Safe Casino Gambling Guide - Safe & Legal UK Online Casinos
Anyone who looks at our site regularly will know that safe casino gambling is one of our obsessions. You can go to any site and find dodgy advice on how to win (more on this later), or 5-star reviews from people who patently haven’t looked at the game, but we think our commitment to keeping our readers safe helps us stand out as a legal casino site you can trust.
The lessons here aren’t complicated. In fact, they’re very simple and can be summed up easily, but actually following this advice can be tough because we all like to cut corners at times. Perhaps the greatest appeal of the internet is that it offers everything instantly. Stopping to check details and run through routines isn’t part of internet culture.
Where that culture clashes with real possibilities of losing large amounts of money then we’d urge you to ditch the culture and keep your cash.
We reckon you should look at your safe casino gambling in these areas:
- Your computer or phone,
- Site safety,
- Financial safety,
- Mental health and safe gambling.
Keeping on top of all these shouldn’t be a chore, and if it takes you a couple of minutes to go through it, believe us, those are the most valuable two minutes of your gambling session.
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The Dangers of Online Casino Gambling
We don’t want to go overboard here, but it is possible to get ripped off online, and the internet gaming industry is particularly susceptible for it.
That’s inherent in the industry, and it’s been a part of the gambling industry since long before the internet or even the computer was invented.
Almost any statement about a group of people is worthless (it’s why prejudice is such a loser’s game): all human groups contain a lot of variety. But, gamblers have enough in common to have coined their own logical fallacy: the Gambler’s Fallacy (it’s even got its own Wikipedia page) to record the common belief that games or machines or tossed coins are “due” to fall a certain way.
The stereotypical view of a gambler might also note a tendency towards superstition and the belief in lucky charms or routines and the like. In a way, it’s quite a natural way to try to impose order on something that is in reality completely random.
Sadly, gamblers are often vulnerable. If you need the money and you don’t have much then one way of trying to get more, and potentially lots more, is to gamble: “the last throw of the dice”. Where there are vulnerable people, you’ll never have to look far to find unscrupulous people willing to exploit them.
Gambling’s illegality (particularly in the United States) for many years made it the toy of organised crime, and that linked it in with other sorts of illegal activity, most obviously money laundering – and most of the restrictions and checks on your online gambling account will be to do with preventing money laundering.
A lot of your vulnerability to unsafe gambling will be found within yourself: your own behaviours and needs. Unfortunately, if you don’t have loved ones around you, that leaves keeping an eye on things down to you, particularly in online environments where there’s no human interaction.
Gambling should be safe and fun. “When the fun stops, stop” is great advice. And also take a bit of responsibility for ensuring your own safety online.
This is where we do our bit to help with our safe casino gambling guide.
1 – Your Computer or Phone
Before you start gambling you can do a lot to keep your session safe.
Hackers would love to find the password to your casino accounts, and perhaps the bank accounts or online wallets they’re linked to.
Before you go online make sure you’re doing so from a safe device, with a safe internet connection.
If that means waiting until you get home rather than using a public Wi-Fi connection that you don’t know then so be it.
Making Your Phone Safe
Keeping things updated is one of the best ways to keep them safe, as security vulnerabilities are addressed as they are discovered. Keep your operating system, any apps you use, and so on updated. Any antivirus protection you have should be updated regularly.
The physical security of your phone is also important. Use all the locking and security options that your handset and provider allows. Turn your Wi-Fi connection off when you’re not using it.
If your phone does go missing report it quickly, and get online to change passwords at the sites you use: starting with financial ones and working down your priority list from there.
Making Your Computer Safe
Similar advice should be applied to your computer. Turn on firewalls, install antivirus software, and update all the programmes you use regularly and so on. You can buy security suites that will handle all of this for you automatically.
Make sure you use a good, modern browser, and make sure you always update it when prompted.
Safe Internet Connections
Wi-Fi is great, but make sure you don’t play for money or log-in to sites over unsecured public networks. Do everything that your internet service provider (ISP) suggests that you do to keep your home network safe too.
2 – Legality
Once you're online safely you can start to look for somewhere to play.
And the first thing you should check is that the site you are playing at is legal.
In the UK it is illegal for a site to offer gambling games to players without a valid UK Gambling Commission licence.
And there is your first test. You must look for that licence: it’s usually at the bottom of the front page. And, it doesn’t hurt to click through or Google the licence to discover if it’s extant and in good shape.
