With nationwide scandals relating to data breaches dominating the media of late, cyber security has never been more relevant than it is today. “Cyber security” as an umbrella term can denote a huge range of different concerns for internet users, from protecting one’s privacy settings on social media, to keeping payment details safe or even looking after the wellbeing of our children.
One online medium that’s subject to more of these concerns is the world of online gambling. As a transactional pastime for over 18s who have to volunteer personal information when signing up, online security is a huge consideration for gamers. Whether you’re a seasoned slots fan or are just starting out with online gambling sites, here are a few tips from OnlineBingo.co.uk to ensure you and your data is kept safe.
One of the first considerations when it comes to choosing an online bingo site or casino operator is whether or not they have a licence. All reputable online gambling operators will be officially licensed in the country in which their company is headquartered.
A sure sign of a legitimate operator is the footer on the website – this should outline the details of the company including the company name and the country in which it is licensed. It will also provide details on how it is regulated, so for example, many sites state that they are operated in Gibraltar; meaning it is licensed by the Government of Gibraltar and regulated by the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner.
Before you sign up to a new online gaming website, it’s important not only to set yourself your own limits but to ensure that your chosen operator is behaving responsibly as well.
Any well-respected operator will have its own online literature on responsible gambling. This may be laid out in the footer, as above, or the website may feature a landing page with more information on how to play responsibly and within your means. Look out for affiliations with recognised responsible gambling bodies too, such as Gamble Aware and the Responsible Gambling Trust.
Equally, it is your own responsibility to ensure you play within your budget. If you feel you may succumb to the temptation of “chasing” (trying to win money back after losing) then you should lay out some ground rules before you start.
These could be monetary limits, for example, only betting what you can afford to lose over a given time period, or time limits, such as only two hours of slots per week. This will help to ensure that online gaming remains a pleasurable pursuit – it’s best to stick to the adage of “when the fun stops, stop.”
With the rise of e-commerce giants such as eBay and Amazon over the last two decades, security in online transactions is at the forefront of everybody’s mind. As such you should apply the same principles to signing up to online gambling sites as you would online shopping.
Only bet with operators whose website carries an SSL certificate – this is clearly displayed in the URL bar with an https:// protocol rather than http://. This demonstrates that it is a secure site – thankfully, browsers are becoming stricter with online security nowadays and as such will often alert users to websites which are not secure.
You can also look out for the padlock symbol to indicate that a payment gateway is secure. Equally, only place bets if you are confident that you can trust the payment gateway, for example, PayPal or Visa.
A general rule of thumb when it comes to online gambling is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Many hackers or phishing websites may attempt to lure in prospective gamblers with unrealistic offers such as 400% match bonuses. If you’re not sure, do your homework and read our reviews to ascertain whether or not they are real, or look at competing operators to see if there are any similar special offers.
Similarly, make sure you are well-versed in the gambling operator’s terms and conditions before you sign up, and before you commit to any bets. Some operators exploit loopholes to avoid large cash pay outs, while others may be slow to pay you your winnings – a sure-fire sign that something isn’t right. Again, do your research or ask a friend if he/she has any experience with collecting winnings from your chosen site.
When you sign up to a reputable online gaming site, you will be asked to provide personal data of the highest order such as a copy of your driving licence or passport. This is to ensure that you are the person you claim to be and also prevents money laundering and underage gambling. If a website does not ask you to provide any proof of age, do not proceed further.
Once you have signed up to a legitimate website however, it is your responsibility to look after your data. Do not share your password with anybody and do not leave yourself logged in on your account on multiple devices. Ensure your account is protected with security questions that only you know the answer to.
Finally, regulations in 2018 ensure there are stricter checks on your data. The General Data Protection Regulation, as of May 25, will allow you to ask the gambling operator to send you copies of the data they have stored on you. You can also ask to have yourself deleted from the system, so if you are concerned over security, make sure you exercise this right.
The best way to stay safe while online gambling is to educate yourself on governing bodies and industry practices. To that end, keep an eye out for mentions of any of the following bodies or policies:
Deposit limits – a good online casino operator will set limits to ensure you do not overspend and to protect you from credit card fraud
Audit certificates from the relevant jurisdiction for your operator’s region
Technical testing – read up on eCOGRA, an accredited testing body for fairness and pay outs, and TST, who check randomness of results and return-to-player percentages
Like so much other content on the internet, online gaming has the potential to be a fun and fulfilling pursuit, but there are also many dangers to be aware of. By ensuring you are familiar with your country’s legislation and with your own personal data protection practices, you can guarantee safe and legal play that does not compromise your security.
Katie Thompson is an NCTJ-trained journalist and freelance online gaming writer. She enjoys researching the iGaming industry and writing comprehensive guides on the history of gambling, beating the dealer and even how to get bingo dauber stains out of your favourite shirt.
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