Best Legitimate Online Casinos

Concerns about online casino legitimacy are as old as online gambling itself. People are suspicious of Internet transactions, and even though millions of people now shop and bank online, there are some holdouts who are scared to trust any financial transaction online.

Since online casinos give you the chance to win (or lose) real money, a little bit of suspicion is a healthy thing. When shopping for a new online casino, you should look for a legitimate online casino with a history of doing business with gamblers and accepting wagers from people in your country.

But that isn’t all you can do to determine if a site is a scam or not. Finding legitimate online casinos means using common sense and looking out for a few different features, like a customer service line, certification and licensing information, and generally good reviews at legit online casino review sites.

What Makes an Online Casino Legitimate?

An online casino is considered “legitimate” if it pays out winnings properly and in a timely manner, has a transparent set of terms and conditions for all bonus and promotional offers, and is legally allowed to do business as an online casino site.

An illegitimate online casino site can be anything from a real online casino that’s having trouble paying out winnings to a scam website set up to capture a few credit card numbers, never to be seen or heard from again. To protect yourself from illegitimate online casino, follow these helpful tips for locating legitimate online casino websites.

Tips for Checking an Online Casino’s Legitimacy

Because it isn’t always easy to tell if a casino site is legitimate or not just from a brief glance, it’s important to know what to look for before you start shopping for a legitimate online casino.

Right off the bat, you can know something about an online casino’s legitimacy simply from the online casino software they run. Online casino software companies that have a good reputation tend to not do business with illegitimate online casinos. That means when you see a site that runs Microgaming, RTG, or Cryptologic software, or a handful of other major software design companies, you can safely assume the site is doing fair business. Other reputable online casino software providers include Playtech, WagerWorks, and Rival Gaming. Having said that, simply using a legitimate casino software package does not guarantee a site is doing due diligence.

The next thing to look for are seals from regulators and gambling licensing entities. Most online casinos display some seal of legitimacy from an independent regulator, usually accompanied by audited payout percentage certifications and other material related to a site’s legitimacy. Of course, a seal on a website is no guarantee of legitimacy, though seals from eCOGRA and any auditing or testing by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) or TST are usually a good sign that a casino is legit.

You can learn a lot about an online casino by finding out what gambling jurisdiction they hold licensing from. The best jurisdictions in terms of licensing legitimate casinos are Gibraltar, Australia, the Isle Of Man, Malta or Alderney. These jurisdictions are known for having strict regulations and keeping a close eye on casinos that earn licenses from them. New laws in the UK and other European countries, like Spain and Italy, mean that licensing from those countries is probably also a sign of a site’s legitimacy.

Other gambling jurisdictions aren’t as sure of a sign of good business practices: Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica, Curacao, the Philippines, Kahnawake, and Vanuatu are all examples of jurisdictions that don’t have a strong reputation in terms of licensing legitimate online casinos.

While you’re at a casino’s website, look for a page called ‘About Us’ or something similar. A legitimate online casino will post the kind of information here that helps establish their reputation, describing their casino operations and other information. What you’re looking for is transparency. The more transparent an online casino is about the way their business operates, how they payout winnings, and how their bonus and promotion program works, the more likely they are to be a legitimate online casino site.

One final way to hunt down legitimate online casinos on the Internet is to read the reviews and recommendations written by other online gamblers. Online gambling forums are by no means in short supply; there is plenty to learn by searching forums and message boards. These forums have “complaints” sections where gamblers can tell on casinos for bad behavior, though you should take what you read with a grain of salt, since a mad customer might be upset about something and trying to discredit the site out of anger. Generally, though, the less you read about a casino in forum "complaints" sections and bad reviews, the more likely they are to be legitimate.

Contacting an online casino’s customer support service is a quick way to test the site’s legitimacy. Online casino rip-off sites don’t generally have customer support; they may list a phone number or an email address, but the likelihood of a scam website operating a real customer service program is low. If you can contact a site’s customer service team and you have a good experience with them, you can be pretty sure of the site’s legitimacy.

If you don’t mind doing a little more research, you can check financial reports to find legitimate online casinos. Many online casino properties, especially those based in the UK and Europe, are publicly-traded on stock and commercial exchanges. A publicly-traded company is forced to abide by certain rules and regulations; when an online casino company begins trading on a stock exchange, they are making a case for their legitimacy. Publicly-traded companies that run online casinos can be trusted, thanks to oversight by both the company itself and the stock exchange they take part in.