Our Guide to Safe US Online Casinos
|Online Casino in the US|
Many states offer some form of casino gaming, the most notable examples of course being Nevada and New Jersey, but the development of US online casinos has not run smoothly and the result is that even today, the majority of US citizens cannot legally play at online casinos.
That situation is likely to change, however, over the coming months and years as more states take the step of legalizing online casino gaming. For those who can play at online casinos, a key issue is how to ensure that you are safe while playing your favorite casino games.
Online casino legality
In May 2018, the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to set up legal sports betting sectors. Within five years, a total of 35 states had taken that step, while others are in the process either of passing the necessary legislation or setting up their gambling regulations.
Except for Tennessee, which uniquely permits online but not in-person sports betting, each of those 35 states provides for retail sports betting. Most have also legalized online sports betting but there has been a reluctance in some states to extend real-world wagering to the online space.
This is due partly to confusion regarding the Wire Act of 1961, which makes it illegal to transmit betting or gambling information across state lines. Different legal opinions have been offered but the state of play is that only 26 states offer online sports betting, and when it comes to online casinos, there are only eight that provide for legal online casino wagering, and in Nevada, this is restricted to poker. The others are:
• New Jersey
• West Virginia
If you are playing at an online casino outside of those states, you are most likely to be doing so illegally, and even for those residing in those states, it is necessary to take steps to stay safe.
Check the license
The first and most important step in playing safely at US online casinos is to make sure that the site you are using has a license issued by the state’s gambling regulator.
Reputable gambling sites will always display on their home page the details of their license, including the registration number and the stamp of the regulatory body that oversees their business, but if you are in any doubt, contact your state’s gambling body and double check.
The risks of playing at unlicensed sites include having your personal or financial data stolen or traded, contributing unwittingly to criminal activity such as money laundering, and having no recourse to justice if your deposits disappear or your winnings are withheld. If you want to stay safe, quite simply, you should never play at an unlicensed online casino site, under any circumstances.
Security and fairness
Another vital factor in playing safely is security. All the best online casinos will use high quality encryption protocols, such as SSL technology, to protect passwords, fund transfers and data.
Reputable and licensed online casinos are also required to submit to regular audits from third-party organizations, such as iTech Labs and eCOGRA, to verify that all their games are fair and that all of the casino’s processes around gameplay and the handling of customer funds are also fair. Legitimate online casinos will only use games from top developers that employ RNG software, ensuring that the outcome of every spin, dice throw or card deal is genuinely random.
Most of this information should be shown on the casino’s site, either on the home page or in a relevant section of the site. If you are in doubt about any aspect of a site’s security or fairness, you can also contact the site directly or consult with your state gambling regulator.
Playing safely at an online casino isn’t just about data protection and financial issues. Reputable sites are required to provide support for players who are at risk of harm from gambling. This support includes a range of tools such as time limits, self-exclusion and marketing opt-outs, as well as contact details for gambling support charities and helpful checklists to establish whether you are at risk.
Word of mouth isn’t everything, but checking the reputation of a casino site can give you some indication of how it treats its customers, as well as revealing potential scams. Checking out the public feedback about sites is a good place to start, but you can also take significant steps towards ensuring safe casino play by sticking to operators that are internationally known and reputable.
Unibet is not a well-known name in the US but it has been a major gambling brand in Europe for several years and is part of the international Kindred gambling group. The Unibet site has three casinos, named Red, Black and Live, though you only need one account to play at all three. Significantly, it displays an official seal from eCOGRA and offers 24/7 customer support.
Linked to the famous MGM Grand betting brand, the BetMGM site offers a huge casino gaming section and supports most major brands of banking. Notably, it offers some of the most secure payments and withdrawals in the online gambling sector.
The Rivers Casino brand is another long-established name in US gambling, with an excellent reputation, and the BetRivers online arm of their company is building a similar level of respect among online gamblers. Fairness and security are high priorities with BetRivers, which offers a good selection of live casino games and multiple customer support contact methods.
Originally a provider of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions, DraftKings has become a leading player in the sports betting sector in the US and has built on this reputation by providing a solid and reputable online casino section, licensed in multiple states.
How to spot an unsafe site
Avoiding sites that are illegal or dangerous is essential if you want to stay safe while you’re playing at online casinos. To help you steer clear of these sites, there are certain red flags that you can look out for that should alert you to danger:
- No verifiable license.
- No player protection policy section anywhere on the site.
- Extreme terms and conditions associated with promotions.
- Pay tables for certain games that differ from other sites.
- Promotional emails with bogus offers.
- Unusually slow payouts.
- Refusal to pay jackpots.
Any of these red flags should immediately raise suspicions, and if you can’t satisfy yourself that there is a reasonable explanation, then avoid the site. There are plenty of reputable, legal online casino sites and there is no need to play at illegal or dubious sites.
Playing online casino games can be a safe and fun way to spend a little spare time. Yet, while it is important to remember never to gamble with money you cannot afford to lose, it is also vital to ensure that you only play at safe and reputable online casino sites that are properly regulated and that will treat you fairly and responsibly.
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