It’s possible that you’ll see some form of a note on the licence for some sort of past misconduct. You should take note of this, but you don’t need to consider it a deal-breaker. That is, it doesn’t make the site unsafe for you to use. Most of these penalties have been for the handling of problem gambling, and if a company has been allowed to keep its licence it has probably promised to carry out some sort of reform of its processes as part of the judgement.
You must also ensure that you are playing legally at a legal online casino.
It might be frustrating to be barred from your favourite site because you’re trying to access from overseas, and your holiday destination is in a country that the site won’t allow users from. Tough. Once you start breaking rules you put yourself outside the protection (such as it is) of the law and the site’s terms and conditions. The same applies to age restrictions, using VPNs to get around geographical restrictions, or self-exclusions or other exclusions. Don’t do it.
3 – Site Safety
We’ve warned you that the gambling industry is potentially dangerous, particularly for vulnerable people. A legal site is a good start, but you should also make some other safety checks.
You should never use a site without an address that starts with HTTPS, with the “s” showing that the site is secure. This should show up with a padlock symbol on your browser.
Scam sites are sometimes relatively easy to spot. If you think of the famous scam emails, they have become classics of internet comedy because they’re so ridiculous. Often the tall stories told are over the top (“my brother the king…”), and the language is poor, email addresses unconvincing. And yet, still, people fall for them.
So it is with scam sites. If you’re trying to scam money out of people, all you really need is a sign-up page and a way to transfer money.
It’s not just your money that is valuable either. Your personal information is key to your online activity, so beware of site sign-ups that seem to be asking you to disclose much more information than you normally would. A name, address, birthday, email address, and payment options should be more than enough to set up a casino site account.
An actual legitimate, safe casino site will have lots more than that. Hundreds of slot games, dozens of casino games, a live casino room….
Scam casino sites might also focus heavily on Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. There’s nothing wrong with using online-only currencies, but a site that offers ONLY crypto payments should be avoided. Feel free to check out licensing links, and payment partner link too.
A good welcome offer is a must-have for any self-respecting casino site, but do keep the old saying in mind that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Offers that come without any restrictions are probably dodgy. Offers of huge amounts of cash too.
A good site will have good quality help options
They will also have decent contact options, beyond help options.
You should see those, of course, and modern sites usually offer live chat as the first choice, as well as an email address. The gold standard for many people though is a UK telephone number. Why not ring it? This might seem to be going over the top a little, but for a few pence you’ll find out how quickly they answer.
Contact details for the company are nice to see too. You won’t always find them easily though. The licence should have a full street address on it, but it’s nice to see that that information is also included on the site.
4 - Financial safety
All of these components are in place to keep your money safe. Because that’s what this is all about.
You should always consider your financial health and safety when you play online casino sites.
Some of this should be done as a personal audit, which we’ll cover in our last section on mental health and safe gambling.
You can also help keep yourself safe by taking some elementary precautions around your financial sites.
Linking your bank account directly to a casino site is something some players avoid doing. It is one of the attractions of payment processing sites like Skrill, Neteller, and, of course, PayPal, that they put a buffer in between the casino site and your bank account. Even using those sites shouldn’t make you complacent thought.
Take all the security advice that your bank gives you seriously, and do the same thing with any security advice form online wallets and the like. Use two-factor authentication when you can, for example.
Keep a check on your balances, and do it often. It is much harder to be scammed, and much easier to get redress if you spot it quickly.
Putting limits on your gambling is one of the ways of staying safe in the personal sense, and you can use spending limits or deliberately low balances in accounts you use for gambling to a way to do this.
If you start to get in trouble financially it’s best to talk to your bank, not to try to win the money back.
Leaving money in your casino account means you’re more likely to spend it, so if you want to hang onto money then transfer it out regularly and keep the balance of your casino account as low as you can.
5 – Cyber Security
The internet isn’t the Wild West it once was. All legitimate businesses have websites, and the online economy is growing to rival – and surely one day surpasses – the “real world” economy.
However, you still need to keep your wits around you.
There are a whole host of tricks out there – malicious downloads, emails with dodgy links in them, sites set up just to take your cash – and you should be aware of them.
Common sense goes a fairway. Sites should look the part.
Then there are those things that we’ve asked you to look out for, like genuine contact details (feel free to check them). Casino sites usually have addresses and names related to gambling, and the URL (the site’s address) is genuinely the same as the name of the site. If things look unusual in these respects then investigate a little further.
