Casino Gambling Guide

Casino Integrity

Many people feel that a payment of money through the Internet, and certainly a deposit with an online casino, is already an act of gambling. To a certain extent this is in fact true, because the legal framework and associated enforcement mechanisms are missing for the protection of customers, leading to problems like underage and compulsive gambling, money laundering, and plain cheating of customers. We don't attest the notion that some casinos are lacking integrity, but the the perceived lack of integrity of online casinos, is much larger than the actual problem. This perception can only be corrected by strong government regulation and enforcement of these regulations, preferably in an international context.

As a matter of fact the mainstream of online casinos are very willing to accept regulation in return for government sanction. The Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), the leading self-regulatory body of the gaming industry, strongly supports government regulation, as it feels "no association, or other self-appointed body, can have effective-enough enforcement power". Online gambling is still not regulated in many jurisdictions, notably the US, because national governments are not able to cope with the international scope of the Internet, essentially requiring international regulation, or are simply trying to protect established gambling interests. As a result the online gambler has to assess the integrity of an online casino by him or herself.

You will find here a short discussion of key factors, that can help you in assessing the integrity of an online casino by yourself. Please note, that the integrity of a casino that fulfills all the criteria, is not guaranteed. The factors discussed here are only indicative of the integrity of a casino. .

The casino is licensed in a quality jurisdiction.

The debate of prohibition against regulation has not reached a conclusion in many countries. The US tends towards prohibition, presumably not based on past experiences with the enforcement of liquor. Many other jurisdictions have set up Internet gambling licensing systems.

The casino uses software of a major casino software provider.

You might think each casino uses its own software, but this is not the case. In fact the market is controlled by a few big software brands. The software is customized for each licensee but only at a cosmetic level. The gaming engine is the same for each licensee. Frequently they even use the same e-cash processor. The major software brands have nothing to gain from gambling operators that put their reputation at risk. For example a Microgaming licensee, the GoodFellows casino, was shut down by Microgaming in June 2002, because they failed to pay their customers. Microgaming also established a trust fund used to pay out gamblers that were duped by the GoodFellows casino. Some software companies are very willing to intermediate if you have a dispute with one of their licensees. However, there are casino software providers out there, even large ones, that have a bad track record as far as the quality of their licensees is concerned. Jump to our casino software page for a discussion of major casino software providers.

The casino is a member of a respected and established watchdog organization.

A good watchdog organization ensures members operate their business fairly at an ongoing basis, and provides some means of dispute resolution. Not every watchdog organization can be trusted, some are merely casino portals for their members. Link to our gambling watchdogs page for a discussion of organizations that provide these services.

The casino is advertised and not blacklisted by respected and established casino portals

A casino portal basically advertises casinos on their site, in return for a percentage of the profits the casino is making on each player that is referred to the casino by the casino portal. So it's obvious each casino portal faces a conflict of interest between making money or telling the players the truth and nothing but the truth. Some casino portals, including this one, have realized that this conflict of interests exists only in the short term. In the long term a casino portal will gain from putting the players first, because in doing so the casino portal will earn the respect and trust of the players. Some casino portals have collected extensive documentation on misbehaving casinos, often summarized in a blacklist of casinos to avoid.

The casino has a solid reputation on the major gambling message boards

When you're not gambling you should be monitoring the major gambling message boards. These are the places to get the most timely information about which casinos you can trust and which casinos you can't trust. You should keep in mind though that gambling message boards are sometimes misused by casinos or affiliates. Read more about popular gambling message boards on our casino forums page.

The casino is affiliated with a land-based casino.

If an online casino is affiliated with a traditional land-based casino you may expect they will have adopted the same stringent regulation measures as their land-based counterpart, because they have to protect the integrity of their shared brand name. Examples of land-based casinos that have entered the online gaming industry, are Sun International, the operator of Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas, Macao casino giant Stanley Ho, Nevada's MGM Mirage, Harrah's, Aspinalls, Littlewoods Leisure, William Hill, Victor Bets and Ladbrokes. The same reasoning applies to alliances with non-gaming brands. For example, introduced a Playboy-branded online sports-book in 2001.

The casino is certified by a major accounting firm

Some casinos are audited by a major accounting firm. Which means the payout ratios (100% - house edge) of a casino are monitored and publicized on an ongoing basis. It does not mean the payout ratios fall within acceptable statistical range; you will have to check this for yourself.

More recently, the Online Players Association (OPA), which is not an accounting firm but a watchdog organization, has started to offer a payout verification service. However, the value that can attributed to this service, is limited, due to the resignation of the OPA commitee on January 2, 2003. You can recognize a casino which payout ratios are verified by the OPA, by the following seal:

The casino has adopted a self-labeling content rating system

There a a lot of content rating systems available today, for example SurfWatch, Net Nanny and Cyber Patrol. The Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), the leading self-regulatory body of the gaming industry, recommends the use of the labelling services that are offered by the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). The ICRA targets to protect minors from potentially harmful content by offering a web site the option to self-label it's content according to ICRA guidelines. You will know if a particular casino has chosen ICRA as a content rating system, if you spot the following seal:


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