Choosing a Valid Sportsbook
The urge to have some fun, lay some bets or play some casino games often outweighs the average online gambler’s desire to investigate exactly who it is they are dealing with. Since you are here investigating the dangers of that type of thinking, we’ll assume you’re an above-average online gambler with an eye on safety and responsibility. The key to ensuring that safety when gambling online is to make sure you are dealing with a site that is on the up-and-up. Below is a step-by-step guide to getting to such a site.
Visit Review/Watchdog Sites. Not all of these sites have your best interest in mind, but a quality one will guide you to the legit sites and make it clear exactly which sites are (pun intended) a risky bet. A site that is willing to give honest reviews and encourages feedback from players is usually one you can trust.
While at these internet sites, in addition to ensuring that the review is positive and the site carries the type of betting options that you value, look for information pertaining to:
- Age. This is often the first and best indicator of the site’s legitimacy. If it has been in business for a while, it usually has a decent track record. Since this is a relatively new industry, anything over two or three years qualifies as old and venerable.
- Functionality. A good online casino is not clunky and slow to load. Not only does this provide an unpleasant experience when you’re betting, but it’s also a sign that the company did not put a lot of money into its technology. If the site isn’t willing to invest in the business, it may not be in it for the long haul.
- Location. You should want to work with a site that is in a country that has laws regulating its companies. The best include the Netherlands Antilles and Antigua, as well as more obvious countries like the United Kingdom and Australia. If they don’t make mention of where they are licensed, they may not be!
- Customer Service. A good review site will have used the casino’s customer service system and can tell you if they are responsive and helpful. If they weren’t to them, they probably won’t be with you.
Tip: Internet research can allow you to narrow down your search and make a list of a few sites that you feel you can trust. Use the following steps to narrow the list to one.
Visit Each Site Before You Decide on One. All of the information you recorded during your research at the review sites can be verified personally quite easily. See how it feels: Often times you can tell if a site isn’t legit just by the way it looks and feels. Review our article on “How to Spot a Scam Casino” and apply those rules to each site. If it fails any one of them, move on.
- How they use your personal information. If the site does not specifically state that it will not submit your personally identifiable information to other companies, steer clear. They may be entering your address, e-mail or phone number into a database for marketing (or more nefarious) purposes.
- Withdrawal and Deposit Terms. Make sure these make sense to you. If there are regulations relating to how and when you can withdraw your money (and there are always some), be sure that they are both understandable and logical.
- Cases Where You Are Liable. If the casino seems unwilling to take any responsibility for errors and wants you to take all the blame, then they likely will be. While all of the legal jargon on even the best sites will try to limit their responsibility, any language that puts the blame on you for things that don’t seem like they would be a player’s fault should be regarded as suspect. Remember: If you agree to their terms by clicking that box when you sign up (and you have to click it), you will have to abide by them, so make sure you read them.
Contact the Casino’s Customer Service System. An online casino without a quality customer service system should be automatically suspect. If you’re going to be gambling with this site for a while (and hopefully, you will trust the site you eventually choose enough to do jus that), chances are that you will have to deal with them eventually. Ask them questions pertaining to their policies you may be curious about, or if you don’t have any, just make sure you feel comfortable with them. Knowing that you can trust the people who are handling your money is essential. Here’s what to note when dealing with their customer service:
- How Can You Contact Them? Toll-free phone numbers are best, because talking to a person always feels the most direct. Online chat is helpful for immediate and hassle-free assistance. E-mail only systems are sketchy because they are, in effect, hiding from more direct contact.
- Do They Speak Your Language? Good online casinos will offer their site in many languages, but the chances are that the customer service won’t be. Make sure that they not only speak the language, but are proficient in it.
- Are They Receptive to Your Questions? If a customer service person is hostile or defensive, it is probably a sign that they deal with disgruntled people all day.
Can They Answer Your Questions? If they can’t provide answers to the more complex questions about how their site is run, they probably won’t be of any help to you if you have a real problem.
If the online casino has passed all of these tests, then the chances are excellent that you’ll have a safe and fun betting experience.