A Guide to Finding the Safest Casinos Online

Here’s a newsflash for you – you should only join the safest online casinos.

No duh, you know that. But how do you do it?

I’ll be honest… it’s not easy. Not with there being hundreds of online casinos to choose from. It’s not so much the quantity of casinos that get you – it’s how the majority seem hell bent on screwing people over.

So, what do you do? How do you find casinos you feel safe joining and spending money with?

That’s the focal point of our guide below. If you want to know how to find a safe and legit casino on your own, I highly recommend you give it a read.

Another option is to follow our recommendations, which you’ll find in the chart below.

RankOnline CasinoDeposit BonusGet Started
#1Bodog88 Logo
Bodog88
50% Up To 688 RMBVisit Site

How to Identify Unsafe Casinos

Let’s start with learning how to identify unsafe casinos.

Think about it like this – by learning how to identify who the bad guys are, it makes it that much easier to figure out who the safe ones are.

Common sense, yeah?

Anyway, here are some signs a casino isn’t safe enough for you to join.

Changing Terms on the Fly

Casinos who change terms on the fly usually do this to back up whatever they say the customer is doing wrong so that they don’t have to pay them. They do this during the conversation with the customer – which is as big a scam as they come – as opposed to before or after, which is when they SHOULD change their terms.

How can you trust a business who won’t even follow their own terms?

Forcing Bonuses onto Players

Another shoddy thing rogue casinos do is force bonuses on players.

They do this so that you have to comply with their bonus terms – you have to roll over your bonus money and deposit (thousands of dollars) before you can cash out.

What’s more likely to happen is you’ll lose your money (back) to the casino, thus relieving the casino of having to cash you out.

Offering Shoddy Software and/or Games

There are software companies who do bad business, too. Their games might not be random or there’s simply no way to win at them.

Other software companies, such as Betsoft, have agreements with online casinos they work with that, when a player hits a progressive jackpot, that Betsoft will pay the player, as well as cut the casino a percentage of the income.

But then they don’t.

Then there are casinos or software companies who rip off games and try to pass them off as their own – like Affpower.

Shoddy or Outright Illegal Marketing Practices

Another thing to watch out for is how a casino markets their business.

There are some casinos who will spam players by email or phone. Or, they’ll acquire your information from other (shoddy) businesses, and then spam you without your permission.

But you don’t want to only watch out for how casinos market their business, but what sorts of marketing practices they condone from their partners.

A couple years ago, tons of websites were hacked and injected with an affiliate’s code so that they’d earn a commission each time a player signed up. Some casinos banned this affiliate and didn’t pay him any commissions he “earned,” while others did little, if anything to punish him.

You want to avoid the casinos and networks who think online gambling hacking scandals are okay.

Casinos Who Struggle with or Avoid Paying Their Customers

You want to avoid casinos that either are slow paying or not paying you. If, after a few months, you haven’t received any money from a casino, you should stop spending your money there. Don’t make another deposit until you get cashed out, and it might be a good idea to never play there again.

Another thing to look for are casinos who give players the runaround when they request a withdrawal. The casino might make bogus requests for player verification or ask them over and over to send in proof of who they are. Or, the casino might ‘investigate’ the player’s account – each time they request a cash out.

Other Things We’re Weary Of

The items above are clear cut examples of things rogue casinos do. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. If you know of a casino who has done, or is currently doing any of the items on the list, you should avoid them at all costs.

But that’s not all – we have a list of additional things rogue casinos do, which we’ll share with you in just a second.

But first, I want to share a few things that aren’t rogue, but should definitely set off alarms for you.

For example:
  • They have extremely low cash out limits. I’m talking about casinos who want to pay out $5,000 per month, even when you win a progressive jackpot. You have to consider whether they’re having cashflow issues.
  • Casinos who make installment payments on a progressive payout, but then try to offer the player a settlement so not to have to pay them the whole thing. If they can offer a settlement, why aren’t they capable of paying the entire balance?
  • When a gambling site tries to find illegal workarounds to transfer money to/from players. 5Dimes is a good example (though, not considered rogue or even a bad gambling site) of a company who did this using Amazon gift cards.
  • When gambling sites operate in jurisdictions they’re not supposed to. That applies to every single offshore casino that accepts Americans.
  • Casinos that work with a not-so-great software company (even if the other companies are above board).
  • Casinos that have to wait to receive deposits so that they can pay withdrawals.

Many of these things aren’t make or break issues. But if several of them apply to a casino – or, when combined with the shoddy things listed earlier – that’s when you know that a casino is unsafe.

Now, this is a shortlist of all the shenanigans rogue casinos pull. You can find more, as well as a list of casinos and networks known for pulling these stunts, on our casino blacklist page.

In a perfect world, you’d figure this out about a casino BEFORE you signed up and made a deposit. You’d learn about it while reading a review or doing additional research in a forum or on a watchdog site.

But that doesn’t always happen, unfortunately. Sometimes you learn the hard way.

When that happens – and I can’t stress this enough – you need to cash out ASAP. If a casino starts tweaking terms on the fly, giving you the runaround or is slow-paying you, don’t give them the benefit of the doubt – just cash out.
Remember:

When in doubt, just cash out.

