What players should do to make sure that they are treated fairly by online casinos
We want online gambling to be fair for everyone. As specified in our fair gambling codex for online casinos, we think that fairness should mostly be taken care of by the casinos; however, players also need to pay attention to what they are doing so that they don't (knowingly or unknowingly) do something that could endanger their casino account and/or the money in it.
The main idea behind this codex is to describe a certain set of rules and best practices, which, if followed by both parties, will lead to an online gambling world with very little friction between casinos and players, a smaller number of player complaints and, overall, a more secure environment for everyone.
This part of the fair gambling codex describes what we think players should and shouldn't do to make sure that their accounts and money are safe. If you want to know the full picture, check out the main fair gambling codex article.
Table of contents:
- Difference between 'fair' and 'fair and safe' casinos
- Recommendations for players playing at 'fair and safe' casinos
- Recommendations for players playing at 'fair' casinos
- Recommendations for players playing at other casinos
Note: Our fair gambling codex is constantly evolving to reflect the changing gambling environment and our latest findings. As it takes time to put everything into writing, some of our views and important areas of fair gambling are not listed in this article yet. We are working on getting them included as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
1. Difference between 'fair' casinos and 'fair and safe' casinos
When it comes to fairness and player safety, not all casinos are the same. Our casino review team has taken an extremely thorough look at thousands of gambling sites and, based on player complaints and other factors, it's obvious that some casinos are much fairer towards players and create a much safer environment for them than others.
This is why we started using the terms 'fair' casinos and 'fair and safe' casinos to separate casinos into groups, which should be approached differently by players. You can find out more about this in the fair gambling codex for casinos, but please also find the main definitions listed below, including our own recommendations on what should be followed to minimize the chances of being mistreated and to make sure that you don't do anything that could get you into trouble.
Definition of fair and safe casinos
'Fair and safe' casinos are those that meet all criteria for 'fair' casinos (listed below) and have also implemented measures that prevent players from accidentally doing something against the rules or their own best interests.
'Fair and safe' casinos should therefore prevent players from accidentally breaking the T&Cs, Bonus T&Cs or doing anything else that might jeopardize the money in their player accounts. Specifically, 'fair and safe' casinos should:
- Enforce maximum bet sizes, restricted games and other bonus conditions.
- Warn players when they are about to do something against their best interests (for example taking another bonus that would void winnings from the previous one).
- Check for multiple accounts at account creation (we suggest checking the combination of a new player's name and birth date in the database and displaying a warning if a match is found. More on this below).
If you are playing at a 'fair and safe' casino, you should only need to follow these rules:
- Only use your own name and correct personal details (address, contact information, etc.) when creating a casino account.
- Only use payment methods (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) held under your own name.
- When taking advantage of a bonus, be aware that there are certain rules in place for bonus play. These are described in detail in the bonus terms and conditions.
- Don't take advantage of software bugs if you encounter any.
Definition of fair casinos
A 'fair' casino is an online casino that:
- Pays out all legitimate winnings
- Doesn't have any unfair clauses in its terms and conditions (T&Cs) (more on this later in the article)
- Doesn't use any deceitful practices to trick players
- Enforces restricted countries (doesn't allow players from these countries to create an account or play from them) and restricted bonuses (only gives bonuses to eligible players)
If your casino of choice doesn't meet 'fair and safe' criteria, but does meet 'fair' criteria, you should additionally follow these rules:
- Make sure not to create duplicate accounts.
- Read the bonus terms and conditions carefully and check for special rules that might be in place in relation to playing with bonus money.
- Consider reading the casino's terms and conditions. Ideally, players shouldn't have to do this, but it's still a good idea to give them a read.
If you've already been treated badly by an online casino, you've probably noticed that these definitions only focus on part of the 'online casino fairness' spectrum. If the casino at which you decide to play doesn't meet the criteria for any of the categories specified above, you should follow all recommendations listed below and be even more careful as the chances of experiencing issues are much higher, even if you don't do anything against the rules.
We therefore recommend playing at casinos that are at least 'fair'. If you are looking for a new casino to play at, using our list of best online casinos is a good way to discover honest sites that treat players well. Also, we recommend reading the entire review before making the final decision, as well as reading our article on how to choose an online casino.
Note: More detailed recommendations are provided later on in this article, so keep reading to understand the full picture. The last part of the article contains recommendations for playing at casinos that don't meet the criteria for 'fair and safe' nor 'fair' casinos specified above.
2. Recommendations for players playing at 'fair and safe' casinos
Ideally, when playing at a 'fair and safe' casino (as defined earlier), players should make sure that they play under their real names and enter truthful and correct information when registering. The same goes for payment methods, which should also be held in the player's own name.
