Can Online Casinos Be Trusted?
What Makes an Online Casino Trustworthy? One of the main concerns online casino players have is the trustworthiness of the sites they use. US players must take great care when depositing cash in an online gaming site. Therefore, trusting that a casino operator will pay out their winnings when it's time for a withdrawal, is essential.
Online United States Casinos (OUSC) conducted a month-long survey among online players to determine what factors make a casino site dependable. We wanted to know what makes people trust - or distrust - an online gambling site. Our team set off to do just that.
What Factors Make an Online Casino Trustworthy?
Reliable cashouts are by far the most common way a real money online casino establishes trust. About half as many respondents said casino reviews and recommendations were the key factors when choosing a casino. The third major factor cited was the speed of payouts, as players believe an operator which pays quickly has good cash flow and nothing to hide. Customer service and how helpful casino reps are also was a key factor that those surveyed consider.
Top 10 Factors Players Consider to Determine if a Casino is Legit or Not:
- Payment Issues, Speed & Reliability - 51%
- Player Reviews and Site Reputation - 14.8%
- Safety, Security, and Regulations - 12.9%
- Customer Support - 9%
- Live Casino Experience - 3.9%
- Nothing, You Can't Trust Casinos - 8.4%
We Asked, You Answered
Our researchers at OUSC surveyed 179 players on the factors that led them to trust an online casino. We categorized the responses in 10 general categories. These factors include customer service, site security, withdrawal times, and the reliability of payouts. Our survey has a 95% confidence level in our methodology, while the margin of error is 8%.
Most respondents said they do trust online casinos. However, they provided a huge variety of factors they consider when deciding which casinos are legit and which ones shouldn't be trusted. We publish our results below. Each section will cover every main category, along with our team's analysis, and a break down of the most interesting responses we received.
Payment Issues - Speed & Reliability (51%)
"When their web pages are clean, consistent, and user-friendly… When all the caveats of bonuses are easily accessible; when their support team is not only proactive but reminds you to not mix funds, be careful."
Two respondents even expressed a cynical view that casinos preserve the illusion of fairness. They said they like casinos that "let you win every once in a while." The vast majority of those who want reliable cashouts simply want one thing: to receive their winnings when it's time for the casino to pay.
Many online casino gamblers look at the speed of payouts. If a site pays quickly, then it must be honest and legitimate. The fast payouts category has two type of respondents. Those who want the fastest withdrawals possible and those who don't want to deal with slow-paying operators.
"Legit and secure websites when dealing with real money, and short waiting periods for withdrawals."
It's a big distinction. An honest and reputable online casino might not have the fastest payouts (12-24 hours), but it might have reliable payouts within a few days. Even a site which takes 48 hours to verify your identity and a payment method that takes a week is acceptable to many players if it is consistent in its withdrawal times. Sites that "flag" payments for phantom term violations or have an inordinately small withdrawal limits are different from the legit casinos that don't have uber-fast payout times.
About 3% of players consider good online bonuses to be their number one deciding factor. Players who shop for bonuses in our survey are not the wide-eyed gullible types who take any bonus, regardless of terms, simply because it's big. Several respondents defined "good bonuses" as those with fair terms and rollover requirements that are easy to clear.
Good bonuses to many players have more to do with factors like cashable winnings, no fine print, and no max cashouts.
Players commented by saying they trust a casino when they show:
"Willingness to offer a No-Wager, No-Deposit Bonus [and] not just to sign up." and "When all the caveats of bonuses are easily accessible."
Some who cited good bonuses appeared to shop for the biggest no-deposit bonuses or deposit bonuses, but that was only a fraction of 3% of the players surveyed. About 1% of the respondents seemed to think big bonuses or lots of daily bonuses were a reason to trust an online casino.
Player Reviews and Site Reputation (14.8%)
15% of those surveyed say their main concern is the casino site's reputation. They go with an online casino that has established a good name in the gambling community. These players read casino reviews and player recommendations. While some respondents did not say whether player reviews or third-party recommendations swayed their opinion more, a solid number said they read player reviews and complaints.
Online Player Forums:
Sites like AskGamblers exist, which allow players to post their honest reviews of an online casino. Players with complaints can post their issues and receive feedback and advice from other people. Sometimes, a customer representative from the casino replies to the posts. Players concerned about a site's reputation can see how customer service handles complaints, and even see a 1-to-10 rating system for what percentage of issues are resolved.
