A Comprehensive Guide to Online Casino Security
Casino security is a hot topic these days. As the number of online gambling and sports betting platforms on the market increases, so does the need for adequate security measures. Below, we’ll help you learn how to identify a legit casino and how to stay away from rogue sites.
Definition of Online Casino Security
When we use the term casino security, we are referring to an arsenal of methods, features and software solutions integrated by an online gambling platform. Their ultimate goal is to boost the site's trust score and reputation while ensuring the security of player data, whether that’s banking information, transaction history or the personal details supplied at registration.
In recent years, digital technology has evolved tremendously, ushering in the golden era of the internet. Consequently, the online gambling industry now boasts advanced security methods that were previously unimaginable.
Enhanced governmental and regulatory oversight has clarified the legal landscapes for online casinos significantly. Nowadays, licensed gambling sites are required to play by the rules and protect their players in a myriad of ways, from the KYC check at registration, to implementing secure payment methods, upholding national privacy laws and maintaining bonus transparency.
Naturally, failure to comply with these directives can result in pretty hefty fines, revoked licences, or being placed on a regulator blacklist for the foreseeable future.
The Importance of Security in the Gambling Industry
Due to the rapid evolution of casino gambling worldwide, the significance of security has become increasingly evident, and is now a crucial topic for all stakeholders, including regulators, licensees, and, of course, players.
Given the fact that most gamblers access their favourite casino games over the internet, the integrity and confidentiality of player data is of utmost importance. The inherent, pseudo-anonymous nature of the internet itself poses more challenges than ever when it comes to security, from stolen data shared with third parties without consent, to card cloning or even DDos attacks.
To make things easier, we’ll walk you through a short history on the topic, and provide a set of useful tools to help you identify a secure and reputable online casino for your next visit.
A Brief History of Casino Security
In the past, both land-based casinos and their first online counterparts functioned in a legal gray area. In many countries, there wasn’t yet a firm regulatory framework that established the obligations of the owning company, especially when it comes to protecting vulnerable players.
As such, under-the-radar betting and gambling were commonplace, and illegal venues were spread out in almost every major city. Due to little or no oversight at the time, the casino security risks were tremendous. These platforms accepted underage players with no ID checks, often provided rigged games, had neither certification nor responsible gambling measures in place and, worst of all, functioned without an operating licence from a trustworthy regulator.
In some situations, law enforcement agencies had to get involved and put a stop to the phenomenon of illegal gambling. For example, most recently, the government of the Netherlands made 11 arrests in a case of illegal gambling.
Whilst this issue is unfortunately not 100% resolved globally despite the improvement of security solutions, these frequent raids have managed to deter some rogue companies from continuing to operate this way.
Another headline that made the news recently is Mr. Green casino, receiving a massive fine of SEK31.5 million for failing to perform the proper KYC, AML, and responsible gambling checks. This shows that even authorised online casinos can fall under regulatory scrutiny if they don’t abide by the terms of their licensing.
As the industry progresses and integrates more sophisticated global monitoring tools, fewer instances of underage and unlawful gambling can be observed.
Casino Security: Background & Evolution
From the first brick-and-mortar establishments, where your only option was a limited selection of slot machines, to today's virtual gambling world — where crypto and VR are no longer buzzwords but actual realities, the industry has come a long way.
In terms of security, online casinos have become safer than ever, employing multiple measures to protect your sensitive information, such as firewalls, secure payment gateways, authentication requirements, SSL encryption, AML and KYC checks, and automatic fraud detection.
Early Days & Challenges
As we’ve mentioned previously, in the early days, one of the main challenges in casino security was correctly identifying underage players to prevent them from gambling. For this purpose, many countries have set the legal gambling age to 18, mandating brick-and-mortar operators to request ID at the entrance.
Similarly, online casinos have started to perform mandatory KYC checks at sign-up. Newly registered players are required to provide a copy of their ID, a bank statement, and a utility bill to prove their identity and source of funds. If they don’t supply the requested documentation within 30 days, their account gets deleted automatically.
