The act of gambling has come a long way since the days of the first dice and card games. The entire industry is booming, and this is largely thanks to the introduction, and technological advancements, of online casinos. As of 2020, the United States online gambling market was valued at $2,178.29 million – a number that continues to climb every single day. There’s no denying that gambling online is both fun and convenient, but the reality is that, as a pastime, it comes with its risks, especially if you don’t do your research before registering to play at an online casino. As such, it’s vital to educate yourself on how to play online securely and safely.
When playing online casino games, you need to keep your personal information protected at all times. In Part 1 of this article, we highlighted the basics of internet safety, the risks to be aware of and some password best practice guidelines. In part 2, we touch on a few key points concerning communication in online environments, behavior to watch out for and a few tips on responsible gaming.
Socializing and communication
Typically, when you sit down at a poker table, you’ll enjoy some socializing and banter with the people you’re playing with, and online casinos are no different. When you join a table and enter the chat room, you may want to say “hi,” and over the course of the game, you could even end up making some new friends.
This is a big part of the excitement and engagement one gets from online gaming, and friendly chat and some competitive banter is encouraged to build good online communities. But bear in mind that not everyone wants to play nice. When chatting to other players, do not share any personal information with someone you don’t know, and be wary of any details that they may request from you. This includes people posing as officials or admins from the site you’re using, and who may ask you to share your account information or passwords. Not everyone is who they claim to be and a legitimate admin or official from the website will typically not be allowed to request that information directly from you.
Report illegal or irresponsible behavior
When choosing an online casino, along with reading reviews on its systems, perks and the best casino games to play, it’s also important to do some research into its anti-fraud policies and department. What is the online casino’s team doing to prevent opportunistic criminals from scamming other players or the casino itself? What systems and procedures are in place to spot suspicious behavior? And what are the procedures that you, as a member of the gaming community, should follow in the event that you suspect something is amiss when playing live dealer casino games or online poker?
It’s true that when playing online, you may find yourself in a situation where someone is making you uncomfortable by harassing you or asking for personal or account information. In some cases, scammers will be a lot more subtle about things, asking you seemingly innocent questions, such as your birth date or where you graduated (the former is often used to create passwords and the latter is often used as a security question.) The bottom line is, if you ever feel uncomfortable, it’s critical to take action.
Most online casinos have a “report” function that you can use to notify the site’s authorities of a player’s misconduct. There’s also often an option to ignore another player by blocking them from any means they may have of communicating with you on the site. Tools such as these are there for you to use in order to protect yourself. Use them whenever necessary, but don’t abuse them. These reporting systems are also there for you to use when you see another player being harassed. As a responsible member of the online community, you should take it upon yourself to report such behavior or any behavior that contradicts the terms and conditions of the site.
Some online casinos offer sign-up bonuses and cheaper banking options, but what good does that do if you have your money stolen by a fake website? The more time you spend playing on online casinos, and as you discover new places to play, you will learn more and more about keeping yourself and your information safe. As your experience grows, you will find it easier to determine which sites are secure and become skilled at spotting a scam.
Research will help you stay safe and avoid falling into a trap set by one of these scammer sites. Reading reviews of websites is a good start, as they will have information on the site’s history and games as well as customer complaints. Just keep in mind that review sites can often be quite biased, so you may want to do some additional research by asking for recommendations from friends, relatives and colleagues who also enjoy gambling online.
Another option is to head to some online forums to get objective opinions about a site, as the people posting in these forums typically don’t have any stake in the casinos, and are generally expressing honest, experience-based opinions. You may want to ignore the odd “this casino is rigged” comment though, as forums can also be a place for jilted players to vent about a recent loss.
More safety tips
You might want to consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when playing casino games online if you really want to be certain that your details and identity are protected. This will provide you with an extra layer of security and make it practically impossible for hackers to get the better of you. Just avoid using free VPNs, which can be a security risk in themselves, and also remember that some online casinos have banned the use of VPNs for legal reasons (some gamblers often try to use a VPN to access an online casino from a country or state in which online gambling is illegal.)
Finally, research shows that it’s safer to use e-money for online gambling purposes compared to other payment methods. E-money websites, such as PayPal and Skrill, allow you to play games online without worrying about your banking or card details being leaked in the process, as you won’t need to reveal them when signing up to join an online casino. Obviously, the fewer platforms with access to your details, the lower the chances of them falling into the wrong hands.
Know your limits
This is a different kind of risk to the ones we have covered so far, but no less important and one that should be taken very seriously. A small number of people do become addicted to online gambling, and if you want to keep yourself safe from this, then you should commit to gambling responsibly from the start.
The easiest way to ensure you don’t get carried away with your betting is to set yourself a budget or a limit for how much money you are willing to deposit into your online account (this is called your bankroll.) Your bankroll should ideally be a monthly deposit and should be entirely disposable income that you can afford to lose and don’t need for anything important.
Experts are currently working on developing AI technology capable of helping gambling operators identify unhealthy gambling patterns before they become a problem for players. But for now, responsible gambling comes down to you sticking to your budget and avoiding trying to justify further deposits for reasons such as, “I will win it back,” or “just this once.” If you have a particularly addictive personality, then think very carefully about whether online gambling is for you. You may be able to control your spending, but you also may not, and it is just not worth the risk.
Already struggling with problem gambling behaviors or know someone who is? Don’t hesitate to call the National Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-522-4700 for assistance.
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