When taking advantage of a bonus offer, players should read the bonus terms and conditions so that they know what they are getting themselves into. Lastly, players should not exploit bugs in software if they encounter any.
Note: Read more about most common bonus conditions in our separate article about bonuses and promotions.
Find out more about playing at 'fair and safe' casinos below.
In 'fair and safe' casinos, players don't have to worry about breaking the maximum bet rule because it is enforced by the casino's system, which prevents players from placing a higher than allowed bet. Players also don't have to worry about accidentally creating a duplicate account because the casino's system will notice it and inform the player about the possibility of already having an account.
Playing with bonus money
If you receive a bonus from the casino, it is wise to read its bonus terms and conditions, even if the casino is 'fair and safe' according to the definition described in this article. In 'fair and safe' casinos, you shouldn't have to worry about playing a restricted game or betting more than the maximum bet rule allows; however, there might be other rules in place.
For example, the winnings from a no deposit bonus might be limited to a certain amount, which is something you should know about in advance. It is also good to be aware of wagering requirements, which are also mentioned in the bonus terms and conditions.
For deposits and withdrawals, you should only use bank accounts and credit cards held in your own name. If you don't do this, you might get into trouble when trying to make a withdrawal. This rule is mostly in place to prevent credit card misuse and also because of international anti-money-laundering regulations.
Lastly, players should never take advantage of bugs in software or other system malfunctions and imperfections. For example, you should never try to use electronic devices to try to predict the outcome of a live roulette game. Gambling should remain fair from the player's side as well.
In an ideal world, players with good intentions shouldn't have to worry about anything. Unfortunately, the vast majority of casinos can't be described as 'fair and safe', so players have to be reasonably careful when playing at them. This is what the next part of this article is about.
3. Recommendations for players playing at 'fair' casinos
If the casino hasn't met the criteria for 'fair and safe' casinos described above, but still treats its players fairly (i.e., meets the 'fair' casino definition above), players should be a bit more careful. Not because the casinos might try to trick them, but because there are some things that could happen on accident, for example.
Let's take a look at things players should and shouldn't do when playing at 'fair' casinos, in addition to all we've mentioned for 'fair and safe' casinos above:
- Players should only create one account at each casino. Duplicate accounts are generally punished, even if the intentions of the player are good and it is just an honest mistake.
- If players wish to take advantage of casino bonuses, they should read the bonus terms and conditions to learn more about wagering requirements, types of games allowed, maximum bet sizes and other types of limitations that might apply when playing with bonus money. Read more about the most common bonus conditions in our separate article about bonuses and promotions.
- We also recommend reading the general terms and conditions, although this isn't absolutely necessary for 'fair' casinos. Still, it doesn't hurt to make sure that you understand all relevant information.
Players need to be more careful in 'fair' casinos that do not enforce important rules, and as a consequence, can't be called 'fair and safe' according to our definition. However, it is important to bear in mind that there are unfair online casinos as well. This is why we recommend using our list of best casinos and reading our full review before playing, as nothing will protect you if you decide to play at a dishonest gambling site.
4. Recommendations for players playing at casinos not classified as 'fair' or 'fair and safe'
Although we advise players to play at casinos that can be classified as at least 'fair' according to the requirements listed above, you might find yourself playing at a casino that doesn't meet these criteria. If this is the case, make sure to be extremely careful not to do anything against the rules.
Here is an example: Most casinos only allow players from certain countries to play or take advantage of a bonus offer, as stated in their terms and conditions or bonus terms and conditions. 'Fair' and 'fair and safe' casinos go further than that and do not allow players from restricted countries to create an account or receive a bonus that they should not get.
However, not all casinos have this approach. Some of them let you create an account from a restricted country or receive a bonus that you should not be allowed to get. They allow you to play, but then use country restrictions as an excuse not to pay out winnings. These casinos are definitely not safe for players, as you can get into trouble if you don't read the T&Cs and don't notice the restricted countries.
Restricted countries are one of the bigger issues here. This is why we also recommend that players contact the casino's customer support department and ask about them, in addition to reading the terms and conditions. Ask customer support if you are allowed to play from a specific country or take bonuses that you might be interested in. Save these responses as they might come in handy later on.
Additionally, casinos that don't meet our 'fair gambling' criteria could have some unfair rules in their terms and conditions and might even apply rules that are not listed in their T&Cs; see the hidden and predatory rules section of our fair gambling codex for casinos. Furthermore, unfair casinos often look for excuses not to pay out legitimate winnings to players who essentially haven't done anything wrong.
To sum it up, pay attention to all rules and follow them closely. Ideally, take screenshots of relevant information such as T&Cs, bonus T&Cs, chat transcripts, emails from the casino, etc., which may come in handy if you get mistreated by the casino and wish to file a complaint. Of course, the best thing to do is to find a better casino and play there instead.