Another major issue of casino security in the early days was rigged content. Before the appearance of slot machine forums and other places of discussion, where players could share their experience with a bad operator or rigged game, it was very easy to get cheated out of your money. Some casinos purposely altered the odds to give themselves a higher house edge, or worked with no-name providers.
Back then, there was no way for the player to check the validity of the RNG algorithm — thankfully, this is no longer the case, especially with the rise of provably fair games based on cryptography. Blockchain technology has heightened the level of transparency in the online gambling sphere, and has also made it easier to verify the odds for each game, with no third parties being able to intervene without anyone noticing.
Evolution of Regulations & Technology
The biggest breakthrough for the online gambling industry was the establishment of clear-cut regulations and licensing authorities. In this day and age, if an independent company wants to provide online casino and sports betting products and services in a particular jurisdiction, they must obtain an operating licence.
In some cases, the company must secure a local licence from the country’s regulator, for example the UK Gambling Commission for the UK market. In other cases, it’s enough to secure a licence from a global remote gaming regulator, such as MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) or Curaçao eGaming.
The licensing process is not easy and involves paying a licensing fee and agreeing to other listed terms, such as frequent software audits, participating in self-exclusion schemes (e.g. GAMSTOP and UKGC casinos), and only working with certified software providers.
In enhancing the security of online casinos, it's not just regulators, but technology that has played a pivotal role. The bare minimum to expect from a licensed casino site these days is an encrypted platform, 24/7 customer support, and a mobile-responsive design, though some platforms go the extra mile and implement state-of-the-art technologies, such as VR gambling, gamification tools, and cryptocurrency payments.
Transition to Credible, Global Corporations
If, in the past, anyone could easily open an online casino portal and escape government scrutiny, today, this is clearly not the case anymore. For starters, the country regulator will automatically block your access to a casino site that illegally targets players from your region and, in some cases, your internet service provider will do the same.
Because of this, there’s been a clear transition towards credible, global corporations that dominate the online casino and sports betting markets. These gaming conglomerates have built a strong customer base and a reputation spanning decades, which is why they open new websites and secure local licences in many different jurisdictions.
It’s also common for a single conglomerate to create multiple sister sites, each focused on a different casino product. One interesting example is 888 Holdings PLC and its related platforms: 888ladies, 888poker, 888sport and 888Casino.
Some of the oldest and most reputable companies operating on a global scale in the online gambling industry are 888 Holdings PLC, bet365 Group, Betsson AB, Galaxy Entertainment Group, and Flutter Entertainment PLC. When choosing one of their websites, you can rest assured that the highest casino security and fair gaming standards are upheld.
Future Predictions & Trends
According to data by Synectics Global, when it comes to land-based casino security, some of the most prominent trends set to make a splash in 2023 are real-time facial recognition with the help of AI technology, VIP tracking to provide more personalised services to high-end clients, and gaming tables and slot data. The latter is meant to gather insights into possible instances of cheating, and will be accompanied by visual footage.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, online casinos are likely to integrate other measures meant to boost security, provide custom player recommendations, and diminish the risks of cyber crimes and data theft.
These include biometric authentication tools (e.g. fingerprints & facial recognition) and blockchain-based systems to ensure provably fair gaming and transparent payments with no third-parties involved. Furthermore, AI will also play a big role, from chatbots providing instant customer support, to automatic game suggestions based on players’ previous behaviour.
Factors Ensuring Secure Casinos Online
Are you wondering how to make sure the next online casino you choose is safe and secure? Well, there are host of factors that determine casino security, which we’ve outlined in greater detail below.
As a rule of thumb, the more criteria your online casino ticks from our list, the greater its focus and commitment to player security.
Regulatory & Testing Bodies
Any high-quality online casino must first secure an operating licence from a trustworthy regulator, such as MGA (Malta Gaming Authority), the UKGC (the UK Gambling Commission), Curaçao eGaming or the AGCC (The Alderney Gambling Control Commission).
