Online casinos have surged in popularity in the last couple of decades, providing another outlet of entertainment for people. However, this renaissance has led to many companies looking to jump in on the hot new trend, and not every online casino operator has the consumer’s best interests at heart.

There are a few staple ways for would-be gamers to look out for the ne’er do wells of the iGaming industry, and we’ve made a handy little checklist for you to consider when choosing your next online casino.

Licensing and Regulation

First and foremost, it’s essential that the online casino you choose is properly licensed by a respected authority such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority. A casino sporting this license badge on its site has been regulated to ensure fair play for gamers with no bias or rigged games. You can also rest assured that these endorsed casinos implement proper security measures, so you don’t have to worry about any risk to your personal or financial details while logging on to play.

Security Measures

We’ve already mentioned security once, but it’s worth a second look when choosing a safe and reputable online casino. One of the worst things a dodgy site can do is implement such poor security that the backdoor is basically wide open for cybercriminals to waltz in. Safe online casino sites will implement high-class security protocols such as SSL encryption and two-factor authentication, which help to keep your personal and financial data safe.

Look out for sites that advertise that they’ve been approved by independent security auditors. Your chosen site should provide a certificate of approval by an organization such as eCOGRA.

Game Fairness and Software Providers

Similarly, the fairness of the games you’re playing should be a primary concern. Online casino games use a random number generator (RNG), which is software that generates random results that dictate the outcome of the games you play. As long as the sequence generated by the software is true random and aligns with the return to player (RTP) chances advertised by the gaming company for your slot, or cards for a table game, then you have a fair chance at winning any game.

Disreputable companies will often rig their RNG, lending credence to that old slogan: “the house always wins”. This is always going to be the case when your back-alley operator uses biased results to avoid paying out.

Look for online casinos that offer games by reputable software providers such as Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech, like the casino online games at Skycity, all of which are known for their fair and properly audited games. Sites like iTech Labs and GLI will provide certification that games are fair.

Payment Options and Speed

Another way you can be caught short by disreputable companies is when it comes to making deposits or withdrawals at your casino site. This can be either through disregard for the customer experience or even malicious intent.

You may encounter a steep charge on your deposits, or especially on your withdrawals after it’s too late to avoid. Some companies with little regard for their customers will leave you waiting weeks for lengthy processing times to move your money back to your account. There are thousands of safe casino sites with low or free deposits and withdrawals as well as speedy processing times, so don’t settle for less.

Not only should you carefully search for charges and wait times, but also make sure that the operator offers a good range of safe, secure payment methods. All the popular ones should be represented, including credit/debit cards, secure e-wallet options and even cryptocurrency for an extra level of security and anonymity.

User Reviews and Reputation

One of the best ways to hunt down a safe casino is through user reviews and testimonials. They provide the real gritty details from exorbitant charges to glitchy sites and non-existent customer support. Make sure you do your research at reputable sites like Trustpilot or unaffiliated forums to get the full picture before you sign up.

However, it’s important to be aware that even reviews can be disingenuous sometimes. Fake reviews are a plague on the internet these days, and often, those tiny new-name casinos that look far too good to be true often are. Beware of blindly positive reviews from unverified accounts with no other post history. It’s a sure sign of bought reviews trying to lure you to a disreputable site.