Before you deposit a single Rand or play a hand at a casino, whether land-based or online, you want to be completely sure that it's absolutely safe and honest. Of course, that's a little trickier when it comes to an online casino. Honesty is much easier to fake on the Internet, whereas a dodgy casino in a back alley somewhere will give off a much more obvious vibe that it may not be safe.
Fortunately, there are a few things to look for when you're trying to figure out whether a casino is safe to use. Bear in mind that some of the below can be faked, but you can rest assured that an honest casino will generally have a good reputation online and dishonest or unsafe casinos are shut down pretty quickly. It's a good idea to consult online reviews and blacklists to help you steer clear of bad sites or blacklisted casinos.
It's easy to spot security in a land-based casino. You can't miss the burly bodyguards, heavy-duty doors and CCTV cameras. There are some similar things to look for when you're gambling online. When you enter an online casino, your connection will generally be encrypted. Look for an https at the start of the URL, which means your data is scrambled even in the rare event that it is intercepted by hackers. This affords the same level of protection that you get when using internet banking or online shopping. In fact, some casinos have better security than many banks and shops.
You may also notice that you're redirected somewhere when you make a deposit. This is because transactions are often processed by a third party merchant service, such as a bank, on the site's behalf. A dedicated cashier area and obvious data encryption is a good sign that a casino is legit. Sites will typically give you a warning if they are sending you to a separate website for payment processing, but you'll find seamless integration at most casinos.
When choosing an online casino, the smartest thing you can do is play at a licenced and regulated site. Although the South African National Gambling Board doesn't authorise internet gambling sites, the governing agencies in other nations do. Did you know many countries formally licence gambling sites to provide games to a global audience? Regulators make sure that operators meet certain technical standards, offer fair games, and are financially sound. The exact mandate depends on the particular gaming agency that grants the licence.
In general, site tend to hold a valid licence in the country where their servers are based. In a technical sense, that's where the games take place, even if they are thousands of kilometres away from where you play them. The most common licences you'll encounter are from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is based in Canada. Of course there are many others.
If a site is licenced, you'll find their credentials proudly displayed on their landing page. You shouldn't accept a logo at face value. Most sites will direct you to the issuing agency, so that you can confirm that it's up to date. It only takes a few seconds to make sure everything checks out, but it's definitely worth the trouble when there's considerable cash on the line. Many sites do hold multiple licences, which can give you even greater protection.
A land-based casino that was using loaded dice or marked decks wouldn't last too long. There are a number of measures in place to keep online casinos honest. First of all is the use of third party random number generators. These random number generators, or RNGs, are responsible for each virtual card dealt, slot reel spun and so on. They make sure that every single one of these actions is truly random, and not skewed in favour of the house.
Honest casinos usually provide some information about the random number generators they use on a dedicated page. When you're playing for real money you want to be sure that you're in with a fair shot of winning, so it's always worth casting your eye over these types of pages.
As well as using RNGs, casinos are subject to third party inspections by independent auditors. These auditors test random number generators and also examine payouts to make sure there's nothing untoward, like fraud or embezzlement, on the financial side of things in a casino. South Africa-friendly safe gambling isn't hard to find when you know what to look for. Some of the more well-known include eCOGRA, OPA and CFG. It's worth remembering those acronyms so you know to look out for them at the bottom of websites hosting a casino, safe though they may appear.
If we have any doubts about the honesty of a casino or the safety of making deposits and placing real cash bets with them, we won't include them on our lists and reviews of the top casinos. That's the bottom line. We don't make exceptions, not ever. So if you want to be sure you're gambling with an honest casino, stick with us.