When we review any online casino for potential inclusion as one of our recommended sites, it is of paramount importance that it can evidence it is operated under the highest internationally recognised standards. Holding a licence from one of the most highly respected remote gaming jurisdictions is the single most important requirement, with the best online casinos regulated by either the UK, Isle of Man, Alderney, Gibraltar and Malta gambling authorities. These territories have established strict, globally respected controls on companies who wish to legally operate under their licenses, setting benchmark standards for fair play, security and customer service. All of our recommended casinos hold and maintain one or more licences from these gambling authorities, giving exceptional peace of mind for any Canadian player.
Under the bonnet of all online casinos, the fairness of the games is the ‘responsibility’ of RNGs, or Random Number Generators. RNGs are the fundamental bit of a game’s code that determines the outcome of each play, such as which number is the result of a Roulette spin, or which symbol lands on a payline when a video slot reel stops. To be deemed fair they have to be objectively random, otherwise a bias could disadvantage players. Testing and certification of online casino software RNGs is also a requirement for licensing (to ensure fairness), so you can be sure all our recommended casinos have you covered here too.
Mention of testing and certification of casino software above, neatly brings us to covering the additional impact of eCOGRA on corporate responsibility in the online gambling market. The eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance organisation was formed in 2003 by some of the biggest players in the industry to establish a code of good conduct and layer of self-regulation to complement governmental licencing. It has since established its reputation as a leading internationally approved testing agency, specialising in the certification of online gaming software and support systems. Whilst legally licensed operators don’t formally require eCOGRA certification (there are other equally respected testing agencies), many of the best online casinos, and the majority of our recommended casinos, do seek its endorsement as a further testimony of their commitment to the highest standards.
Perhaps the simplest way to avoid a rogue casino is by choosing to play one of the sites we’ve reviewed and recommended on this site! We’ve already done the checks to ensure a site is legally operated with the credentials mentioned earlier in this article.
Sadly, there are still ‘bad guys’ out there and unwary players can fall foul of sharp operators. What defines a ‘rogue casino’ though? Put simply, these are sites that have raised the concern of regulatory authorities for illegal or undesirable conduct such as operating without required licences, unreasonably withholding players’ funds or using wilfully misleading promotions to attract customers.
Online casinos that cannot or will not comply with a regulator’s request within a reasonable time will be blacklisted, and this is a topic we will cover in a future article. It should go without saying that you should never play a blacklisted casino!
The spectre of gambling addiction is a very real issue that all sensible players should be sensitive to. Most players enjoy their gaming without it becoming a problem, but if you find your motivation to play is not simply ‘buying some entertainment’ you may need to seek some help. Canadian players that think they, a family member or a friend may be getting into difficulties with their gaming have a number or fantastic domestic sources to turn to for advice and help. The Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario is one example we can recommend, since not only does it operate a free, 24-hour helpline (1-888-230-3505) but also a very informative website (www.problemgambling.ca) where expert guidance and professional help near to you can be found.
All our recommended casinos also have systems in place to identify and assist players who may require help to avoid getting into problems. Accounts are monitored for activity that may signify a problem, and players may also instigate limits or self-exclusion if that is felt necessary to maintain control.
One of the simplest ways to maintain control when playing online casinos is to play with a good money management strategy. The ‘golden rule’ for smart players is, if you sincerely want to enjoy gambling, you should never play with money you cannot afford to lose!
To play wisely and responsibly, always set yourself a ‘bankroll’ you can happily afford to spend on a session and be ruthless about what that figure is. Assume you will spend it, and know you won’t regret spending it. During your session of play, if you exhaust that ‘bankroll’ that’s the moment you stop. Never play on believing the very next game will be the big win you’re hoping for. Some sessions you win, some you don’t – that’s the nature of the game, and you can always come back to play when you next have the funds to spare on your entertainment. Never forget that casinos are all about playing for entertainment, not get-rich-quick schemes!
One final note on issues of personal responsibility with online casino gaming is to be aware of the legal age limits that apply to you. For Canadian players this is most likely to be 19 years of age, however residents of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec can legally gamble one year earlier than that.
Whilst you have a personal responsibility to only play if you’re legally eligible to do so, our recommended casinos take care to respect territorial laws too, so you will need to verify your age if you choose to open a player account with them.