The casino site must abide by strict rules such as agreeing to frequent software and game audits to keep their licence. As you probably guessed, independent or unlicensed online casinos don’t face the same scrutiny, which is why you should avoid them at all costs for your own security.
Furthermore, if you’ve had any problems with a licensed casino, you can always lodge a complaint directly with the regulator (this is possible on both MGA-licensed and Curaçao-licensed sites). However, if you play on unlicensed platforms, the casino security risks are enormous as there’s no one to turn to if your withdrawal is withheld or if the bonus terms are unclear or downright abusive.
As an added safeguard, the most reputable online casinos also agree to have their software verified independently by well-known testing labs for the industry, such as eCOGRA or iTech Labs.
Not every region can become a licensing jurisdiction. It requires specialised companies operating in the field, as well as a robust legal framework. Places like Malta, Gibraltar, Curaçao and the Isle of Man, for instance, have such legislation in place, enabling them to grant licences to overseas casino or sports betting sites.
Each licensing jurisdiction and subsequent regulator has a different quality level — some are known for being extremely strict, whilst others have more lax requirements to obtain licensing. Ultimately, it’s always smart to perform due diligence correctly and choose the right regulator, based on your expectations.
The Role of Regulatory Bodies
While all regulatory bodies have different roles — often outlined in their mission statement or listed values, their ultimate goal is to monitor the activity of licensees and ensure a safer online gambling environment.
To meet this objective, regulators have a clearly outlined set of responsibilities, which include software auditing and RNG testing, as well imposing sanctions such as licence revocation or blacklisting if major compliance violations are found.
Importance of Regular Auditing
Regular auditing is essential for the proper functioning of any online casino, particularly in ensuring customer safety. This process involves a series of checks designed to validate compliance. The auditor may look at the casino’s financial information, how each casino product generates truly random results (e.g. slot machines, keno, poker), whether the RNG algorithm is still up to par or can be manipulated and, most importantly, the average payout percentages.
The role of the independent auditor is to make sure the listed payout percentages or RTPs are accurate for each game, by matching them against actual results. If any discrepancies are found, it’s typically a major issue, as this means the casino may have a higher actual house edge and profit margin than stated, which is misleading for players.
Random Number Generators
Random Number Generators (RNGs) are computer algorithms designed to generate 100% random numbers, whether that’s the outcome of the next slot machine spin, the lucky keno numbers, or a random assortment of cards at video poker.
Definition & Importance
The RNG technology is responsible for generating the symbols you’re accustomed to seeing on slot reels and ensuring the results of the next spin are in no way connected to the previous one.
Regulators often test the legitimacy of the RNG algorithm and how it works in practice. If it’s designed correctly, what it should do is generate a random number from a sequence. Then, the online slot will display the selected symbol that corresponds to the given number.
Because the RNG algorithm is very complex, its ultimate goal is to only generate unpredictable and unbiased numbers that can't be hand-picked from the outside to provide an unfair advantage.
The RNG algorithm is used for the vast majority of luck-based games played against the house, such as video slots, online roulette, blackjack or baccarat. On the other hand, it’s not used on live dealer games, because the dealer is in charge of selecting each card, manually or by spinning the roulette wheel.
Verification Methods & Independent Testing
To ensure the RNG algorithm works properly, various entities — from the game providers themselves, to independent testing labs or licensing authorities, can verify its proper functioning. The goal is to certify the fairness of game outcomes, meaning the testing labs must prove that luck is the sole variable influencing results.
Independent gaming labs, such as BMM, iTech, eCOGRA, and GLI use a variety of testing methods for the RNG algorithm, including source code analysis, functionality checks, technical audits, validation and mathematical consistency. Only once a certificate of conformity is issued does the content receive a green light.
Reliability & Security Measures
As mentioned, casino operators that agree to have their RNG algorithm checked thoroughly are, on average, a lot more reliable and show a greater degree of transparency.
