Online Gambling Scams

Scam Online Gambling

At TheSportsGeek.com, my colleagues and I do everything we can to make sure you have a safe, fun online gambling experience.

We consider it our duty to make you aware of online gambling scams and the tricks that rogue operators use to lighten your wallet while offering nothing.

In this piece, I’ll tell you about the most common online casino scams, and I’ll explain how they work. With this information, you’ll be better equipped to avoid them.

The Most Common Online Gambling Scams

Identity Theft

Some of the most insidious online gambling scams don’t involve the operators stealing your money. Instead, they aim to steal something arguably more valuable—your identity and your data.

Rogue casinos will set up professional-looking websites with tempting bonus offers to lure unsuspecting players in. Once you’re registered, you’ll be asked to verify your account. To do so, you’ll have to send a copy of your government-issued ID and proof of your address.

Of course, since you’ve already registered, they already have your name, address, date of birth, possibly your telephone number, and more.

With the ID documents, they have everything they need to either sell your identity or sell your information to an identity thief. This can lead to some extremely stressful outcomes, such as financial fraud.

Always make sure that the online casinos you’re signing up at is legit.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you do so:

  • Check if the online gambling sites have a valid license from a regulated authority like the UK Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority.
  • Read the terms of use. Believe it or not, some rogue gambling sites will tell you that they reserve the right to sell your details. You’ll usually find this information in the privacy policy.
  • Read in-depth, professional casino reviews by experts in the field. Just as in any other industry, experienced review teams can often spot and highlight suspicious things that you might not notice.

I know for sure that casinos do sell details to other operators since I regularly receive text messages from casinos I’ve never heard of. However, what we’re talking about here is a whole different animal. Identity theft can ruin you and can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees to fix.

Spyware and Ransomware

Computer coders can do some incredible things, but sadly, not all of them choose to use their powers for good. If you’re the type of player who likes to download online casinos or poker clients, you could be vulnerable to this type of online gambling scam.

Spyware does what it says on the tin; it spies on your computer and steals information. This could lead to identity theft or worse. Some people have even ended up the victims of blackmail or extortion schemes because of computer spyware.

Ransomware is arguably even scarier. This will lock your computer or device in a layer of impenetrable encryption. The only thing you’ll be able to see is a message from the scammers telling you to make a payment to an offshore bank account or cryptocurrency wallet address. In return, they promise you’ll receive the password to unlock your device.

Of course, often, they’ll extort you for more once they realize you’re willing to pay. Ransomware is a serious threat. The infamous WannaCry Attack paralyzed the UK’s National Health Service back in 2017.

How can you protect yourself against spyware and ransomware scams?

  • Play at no-download casinos and gambling sites. If you play in your browser and decline all downloads, you’ll be much safer.
  • If you do want to download a casino, do so from a safe source, such as the Apple Store or Google Play. Alternatively, you can download them directly from trusted operators’ websites.
  • Always run up-to-date antivirus software. It won’t always protect you against ransomware, but it does a decent job against spyware. Make sure it’s running and updated before you download a casino app.

These attacks are becoming more sophisticated and harder to protect yourself against. Quietly, many honest IT professionals will admit that you’re defenseless against advanced hackers. The best bet is to play casino games directly in your web browser with no download required.

Rigged and Pirated Games

There are two separate issues here, but since they both involve dishonest casino software, I’ll cover them in one section.

Let’s handle rigged games first. Every casino game has a house edge, which is what gives the casino its advantage and guarantees it a profit. Even if one player wins big, it doesn’t matter in the long-term because enough other players will lose to cover the payout and then some. We know the house edge for most casino games, so we can predict how many hands or spins we should win or lose statistically.

Sadly, there are plenty of greedy operators who aren’t content to make a steady 4% on slot machines, even though that could be a lot of money. Instead, they run rigged games that you stand no chance of winning as a player. By doing so, they harm you by stealing your money, and they harm online casino gaming by breaching the code of trust it runs on.

What about pirated games?

These are also rigged, but they go a step further by passing themselves off as legit games from well-known brands. For example, I’ve seen one casino run a cloned version of the popular Starburst slot by NetEnt. Everything about it seemed legit, but as I played, I noticed some weird pixelated glitches, and after my bankroll was drained, I realized what had happened.

