So just what should you be looking for in a safe online casino site?
Let us enlighten you. The safest casinos will host SSL encryption, allow scrutiny by eCOGRA or equivalent organisations and carry UKGC or MGA licencing.
Our team of experts have reviewed the NZ market to highlight the casinos where you can be confident that your safety is at the forefront of the operator's minds at all times.
Table of Contents
Ways to Tell if a casino is Safe to Play On
- Where are the casinos operating base?
- Which licencing authority has accredited the site?
- And, has the site been approved by eCOGRA?
- Reputable Licencing Agencies
- Finding a casino that is licenced by the UKGC, the MGA, the GGC, or the AGCC, means that you are already on to a winner. But how can you double-check that your site is real?
- Protections Required by Leading Agencies
- Are there any other ways that New Zealanders can protect themselves when playing at online casinos?
- New Zealand Gambling Legislation – is it Legal to Gamble Online?
- How Some Online Casinos Rip Off customers.
- Safe Online Casino FAQs
Ways to Tell if a casino is Safe to Play On
People are often very hesitant about entering new situations. This feeling can overcome us all from time to time. Whether this is the result of a new job, a speaking engagement, or just travelling somewhere that you have never been before.
It should not be a surprise then that a high proportion of the population are hesitant when it comes to signing up for an online casino. After all, most of our financial transactions tend to be performed through internationally renowned banks or other such institutions.
Due to the niche nature of the online casino industry, it will often be the case that even regular punters have not heard of some of the businesses that are offering their wares. Prudence is the key when selecting a new casino. Before signing up for an attractive offer, do your homework.
Many casinos that are advertised on the net are perfectly respectable operations. But it is well worth knowing how to spot a trustworthy site from one that is trying to scam you out of your hard-earned cash.
The absolute, number one, best way of determining the authenticity of an online casino is to check where it has been licenced.
All bonafide online operators should be advertised somewhere. If you are not able to find information relating to a firm’s licence from a quick scroll through its website this should raise your suspicions. Never bet at a site that is not licenced!!!
The licencing information for online casinos is normally found towards the bottom of its landing page. When reading this information, you should check for several clues.
Where are the casinos operating base?
For players in New Zealand, the headquarters address of an online casino provides a good indication as to the reliability of the operation.
Malta is a key location for renowned online casino operators. If a website states that its home address is Maltese-based, then you are probably looking for a website that is highly regarded at a global level.
However, if it is stated that your casino's operations are conducted from Cyprus, Curacao, or Antigua, I would be hesitant to gamble there.
Which licencing authority has accredited the site?
Any feelings that you have about a casino concerning its location can be confirmed by the licencing body that deems them fit to trade.
As with all things, licencing authorities range in quality.
The best operators in this sector are regulators from the United Kingdom, Malta, Gibraltar, or Alderney. If a website is licenced by one of these authorities you are likely to see the acronyms, UKGC, MGA, GGC, or AGCC.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is probably the most robust gambling rule-maker on the planet. The U.K. is one of the most liberal jurisdictions when it comes to gambling online. However, rules in the U.K. are only as relaxed as they are because any firm that operates under a UKGC licence has been audited with a fine-toothed comb.
The UKGC expects casino operators to always provide players protection.
This means that when entering any transaction, firms working in line with UKGC regulations must ensure that player data and banking information is always secure. This is likely to mean that this information has been encrypted, normally using SSL technology, to keep it out of the reach of prying eyes. One of the most valuable things to would-be fraudsters is personal information. These can be cloned to take out any number of loans. The UKGC ensures that this does not happen.
The UKGC also ensures that online casinos work closely with GamCare. This means that an online casino should never take money from players who are temporarily or permanently vulnerable. For players who do not fall into this category, tools must be put in place to prevent gambling from becoming a habit. These include regular messages to say how long you have been playing in a session and how much you have spent. Also, players are given the chance to take a time-out or to self-exclude from a site if gambling is becoming all-encompassing.
Trustworthy casinos should never seek to profit from the vulnerabilities of their players.
And, has the site been approved by eCOGRA?
Determining whether an online casino is fair is also relatively simple.
ECOGRA has done excellent work over several years in this area.
Technological experts employed by eCOGRA test the games that are supported by online casinos to destruction. This practice enables eCGORA to determine return to player (RTP) rates for all browser-based game options. The closer that the RTP rate is to 100% the more money will be returned to players (on average) over a succession of spins.