Because there are so many legit and safe online casinos out there, it makes no sense to stick around with the bad ones.

How We Find the Safest Online Casinos

Now that we’ve gone over some of the warning signs of an unsafe casino, let’s cover what we look for from a casino BEFORE we can deem them safe enough to recommend to our readers.

Here are the things we look for:

  • License – A gambling license is such a relatively small barrier to entry that, if an online casino doesn’t have one, it’s an automatic no-go. If they don’t have the bankroll to pay their licensing fees, they don’t have the bankroll to ensure players will get paid.

But – and this is important – not all jurisdictions are created equal. For example, casinos licensed to operate in Costa Rica or Kahnawake.

The biggest differences between jurisdictions is how much player protection there is and/or how much oversight or regulation there is. How much can the casino get away with?

  • Software – I’m looking for a few things:
  • Do they hold up their end when they’re supposed to? For example, Betsoft refused to pay a player who won a progressive jackpot – and then changed their terms to support their actions after the fact. That’s clearly bad form.
  • Are their games random, and do they operate as they should? A good example is Slotland.eu, who has a video poker game that operates more like a slot machine.
  • Is the software company choosey about who they let use their software? A good example is Real Time Gaming, who doesn’t appear to care at all. Contrast that to Microgaming, who appears to be very selective about who can use their software.

The games should be regularly tested for fairness by an independent 3rd party auditor, too.

  • Financials – We look for a few things here:
  • The payment options they accept – the more, the better.
  • If they’re able to accept payment options like PayPal, who’s selective of who they allow to use them as a payment processor.
  • Their payment limits. They should offer $2,500 per week at a bare minimum (as that’s pretty standard, from my experience). The min limit shouldn’t be too high, either, as to prevent lower stakes players from cashing out.
  • They should be able to make cash outs within a reasonable time frame. Even in the USA, payments shouldn’t take more than a few weeks, maybe 2 months MAX.
  • They should have a history of making consistent payments.
  • Their checks should clear.

While far from a perfect approach, it should be pretty clear that the casino has the means to handle nearly any cash out that comes across their desk.

  • Terms – I look for a casino who makes their terms clear and easy to understand. This includes how they handle bonuses, game malfunctions, dormant accounts, banking and so on.

I also look at how fair the terms are. This is subjective, of course, but 400x playthroughs on a blackjack bonus, or $50 fees for accounts that have sat for a couple of months, is predatory terms in my book.

  • Company Information – This covers things like the casino’s contact details – and making sure they work – to information about the company and how they handle their customer’s information.

So many casinos nowadays omit details about who they are, which brings the trust factor – and, thus, the safety factor – way down.

It’s a bonus when the casino is large enough to warrant their own Wikipedia page. However, this is rare, and often reserved for public gambling companies (for example, 888.com) or large non-public companies (Bet365.com).

Getting a Second Opinion

So, the list above is what I’m looking for when I review a casino. However, that’s really only half the battle.

In other words, it’s not possible for me to play at, or have in-depth knowledge of every single casino on the internet.

So, what I have to do – and what I recommend you do – is look outside of the casino (and our website) for a second opinion.

Here’s where I recommend you look.

  • Forums – Casino forums – like Casinomeister.com – are a great source of information because it comes from players like you – players who are unlikely to have any financial bias to a casino.

Like you, they want to play fair games at casinos who’ll pay them when they win. And when that doesn’t happen, you can bet your bankroll you’ll hear about it.

  • Review / Watchdog Sites – Whenever I review a casino for TophotGames.net, I double check the casino against reviews written by:
  • WizardOfOdds.com
  • Casinomeiser.com
  • LatestCasinoBonuses.com
  • ThePogg.com
  • AskGamblers.com
  • CasinoListings.com

Usually if a casino is unsafe, I can trust these guys to write about it. And, while everyone’s moral compass points in a slightly different direction, when there’s smoke, there’s fire – it’ll be pretty obvious when a casino is unsafe.

But that’s not all – we also double check the player ratings and complaints.

Player ratings are sort of like forums – you get honest info straight from the horse’s mouth. And while you need to ignore the bonus abusers, multi-accounting and conspiracy theorists, you will spot the (bad) patterns if they exist.

As for complaints, 3rd party mediators such as AskGamblers.com allow you to see what (common) problems players are having, and whether the casino is willing to discuss it publicly. This is an invaluable source of information.

  • Blacklists – Finally, we double check casinos who are questionably shady against blacklists from the casino review sites listed above.

Keep in mind – all of us have a financial interest in recommending casinos. So, if a casino makes the blacklist, that means we’re not recommending them, thus missing out on potential revenue.

The point – if we’re willing to pass on money to blacklist a casino, you can bet your balance that casino is one of the shadiest and unsafe casinos on the internet.

Conclusion

Finding the safest online casinos is no different than finding any other company you’re willing to do business with.

You do your research. Read reviews. Contact support and ask questions.

Then you keep the honest ones for a trial run, and skip the shady ones like the plague. Because otherwise your bankroll may get sick – maybe even die.

The guide above should help you accomplish just that.

If all else fails, you can use our recommendations above. And if for some reason those don’t work for you, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

Because everyone should be able to find, join and play at the safest casinos online.