Playing at an online casino is fun and safe unless you do it wrong of course.
However, it’s important to go to a legitimate and regulated online casino.
The question of whether it is safe to play online casinos is a question that could be split in to two separate parts.
The first being the safety of the online casino themselves, which comes down to due diligence and research on the brand, their reputation, their age and also their license credentials with the UK Gambling Commission.
The second though is safety in terms of compulsions and only playing for fun rather than playing for need – or even worse playing because of current personal circumstances.
There is a huge adrenalin rush when gambling, whether you’re at the horse racing, playing poker or at a casino.
Every gallop of the hoof towards the finish line, every river card turns on Texas Hold ‘Em, and every spin of the roulette wheel at a casino creates a rush of Adrenalin.
In this article though we are going to pay particular focus to the safety of any funds you deposit into an online casino.
So, is it safe to play online casinos?
It is safe to play online casinos providing they are fully licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and are adhering to the regulations set within the Gambling Act of 2005. Technology, auditing, and regular reviews by industries bodies are there to protect consumer safety when playing online casino games.
Entering your debit card or PayPal information to any site is a risk. Not only from the site itself but also from hackers, scammers or malware that may have found its way on to your device, secretly listening to every key press you make.
This isn’t intending to be a scare story, just a true representation of the online world we live in today.
The casino site should be ensuring the pages are secure, which is evident by the padlock beside the website name in your browser.
If the padlock is locked, then the site is running over a secure SSL, which adds more protection. If though the padlock symbol is unlocked, do not use!
Only an unregulated casino site would be foolish enough to use a non encrypted website to collect payment – if you find such a site then do not use and move on!
How to know if an online casino is safe
If in doubt, research it out!
There are lots of tell tale signs as to whether an online casino can be safe and trusted, or if they are there simply to take your deposit and either be closed down before you next log on, or even more elaborate, allow you to play out your deposit without a win.
This is known as online casino rigging!
The best way to look at whether an online casino is safe or not is by using a real life case study.
We can walk through all the signs of a legitimate casino site and confirm the online casino is safe and legitimate.
In this example we will take a look at 888 Casino, which is part of the 888 Group a trusted gaming brand in the online space.
Without giving too much away – although these signals are good indicators – 888 Group was founded in 1997, had online revenues of over $980m in 2021, and has a market cap of $790m as of summer 2022.
This summary already establishes incredible brand authenticity and trust but let’s dig a little deeper and find all the ways to identify how safe an online casino is handling your money.
The very first, and easiest check to make, is whether the website is using an SSL.
Without going too technical, it is the browser standard of encrypting data entered by the user before being passed to the site, so hackers can’t read personal or sensitive information.
It is a legal requirement in the UK to use an SSL when collecting any form of private or sensitive information, and it specifically includes bank details.
The way to tell is to look beside the website name in the browser and checking the padlock. It will either be in the locked position confirming the site is secured, or it will be in the unlocked position showing the website is not secure. If this is the case, then personal information should not be given.
Our Case Study: In our case study here is confirmation 888 Casino are indeed using encrypted technology to help protect their customers information and data, which is reassuring for customers:
Domain Registration Date
Often scam online casinos are set up in a hurry with a heavy social media posting presence, collect as many deposits as they can with big promises, and then close the fictitious casino down.
It is incredibly easy to buy a domain and create a fictitious casino in less than an hour and can be repeated over and over again.
Often, although it’s not always the case, the domain name is recently registered within the past few days or weeks.
Established and credible online casinos will have domain registration dates of several years.
It is easy to check the registered date of a domain name. It does depend on the domain name in question but almost all domains can be checked using the following tools:
- Nominet Who Is – for .co.uk, .uk and .org.uk domain names
- iCANN Who Is – for .com and other central domains
Just visit the links above and type in the online casino’s website address, this will show the registered date.
Any website address registered within the past few weeks is a huge red flag!
Our Case Study: As we can see in the screenshot below, the 888 Casino domain name was registered on 28th June 2001. The age definitely gives the site more authenticity.
The age of the online casino company’s registration number is also a good indication as to the age of the business.
The domain name (website name) is the first check, but it is possible for a scammer to buy an aged domain and then replace the existing site with their own casino site.
Although the domain age cannot be faked, it can be influenced.
The company’s formation and registration date with Companies House in the UK will show exactly the date the company formed, including the directors of the business.
Therefore, if a domain name shows it is 10 years, but the company registration only took place three weeks ago, it’s another clear sign of potential fraud.
That is of course if the company registered with Companies House.
Just because the online casino has displayed a company registration number, it doesn’t mean it is genuine or that it actually belongs to them.
To check the registration date of the online casino, take the company registration number from their website and search this within the Companies House portal – using this link.
Our Case Study: 888 Casino we can see, due to the high profile nature of the business being part of the 888 Holdings PLC group, was founded in 1997:
Market capital is the value of the business based on the current share price multiplied by the number of shares in the market. This term, often abbreviated to ‘market cap’, is used to provide a relatable valuation of the business compared to other businesses.
The higher the market cap the bigger the valuation.
This is how so-called unicorn business starts, those that have a valuation of more than a billion, achieve their valuation.
With a huge investment in the businesses, and climbing share price with demand, it can lead to a huge volume of capital for the business to continue to grow.
A quick search on Finance Yahoo will show the current share price and market capital for any listed business.
If the company isn’t a PLC listed company, then they will not have issued shares, and this isn’t a metric to check.
If though the casino hasn’t listed, and operating under a limited company, it is possible to check Companies House for their last financial reports. It will show how profitable the business is, how long they have been traded, and the company’s net worth.
A low net worth may be an indication the online casino is struggling with trade, and if they have to close it could mean your deposit goes with it.
It is generally advisable not to keep much in the way of cash as a deposit in any online casino, just in case.
Our Case Study: As we can see, the 888 Group are listed on the stock exchange and they have a high market capital of over $800m:
Passes the Brand Test
Passing the brand test simply means is the online casino a brand that is recognised, known and trusted.
888 Casino, William Hill Casino and Sky Casino are all trusted and known brands.
If you saw ‘I-Want-You-Money-Casinoz’ suggesting a huge sign up bonus on a social media ad, they could be legitimate, but the name and the fact they are unknown, could be red flags and more checks are needed.
You will feel a lot safer if you play the brand name online casinos.
Our Case Study: 888 TV adverts, promotions, marketing, and bonuses have been with us for over 25 years now. They are a recognised brand and used by millions of people.
UK Gambling Commission License Number
The last, and one of the most important, items to check is the UK Gambling Commission license number held by the online casino.
This allows you to check to ensure the casino is really listed and regulated.
Gaining a license from the UK Gambling Commission means very strict regulations must be adhered to with regards to transparency, consumer data, random generators, and odd calculations.
Each online casino website will include this license number on their website. It could be along the footer of the site, in the company information or terms and condition pages.
Take this number and search the records of the UK Gambling Commission website, to check its authenticity.
Our Case Study: The license number for 888 is 39028 and as you can see in the screenshot below, and this link on the Gambling Commission website, that it matches the Government’s records:
Online Casino Safety – In Conclusion
By playing with the recognised brand name casinos, you can remove a lot of the safety fears gaming online.
Large no deposit bonuses, and huge free play incentives are a way not only smaller online casinos use to increase their customer base, but scammers also use to tempt unsuspecting customers into their fraudulent activity.
Researching each casino using the steps shown in this article will help you find the authentic and genuine sites to enjoy an online casino night!