For a website to be considered fair, it would be considered that most games would be calculated to have an RTP of above 90%.
ECOGRA testing should build player confidence in two ways.
First, eCOGRA testing allows players to compare the fairness of one casino with others. If players are signing up to an online casino in the hope that they might win something. Then playing at a casino that has the lowest house edge (profit for the casino) can only be a good move.
ECOGRA testing is also a good indication that a website is fair and open. Firms that are knowingly trying to defraud their customers are unlikely to put themselves through this process.
Reputable Licencing Agencies
It is not only the UKGC that demands high standards from online casino firms.
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) applies similar standards when it comes to deciding on the suitability of an outlet. The MGA also licences firms to operate globally. This means that for New Zealanders to have the highest levels of confidence in a casino, they should be licenced by both the UKGC and the MGA.
The Gibraltar Gambling Commission (GGC), and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), are both also highly effective at making sure online operators treat their customers fairly and provide secure sites to play on.
|Licensing Authority Acronym||Licensing Authority|
|UKGC||United Kingdom Gambling Commission|
|MGA||Maltese Gaming Authority|
|GGC||Gibraltar Gambling Commission|
|AGCC||Alderney Gambling Control Commission|
- United Kingdom
- Antigua and Barbuda
Finding a casino that is licenced by the UKGC, the MGA, the GGC, or the AGCC, means that you are already on to a winner. But how can you double-check that your site is real?
There are some tell-tale signs when you are dealing with crooks.
- Unlicensed sites
- No PayPal deposit option
- Reliance on Crypto-currencies.
- Poor reviews
Unlicensed sites offer few player protections and should be avoided. Apart from sites being unlicensed, the next area of concern is when it comes to depositing options.
No PayPal deposit option
If it is not possible to deposit on a site via PayPal this calls the trustworthiness of it into question.
PayPal applies strict conditions to vendors who wish to carry their e-wallet as a potential means of payment.
This means that any online casino site that cannot be funded through PayPal is not regarded highly.
Reliance on Crypto-currencies
It also pays to be wary if a casino only accepts a range of crypto-currencies as a means of payment and nothing else. Tracing payments made by crypto-currency is highly problematic. Unscrupulous casinos understand this. This gives them the chance to walk away with your cash. Stay clear of crypto-currency only sites!
Players should also check out review sites that appear on the internet if they are at all concerned about the safety of a site.
Several scam finders’ sites have popped up over the years.
A quick web search for a casino of interest will quickly likely lead to details of wrongdoing if there is some to be found.
If the name of a site pops up in many places as being unfair or unsafe, it is advised that you should steer clear of it.
Trustpilot, and other similar review sites, may also have collated the feelings that clients have about a site. Take note if multiple low ratings exist.
GRPAHICS NOTE: INSERT PAYPAL, CRYPTOCURRENCY, AND TRUSTPILOT LOGOS.
Protections Required by Leading Agencies
Any online casino that is licenced by one of the leading agencies must have a system in place to protect the funds of clients.
This could mean that a casino negotiates a bank guarantee with its financial backers. In this instance, if a firm were unable to pay its customers at some point, the bank would step in to meet this obligation.
Alternatively, online casinos might place player funds into a trust deed. This mechanism allows banks to release funds for the sole purpose of meeting their financial commitments to their clients.
An online casino may also seek to set up a Client Account. This is a different mechanism that allows funds to be released to players in the event of a casino getting into financial difficulties. All outstanding claims would be met via this process.
The final way that a casino can ringfence money from its players is through an insurance scheme. In this instance, an online casino would pay a premium to insurance money that would cover the firm for its liabilities to players. If a casino could not meet all player withdrawals an insurance payout would be accessed in lieu.
So, long as you are betting with a trustworthy firm your withdrawals will always be received promptly.
Protections afforded to players through MGA licencing means that any firm that is accredited with this body must only trade across borders where equivalent player protections are demanded through local laws.
This means that online casinos that operate in New Zealand under MGA recognition have ascertained that the legal protections required under New Zealand law is at least the equivalent of those demanded in Malta.
Players should therefore be confident that they will be protected when playing at these sites from New Zealand.
Are there any other ways that New Zealanders can protect themselves when playing at online casinos?
One further aspect that players can consider is their deposit method. Normally I would suggest that using a credit card to make payments online is an excellent way to recoup any losses from fraudulent vendors. However, in the case of gambling, the rules provided by credit cards are not 100% clear. Most businesses suggest that credit cards should not be used to fund online gambling accounts, however, most companies still complete these transactions. This means that trying to reclaim money back from a credit card company if a fly-by-night operator does a moonlight flit with your cash, could be problematic.