If a casino site had its RNG algorithm verified, it’ll feature a seal of approval from one of the testing labs featured above. You’ll typically find this certification on the homepage, in the footer section.
Online Casinos: When Security Is Compromised
Unfortunately, not all online casinos showcase the same attention to detail or dedication when it comes to matters of player security. This is, undoubtedly, a red flag, as potential clients will certainly be at risk. Choosing an online casino with lax security protocols can result in leaked private data, lost funds, compromised card details, or even virus attacks.
Past Scandals & Lessons Learned
A 2017 scandal has given all of us a giant lesson in casino security. A group of hackers hijacked several Canadian casinos and mining companies, stole clients’ sensitive data, and demanded ransom for it, ranging between 100 and 500 BTC. Experts in cybersecurity had a hard time tracking the exact location of the attackers, and they were able to retrieve a host of sensitive files — from corporate records to private communication and customer data.
The hackers also used a common tactic called “spear phishing“, which involves creating believable and carefully crafted emails, messages, links, and attachments to entice their targets to click, at which point their data gets stolen.
What have we learned from this example and many others like it? Never click on any online casino notification or email, no matter how believable it appears, unless you can verify the source. For this purpose, it’s wise to set up 2FA (2-Factor Authentication) on your account, and use SMS codes or fingerprints. In addition, always double-check the sender and look for any red flags, like bad grammar, suspicious domain names, or links.
Importance of Careful Selection
Ultimately, your best defence against online casinos with questionable security practices is to do your research properly. Here, on Top10-CasinoSites, our team is dedicated to selecting only the best licensed online casinos, and providing our readers with actionable tips on how to discern the cream of the crop from outright scams.
When performing your selection, look for factors like licensing credentials and whether the licence is in good standing, the owner’s reputation and player consensus, based on reviews, game fairness and RTP, and bonus T&Cs.
Recognising & Avoiding Rigged Casinos
At first glance, unreliable online casinos blend in with the legit crowd and, by all intents and purposes, seem to tick all the right security boxes. Some even feature bogus licence numbers, content that appears to be from reliable providers like EGT or NOVOMATIC, and even abnormally high welcome bonuses.
However, upon using our critical eye, we can clearly spot the red flags. For starters, you should always match the licence number against the regulator’s public database to be certain it's not fake. For example, MGA has one such list available, called the licensee register.
Furthermore, always read the bonuses' fine print and look for any concerning information, like high wagering requirements of over 70x and super-short time limits that make bonus redemption virtually impossible.
We’ve also prepared more useful tips on identifying scam operators in our piece dedicated to blacklisted casinos.
Safeguarding Your Online Casino Bankroll
Whilst some issues pertaining to casino security are entirely outside of our control, fortunately, others are not. At the end of the day, when playing casino games for real money, our main objective is to protect our bankroll, and this can be achieved in a variety of ways, from choosing secure payment methods to strategising properly. But more on that below:
Tips & Strategies To Protect Funds
The first thing we recommend is to choose the right payment methods and make sure their online casino of choice supports them.
Always go for well-established credit and debit card companies, e-wallet providers, and banking institutions, such as Visa, Mastercard, SOFORT, Skrill and NETELLER. These payment gateways often add their own extra layers of security (such as Two-Factor Authentication or encryption) for deposits or withdrawals. In addition, they operate global networks and have a strong reputation worldwide, so you can be certain the transactions will be processed without issues.
We also suggest employing the same level of caution when placing your bets, irrespective of the game you choose. Practice responsible gambling, keep your risk tolerance in mind, and never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
The Importance of Choosing a Reputable Casino
Going for a reputable casino is essential for safeguarding your funds. In fact, a common complaint on online casinos is withheld funds or delayed withdrawals. At the very least, your chosen platform should have a detailed payments section, outlining withdrawal timelines and identification steps to prevent any delays.
In addition, 24/7 live chat support should be provided in case your winnings haven’t been paid out. Don’t forget to also read the terms and conditions, and look for any information about progressive jackpot payouts. Some casinos will not pay the entire amount in a single transaction, but in instalments.