"It's all in the history. I do not play in any online casinos that just pop up from out of nowhere."
Site Safety, Security & Regulations (12.9%)
Theft of player identities and identity spoofing of operators, along with site security is the top concern of about 1-in-15 online gamblers. Cutting edge security technology like SSL certificates and 128-bit encryption are important to these players. Players want an online casino software free of malware. Most importantly, they want online transactions to be safe, secure, and encrypted.
Those concerned about site security can take precautions. If you fear your credit card or banking information might be compromised, you can join a web wallet like Neteller or Skrill. This adds another layer of security to payments because you aren't transferring your bank or credit information when you make deposits and withdrawals.
Anonymity & Cryptocurrencies:
Many players who consider security as their topmost issue prefer to use blockchain payments. This is due to identity thieves having no way of stealing the information. For those players, Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum are the preferred payment methods.
One player gave a very detailed and complete opinion saying trust in a casino can be established by "Security measures and transparency in its written or cashed out funds history with the public and Gaming Board Supervision and US Laws to Enact Fair Play." In contrast to another respondent who said "I just keep praying that it is as secure as they say they are and trustworthy."
It is important to note these elements among the ones most players take into consideration for deeming an online casino secure:
- SSL and Encryption
- When they have a security question
- If the site says "https://www."
- It is accredited (ie. BBB)
Regulations and Supervision:
Many players -7% of respondents- make signup decisions based on the government authority that certifies and regulates an online casino. Licensing information is a good place to start when choosing an online casino. Players who want to know the licensing authority can check the site's homepage to see the seal of approval from one or more gaming authorities or gambling commissions.
If you want to be doubly sure, call the regulator and ask if it licensed the online casino you're researching. CasinoMeister, a site which tracks blacklisted and rogue casinos, told an anecdote years ago. They asked a regulatory agency if it licensed the now-defunct Begado Casino and they said: "they'd never heard of the site". Needless to say, the site was blacklisted.
Common Misconceptions About Online Casino Safety:
Some respondents make decisions based on faulty assumptions. The player who only participates at casinos headquartered in the United States is likely to be choosing unwisely. Even the online casino brands active in the regulated states of New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania usually are not based in the United States.
Live Customer Support (9%)
Roughly 10% of the respondents said live customer service instills trust in them. If they can speak to a person on the phone or interact with them in a real-time live chat feature, they feel more comfortable dealing with the online casino. That makes sense. Live customer service is the casino equivalent of the personal touch. Gamblers feel they're dealing with real human beings.
Many online casino player forums exist, providing essentially the same service. These message boards have countless threads devoted to player complaints. It is wise not to take one player's opinion when researching a casino. This is due to disgruntled players, online trolls, and dishonest competitors might post a bad review for illegitimate reasons. Instead, when researching a casino's reputation, get a sense of the general consensus about the website's reputation.
Interacting with real people isn't enough. Customers have to feel those people are friendly, mean them well, are fluent in the language, and knowledgeable about the issue. In short, online casino players want customer support that's helpful. Below are some of the issues players who took the survey discussed when talking about live customer service.
This is what a player had to say about trusting an online casino's customer support:
"I don't like it to feel so 'automated' as if I were using an online slot machine. Plus, if there were technical issues, there would be someone to text/speak with in English."
Live Casino Experience (4%)
Live Dealer Casinos are a growing trend in online gambling. Casinos that stream video of real-life dealers using real playing cards, spinning wheels, and dice to resolve bets has a tremendous appeal.
Players accustomed to brick-and-mortar casino gaming might never get used to a random number generator (RNG). Obviously, some players will never trust an RNG to resolve bets. Live casinos restore table games to the way they were meant to be played, where the bets are resolved in an old-fashioned way.
People Trust People:
Much like the responses about live customer service, interaction with a live dealer instills trust in many players. They get personal attention from a real human being in real time, instead of dealing with computer systems. The camera stays on the table at all times - usually from several adjustable angles - and so the player trusts their eyes that the game is fair.
"Watching it go down live helps, plus being able to communicate in real time, I have tested it with real money & them paying a win helps."
Plus, live dealer games are more entertaining, due to social reasons. It's surprising that no more than 4% of players listed the live casino experience as their top reason to trust a casino site.
Other Factors That Make an Online Casino Trustworthy
Some of the answers were outliers which fit in no category. For instance, one respondent said: "I develop trust in a casino based on the theme. Essentially the way the site looks like." Another player said much the same thing. "I trust a site when their web pages are clean, consistent, and user-friendly."
