The Makings of a Good Gambling Site
If you've spent much time on the GamblingSites.org website then you'll have noticed that a big part of what we do is helping our readers to find places to gamble online. We make recommen- dations of the best destinations for betting and gaming, which involves carrying out extensive research and thorough testing of the many options that are available.
One thing we are often asked is what we believe to be the most important attributes for a gambling site to have. It's a difficult question to give a straight answer to, as there are several factors to consider. For example, a particular attribute might be very important to one gambler and not at all relevant to another. Certain attributes are important for some types of sites, but not so important for others.
On this page, however, we attempt to answer the question as best we can. We have listed several of what we feel to be the most important attributes, in each of the following categories. We've also explained how we assess these attributes when we are compiling our rankings.
- Safety & Security
- Banking Options & Efficiency
- User Experience
- Miscellaneous Attributes
Safety & Security
When you're providing a gambling site with your personal data, and entrusting them with your funds, you should feel completely comfortable. This is why it is vital that you use a site that is safe and secure. The following attributes are important in this regard.
There's no worldwide organization that's responsible for governing online gambling. Instead, there are various gambling jurisdictions around the world. In each of these jurisdictions, there's an official organization, or multiple organizations in some cases, responsible for regulating the sites that are based in the relevant region.
These organizations, typically known as licensing authorities, set the standards that the sites must adhere to. They set the conditions for being granted a license and the conditions for keeping a license. They set out a wide range of rules and regulations relating to the various things that sites can and can't do. Some licensing authorities are very strict, while others are more relaxed.
This means that, although most gambling sites are regulated and licensed, they don't all have to adhere to the same standards. For obvious reasons, we look to recommend only those sites that are subject to strict regulation.
Occasionally, a new gambling site will come along that's very good. For this reason, we don't ignore new sites when we are deciding which options to recommend to our readers. However, places that have been around for a long time and that have built up a solid track record are always going to be preferable. There's a much greater sense of security when using a site that has proved itself to be reliable and trustworthy.
A customer should be assured that their funds are always safe at a gambling site, even if that site goes out of business for any reason. This is why we like to see operators keep their own money separate from customer deposits. It simply adds an extra level of protection. Proper segregation of funds is really important in our view, and it's actually often a licensing requirement.
The technology and software used by a gambling site will have a significant impact on how safe and secure it is. All customer data should be fully protected by security software to prevent hackers gaining access, and all financial transactions should be fully encrypted for the same reason.
There's a lot of research involved in assessing the safety and security of sites. We have to investigate where they are licensed and what type of licenses they hold. We check exactly what regulation they are subject to, which is where our knowledge of the various online gambling jurisdictions and licensing authorities around the world is useful. We also check what security measures they have in place for protecting customer data and customer funds.
In addition to that we dive into their past to see if there have been any previous reports of non-payment or other bad practices. For this part of our assessments, we have to take into consideration the fact that some sites improve over time and others let their standards slip. They can also be sold, which can result in a change for the better or a change for the worse. Therefore, past performance can only tell us so much in some circumstances.
Banking Options & Efficiency
Depositing and withdrawing money are key aspects of gambling online, and something that all sites should handle as efficiently as possible. The following points are especially important.
Customers should have plenty of options for how to deposit their funds online. This is a simple case of giving customers a choice of what's the most convenient for them. At an absolute minimum, we expect there to be options to deposit by credit card, debit card, check, and bank transfer. Deposits using the most popular e-wallets should be accepted too, although these aren't all available to residents of certain countries.
Customers should ideally be able to withdraw using any of the available deposit options, although we recognize this isn't possible in some parts of the world. Nonetheless, there should at least be a few different options for withdrawing funds to choose from.
Fees are commonplace for online transactions of any kind, so there's no reason why it should be any different with gambling sites. We don't believe there should be a fee for depositing, and indeed there isn't at most sites. It's not unreasonable to charge a small processing fee for withdrawals, but such fees should be clearly advertised and kept to a minimum.
