If you go to the tucker shop and purchase a list of items, then go home, look at your receipt and discover that you were overcharged—maybe an item was on sale but rang up full price—you can walk back into that store with your receipt and demand a due refund. You may have to speak with a manager to get it approved, but if you’re in the right, you will walk out of that store with due compensation. Unfortunately, the internet gambling business doesn’t always work that way. If you win $5,000 playing the online pokies and request a cashout, you aren’t always guaranteed to get it.
Most countries have explicit laws either permitting or prohibiting online gambling. In Australia the laws are a bit askew, but not in a bad way. When the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was passed, it prohibited “online gaming services from being provided to customers in Australia”. That must mean online gaming is illegal, right? No. Interestingly enough, the law specifically maintains that it “does not prohibit Australians from using online gambling services”. Thus it’s legal to play online pokies in Australia, but not legal to provide such services to Aussies.
I’m not writing this to explain the laws; rather to make a quick point. Did you ever wonder why it’s legal to play pokies online, but not to provide online pokies to Australians? It’s not because the pollies are going after every internet casino, poker and bingo site they can get their cuffs on. Aussies play online pokies all the time. Much of the iGaming industry would be at risk if that was the case. It seems to be more of a protective firewall for Australians. Legitimate sites that receive no complaints are generally safe from prosecution, while bodgy sites may endure the wrath of the Australian government.
It’s good to know the higher ups are watching out for us on some level, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll step in and secure your money if an online casino doesn’t pay up, or if your personal/financial information is compromised. If you want a safe and secure run at the online pokies without having to worry about how they’ll handle your finances, you’re going to have to make sure you’re playing at an ace website. Let’s go over the most important signals to look for when seeking out legitimate online pokies.
Transparent Ownership, Licensure & Regulation
If an online pokie site is legitimate, they should have no problem declaring their ownership, licensure and regulatory body. They should be licensed and regulated by a respectable jurisdiction, such as the UK, Gibraltar, Alderney, Isle of Man or Malta. If they withhold this information, there may be a reason for it. You should be able to find all of this info on the homepage, About Us page, or at least in the Fair/Secure Gaming statement.
For example, if you scroll to the bottom of the Spin Palace website, you’ll find the following statement:
“A member of The Palace Group that is managed by Bayton Ltd (C41970) a Maltese Registered company with registered address at Villa Seminia, 8, Sir Temi Zammit Avenue, Ta Xbiex XBX1011. Bayton Limited is licensed by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta LGA/CL1/376/2007 (issued: 30th December, 2009) and LGA/CL3/376/2007 (issued: 30th December, 2009).”
Spin Palace openly declares its ownership by Bayotn Ltd, parent company of The Palace Group. And not only does the online casino provide its regulatory body as the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta, it offers the actual license numbers and dates of issuance. You can even cross reference the online gambling license on LGA.org for verification. They clearly have nothing to hide.
Reputation via Longevity
Online pokies tend to build up a reputation over time, assuming they have adequate longevity to produce one. If it’s a good reputation, the site should portray an associated logo with online gambling watchdogs. There are at least a dozen distinguished watchdog organizations, but the four most distinguished, and their respective logo designs, are:
eCOGRA (eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance): blue “e” over a blue checkmark on silver logo that says “eCOGRA Safe & Fair”
Interactive Gaming Council: white logo that says “IGC proud member”
Gambling Commission: black and yellow badge that says “Gambling Commission Approved”
Online Players Association: blue/white logo that reads “Click here for OPA Certification”
The online pokies at Ruby Fortune are a good example. Scroll to the bottom of the main page where a series of logos are displayed. You will see the eCOGRA logo detailed above. Of all gambling watchdogs, eCOGRA is my favorite because it goes above and beyond background checks, ensuring that online pokies are fairly played, intensely secure and that payouts are prompt. eCOGRA has been resolving player issues for 10 years now and also performs payout percentage reviews, requiring their associated websites to post the monthly results. These can be viewed by simply clicking the eCOGRA logo on the pokie site.
Expedience of Email Support
If there is negative aspect that makes me go troppo, it’s when customer support fails to respond to an email. Live chat operators aren’t always online, and if I need an answer, I want to know that it’s forthcoming. I’ve abandoned what seemed to be legitimate online pokies before because they failed to respond to an email in a timely manner; some never at all. If you’ve confirmed all the above ingredients are present, take one final step and send an email to their customer support department. Ask anything, whether you already know the answer or not. It can be as simple as “do you accept Australian players?”, or as detailed as “what payment methods can Australians use to deposit and withdrawal?”
If you get a response within a few hours, you’re good to go. If two days pass with nothing, move on. Or, if you get a response but it has nothing to do with the question you asked, consider going elsewhere. I’ve run across that one a few times, too. Maddening! But all the lunacy can be easily avoided by learning if online pokies are legitimate before you get started. Play it smart, play it safe, do your research!