It’s crucially important to stay safe when betting online. In fact, it should be priority number one when assessing a site to bet on.
We’ve done most of the hard work for you by searching the web, reviewing hundreds of potential betting sites, and separating the worthy sites from those you should avoid.
Check out the sites listed in the table above. All of these passed our security checks with flying colors.
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Of course, we don’t just expect you to take our word on it. That’s why we’ve outlined how we made the decision to include these below if you’re interested.
The safest gambling sites are inevitably found in the countries where it is legal and regulated. These sites have to pass quality checks and comply with strict regulations to get a license from the authorities in these countries. This is one of the factors we consider when assessing a site.
How We Decide if a Betting Site is Safe
There are literally tens of thousands of potential betting sites to choose from. We’ve visited, bet on, and reviewed thousands of them. Over time, we have developed criteria for assessing betting sites.
Each site listed in the table above passed the following tests:
It Must Have a Valid Gaming License
If a site doesn’t have a license issued by a credible authority, that’s a warning sign that it might not be safe. It’s even worse if it once had one but lost it. That means it violated the issuing authority’s rules.
There are lots of gaming authorities in the world, but the following are the ones we rate highest.
This is widely considered the gold standard of casino gaming licenses. The UK is a highly regulated market and there’s a zero tolerance policy towards cheating and scheming. If a betting site has a UK license, it’s almost guaranteed to be safe.
Malta is a Mediterranean island nation and an iGaming mecca. Lots of online casinos and software firms operate out of Malta. The Gaming Authority, therefore, takes licensing issues incredibly seriously and is quick to clamp down on anything considered unfair.
Geographically, Gibraltar lies off the tip of Spain. It’s actually a British overseas territory, though. While it governs its own affairs, gambling regulations stem from the UK Gambling Act (2005), making a Gibraltar license just as worthy as a UK one.
This small island nation in the Caribbean is home to thousands of remote eGaming operations. A Curacao license is generally held in high regard, and although the regulations are a little more flexible than the UKGC’s, for example, a betting site with a Curacao license is still considered pretty safe.
So, that’s a quick look at some of the top gambling regulators. Our recommended sites always have a valid license. You can double check these directly on the websites listed above.
It Must Offer Fast, Reliable Payouts
There’s more than one way for a site to be unsafe, but without a doubt, the most common sort of betting site scam is when you deposit and don’t get your money back.
Some sites also put up major obstacles to allowing you to withdraw, such as by asking for unreasonable verification documents or by putting in minimum withdrawal clauses which far exceed the deposits you have made.
We check the terms and conditions of each site we recommend and avoid recommending those with anything we think is ‘funny business.’
Ideally, we want to see same day payout for e-wallet withdrawals, and we want to see a maximum 3-5 business day wait for credit and debit card withdrawals.
Despite how some players feel, we actually like it when a casino asks you to verify your identity. As long as the process isn’t too complex or time-consuming, this means the site cares about fraud prevention and identity theft. When it comes to looking for safe betting sites, that’s a big plus.
It Must Run on a Secure, Encrypted Connection
Does the idea of advanced encryption make your head spin? Don’t worry, we feel you on that.
There’s no need to have a deep understanding of this issue to make use of it. That’s why they pay IT professionals the big bucks. All you need to know, as an online bettor, is that you want to bet at sites with https:// at the beginning of the web address.
That means the site runs on an SSL encrypted connection. Without getting into boring details, this makes it virtually impossible for hackers and criminals to steal financial and/or personal data on the connection.
If you take a look at any of the sites listed above, you’ll see that they run on secure connections. We don’t take risks with your data safety, and you should avoid any sites which aren’t encrypted.
On most browsers, a little notification will appear beside the address bar telling you if a site is not secure. Pay attention when this happens. It could be a costly mistake to ignore this.
It Must Offer Games from Reputable Software Providers
Whether it’s a sports betting site, a casino site, a poker site, or a combination of things, we want to see software from established, reliable firms.
When it comes to online casino betting sites, for example, we really like to see games from NetEnt, Microgaming, IGT, and Playtech. These companies have a long history and are guaranteed fair.
If we see betting software we don’t recognize, that’s not an automatic write-off. We know this industry is highly innovative and are always willing to give upstarts a chance. However, we need to dig deeper and find out if these companies are reputable, and ideally want to see third-party verification of payouts.
Safe betting sites will have no problem publishing payout rates and explaining how the software works. If they aren’t willing to be transparent, we aren’t willing to recommend them.
It Must Have an Established History & Solid Base of Players/Bettors
The longer a betting site has been around the better, in our view. If a site has been servicing thousands of players since 1998, it’s highly unlikely to be unsafe. If it has survived for decades, it’s a safe bet (pun fully intended).
We’re also aware, of course, that there are lots of new betting sites coming online on a daily basis, and plenty of them are safe. In those cases, we look at the management team and company running them. If they are experienced and run multiple safe betting sites, we are happy to recommend them.
If a site is totally new, run by a startup with no industry reputation or experience, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find that site on our recommended list. They will only make it if they’ve done something exceptional to win our trust.
There are some new betting sites which make the cut, but it’s rare, and as you’ll see from the table above, most of our preferred betting sites have been around for a while.
Some of the Risks Associated with Online Betting
Part of the key to staying safe when betting online is education. We don’t mean to be patronizing, but if you’re new to this, you’re more likely to fall into the hands of predatory sites and scammers.
We want to prevent that, if possible. Other than sticking to the sites which have already been reviewed in-depth by our team of experts, it helps to know what some of the common safety concerns are.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the risks associated with betting sites:
- Outright Theft – This is simply a site stealing your money or making it impossible to get it back. It happens all too often but can easily be avoided. Stick to sites with a reputation for fair, fast payouts. Also, take some time to at least skim the terms and conditions, especially the ‘withdrawals’ section.
- Identity Theft – This is the one that really seems to freak people out these days. It’s always slightly unnerving when a betting site asks you to send a copy of your ID and a recent utility bill to verify your account. Again, it won’t be such a worry if you stick to the best-known operators who have licenses requiring them to take data protection seriously.
- Fee Gouging – Those terms and conditions are a treasure trove of information, as we’ve said before. Still, virtually nobody takes the time to read them. This is where dishonest operators can confiscate your winnings for no reason or take back a hefty slice in the form of fees.
- Viruses & Malware – Lots of mobile bettors, in particular, like to download an app from their favorite betting site. However, too many less scrupulous operators install malware, adware, and spyware along with the app. Get a good antivirus program which detects malware, adware, and spyware, and you should be safe.
- Rigged Games & Odds – The crooked bookie or casino run in a smoke-filled room parlor by the mob is long gone. These days, they’ve migrated online. Some unsafe betting sites create their own odds software or casino games, which are designed to rip you off, plain and simple.
It’s always worth it to take the time to research before deciding on a betting site. You can start by reading some of our in-depth reviews.
We cover each of the points listed above in detail and leave no stone unturned. We’re not saying every site we review will turn out to be right for you, but we are saying you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision after reading one.
You can find our safest betting sites and their full reviews on the table at the top of this page. We wish you the best of luck!