For the most part, online casinos are great. They provide a way for folks to bet on loads of games of chance, slots, and even sporting events right from the comfort of their own home. Whereas you’d once need to take a trip to the real-world casino, online, you can get your gambling thrills wherever you have an internet connection.
That’s not to say that online casinos aren’t capable of some pretty deceptive tactics though. They’re in the business of making money, after all. For those new to the world of gambling some of the points made in this article might seem pretty unfair. However, if casinos couldn’t make money, they wouldn’t exist! Let’s look at some things you need to look out for to keep you safe at online casinos.
Whilst players might consider the other “deceptive practices” on this list to be a little sneaky, this first one is just straight up cheating. Fortunately, proper licensing agreements mean that scenarios like this are largely a thing of the past now. However, in online gambling’s earliest days, you may very well have found yourself playing at a crooked site. Two massive examples that rocked the online poker world early on were those of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
In 2007, players at Absolute Poker accused the company of cheating them out of money. The issue was that one player could actually see everyone else’s hole cards. Of course, this allowed them to make seemingly clairvoyant plays and scoop up a load of cash from their victims in the process. This “master account” was listed as being a player from Costa Rica. It’s believed to have been affiliated with the company, which was also based in Costa Rica. Despite eventually admitting its existence, the company denied that the account was part of an inside job.
Less than one year later, players reported Ultimate Bet in a similar example to the Absolute Poker story. This time, cheaters relied on information from a “superuser” account with the name Auditmonster2. Auditmonster2 would pass information to other players, again, allowing them to fold big hands when beaten and bluff weak hands off of large pots. The cheating was later revealed to have been going on since 2004 and the company received a heavy fine.
These days, there’s a lot more regulatory oversight in the gambling industry. Respectable online casinos have their games audited and proudly show off licensing agreements awarded by entities such as the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority. Whilst it’s still technically possible to fall victim to similar scams at unregulated casinos, those playing at casinos that work with reputable agencies needn’t worry.
Bonus Wagering Requirements
Casinos don’t need to outright cheat their players to be deceptive though. A lot of players find the enforcement of wagering requirements on promotional offers to be a little underhand. Casinos will often make bold statements in their advertising. “Play with £50 for free” or “£20 bonus cash” may lead a novice player to believe that they’re in with a good shout of profiting from a bonus offer.
However, inexperienced casino users may find that such offers are nowhere near as lucrative as they sound and are often actually negative in terms of their expected value. Online casino bonuses almost always have what’s known as wagering requirements attached. These demand that a player bet the bonus funds a set number of times before they can make a withdrawal. Since each bet they make always favours the casino itself, the player is more likely to bust out of all bonus funds, as well as some, if not all, of the deposit that triggered the promotion.
Generally speaking, the higher the number of playthroughs required, the less likely the player is to emerge a winner. This means you should favour promotions will low or no wagering requirements. They do exist but they’re uncommon. You can find no wagering bonuses easily by simply going to this list provided by CasinoShortList
Casinos need to remain profitable or they’ll go out of business. They, therefore, like to create promotions that sound like they’ll result in players winning. This encourages deposits. However, they don’t actually want most players to win and wagering requirements limit the likelihood of profiting from a promotion.
Excluding Games from Promotions
Related to wagering requirements is the concept of game eligibility. There was a time when online casinos hadn’t really thought about excluded games or limiting their contributions to wagering. However, as players wised up to the fact that certain games could be used in conjunction with bonus cash to create positive expected value, the casinos were forced to reassess their promotions.
These days, you’ll find games with high return-to-player ratings limited in their contributions to wagering. Blackjack is a classic example of this. Players using mathematically perfect strategy can cede less than a 1% edge to the casino. If blackjack contributed 100% to wagering, it would make no sense to play anything else and many players would return a profit from promotional offerings. For this reason, blackjack is typically limited to a 1% contribution to wagering or excluded entirely.
Other games are similarly limited too. You might find that high RTP rated slots only contribute 50% or 25% to wagering. The most lucrative bets on table games like roulette will also have reduced contributions.
If you’re wanting to turn a profit from playing through a casino bonus, you should always play the highest RTP rated game available that contributes 100% to wagering. No matter how generous the game is, if it contributes less than 100%, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice by playing it with bonus funds. Using a game that contributes just 50% towards wagering effectively double the requirements. Meanwhile, a 1% contribution multiplies wagering by 100. Worst of all, if you play a game that is entirely excluded from the promotion, you might actually win and end up increasing the overall wagering requirement instead of reducing it!
Cash Out Limitations
Perhaps sneakiest of all in terms of casino bonuses is a cash out limitation. These are most common on what’s known as a no deposit promotion. No deposit promotions are great for casinos because they encourage a lot of players to signup for a new account. As the name suggests, they don’t require players use any of their own money to have a punt on the games on offer. However, if players don’t deposit, the casino has no chance of making money from them.
Whilst a casino is happy to receive the email address of a person who clearly enjoys gambling (they can market directly to them), they’re less keen about handing out big stacks of cash with zero chance of making money themselves. For this reason, you’ll often find that casinos will restrict the amount you can win on a no deposit bonus. It’s also usually very low!
You can still win real money using such promotions. However, the existence of a cash out limitation should influence the way you play. For example, it makes no sense whatsoever to play a progressive jackpot game. If you were to actually drop a lifechanging sum of money and managed to complete the colossal wagering requirements on your mammoth win, all but a paltry amount of the total would be surrendered. You might only be able to cash out £10 or £20.
If there is a cash out limitation on a promotion, you should favour low variance games. It’s better to win a little bit quite often than a massive amount occasionally. Firstly, you’ll be more likely to complete the requirements themselves using such a strategy. And, secondly, it’s less likely that you’ll end up forfeiting loads of your winnings to the casino at the end of wagering!