Investigating Online Casino Security
In the era before live casinos were regulated, players often had to worry about the fairness of games, and the safety of the casino itself. Now that live casinos are tightly controlled and overseen by governmental agencies, players have little cause for worry and can focus on choosing the casino that best meets their needs and preferences.
The internet casino industry is undergoing a similar evolution. With the inherently anonymous nature of the Internet and the risk involved in online financial transactions, gamblers are right to be extremely concerned about security at online casinos. This page is built to provide you with a starting point for understanding the basics of online casino security and the tools required to improve your odds of selecting a reputable and secure casino for your online play.
Casino Security: Background and Evolution
In the early days of the internet casino industry, security was far from a primary concern. The same can unfortunately be said for many Internet-based industries, especially those that developed during the nascent period of the online boom. As the Internet has shifted from a wild west mentality, to a medium with more rules and structure, so too have online casinos moved from loosely regulated entities to credible, global corporations that place substantial emphasis on providing players with a secure gambling environment.
Factors Ensuring Secure Casinos Online
How can you distinguish reputable casinos from low-quality ones? Two initial points of research are the organizations that regulate and test the casino and the random number generator the casino employs.
Regulatory and Testing Bodies
Any quality casino will have a license issued by a credible jurisdiction. Malta, the United Kingdom, and the Isle of Man are three of the most highly thought-of licensing bodies to ensure online casino security. Online casinos that submit their games and systems to the regular auditing required to maintain a license are simply more likely to be secure than those who are weakly regulated or operate without a license.
The Basics of Random Number Generators
Random number generators (RNGs) are the heart of a secure and fair online casino. Without a reliable, truly random generator, you have no way to know whether a game at a casino is fair. As online casinos use virtual decks of cards and slot reels, the RNG is the primary tool ensuring that the deal of the card or the spin of the slot is truly based on chance and not subject to outside interference. Reliable casinos who take security seriously will provide information about their RNG and employ independent companies to test and verify their RNG - verification that should be readily available at the casino's website.
Online Casinos: When Security is Compromised
While the overwhelming majority of internet casinos are backed by honest companies, the history of Internet-based casinos is nonetheless scarred by several scandals involving lax or absent casino security. Whether you're talking about unencrypted systems that have exposed user's private information, games that have been unfairly rigged in the favor of the house or casinos that have simply absconded with player funds, the importance of carefully choosing an secure online casino based on their track record has been impressed upon players an unfortunate amount of times. We've covered this subject in more depth in our guide to rigged casinos.
Safeguarding Your Online Casino Bankroll
That history makes it all the more important that you take the time and energy required to properly choose a reputable online casino. After all, it's your money on the line - and it's not just about the money that you deposit. All of us play casino games for fun, but all of us also know there's a chance - however slight - that we might stumble into a jackpot. When you play online casino games, you're often playing for multiple progressive jackpots worth significant money, and having the misfortune to finally hit one at a casino that has no intention (or means) of paying you would be devastating. So ensuring good online casino security is a smart way to safeguard your winnings.
Gambling should be fun, but there's no reason why you can't have fun and win too. Protecting yourself by carefully selecting a secure online casino at the outset is more than just a good idea - it's essential to the safety of your money and financial identity.
Common questions about casino security and game fairness
Gambling for real money online is something that generates a lot of questions, and correctly so. Some of the inquiries we most commonly encounter about casino security are collected and answered below.
What is a rogue casino?
The term "rogue casino" is generally used to describe casinos that are unlicensed, unregulated, have a history of defrauding players - or all of the above. While there are certainly complaints about all online casinos out there for finding should you look hard enough, be wary of casinos that are assigned the "rogue casino" moniker by large review sites or watchdog groups. You can find out more in our list of casinos to avoid.
How do I know the casino I am playing at is fair?
This should be an ongoing question for gamblers, not one asked only at the start of your online play. Knowing the casino is fair is a combination of initial research (that should include your personal network, available communities and investigation of the regulatory and RNG concerns that were raised in our discussion of online casino security earlier) and continual evaluation based on your experience with that casino.
How do casinos get their licenses?
The specific process varies from regulatory body to regulatory body, but a common process will include a software audit, a systems audit, background checks on the principles, suitability and solvency checks, and so on. The great thing about a secure online casino is that you don't need to wonder how they got a license - their licensing body will list the process and required information in publicly available documents.
Casino security questions
What is SSL?
SSL (short for Secure Sockets Layer) is a method for ensuring secure communication between two points on the Internet. Obviously you need a secure channel to log in to online casinos and to pass your personal information to the casino; SSL is one method used to transmit your data in an encrypted fashion, making it impossible for a party in the middle of the communication to listen in.
How safe am I banking at an internet casino?
If you choose an online casino that is properly licensed and regulated, you are as safe as you would be using an online banking service or shopping online at a major retailer.
Can I play online casino games on a public network?
Doing anything that involves personal information or money on a public network is generally a bad idea. If you frequently find yourself using public connections, you might want to consider investing in a secure mobile broadband solution. You cannot guarantee casino security when using public networks.
Game fairness questions
What is eCOGRA?
eCOGRA (short for e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) is a globally-recognized organization that audits and monitors online gambling operators. Accredited operators will display the eCOGRA seal on their websites, and you can click on that seal for more information about what aspects of the casino's operation have been tested or audited by eCOGRA.
Who are TST?
Technical Systems Testing is a Canadian company that provides a variety of auditing services to secure online casinos and gaming companies. TST is widely recognized as one of the top testing and compliance organizations in the industry.
What is a payout percentage?
A payout percentage is the average rate of return for a given game. For example: If a slot machine has a return of 95%, that means that in the aggregate, $0.95 of every $1.00 wagered would be returned to players in winnings.
Why do payout percentages vary across games?
A variety of reasons: Different games are structured in different ways; sometimes games with big-ticket jackpots will actually have worse payout percentages overall. Some casinos offer higher payout percentages as a promotional tool. Finally, some games just offer better odds than other games.
Have a question we didn't cover? Check out our sitemap for more resources on the issue, or contact us for answers to additional topics regarding security and online casinos.