Skeptical About Joining an Online Casino?
Oh, man. We have all definitely been here before. Everything we’ve read about an online casino sounds amazing. You get to play from home…the minimum limits are lower than a real casino…the bonuses are much better and more enticing…you don’t have to put pants on…
We remember sitting there with our tin foil hats on developing our different conspiracy theories as to why and how there is no way these online casinos could be legitimate. When things seem great, we have the tendency to assume the worst.
Today we’d like to take a look into the world of online casinos and share what we’ve learned and the knowledge and data we have collected about this new industry. We’d like to look into why we have problems trusting them and what the casinos have done to alleviate these concerns for their industry. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be able to make up your own mind about online casinos. The final decision is always yours, but we just wanted to help present the information we looked at when we were making our own decision on the industry.
Why We Have Trouble Trusting in the First Place
When we go to buy things at the grocery store, we usually trust that we are getting exactly what we paid for. When we go to buy a new house, we trust that we are getting what we paid for after the inspection. When we go to live casinos, we trust that the games are fair and set up exactly as they are represented.
But why when it comes to online casinos are we all so skeptical? There has to be a reason outside of just saying we are all crazy conspiracy theorists. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to go grocery shopping or buy a house without losing our minds and attacking the cashier. It’s important to understand where our initial distrust comes from if we have hopes of uncovering the truth and really deciding if online casinos can be trusted.
The answer to this lies in our eyes. We have a tendency only to trust things that we can see. When we play blackjack in the casino, it’s easier to trust that it is legitimate because we are watching the actual cards come out. Online casinos don’t give us that luxury (except with live dealers which we will discuss later). We are required to trust that the computer system dealing the cards has been set up in a fair manner that isn’t trying to cheat us. No matter how trusting of a person you are, this can be a big challenge.
The gambling industry as a whole has always been portrayed in the movies as a shady and sketchy industry. In the old days, it was heavily run by the mob and Hollywood makes sure you are well aware of this fact. Unfortunately, it is also an industry that has had its fair share of scandalous characters and dealings that have left a bit of a cloud over the industry as a whole. It’s amazing what a few bad apples can do to an entire multi-billion dollar industry.
Lack of Understanding and Transparency
For most of us, we don’t really understand how the gaming and gambling industries work. This is by no fault of our own but can be attributed to the fact that the industry is not very transparent or open about how they operate and do business. This is probably by choice to protect their companies and trade secrets (similar to the insurance or healthcare industries), but it doesn’t help to create much consumer confidence.
The Lifespan of the Industry
Internet gaming is still a fairly new industry for all of us. If you asked most people when the industry started, they might tell you within the last five years, 10 at the most. We will get into the accuracy of this statement a little later in this article, but for now, it’s important to note that this perception of a fairly new industry does not help them score points in the trust category.
The Facts and What We Found
Now that we’re well aware of all of the reasons why people don’t trust the gaming industry let’s take a look at the facts and what we uncovered about the industry. Surprisingly, there are a lot of safeguards and programs that are put into place to address the above issues. It’s ultimately up to you at the end of the day if you’re willing to trust these sites with your money, but it does look like there are a lot of new reasons to be more comfortable about doing so.
Future Profit Protection – Motives
The first thing that we looked at that stood out to us was what the motive for cheating customers would be. Obviously, the motive would be to make more money. The problem with assuming that casinos are doing this is that you forget how much money they are already making legitimately and how much money they stand to risk losing if they are caught cheating players. Frankly, it would be financial suicide to try and make a quick buck and risk the millions and billions in future profits coming in.
The size of the online casino industry as of 2016 is somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion dollars! Why on earth would any company risk this size of an industry and the associated profits for a few quick bucks? The answer is any logical company, even a money hungry one, would not. Does this mean that it’s not possible for someone to want to try and cheat? Of course not. But from a logical standpoint, we can’t really understand why any of them would take the risk when they are already making so much and have so much to lose if they were caught. Even the most greedy of business owners would realize they could make so much more just as quickly by running an above board operation. It’s rare that greed works in our favor, but we will take it.
