Of primary concern to us when assessing an online casino’s suitability for our readers is that it must be properly licensed with one of the recognised remote gambling authorities. The best online casinos hold and maintain licences with a handful of gambling commissions, with the UK, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Alderney and Malta being the most highly regarded. These set out rigorous rules for operators to comply with if they are to legally operate their servers in the territory to ensure players can expect the highest standards of honesty and fair gaming.
With respect to fair gaming, our recommended casinos also submit themselves to independent auditing of their performance to verify compliance, which includes checking and certification of the random number generators (RNGs) at the heart of their gaming products. Briefly, RNGs are what determine the outcome of the virtual reels, roulette wheels and card decks at an online casino, and if they are not genuinely random there will be a bias that could disadvantage the player. The casinos we endorse are all certified to ensure this is not an issue – the RNGs are random, and the games fair.
The big players in the online casino industry also understood that self-regulation was a positive step to help consumer confidence and flush out bad practice, so established eCOGRA in the UK on 2003. Standing for eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance, this organisation has become a leading independent and internationally approved testing agency. It specialises in the certification of online gaming software and systems, and formal approval from eCOGRA is another highly desirable indication that an online casino meets the highest standards of security and integrity.
The huge popularity of online casino gaming has unfortunately attracted some sharp operators seeking to exploit players, and some sloppy operators too who simply don’t protect their players’ best interests to the standard they should. Even the best online casinos can sometimes make mistakes, however it is the willingness and efficiency with which complaints are addressed that marks out the difference.
‘Rogue casinos’ are those that have failed to address one or more serious complaints against them when challenged by regulatory authorities. Examples of conduct that is not tolerated includes unreasonably withholding players’ funds or closing accounts, and using misleading advertising to lure players in with promotions that are not honoured.
The simplest tip to avoid a rogue casino is to check it maintains a current gaming licence with one of the internationally recognized authorities, such as the Gibraltar Regulation Authority, or UK Gambling Commission. These demand very strict compliance to maintain and will not entertain any behaviour that compromises players’ rights to fair and secure gaming.
Aside from recommending casinos on this site that do operate under the strictest licenses, we also plan to maintain our own blacklist of casinos to warn readers of sites that have been identified as operating without licences or failing to maintain compliance.
Whilst the majority of players enjoy online gaming without issue, gambling addiction presents a serious problem for some that can have a devastating effect on their mental health and considerable collateral damage to relationships with friends and family. Playing online casinos should purely be for entertainment, and if you find yourself playing for other reasons you may need to consider if you need some help. OK, we all like to win now and again, but if your motivation is to ‘win big’ to meet another important commitment that should set alarm bells ringing!
Canadian players who are concerned that they, a friend or family member are getting into difficulty with their gambling can turn to a number of organisations within Canada, but an excellent resource we can recommend as a first contact is the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. They operate a 24-hour helpline (1-888-230-3505) and website www.problemgambling.ca where guidance and professional help near to you can be sourced.
Our recommended casinos also only make our list because they all take the issue of problem gambling seriously, and have in place systems and policies to help members who may be getting into difficulties. All player accounts are monitored for patterns in behavior that may indicate a problem, and players can also request limitations on their play, including self-exclusion, if they recognize that they need a little extra assistance with self-control.
Taking personal responsibility of your gambling is part and parcel of getting the very best experience from your time at any reputable online casino. Whilst the casinos reviews can be trusted to treat you with respect, and offer you secure and fair gaming, you will need to reciprocate with playing responsibly to wring the maximum fun out of your time online.
The single, most important advice we can offer to play responsibly is ‘never play with money you cannot afford to lose’. Sensible money management is the essence of responsible gambling. A good strategy employed be smart players is to set your bankroll for each session you’d like to play. That should be how much you’re 100% happy to spend on your fun. If and when that ‘bankroll’ is spent, stop playing. No ifs, no buts. You can always return to play when you can afford another session, and never play on thinking a ‘big win’ is just around the corner on the next game.
One final consideration to meet personal responsibility for online gambling is that of the legal limits on age. It is illegal for Canadian players to gamble underage, so be aware of the rules in your province. Under current legislation, other than in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec where it is 18, the legal age is 19.
Our recommended casinos also take steps to ensure compliance with territorial laws, so verification of age will be required when you sign up for an account to play these sites with real money.</p