I have regularly played at some of the world’s safest and most secure online casinos for over a decade now. Fortunately, I’ve never encountered any issues worth complaining about, and my personal account on each site I have joined has never been compromised.

My years of experience have taught me exactly what to look for and what makes a trustworthy site. However, I still conduct some basic research and read the expert reviews before signing up anywhere to ensure the website I am considering joining is safe.

Newcomers who have never played on these sites are often tempted, as I was in those early days, by the initial welcome bonus without giving too much thought about the more important things they should be considering, which is why I have devised this useful checklist that all newbies should take a few minutes to absorb.

On this page, I will start by revealing the five key signs to look out for that tell you the site cannot be trusted and must be avoided at all costs, and then I will tell you how to choose a top website by revealing exactly what makes a good site that might be worth your time.

Fraud alert

5 key signs telling you that you have found yourself a bad website

I could list well over ten tell-tale signs a website you have found is not worth your time. However, let’s start with just five simple things to look out for, which many beginners overlook or have no idea are even red flags.

The top 5 signs of a rogue/scam/fake gambling site are relatively easy to find and include the following:

  1. Security – the website URL in the address bar will not start with https://. It will most likely not be protected by 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption, and there will be no website security information readily available or easy to find when you try to discover more. They won’t have the necessary SSL or TLS certificates
  2. Ownership/reputation – the website will have overwhelmingly negative reviews, low ranking scores, terrible feedback from people who have already joined, and it may even be blacklisted on today’s most trusted review sites. I always check if a casino is in the black list on the official AskGamblers website. The worst operators won’t be transparent in their operations, won’t comply with local or international AML (Anti-Money Laundering) policies, and will probably have a bad track record
  3. Licensing/regulation – the website will either be completely unlicensed or licensed by an untrustworthy licensing authority. The worst-case scenario is when a website appears to be licensed by a trusted authority and may even use the logo of that authority when, in fact, it isn’t licensed there. The easiest way to find out is to check the list of licensees on the official website where it claims to be licensed
  4. Banking/cashier – a bad site may only accept one or two payment methods, sometimes ones that nobody has ever heard of, or will be happy to accept your deposits but reluctant to pay out winnings when the time comes to cash out
  5. Software – the computer-generated or live dealer online fruit machines, blackjack, and roulette content available on that site will not be from a market-leading software provider, and the games could be faulty/tampered with to ensure you never win. In other words, the results/outcomes will have super low return to player (RTP%) payout rates, and they will be from companies nobody has ever heard of

More signs of a bad site

The other way you can tell straight away if the site is dodgy is by looking at the website. The worst sites are usually outdated, don’t work well, and haven’t been optimised to work on all devices (e.g., desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones).

The bonuses will be too good to be true, and the terms and conditions will be misleading at best.

You will also probably find by reading the Ts and Cs for the bonuses that the wagering requirements will be unfair and completely unrealistic, meaning you will never complete them in time, so any winnings you make from that bonus will simply disappear, or the operator of that site just won’t come good on any bonuses they initially offered you.

Finally, a bad site will have terrible or non-existent support, meaning you won’t be able to get in touch with anyone when something eventually goes wrong.

They won’t have toll-free telephone or live chat support; if they do, it will be unresponsive or useless, and if you do manage to get connected with someone, they will likely be rude or unwilling to fix your issue or answer your questions.

Before signing up anywhere, perhaps test the waters first, as I do, to see how easy the support agents are to get in contact with. Ask them a few simple questions to see how helpful they are. You can tell a lot about a website just by how good its customer support is.

Online casino

Final thoughts

The other thing I’ve noticed about the bad sites is that they won’t help me remain within my budget by not offering any safer gambling tools. On the top sites, I’ve always remained within my budget by setting things like win/loss limits, session time reminders, or deposit limits.

Dodgy sites don’t go out of their way to protect their players in this way, so make sure any sites you join have a few responsible gambling controls available.