We’d chalk this one up as a definite win in the trust column for online casinos.
Under the Hood
The biggest concern that most players have when looking into the validity of online casinos is how the cards are generated and dealt out. For us to understand this, we need to talk a bit about something called a random number generator. A random number generator (RNG) is an extremely expensive computer system that has been developed to produce random results. Online casinos use what is called a Pseudo Random Number Generator which uses a complex algorithm to produce a seemingly random number. We say seemingly because producing truly random numbers is impossible, but for the sake of their purpose, these systems produce random numbers to ensure that the cards that are dealt are randomized. Even us as humans aren’t capable of producing truly random number sequences.
These RNGs are programmed to work and produce cards the same way that a random deck of cards would. This is great and all, but how can we trust that the RNG isn’t set up to cheat us? Great question…The answer to this is in third party auditing.
Online casinos will have outside companies that are not affiliated with the company at all come in and test all of their RNGs and all of their gaming software. Parameters are put into place to make sure that these companies are never enticed to fudge the numbers on their audits. The audit companies make their money by being independent, fair, and balanced in their evaluations. These audits are not required, but all online casinos that are reputable will take this step to help ensure consumer confidence. We would HIGHLY recommend that you only play at online casinos that publicly post their audit information for complete transparency.
For example, here is the independent audit information for 5dimes, a popular and trusted online casino that has been in business for almost 20 years.
As you can see, every aspect of the site is tested to make sure that the cards and numbers that are coming out are in fact random and fall within the correct statistical means.
A lot of online casinos also use third party sources to handle their disputes between players and the casino. The majority of these disputes are typically centered around bonus structures and associated payouts and not about the validity of play. This is a pretty good sign as it points to the fact that there are no issues with the validity of the games, but more commonly misunderstandings surrounding bonus structures.
An example of a popular self-regulation service used is eCOGRA. eCOGRA (and companies like them) work with the online casinos to ensure fair and protected experiences for all of the players. The direct verbiage from eCOGRA is that their services are based on the “achievement of the objectives of player protection, fair gaming and responsible conduct by operators, software providers, and relevant service providers.”
These outside regulating bodies give the players peace of mind that they have an advocate on their side if a problem or disagreement were ever to arise.
Conclusion of the Facts
As you can see, online casinos have come a long way to protect their players and raise consumer confidence. It seems they quickly realized that they were not going to be in business for very long if they didn’t address the valid fears and concerns of their players. Here are the bullet points of why we have decided to place our trust in the online casino industry.
The software and random number generators are audited and tested by independent, third-party companies. These companies only stay in business by providing accurate and truthful results on the status and security of the online casino’s operations. We HIGHLY recommend ONLY playing at online casinos that choose to undergo the third-party audit procedure.
The online casinos sometimes use self-regulating third-parties to handle all disputes between the casino and players. While these are not necessary for an online casino to be trusted, they are a nice bonus to have in your corner. Keep in mind that due to the nature of technology and the internet, it is ALWAYS in the casino’s best interest to resolve disputes in a fair and reputable manner. If they were to try differently, the story would be plastered all over the internet and in forums and ultimately cost them more money.
What to Do If You’re Still a Little Skeptical
We totally get it. This is a fairly big decision that may be contrary to what you originally envisioned the industry as. Though we’ve presented the information we’ve found, you still may be skeptical, and that’s ok. If you blindly listened to everything you read on one source on the internet, you would probably end up in a world of hurt. We’ve put together a few steps that you can effectively take to get some more information for yourself and to test things out for yourself.
Do Your Own Research
This one is probably a given, but we wanted to be all inclusive. We stand by the research and insight we’ve provided here, but sometimes you just need to see it for yourself. Pull up the websites and look for their third-party audit information. Research that company and make sure you’re comfortable with how they operate and how they conduct their audits. Look into who the online casino has their licensing through. Make sure you’re comfortable with that company and their history and reputation as well. Thanks to the age of the internet, all of the information you could ever want and more is available. You are more than welcome to take our word for it as we stand by our information, but if you need more, by all means, go for it and do your own independent audit of sorts.
