Online Casino Security
Online casino games are more widely available than ever before. And the range of stakes, deposit methods and jackpots is bewildering.
But while it's easier than ever to sign up for a real-money account in the UK, how do you know your personal data is secure?
Furthermore, how do you know that the games themselves are fairly run? And what contingencies are in place if you suspect wrongdoing?
How Do Casinos Stay Secure?
All real-money casinos must operate under a legitimate gaming jurisdiction. Licences are given out if sites can meet certain requirements and expectations. And that means audited software and the proper security measures in place to combat fraud.
With proper licences from respected jurisdictions, payouts are tested to make sure they're both fast AND accurate, and customer winnings will be kept in 'segregated funds'.
Age Verification and Photo ID Checks
To comply with gambling regulation and to ensure security, most online casinos ask for ID verification to make a real cash withdrawal.
A photo or scan of some ID like a passport or driving licence is usually needed to verify an account. Players need just email the ID scan to the casino site, as well as the account username and password. Once documents have been verified (usually 24-72 hours by most top casinos), withdrawals are actioned.
ID Verification Checklist
ID checks are essential to make sure customers aren't opening multiple accounts and abusing bonuses and are over 18 and legally playing on the site.
Pick casinos that rely on SSL encryption to keep your bank info safe.
Regular, Independent Auditing
As part of a licence application, procedures must be put in place so that only tested software providers are allowed to provide games.
The games' RNGs (Random Number Generators) which govern the spins of the slots reels and roulette wheels are regularly tested by external bodies like GLI and eCOGRA. Live Dealer software is also tested to make sure it's working fully.
Testing labs conduct 6-monthly or annual tests of casino software to make sure that payouts are fair, and more importantly, accurate. You can find the testing lab logo on the casino homepage, and the gaming sites will let you read certificates in PDF form.
eCOGRA also performs a duty as an 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' provider. If a complaint over a game or payout hasn't been dealt with sufficiently, the ADR can be contacted to help resolve a gambler's dispute with the site.
Good Auditing Organisations
eCOGRA (e-COMMERCE AND ONLINE GAMING REGULATION AND ASSURANCE)
The UK testing lab was set up in 2003 to help Internet casinos and gambling websites self-regulate. Among eCOGRA's objectives are privacy protection, accurate cashouts and payouts, and fair and working Random Number Generators.
TST Global is even older - set up in 1993 - and part of the GLI (Gaming Laboratories International) chain of labs since 2010. TST certified the very first online gaming software to go live in the early days of regulated Internet gambling. TST tests online casino games and site software in its entirety, whilst also undertaking audits of security measures.
SSL Double Layer Security
While you're on the lookout for testing lab and jurisdiction logos on the casino homepage, also check for an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.
Most casinos use encryption software like Thawte SSL to make sure all data sent to the site is secure.
This can include personal usernames and passwords, but also players' addresses, bank balances, and credit card details. You'll know if a page is secure by the little padlock icon in the corner of the webpage in your browser.
While most casino security has 128-bit SSL encryption, some sites go a little further and use what's called 1,024-bit RSA or encryption using 448-bit Blowfish. These security measures are normally reserved by major banks and financial institutions, but when you've got millions of pounds of gamblers' money floating round a site, casinos can pay to be extra-careful.
Choose the Right Casino Online
While respected casinos have security angles covered, it's always worth playing your part too. Regularly change your account password, and de-register expired cards from the Cashier whenever you can.
Read the site's Terms and Conditions before you sign up to see what security measures the casino has, and - if you can - read through the casino's SSL and auditing certificates to confirm the software really is fair.