Responsible gaming

Responsible gaming is a topic that may not be as immediately thrilling as finding out about the latest online slot, or what casinos bonuses the best online casinos can offer new Canadian players, however ignore it at your peril. We all understand that online casino gambling is about risk and reward, but the smartest players (and that’s you, right?) recognise the merit in taking unnecessary gambles out of the equation. That involves taking personal responsibility to maintain self-control and avoid your passion for gaming becoming a problem, together with choosing only those online casinos that operate responsibly towards their players. Our recommended casinos all meet this latter requirement, but how do they prove it?

The safety of online casinos

Highest internationally recognised standards: We want our readers to know that if they play at our recommended casinos they are in safe hands. For that reason, it is a priority to us that all the casinos we list operate to the highest internationally recognised standards for legality, fair play, security and customer service. Proper licensing is primary evidence of this, and the over the years the best online casinos have operated under the jurisdiction of a number of gambling authorities which have become standard-bearers for rigorous governmental oversight and control of remote gambling businesses. These are (in no particular order) the UK Gambling Commission, Alderney Gambling Control Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, Gibraltar Gambling Commission and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. All our casino reviews operate under one of more licences from these authorities.

Ecommerce Online Gaming Regulation: Complementing the governmental licencing of online casinos, the industry itself understood that consumer confidence would be enhanced if it also created self-regulation to establish a code of good conduct. As a consequence of that ECOGRA – the eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance organisation – was launched in 2003, and had since established its reputation as a leading independent and internationally approved testing agency. ECOGRA specialises in the certification of online gaming software and systems, and online casinos that receive its formal approval will proudly indicate that since it is another highly desirable indication that they meet the highest standards of security and integrity.

The independent auditing and testing of online casinos by organisations such as eCOGRA covers many criteria, but one in particular is worth mentioning here. Central to the assessment of fairness of online casino games is testing that the RNGs (Random Number Generators) that underpin their operation are truly random! As RNGs are the core tools that generate the outcomes of online casino games – for example the spins of slot reels and roulette wheels – any deviation from truly random behaviour could disadvantage the players and so it’s crucial their performance is routinely verified. This is just one other aspect of our recommended casinos that you can be assured is tested and verified as scrupulously fair.

Avoiding rogue casinos

Rogue casinos: Despite the best efforts of the industry, and governmental agencies to police and maintain standards, the huge popularity of online casino gaming has attracted some rogues looking to exploit players. Another issue that can arise is a previously reliable casino letting its standards slip, compromising its reputation and failing its players. It should be said that even the best online casinos can make mistakes from time to time, but it is their duty to address problems quickly and efficiently if they are to maintain their licences and – just as importantly – the confidence of their customers.

Truly ‘rogue casinos’ are considered to be those that have raised serious concerns with regulatory authorities through conduct such as operating without a proper licence, unreasonably withholding players’ funds or using misleading advertising to lure players in with promotions that are not honoured. Where an operator shows either a contempt or inability to comply with a regulator’s request in good time it’s clearly a good idea to give it a very wide berth.

Strict licences: Naturally all of the recommended casinos you’ll find on our site hold and maintain strict licences, and so you can be assured they aren’t ‘rogue’. We will also be producing a future article on blacklisted casinos to give more detail on this topic.

Gambling addiction

Gambling addiction is a very real: Online casino games are, by their very nature, designed to be compelling entertainment that makes us want to play them. But sometimes that essential appeal can overwhelm some players, tipping them over into ‘problem gambling’ and turning a harmless desire to play into a damaging addiction. Gambling addiction is a very real problem with devastating consequences for the mental health of afflicted players and their relationships with friends and family.

Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario: Playing at online casinos is intended to be a leisure pursuit; an entertainment to spend your spare cash on when you can afford it. If you’re playing for other reasons, and especially if you are simply hoping to win the funds to pay for another important commitment, it may be time to seek some help. For Canadian players that are concerned that they, a friend or family member might be losing control, there are thankfully many great domestic resources to seek help from. As an initial point of contact, one organisation we can recommend is the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. Not only is there a free, 24-hour helpline to call but also a very comprehensive website where valuable guidance and professional help near to you can be found.

Patterns of behaviour: We also only recommend online casinos that have policies and tools in place to identify and help players who may need help to avoid problem gambling. All actively monitor player accounts for patterns of behaviour that might trigger concern, plus players themselves may also activate limits on play, or even self-exclusion should they feel it necessary to nip any problem gambling in the bud.

Gambling responsibly

Personal responsibility: Wringing the very best experience out of your online casino gaming also requires a personal responsibility to gamble responsibly. Sure, it’s important that the online casino you pick plays fair, but so too should you by setting reasonable expectations on what you’ll gain from playing.

Money management: Good money management is crucial to enjoyable play, and the beautifully simple advice that underpins this is to never play with money you’d miss if it was gone. A good strategy to observe to keep things fun is to fix the sum of money you can afford to spend on a session before you begin play. Be brutally honest with what you can afford – remember, would you miss that money if it was all gone? With a realistic ‘bankroll’ set your fun can begin, and should that bankroll get used up then that’s the time to stop playing. You’ve bought as much entertainment as you can afford for that session and you can always come back again when you’ve saved up the funds for another visit. Using this simple strategy is the foundation for staying in control and keeping things fun.

LEGAL AGE LIMITS

Legal age: One final issue with respect to responsible gaming is that you must be of legal age to gamble. Do not forget that is illegal for Canadian players to gamble underage, so awareness of the rules that apply in your province is vital. At this time only Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec set the threshold at 18 years old, with all other provinces requiring a minimum age of 19.

Whilst you should take personal responsibility for being legally old enough to play, our recommended casinos also observe these domestic laws too so verification of age is required when a player account is opened.