Don’t trust a site straight away. Check links by looking at the preview address for links to see that they go where they’re saying they go.
Some sites are set up to take advantage of fat fingers and laziness. We all misspell things sometimes, and the scammers who are clever enough to set up sites like eBay or PayPal probably ending up getting a few quid in from people who don’t check that the addresses they typed are what they should be.
Google is a good check. Scams usually have victims, and they have plenty to complain about, so they may have been complaining on forums. This is particularly true in the gambling world – gamblers like to talk. (Though you should also be aware of malicious complaints made against genuine sites.)
Antivirus, antispyware, antimalware software are all worth having. Cookie settings in your browser can help you keep an eye out for sites that are trying to install things you don’t want on your machine.
EU legislation means there should be comprehensive privacy and data security information on any site, and you should have to give consent for any cookies that are used. This is called the GDPR legislation, and it looks likely to stay in place after Brexit.
Log out of sites when you’re finished. Don’t use gambling sites on shared computers.
Consider using a password safe or password store if you have a lot of passwords. This is probably more secure than a piece of paper. Be particularly careful with duplicate passwords. The casino site you’re using might have the world’s best security, but that’s no help if you use the same password in a forum you haven’t used for 18 months and don’t even remember using until you get the email telling you that they’ve been hacked.
Give your passwords a workout with the “you’ve been pwned” site that shows up if you’ve been compromised by a big hack.
6 - Mental health and safe gambling
This is a potentially difficult part of this safe casino gambling guide. We’re doing our best here, but we’re not doctors or psychologists. If you ever find yourself suffering from a persistent low mood or other forms of mental distress then please seek professional help. If you feel down at all, please talk to someone.
We’ve touched on the risks around gambling already.
Gambling can be addictive. This isn’t a joke, it’s a medical fact, recognised by all the big diagnostic manuals. That’s why gambling is regulated. Just as with alcohol, the vast majority of gamblers can have a perfectly happy and healthy time, enjoying their games and not getting into any trouble.
Hopefully, you are one of those.
If you’re not, the best thing to do is to ask for help.
One of the things a good site should have is a comprehensive set of guides on safe gambling. They should also have links to a number of industry bodies and charities that offer help for problem gamblers.
There are all sorts of indicators of problem gambling, as there are for all addictions. As with all addictions, the addict probably knows inside that they have a problem, even while furiously denying it.
Try to approach gambling with a healthy attitude to start with. Treat gambling and gambling games as a form of entertainment, and accept that you have to pay for entertainment.
Don’t treat gambling as a way to make money. The number of actual professional gamblers is vanishingly small, and the biggest common denominator is probably that they start out with a lot of money (if you don’t believe us, check out the most commonly shared stories of “high rollers”, they’re almost all massively wealthy men, and the stories are almost all sad in a way, telling of huge losses rather than big wins).
Gambling should not be used as a way to regulate your feelings, to avoid difficult feelings, or to avoid difficult situations. It should be a fun activity. If you start to rely on it to pick you up you’re likely to get into trouble.
Take some practical steps with your gambling too. We have to be honest here. Casino sites want you to come back as often as possible and they want you to spend as much money as possible. That is their purpose. Good sites should offer robust help, and they should allow you to self-exclude but that is not in their best interests.
Set limits on the length and frequency of your gambling sessions. Set financial limits AND ALWAYS STICK TO THEM WITH NO EXCEPTIONS.
Keep your stakes small. Never chase losses.
Play with friends
Don’t play when you’re in a bad mood or in order to feel better. Don’t play when you’re intoxicated or your judgement is otherwise impaired.
In the UK you can give yourself a time-out from a site of up to six weeks. And you can self-exclude too.
Be realistic about gambling. Who has the massive shining office blocks in Las Vegas? Is it the gambling companies or the gamblers? Gambling is a massively profitable industry, and that profit is all player “losses”. The purpose of a casino or a betting shop or a card table or a casino website is to transfer money from players to the owners of the site.
The modern gambling industry has made this into a massively efficient machine. Read the terms and conditions: games are set up to provide a profit, and they reliably do that because they’re regulated to do so. The gambling companies like to publish the theoretical return to player stats, and they all confirm that players lose money – normally, only about 3 or 4% of what they gamble, but over time, if you gamble regularly you will almost certainly be down on the deal.
Gamble for fun and you will gamble safely.