Potential Risks & How to Mitigate Them
Unfortunately, the biggest potential risk to your bankroll on an unsecured casino platform is also the most obvious one — having your deposit not be credited or, worse, your winnings confiscated for no apparent reason. To mitigate this, our advice is to look up the casino site or the owning company on independent review sites like TrustPilot, in player communities, and on public discussion boards like Reddit.
In many cases, online casinos that have a negative reputation for refusing to pay out are commonly reported publicly, so others can avoid them. Fortunately, in some situations, this also draws the regulator’s attention and, the more bad reviews and complaints there are, the higher the odds of their licence being revoked.
Common Questions About Casino Security & Game Fairness
When scouring the internet for a safe online casino to register on, it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself the following questions and try to find the answer straight from the source:
- Is the online casino licensed? If so, by whom, and is the licence still valid?
- Does the casino verify players’ identity and source of funds?
- Are the bonus terms fair and transparent?
- Are the games supplied by recognised software providers?
- Can I trust the payment companies handling transactions on the site?
Licensing Process & Requirements
The licensing process can be time-consuming and expensive, with requirements varying a lot, depending on the local gambling market, the regulator, the licence type and the gambling products being offered (e.g. sports betting, slot machines, poker).
A potential licensee needs to first be accustomed to the ins and outs of the market they want to enter. Then, they need to apply for a licence, pay for the cost (around €9,000 or more yearly), submit all requested documents, and wait for approval.
In some situations, there are certain unique requirements in place. For example, UKGC-licensed casinos must sign up for the nationwide GAMSTOP self-exclusion scheme, not accept credit card deposits, and not advertise any slot games with Bonus Buy, Autoplay or Quickspin enabled.
Understanding SSL & Its Role
Standing for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL is an internet communication protocol designed to secure websites, authenticate their identity, and deter attackers from attempting to steal any data being shared. This security software is used extensively by trustworthy online casinos to keep their domains airtight. If an online gambling site has a valid SSL certificate installed, you’ll find a locket symbol in the browser window, on the left, next to the domain name.
How does this help you, exactly? Well, an SSL certificate ensures that all data is encrypted at the point of sharing. In other words, the personal details you supply at registration or your card details when making a payment can’t be stolen or shared with any third parties without your prior knowledge or consent.
Banking Security Measures
In addition to the security protocols implemented by the online casino itself, banks and financial institutions also help keep your funds intact in several different ways. They often implement anti-virus and anti-malware technology, install firewalls on their sites, and ask users to activate multi-factor authentication measures, such as a password and PIN, automatic log-out after a certain period of inactivity, account monitoring, security questions, or SMS codes.
Considerations When Using Public Networks
It’s a known fact that, unfortunately, you can easily get hacked when using a public network. Our advice is to never log into your favourite online casino from a public Wi-Fi, because these networks are unsecured and the risk of having your passwords and personal details stolen is significant.
Instead, either use your secured home network or, for extra peace of mind, use a VPN service. VPNs provide exactly the middle ground you need since they encrypt your internet traffic (even when you’re on a public network), making it harder for hackers to track your activity or steal any funds.
Some online casinos have a prohibitive stance on VPN use, but we’ve selected a few of those that accept it in our article on VPN-friendly casinos.
Understanding Payout Percentages
As a simple principle to understand, the larger the payout of a particular game, the more chances you have to leave the current session a winner. The payout percentages or RTPs are largely determined by the software providers and game type. For example, 95% is a common range for slots, whilst 98-99% is frequently offered by online table games.
RTP (Return-To-Player), refers to the percentage of the invested bets that comes back to the player in the form of a win. Do keep in mind that it’s an estimation calculated based on millions of spins, so take this number with a grain of salt.
Variance Across Games
Variance or volatility refers to the ability of something to change rapidly, and this metric is also determined by the software provider. Each game has a different level of volatility, therefore the inherent risk involved varies quite a lot.
Slots with low volatility generate small wins frequently, whereas those with high volatility generate large wins with a lower frequency.