If you’re looking for a more intimate and realistic view of online casinos, read through some reviews on the website from people who have actually played there. One thing to keep in mind here is that reviews are sometimes polarized, and you need to take that into account when going through them. Players who have a good experience somewhere typically don’t write reviews. It’s just like at a restaurant. If you have a pretty good time, you aren’t going to write a review. But if you have an amazing or an awful time, you are probably going to be vocal about it. Reviews in any industry are usually only given by the customers at the very top or very bottom of the satisfaction spectrum. Just keep that in mind when going through these reviews, so you aren’t pulled in either direction by one overly happy or one overly angry customer.
These sites might be tempted to give unfair reviews that only shed light on the good side of the casino and neglect to mention any of the negatives. The best way to see if the review is worth your time to read is to see if they are highlighting positives AND negatives. If it’s 100% positive, there is probably something fishy going on. This doesn’t mean the site they are reviewing isn’t, in fact, great, but the reviewer is clearly only looking at the positives. Think about your favorite restaurant. No matter how much you love it, there are probably a few things that they can improve on as no one and nowhere are perfect.
Eventually, you are going to have to make a decision if you are going to give online casinos a try or not. There is only so much research you can do before you have just to jump in and get your hands dirty. What we recommend if you are ready to take the next step in your online gaming experience is to start small. Make a small deposit and make a few small wagers. See how you like and see how it works out for you. Test out making a cashout. Remember not to base your opinion solely on if you win or lose right away. This is gambling we are talking about, and in all casino games the house has an edge and is supposed to win in the long run. This, of course, doesn’t mean you can’t be a winner, but just don’t let a few losses make you think that everything is crooked and fixed to try and get you.
Once you gain some trust in the casino, you can move yourself to the normal stakes and limits that you like to play. That being said, here are a few more tips regarding that you should pay attention to.
- Never wager more money than you are comfortable losing.
Gambling is all about entertainment and should never be used for any other purposes. If you are sports betting or playing poker, you can use it for money making purposes, but you still should never wager more money than you are completely comfortable losing.
- Don’t use the online sites like bank accounts
What we mean here is only keep the amount of money online that you need to play the games that you want to play. If it only takes you $200 to comfortably play the games you want and you have a big day and make several thousand dollars, take that additional money offline and put it in your actual bank account. The money should be safe online, but the money is safer in your bank account where only you have control over it, and it is FDIC insured. This also will prevent you from being tempted to play higher stakes and limits than you are comfortable playing.
Use the Live Dealers
A lot of online casinos have recently implemented a new program of play that uses live dealers via the internet. How does this work? Basically, an actual living and breathing dealer at a real live table is set up in a casino somewhere in the world. The table uses real cards and real shuffling and no computer systems to do so. This table is streamed live to you via the internet and allows you virtually to take a seat at the table. You place all of your bets through the click of your mouse, and everything is tracked electronically for you. You’re also able to interact and chat with the dealer if you’re looking for a social experience as well.
This is phenomenal if you are having trouble trusting the random number generators. You are effectively getting the ability to play in a real live casino, but with all the comforts and conveniences of an online casino. It truly is the best of both worlds. The only downside to this in relation to playing at a normal online table is that the speed of play is usually a bit slower. A lot of people like online casinos because everything is computerized and therefore runs a lot quicker. These live dealer tables run at about the same speed as a real live casino table as they pretty much are a real table in a real casino.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that we feel very comfortable using online casinos, as long as they have been properly vetted and fit the criteria we are comfortable with. The comfort and convenience of online casinos are absolutely incredible and will continue to get better as this industry grows and becomes more prevalent in the mainstream. If you’re looking for a few places to get started that we personally have looked into and are big fans of, check out our most trusted online gambling sites.