What's the one thing that's more important than the value of the bonus a site offers, their range of games and how friendly they are to Canadian players put together? The answer should be obvious: safety and security.
If you're in any doubt as to whether or not a casino is an honest, legitimate place to play then you close the browser window and walk away. It's as simple as that. There are so many great sites out there where you can enjoy online slots that there's just no need to take chances with a site that you suspect may be fraudulent or untrustworthy.
As you would hope, top casino and slots sites take a number of different measures to make sure that the experience they offer is not only convenient and fun, but safe and fair as well. On this page, we'll look at a few of the things the best casinos out there do to make sure players are always in for a good experience.
SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a term that's often thrown around when people talk about the protective measures used by online casinos. Without getting too technical about it, SSL is used to establish a secure connection by encrypting data passed between web servers and browsers.
It represents just one way in which casino sites protect customer data, with firewalls and other types of bank-grade security in place to keep your information hidden from prying eyes. A simple way to check whether or not SSL has kicked is to see if you find https:// at the beginning of a web address instead of http://.
Data encryption means, in a nutshell, that even if someone was to intercept your payment details or personal information that it would appear to them as gibberish. That's why data leaks, while still bad news for players and sites, aren't always the end of the world in the way that some people fear.
Players who are new to the world of online gambling, even if they're used to wagering real money in land-based venues, often struggle to understand how casino sites can be trusted.
"Can't they just skew outcomes in their own favour and take my money?" people often ask us. It's the use of RNGs, or Random Number Generators, that make this impossible for casinos that play by the rules.
A random number generator is, in layman's terms, a computer program that (as the name suggests) randomly generates a number, outcome or card every time you hit spin or deal in an online casino.
As part of the regulatory process, the RNGs that casinos use are regularly assessed by third party auditors who look to make sure that they are performing as they should. Many online casinos will make the results of these tests available on their site to build trust with players.
In places where online gambling is 100% legal, online casino sites need to apply for a license before they can legally offer their services to players. In the UK, for example, casinos must obtain a license from the Gambling Commission.
Ultimately a safe online casino knows they're likely to get more customers than the dishonourable ones, so they'll be proudly displaying logos such as Verisign or their license provider. A little research, mixed with the tell-tale signs pointed out here, should get you to a safe and fair playing experience in minutes.
This is good for players because it not only means that sites must pass a number of tests, but also because it acts as a deterrent to people who are thinking about trying to set up a fraudulent gambling site.
But it might not be immediately obvious how a casino site can be regulated in places where running an online gambling site is explicitly illegal, or playing online for real money resides in a grey area.
The answer is that sites must look elsewhere to obtain a license, such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. If players have any problems at a casino licensed or regulated by one of these authorities or commissions, they will step in to set things right regardless of where the player and site are located.
If you're particularly security conscious, you'll want to give some thought to which payment method you use. Using a credit card or bank transfer is obviously a very convenient way to make deposits and withdrawals, because it doesn't involve any extra admin, but it does mean that you need to entrust a casino with those important details.
Using a prepaid card or e-wallet service may require a bit of extra time to sign up for the service or buy the relevant paraphernalia, but it also means that the only money you're putting at risk is what you've transferred to that account. If the worst should happen, you could always simply delete it and start over, which isn't true of most bank accounts.
There's always a small chance that things can go wrong when you're making any transaction online whether it's with an online casino, a fashion retailer or even your own bank. However, by playing with a site that has a reputation for honesty and good security, you're doing as much as you can to limit that risk.
On the off chance that something does go wrong, using a well-established payment method that also has a reputation for good customer service and safety maximises the chance of getting your money back.
The fact of the matter is that this is something over 99% of players will never really need to worry about – thankfully, most players enjoy gambling for real cash without ever having to give identity theft or leaked data a second thought.