Site aesthetics and web design are good reasons to keep playing at a casino, but we urge readers to make decisions based on reputation, trust, licensing, live interactions, the helpfulness of customer support, and the reliability of payouts.
What Other Reasons Influence an Online Gambler's Trust?
Each of the following responses was given to our researchers when asked: What Makes a Gambler Trust an Online Casino?
- No "Accidental" Bets: Hard to Click Buttons - The respondent who complained about accidental bets and hard-to-click buttons probably was a mobile smartphone casino player. Certain table games (craps, roulette) are notoriously difficult to port over to touchscreens because of a large number of bets offered. If you play Android or iOS roulette or craps, consider buying a tablet computer for your gaming needs.
- Have Free Credit: No legitimate online casinos really offer "free credit", so don't make that your main qualification for a trustworthy online casino. Some casinos will offer no deposit bonuses, free spins or free chips, but terms and conditions will apply. So make sure you check.
Casinos Can't Be Trusted (8%)
One surprisingly common response is: "Casinos can't be trusted." A certain number of online gamblers have lost trust in casinos, or else they never believed casinos were legitimate. Roughly 8% of the respondents expressed extreme skepticism or even cynicism about the online casino industry.
Many, if not most, online casinos are licensed by gaming regulators outside the United States. Those sites do fast regulatory oversight and third-party audits for payout percentages, security issues, and fairness. Despite that, it appears 8% of American online gamblers believe casino sites cannot be trusted.
Why Some Players May Be Misguided in Their Mistrust:
These people say online casinos operate within an honor system and you can't trust an unregulated site. That is true if you're talking about online casinos that truly are not licensed and regulated at all. Only four US states regulate online casino gaming. Although, that does not mean a site is unlicensed.
"Nothing can make it trustworthy. If you have a problem, you cannot go to the government because online gambling is illegal."
Such players probably have had bad experiences. Like someone burned once or twice in the dating scene, bettors with bad experiences sometimes assume the entire online casino industry is just as bad. This set of respondents is a good reminder that players should do their due diligence and research sites before signing up because not all online casinos are bad.
Payment Issues Affect Trustworthiness:
Payment issues are the number one red flag that destroys a players' trust in an online casino. Read an online casinos' sales copy and you might get the idea fast payments are more important, with 12 to 48 hours seemingly being the standard.
Our researchers found that reliable payouts are more important than fast payments by a factor or nearly 3-to-1. If an operator takes 5 business days to pay but can be trusted to make payments consistently in that time frame, players remain loyal to the casino.
Because payments comprise over 50% of all responses, OUSC wanted to give players the tools to spot bad behavior from online casinos. The term "payment issue" can refer to a wide range of behavior. Rogue casinos have a number of tactics they use to avoid paying out in a timely and reliable fashion. From our years of covering the online gambling industry, these are the most common payment issues which destroy a player's trust in an online casino.Types of Payment Issues
- Slow Paying: Paying customers in weeks or months, instead of days. When a player makes a withdrawal request, the casino takes a long time to act on the request.
- Low Max Withdrawals: Closely related is a low maximum payout per week. Some sites have been known to make payouts in increments as low as $500 a week.
- No Payment: Even worse, rogue operators sometimes refuse to make a payment at all. Sites usually don't admit their policy, but instead, use arcane terms and conditions to refuse payment.
- Activity Has Been Flagged: If a player loses money, all is fine. If a player wins cash, especially using bonus money, then they'll find their account has been flagged for "suspicious activity".
- Voided Bonuses: With rogue casinos, being flagged is almost always an excuse to void a bonus or cancel out winnings. One-sided terms & conditions become a weapon against the player.
Can Players Trust Online Casinos?
Players can trust online casinos, as long as they check warning signs, and other factors we listed above. Whatever method you use to pick an online casino, reevaluate your decision based on the new information you receive.
Management and policies can change on a dime, depending on the site's ownership situation. If you start to notice any of the activities listed above, consider them a warning that the casino operator might not be trustworthy anymore.
As our OUSC Player Trust Survey, payment issues are the #1 way to spot a rogue casino. Many other factors go into a choice to deposit money in a site, but trustworthy withdrawals are the key to a fun online gaming experience. If you don't get paid when you make a cashout request, then you never won the game in the first place.
If you are still on the fence about whether or not to trust a casino, consider these factors. Weigh in your options, then choose from a reputable online casino where you can play safely and actually win real money!