If you ever experience cloned games, make sure you report it to the software firm. What these rogue operators are doing is brand infringement, and they can be sued for it. If you’re in any doubt, such as that you feel the need to contact the software company to find out if the games are legit, trust your gut instinct, and decline to play at that casino.

Make no mistake about it, whether rigged or pirated, these casino games are out to steal your money. You have zero chance of winning them. This is one of the most common online gambling scams of all.

Blatant Theft

Some scammers are genuinely creative, and others are just in your face and don’t care whether or not you know you’ve been conned. There are plenty of those in the online gambling industry, too.

These scams work something like this:
You sign up at a casino, excited to make a deposit and receive your welcome bonus. You deposit $100, and get logged out of the casino. You enter your username and password, but it doesn’t work. You contact customer support through the email form, and days later, you still don’t have a reply. You’re beginning to realize that you’ll probably never see your $100 again, but you decide to send another email anyway. Eventually, a week or two later, you quit, and the casino keeps your $100.

These scams work in all sorts of ways. Some casinos lock up your funds and ask you to jump through endless hoops to verify your account, meanwhile deducting fees or running down the time for you to claim your bonus. Some also eat away at your balance with weekly or monthly inactivity fees. I’ve seen a few different variants of this online casino con.

Aside from stealing deposits, some casinos just flat out refuse to pay winnings. They’ll accuse you of cheating, open investigations into your conduct and find a reason to ban you, or they just stall, delay, and eventually stop replying to your requests for a payout.

These rogue casinos are the lowest of the low.

They ruin the fun for everyone, and I’ll never promote one of them here on TheSportsGeek.com.

There are some things you can do to protect yourself against these digital bandits:

  • Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true bonus offers. If they’re too big, it’s possible that the casino is trying to entice you to deposit as much as possible so the operator can pocket it.
  • Make a test deposit. You don’t have to maximize the full $1,000 welcome bonus. A great casino will offer you lots of reload bonuses anyhow. Make a smaller deposit of $20 or $50 and see how it goes before you commit to making bigger ones.
  • Research the casino operator behind the brand. This doesn’t mean just Googling the casino name. It means you should read our in-depth online casino reviews and learn more about the operator behind the scenes. Rogue casino sites often leave a trail and launch new brands often once the previous ones become too exposed to effectively scam players anymore.

What to Do If You Call Victim to an Online Gambling Scam

Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and accept that you’ve lost your deposit. It’s often not worth chasing $100 for months. And if it’s a relatively insignificant sum of money (which is the only sum you should be gambling with in the first place), don’t let it disturb your inner peace.

However, that doesn’t mean you should do nothing. Calmly go about doing the following:

  • Report the casino to relevant authorities. For example, if they have an online gambling license, find out how to report them for cheating you and do so. If a regulator receives enough complaints, they will investigate and probably revoke the operator’s license. This makes it harder for them to lure in new victims.
  • Expose them to other players. If you have friends who gamble online, tell them about the site that scammed you. If you frequent gambling forums online, drop a line detailing your experience. You’ll often find other players who have experienced the same thing. The next guy or gal who researches the name of that casino could find your post and decide not to play there.
  • Let me know. I’ll add them to our casino blacklist if enough players complain about it. This site gets a lot of traffic, so you’ll be doing your bit by letting me know about scam casino sites. It might take a while to investigate and get enough complaints, but eventually, rogue operators get exposed by enough people.

Online casino scams are a sad reality. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the ones listed above cover the core of them. There are variations, but if you know and memorize these, you should be able to spot them.

I wish you the best of luck at the next casino you play at. And remember, it’s always worth the time to research, read reviews, and make sure you’re playing at a legit gambling site to play for real money.

Gavin Lucas / Author

Gavin has been writing about online gambling since 2015. He developed a love for it when it enabled him to travel the world while working from his laptop. Since then, he’s settled down, and his traveling days are over, but his love for casino games never left. Gavin is based in the UK and is a regular slot and roulette player. He’s deeply interested in cryptocurrencies and their intersection with gambling. He also obsessively follows politics and often writes about betting on elections and other political outcomes.