are unhappy with any transactions.
It may be prudent for a player to take a copy (screenshot) of any larger winnings and request a copy of the applicable transaction log relating to the win as soon as possible after the win. If there is a dispute with the operator, a player will have some proof.
Look for licensing information. Most online gambling sites are licensed in sovereign Caribbean or South American jurisdictions that at least give you an avenue for complaint if you feel that a gambling site is guilty of bad practice. USA, Canada and the UK have still not agreed to license online gambling (UK sportsbooks are the exception), although moves are afoot to provide genuine, effective regulation (with teeth) which will protect your interests in the future as in the Isle of Man and Alderney. The Kahnawake jurisdiction is an ethnic Indian enclave jurisdiction within Canada, but does not constitute Canadian licensing. Antigua has a well-developed licensing structure, as is Vanuatu, whilst there are indications that Costa Rica may move toward formal licensing legislation. Gibraltar is also a location of several reputable operators, some of whom came from the UK before a relaxation of the taxation rates. The Commonwealth of Dominica is also a respected jurisdiction. Other common license jurisdictions of varying quality include Belize, St Kitts, Netherlands Antilles and Grenada. If there is no license do not gamble there.
Good quality gambling sites will generally offer, “play for free” games on a site so that you can try out the games and get used to gambling on a PC. Most will also offer extensive information on the rules and how to play each game. Sites that do not offer this facility to players should be treated with caution.
Once you are comfortable with gambling online and have registered at a gambling site you will probably at some stage receive marketing emails offering various incentives and promotions to play. Gambling sites do this to attract new business, but before participating you should always carefully read the rules governing the promotion to make sure you follow them to the letter. Gambling sites are quick to disqualify players who do not. Pay particular attention to the number of times you are required to wager a deposit or a deposit plus bonus before qualifying. Read the rules carefully to avoid conflict and stress at a later stage.
If email advertising is utilized, careful consideration should be given to whether the operator has a permission-based e-mail opt-in, and of course, an easy ‘unsubscribe’ mechanism for players.
Additional indications (please note that these are indications and intended only as a guide) is to look for an independent, recognizable and reputable third party certification of a site or of a particular aspect of the site. Examples include, audited game return, general security of the site, particularly the security of payment system, SSL encryption or the like, and in particular the ‘padlock’ symbol (normally found at the bottom right of the screen) which gives the player the comfort level that when entering sensitive information (e.g. credit card details) on the web page that the details are secure.
4) If you follow these simple and commonsense rules, online gambling will hopefully be a safe and enjoyable experience, one that will even be profitable at times! Remember that you are not alone. If you feel you have been treated unfairly or badly by a gambling site, which carries the Interactive Gaming Council logo, you can lodge a complaint online at www.igcouncil.org (Contact link) and impartial IGC executives will adjudicate it and if indicated, mediate on your behalf. If the gambling site is not a member of the IGC there are several “watchdog” sites and player organizations to which you can turn for support if you have a just complaint, and you can of course complain to the licensing authority concerned as well. In all cases we recommend that you escalate a complaint beyond the general support to the Management. The vast majority of complaints can be resolved at that higher discretionary level, thus saving you time and effort.