Additional Security Measures
Aside from all the casino security measures mentioned above, some operators may go the extra mile and implement other safeguards. Let's take a look at some of them below.
Use of Firewalls & Anti-Virus Software
Firewalls are often present on online casinos to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic, and look for any potential red flags, such as suspicious activity. In conjunction with anti-virus software, the purpose is to protect businesses from bots, block malware, spam traffic, or other advanced attack tools.
Player Verification Processes
After governments and licensing authorities collectively decided to regulate and oversee the online casino industry more closely, running player verification processes became a mandatory requirement. This process is also known as KYC (Know Your Customer).
Once a player has registered on an online casino or sports betting site, they are typically only allowed to deposit. In order to withdraw their winnings, they must go through several verifications, namely an identity verification, a proof of funds check, and an address check. For this, they are given a fixed time window (usually between 14-30 days after the account creation) to supply a set of official documents, such as government-issued IDs, passports or a bank statement.
Data Protection & Privacy Policies
Furthermore, you may also find the data protection authority you can complain to in case you disagree with any aspect of the policy or if you wish to have data completely removed after the casino failed to comply with your request.
Compliance With Local & International Laws
In order to protect players even more when it comes to the privacy of their sensitive details, several local and international laws have been passed.
The most notable one is the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a series of legal requirements that stipulate how the personal data of EU individuals may be processed and transferred to third parties. As you may have guessed, these requirements are definitely upheld on European online casinos.
In addition, AML is another fantastic example that has been borrowed by global casinos. Standing for Anti Money Laundering, it refers to a series of policies that the online casino must have in place in order to prevent fraud and money laundering. Players may be required to submit a bank statement to prove the source of their funds, and will be subjected to transaction monitoring. Suspicious activities may be reported to the relevant authorities, such as tax collection agencies.
Ethical Practices in Player Protection
From the rise of global corporations to fast internet and mobile apps, it’s a known fact that the world we live in is ultra-connected. As a result, the need to create a uniform legal framework for casino security has become even more apparent. The purpose of these international regulations is to sanction rogue online casinos for non-compliance, and promote more ethical behaviour and increased transparency.
Today, online casinos are required to have responsible gambling procedures in place, perform adequate KYC and AML checks, provide verified content, and detail exactly how they use player information. If these requirements are not met, operators can be sanctioned with massive fines.
Player's Responsibilities in Ensuring Security
Although regulators’ main goal is to protect vulnerable players when gambling online, unfortunately, some dodgy sites can still manage to escape undetected. As such, it becomes paramount for the user to also perform due diligence before registering, and look into all the relevant factors, such as licensing, security, games, and bonuses.
Tools for Verifying Casino Credibility
In addition to the tools we’ve already provided you with in this article on casino security, there are two additional things you can to do ensure you only play on trustworthy sites:
- Consult independent review sites – TrustPilot, for example, is an underutilised resource that can help you track the reputation of a casino company, website, or software provider, based on real data from users. The most popular names of the industry are all listed here.
- Look for a list of accredited and secure online casinos — that’s where we come into the picture. Our website has a comprehensive list of casino reviews with all the key details, such as pros and cons, security, software used, and licensing. And, if a casino has a reputation for bad practices like withholding winnings, we’ll be the first to inform you. You can learn how we create casino reviews from our dedicated article.
Despite rapid technological advancements, the very nature of the internet comes with multiple risks for the end user. Luckily, the best online casinos do their best to mitigate such risks with proper security protocols, from encryption technology to firewalls and fraud detection systems. Furthermore, the increased regulatory oversight is in place to put pressure on licensed operators and ensure compliance.
We hope our extensive guide on casino security has proven useful in helping you accurately identify trustworthy websites and avoid dodgy ones to enjoy a safer and smoother gaming session. As always, we encourage you to practise responsible gambling and never bet what you can’t afford to lose!
If you have any other questions or suggestions on the topic of casino security, we invite you to share your thoughts with us below!