One of the foremost reasons that those gambling online find themselves in difficult situations arises as a result of a lack of discernment when choosing which operators to sign up with. A great deal of customer dissatisfaction with online gambling operators could be avoided by doing more research into the various companies operating before signing up and depositing funds.
A high proportion of the complaints logged with ThePOGG.com come into being because players continue to play with casinos that are unlicensed and unregulated. The very first thing that a customer should be checking before playing at an online casino is the status of its license. Normally this information can be found in the footer of the site’s homepage and in their Terms and Conditions – there should be a functioning link in one of these places that takes players through to the relevant license page if clicked. If there is no license information available that can be checked for authenticity by players, then they should NEVER sign up with this operator. A lack of license or regulation means that there will be little a complaints service can do to help players recover funds that they have lost when playing with such an operator.
Players must also be aware that not all licenses are created equal and the different regulating bodies offer different degrees of player protection. Different regulators focus on different aspects of player protection in their license requirements and there certainly is no unified approach to quantifying how operators should treat players. You can find information on the the licenses that an operator holds in our casino reviews and information about what different regulators require of their licensees can be found on our Regulators Page. Our top-rated license providers do a great deal to aid players and ensure that they experience fair and honest playing conditions. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and secondarily The Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA) place particular emphasis on player welfare and insist that their licensees engage the services of an external Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to help resolve complaints that have not been dealt with to the player’s satisfaction internally. This gives an additional layer of protection to players and in our experience, players signing up with properties on either of these licenses are more likely to have positive experiences. So too are players signing up at operators licensed by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (IoMGSC) or the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC). In our experience properties licensed in Curacao are far more likely to experience problems. It is wise to check such sites and their conditions more thoroughly before signing up – and remember – if you are a UK player it is illegal for operators without a UKGC license to allow you to sign up.
The most player focused regulators also demand that player funds are protected so that if a company folds, something that is not uncommon is the gambling sector, players do not lose their funds. The UKGC stipulates that player funds are kept in an entirely separate account whilst the MGA dictate that 90% of player funds must be ring-fenced for safety. We have seen both of these systems fail, but where an operator does close it is significantly more likely that players will be paid if the operator held a UKGC or MGA license.
The most trustworthy operators are transparent and give clear ownership details and contact details for the company running them on their site. If they do not do this then it is wise to walk away rather that risking your funds – there are plenty of reliable operators out there. We have encountered operators that give absolutely no contact or ownership details on their site and yet customers still sign up there and then hope in vain that we will be able to recover lost funds for them. If you can’t find a physical address for a company from their website, then the operator are likely omitting this information to prevent players/business partners taking legal action against them when disputes arise.
It has become fashionable for operators to display approval seals in the footers of their sites in order to give the appearance of trustworthiness. Whilst some excellent operators do display such seals in our experience the more seals present, the less trustworthy the operator! Many operators display these seals without being granted permission to use them – we have had several instances where an operator that we do not recommend has displayed our seal and we have been forced to ask them to remove it. Another thing to consider is the real value of these seals to players. Many come from affiliate sites that are paid by the operators for the ability to display their seals and so there is incentive for them to allow any operator willing to pay to display to do so, when really they do not provide good customer service and are not remotely trustworthy. Affiliates use these seals as ‘link building’ strategies. Links are a valuable assent for any website, helping the website position better in search engines for valuable terms. As such many affiliates hand their seals out like candy to any and every operator who is willing to offer them a link. Players should be vigilant and really take the time to do some background reading on the affiliates behind these seals before deciding to trust their hard-earned cash to the operators displaying their seals.
When looking for a trustworthy operator to sign up at it is always a good idea to look at their Responsible Gambling policies. Look firstly for the 18 plus seal which all UKGC and MGA license holders are required to display – this shows a desire to protect children from the dangers of gambling and is the first indication that an operator takes this seriously. Links to problem gambling help sites such as Gamblers Anonymous or GamCare are necessary too. Making customers aware of the various filtering softwares available to them, such as BetBlocker, is also a desirable inclusion and again highlights an operator’s intent to protect the most vulnerable of their customers. Beyond this – top-rated and customer focused operators should have an entirely separate section on their site dedicated to Responsible Gambling. Look for a diagnostic test that allows customers to determine that they are not at risk of gambling addiction.