We accept that there's some processing involved in withdrawals, so we don't expect them to be done instantly (although some sites do manage to). We don't believe we should have to wait too long to get our money back though. A few days should be the maximum, with the possible exception of very large withdrawals.
Assessing these aspects of a gambling site is relatively straightforward. We simply contact a site and ask them about all the different options available for making deposits and withdrawals. We also ask for specific details concerning any transactions costs. We then make some test deposits, to see how easy it is and how quickly the funds are added to our account. We do some test withdrawals too, and record how long it takes for our funds to be returned to us.
Gambling online should be as pleasant an experience as possible, and the best sites do everything they can to make that happen. There are three particularly important points when it comes to user experience, and these are as follows.
There's really no excuse for making it anything other than very easy for customers to find their way around a gambling site. Simple and intuitive navigation isn't hard to implement, and it really adds to the overall experience. A customer should be able to find any information they want and get where they want to go, within just a few clicks.
Customer support is something that many people seriously underrate: until they need it that is. Then, they get frustrated if it's not up to standard. A lot of companies in the gambling industry underrate customer support too, which is very unfortunate as we think it's a vital component of good user experience. Plenty of sites do offer good support to be fair, but there are many that could do better.
With all the constant advancements in technology, we believe all gambling sites should use top quality software that looks good and is easy to use. The best sites generally do, but it's still possible to run into sites that have extremely outdated software. This isn't a major problem if it's still functional, but that's not always the case. It can get very frustrating trying to place a bet or play a game using software that doesn't work very well.
This aspect of our assessments is all about testing. We test every relevant aspect of a site extensively, which gives all the insight we need to rate the overall user experience.
Of course, our assessment of user experience comes down to our own personal judgements to some extent. This is precisely why we have a team of us compiling our rankings. This reduces the effect of personal opinions, and ensures that we provide a balanced view.
The attributes mentioned so far are among the most important for sure, but there are many more that we consider to be key to the overall quality of a gambling site. Here are a few additional examples of the factors we take into account when compiling our rankings of top sites.
Virtually all gambling sites give their customers added value in one way or another. Sign up bonuses are commonly given to new customers when they first join and make a deposit. Existing customers can expect other bonuses and rewards too including: reload bonuses, cashback, or some form of loyalty scheme.
The amount of added value available can vary quite significantly from one site to the next though. Some sites are very generous, while others are less so. We obviously tend to favor the more generous ones in our rankings. We should point out, though, that biggest doesn't always mean best when it comes to bonuses. A huge bonus that comes with very strict terms and conditions and high wagering requirements may well be less valuable than a small bonus that's easier to clear.
There are some sites that specialize in specific forms of betting and gaming, in which case this point isn't particularly relevant. If a site is the very best place for betting on football, for example, then it doesn't really matter what other options are available.
For the most part, however, we like to see sites offer a wide variety of different games and betting options. Especially if they claim to be a genuine "all-in-one" site. A good selection of different games is a must for an online casino in the same way that an assortment of different poker games is essential for a good poker site. Also, a betting site should cover a variety of different sports, and provide a choice of different wagers.
Relatively speaking, mobile betting and gaming is still fairly new. However, all gambling sites really should be fully mobile compatible by now. We don't mean that they should be "mostly" functional on a mobile device. Customers should be able to access the full range of features and do pretty much anything they can from a desktop or laptop computer.
We could have gone into a lot more detail about the various attributes that we believe all good gambling sites should have. We've focused on the ones above because they are the ones that are especially important, and the ones that most affect a gambler's overall experience.
The overall standard of gambling sites has improved over the last few years, and it continues to do so. We've not yet come across the "perfect" gambling site, but there are several sites that are genuinely top quality. There are many more that provide a very good service. There are even more that are of an acceptable standard, and thankfully not too many that are poor or truly awful.
The varying quality of all the sites available means that it's important to put some effort into where you sign up. Some people get lucky by picking one at random, but in reality you should really put some effort into finding a site that's right for you.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: February 2016