Since time immemorial, human beings have enjoyed a wager in some form or the other. Ancient civilizations have been found to have played games of dice or tiles. The humble deck of playing cards first appeared in Europe in the 14th century, but they are recorded in Chinese culture as far back as the 10th century. When settlers came to the USA, they brought their cards with them. The rest, as they say, is history.
The world’s most popular card game is, of course, poker. The game was cultivated in the USA and spread around the globe. It has seen a big boom in recent years. The game of bluff and strategy has been depicted in many movies, including James Bond playing the Texas Hold ‘Em variant in Casino Royale. The fascination with the game is mainly due to the money played and the vast amounts that can be earned. Unlike many forms of gambling, it is about so much more than luck. Real skill is involved, and professional poker players have the potential to earn genuine riches.
Poker is also a game that can be played between friends and family for pennies or matchsticks and is therefore universal in its appeal. With recent changes to online gambling laws in many US states, many poker players can now play for high stakes online as well as in land-based casinos or private venues. It can be tempting to be drawn in by the offer of the highest prize money or easiest winnings. However, with unscrupulous operators, savvy poker players must use their heads to find a safe place to wager.
Fortunately, there are now independent review sites that have done the hard work for players and can recommend safe online casino based on a wide range of criteria. The main points they look out for are as follows (and if you are researching yourself, you need to be on the lookout for them).
Licenses and auditing
While these may seem like boring words, they are taken seriously by safe sites. A reputable operator understands the importance of transparency and will proudly show off its auditing stripes and license. Look for these in the footer sections of the pages.
A safe site will offer quality and variety of payment options and use trusted operators like Visa and PayPal. US casinos do not accept cryptocurrencies for anti-money laundering and responsible gambling reasons. So, if you see a site taking Bitcoin, it’s almost guaranteed that they are not regulated within the USA.
Responsible gambling tools
A reputable casino is not looking to take all your money – that is not a sustainable business model. So, look for ones that offer wagering, deposit, and loss limits. It signifies that they want to build an ongoing relationship with their customers. They should have RG or 800Gambler trust seals in their footers.
Security and encryption
More seals to look for in the footer are those which ensure they are SSL encrypted and audited by unbiased third parties.
Reputation on forums and in reviews
Check out the experience of other users. A quick internet search or questions in online forums will tell you how other players have fared. Chances are you would not buy a book without reading the reviews, so why would you risk your hand with an unreputable outfit?
A good business looks after its customers when something goes wrong. Check out if you can talk to a real person, and is there someone available 24/7? How easy is it to find the contact information? Just an FAQs section is not enough.
Transparency of terms
You need to understand what the rules of the game are. You might think you know them, but each casino will have different conditions about how much you can wager and how easy it is to withdraw your winnings. A safe site will have a dedicated page so that you know what the terms and conditions of play are. The operator will be upfront and transparent if they have nothing to hide.
Reliability of products
If you are playing poker in a virtual environment, you do not want to be involved in a game that glitches out or loses connectivity at the vital moment. Therefore, it is crucial to be playing at a casino that works with reputable gaming software developers. Look out for names such as Net Ent, IGT, and PokerStars. If the developer’s name is unclear, give the game a wide berth.
Mobile casino safety
Over 60% of online gambling takes place on mobile phones. This means that a reputable casino will not just make a decent desktop site but will ensure that players are safe on the go as well. This could be via an app or the site being optimized for mobile. Whichever, it is essential to check out that what you can access on mobile mirrors the desktop offering.
A safe site will almost certainly offer you the chance to ‘try before you buy.’ You will be able to test out the site and look around without having to make a deposit, so look out for this. Finally, avoid offshore casinos. They are shady throwbacks to the days when online casinos were illegal in the USA.