In addition, details of the various self-restriction methods available to customers at that operator should be clearly laid out alongside how they can be put in place. The higher the quality of the license held by an operator, the more extensive the self-restriction methods that they are required to offer. The best operators offer the following: a Reality Check, Deposit Limit, Loss Limit, Session Length Limit, Self-exclusion feature (in a variety of lengths up to 5 years) and a timeout feature (allowing timeouts of up to 6 weeks) or some combination of these at least.
Quality of the Site Design and Content
Customers should take time to look over the Terms and Conditions set out by a perspective operator, thoroughly. If the Terms and Conditions are not intelligible on first reading, mention other casinos that are not the one the customer has intended to come through to, do not appear to be written by an English as a first language speaker, are full of typographical errors or are unusually short, then it is likely that the operator in question should be avoided. If the website has sections that cannot be accessed or that display error messages when accessed, then it is indicative of a website that is not being carefully maintained and again it is sensible to avoid such properties. In the Terms and Conditions look for Terms that detail what action will be taken if accounts become dormant; what the withdrawal limits are; if there is a maximum win cap; how long customers are given to provide identification documents (this should be reasonable and should not result in seizure of all funds if not met) and whether withdrawal limits are applied to progressive jackpot wins – they should not be – progressive jackpots are not paid by the operator but by the software provider the game is offered by. Players looking to play with a Bonus should also read the Bonus Terms and Conditions – often these contain maximum bet terms which must be respected, or winnings will be forfeit. Bonus Terms should clearly outline the minimum deposit required to collect the bonus; the associated wagering requirements; the number of days before the bonus expires; whether a maximum win cap applies; maximum bet allowed with a bonus; game percentage contributions and any players that are excluded from playing with a bonus through country of residence or deposit method. If such information is not available – it is advisable to keep looking for a more customer friendly operator. Some bonuses flatter to deceive and so it is always useful to make use of external Welcome Bonus Reports that determine their true value to customers before plunging into accepting a bonus.
Return to Player Information
Players should always play intelligently and that means using all information available to them in order to make the most beneficial playing decisions. All games offered by online casinos have an expected Return to Player (RTP) figure which can highlight how costly a game is. If this information is not freely available on an operator’s website, then players should be reluctant to sign up. Some games have this information built into their Help Files, but this does not happen across the board, the most reliable operators display this information on their site on a separate page regardless of it being a built in feature of the of games of some of the software providers they work with. Players should take the time to decide what is most important to them – value for money or level of entertainment – and a balance should be decided upon to make deposits stretch as far as possible. Some games with an excellent RTP figure may not be quite as entertaining as others with a less player favourable RTP; it falls to the player to decide the balance that best fits their requirements.
Reviews and Complaints Services
Players should make use of any secondary information available to them on operators before committing their funds and personal details to them. Many of the complaints we receive are linked to casinos that can be found on our Not Recommended or Blacklisted pages or the equivalent pages of other reputable review sites. If players took the time to check the status of the operator they are considering playing with holistically, at a few such sites, then they could make a more informed choice regarding who it is that they should trust with their money and personal data. Detailed and useful lists of Recommended Casino operators are also available, on our site and others, for just this purpose. Most link to open or historical Complaints pages on these operators too so that a plethora of information is available if players are willing to spend time accessing it. It should be noted that some affiliate sites actively allow payment for placement – that means casinos can pay to appear in the most highly ranked positions – so not all affiliate sites are functioning impartially in their recommendations. It is advisable to look at a few so that a general overview can be gathered. ThePogg.com does not accept payment for placement – operators offering improved financial deals do not qualify for increased exposure on this basis – the views expressed are based only on the service a casino affords its customers and any complaints we may have dealt with on their behalf.
So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to deciding which online casino operators are reliable and which are not. If you have taken the time to search for this guide and then to read it – major kudos – we do not expect to ever deal with a complaint on your behalf because you’ll have found your way to the best operators in the online market today.
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