How to Spot a Rogue Gambling Site

by Skyler Schapp
on February 24, 2018

Nobody likes to lose at the casino, but unfortunately there are sites at which you are 100% guaranteed to lose every time. Why? Because they are scams set up from the outset to strip you of your hard-earned cash.

I’ve been playing casino games online for many years and during that time I’ve learned how to spot rogue sites quickly. If you keep the following checklist in mind then the next time you visit a rogue casino site you’ll be able to see the red flags right away.

After all, it’s no fun if you can’t win and it’s even less fun if you deposit to a rogue site and can’t ever get your money back.

Find and Verify the Operator’s Gaming License

If an online casino is licensed and regulated by a respected authority then you can rest easy. These licences aren’t just handed out willy-nilly. The governing bodies which issue them quickly clamp down on any shenanigans.

If you see a gaming license from the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, or Curacao eGaming, you should be OK.

If you want to be extra sure, you can check the license numbers at the actual website of the licensing authority. I actually recommend you do this since there are lots of brash swindlers running sites which claim to have licences they don’t.

If the license checks out you’re good to go.

Check Out the Company Running the Site

Like every industry, online gambling has its titans. There are huge firms which run multiple websites and which have established reputations. Then there are up-and-comers with a single casino or sportsbook.

I’m not saying you should avoid the new sites. Every new business deserves a chance, and they could be 100% legitimate. However, it stands to reason that sites with a long history and multiple successful sites are not what we would call ‘rogue’.

I stick to sites run by established operators for most of my online gambling. I do check out some new sites from time to time, particularly when I see an enticing bonus offer. In those cases, I make sure to deposit a token amount until I figure out the lay of the land.

Always check out the firm which runs the site you want to bet on. A quick Google search or a look on some popular gambling forums will quickly reveal any history of foul play or bad behaviour.

Actually Read Some of the Terms and Conditions

Like most people, I used to skim read the terms and conditions at online gambling sites, if I even bothered to read them at all.

After I got my fingers burned a couple of times, I learned to take a little time to read relevant parts. What I found is that when a site is going to put the screws to you, they often literally tell you outright.

Of course, they know that 99% of people won’t bother to read the terms and conditions. That’s how they manage to do the things they do and stay out of jail. They can always say ‘Look, it’s right there in the terms the player agreed to’.

From outrageous wagering terms, to predatory fees on withdrawals, to the ability to suspend or shut down an account without notice, the small print can give you great insights into the type of operator you’re dealing with.

Needless to say, if anything doesn’t feel right as you read, it probably isn’t.

Take the Time to Read Some Impartial Reviews

Unless a rogue gambling site has literally just come online, there will be other people who have been burned by it before you.

Thankfully, people who have been taken advantage of now have the power of the web to help them get their own back. Reading reviews and comments on posts about gambling sites can help you build a picture of how customers are treated.

There will always be one or two angry people who would leave the best site in the world a negative review, not to mention competitors wanting to sabotage other sites. You can ignore some of these and still be safe. However, if you’re reading bad review after bad review, you’d best pay attention.

Take ten minutes to Google the name of the site you want to play at. If a review is overly positive, be suspicious. If a review is balanced and points out the pros and cons, it’s likely closer to the truth.

If you don’t think it’s worth investing ten minutes before potentially losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, then good luck to you is all I can say!

Pay Attention to Software and Games

Do you know what the one thing the online gambling industry runs on is?

Trust.

Without it, a company is toast. Software companies are no exception, and the biggest and best among them won’t work with sites they deem to be rogue or even potentially slightly dodgy.

Playtech, NetEnt, and Microgaming are the three kings when it comes to online slots, for example. If you see their games at an online casino, it’s highly likely it’s legitimate. These firms simply don’t work with unlicensed, fly by night operators.

Learning who the best gambling software companies are and the names of their best games is a crucial step in becoming an informed online gambler. Once you see the well-known games on the front page of a site, you’ll know it’s a good sign.

Likewise, if a site is jam-packed with games produced by software firms you have never heard of, take it as a warning sign. How do you know the site hasn’t just cooked up their own batch of fixed games in order to fleece you?

Check If the Payouts Have Been Verified

There are all kinds of sub-services in the online gambling business, and one of the crucial ones is payout verification.

Organizations like eCogra are the gold standard when it comes to making sure games are fair. Much like with the licencing bodies, you can check directly on eCogra’s website if a casino actually has verified status or is just claiming to.

You can also check if the site itself published payout figures. If so, it’s a sign that transparency is important. In turn, that’s a sign that it isn’t a rogue gambling site.

Of course, there are now many companies and organizations claiming to verify games independently. There’s almost room for an overarching organization to verify the verifiers! Stick to the big names which are held in high regard in the industry and you’ll be fine.

Talk Directly to the Customer Service Team

Have you ever spoken to someone you just met and you just know, somewhere deep down, that something isn’t right? That’s your gut instinct, and it works almost just as well online as it does in real life.

I always like to chat with the customer service team of a site I’m about to play at. It lets me measure the level of service I’m likely to receive. It also gives me a chance to fire off some questions and see what sort of answers I get.

If the customer service team is unhelpful, rude, cagey about answering questions directly, or sounds as if they are using Google translate, walk away.

I’m not saying it couldn’t be a hard-working, honest person who just genuinely is trying to communicate in a second language, but I wouldn’t take that risk with my own hard-earned cash, and neither should you.

There’s a memorable line in the hit movie Scarface that goes ‘The eyes, chico. They never lie!’ While we can’t see the eyes of the person we’re talking to at an online casino to assess their intentions, we can get a feel for their attitude and straightforwardness, and that’s often enough to spot a rogue.

A Few Final Words

Thinking about all the scammers and rogues out there could put you off gambling online for life. Thankfully, there’s no need for that.

The number of honest, licences operators is far greater than the number of rogues. In fact, it’s possible to entirely avoid rogue sites by following the advice given in this article. Once you learn how to spot them it’s often painfully obvious and you’ll begin to wonder how anyone could fall for their tricks at all.

So, what do you think of this checklist? Is there anything else you assess before signing up at an online gambling site? Have you been burned by a rogue site in the past? What, if anything, did you do to let others know? Let me know in the comments below.

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