Using a well-regulated site is always likely to provide greater levels of protection.
New Zealand Gambling Legislation – is it Legal to Gamble Online?
Gambling in New Zealand is done so per the Gambling Act of 2003. The wording of the Act suggests that remote interactive gambling is prohibited within New Zealand. The New Zealand government defines “remote interactive gambling” as being a pastime that involves “gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device”.
Communication devices are further defined as including “computers, telephones, radios and similar devices”. However, not are acts of accessing online casino content are deemed to be illegal.
This law prevents online casinos from being based within New Zealand’s borders, however, it does not prevent New Zealand residents from accessing online casinos that are based overseas. Maltese based casinos, such as Casumo, Leo Vegas, and Spin City Casino, can therefore be accessed by Kiwis safe in the knowledge that they are adhering to the 2003 Act.
Gambling online is certainly a grey area, as the Gambling Act of 2003 illustrates.
Due to the popularity of gambling content that is provided by firms from foreign jurisdictions, it would not be a surprise to see gambling laws in New Zealand relaxed in the next few years. This move is likely as it would provide the New Zealand government with the opportunity to implement online gambling in a manner that fits its priorities. Also, it would allow the New Zealand government to levy taxes on new entrants to the Kiwi marketplace.
It is important to acknowledge that the New Zealand government has already legalised certain forms of gambling.
The Racing Industry Act of 2020 allows betting on horse racing to take place in New Zealand so long as all placed are placed through TAB NZ. The Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) is the government-owned pari-mutuel betting service that declares win and place dividends on all horse races ran in New Zealand.
Land-based casinos have also received the blessing of the New Zealand government to trade within the jurisdiction. However, venues in Christchurch, Auckland, and Dunedin, among others, are strictly controlled. Players at these venues must be aged 20 or over. Proof of this is required, and fines of $500 can be applied if underage players attempt to gain access to these sites.
Betting in restricted forms is allowed throughout New Zealand. Bingo (Housie), lottery betting, and limited payout pokies are all available through Class-based gambling licences.
Therefore, it does not leap in imagination to believe that the New Zealand government may give the go-ahead for onshore online gambling at some point in the future.
However, the New Zealand government currently take a hard line when it comes to the advertisement of gambling. The promotion of overseas gambling is only allowed for specific reasons. These include advertisements that aim to minimise the harm that gambling can create.
How Some Online Casinos Rip Off customers.
In many ways, the safety-first approach to online gambling that has been taken by the New Zealand government in recent years is fully justified.
There are certainly some operators in the industry whose sole reason for existence is to defraud their customers. Bogus sites have developed several cunning ploys to achieve this aim. Many of which are so subtle that the average casino regular may not even realise that they are being conned by their cash.
So, what are the ways that dodgy casinos look to unfairly profit from their unwitting clients?
- Unfair withdrawal policies
- Excessive withdrawal limits
- Low RTP rates
Unfair withdrawal policies
Withdrawal policies provide fraudsters with a simple method of parting you from your cash.
If you have scrolled around some casino sites in recent months, you might have spotted an interesting change to how withdrawals are processed. At bonafide sites, once a player has requested cash, players can no longer reverse this transaction.
Now, I can think of many a time where I have asked for some cash from my favourite casino only to suffer a string of demoralising losses in the aftermath. My first port of call on these occasions was to reverse my withdrawal request to bolster my flagging bankroll. I am not entirely sure if there was any malice involved on behalf of my purveyor in allowing me to do this. But from time to time this meant that my casino held onto cash that was destined for my back pocket.
The UKGC, MGA, GGC, and AGCC, have seen enough. They have put a stop to this practice. At high-quality casinos, this means that you will no longer be able to reverse a transaction. Whatever money you request will eventually land in your bank account.
However, sites that are looking to rip you off do not play by these rules.
Unsavoury venues are continuing to allow this practice. Players need to be aware and steer clear!
If your site still allows withdrawal reversals, this possibly means that they are not licenced by the MGA. Finding an MGA approved site should eventually be a great move for your wallet.
Excessive withdrawal limits
Allowing you to pick your own pocket, is not the only method that dubious sites use to keep you parted from your cash.
Designing excessive withdrawal limits is often just as effective.
Those of us who like a little flutter at the casino do not tend to go crazy. Perhaps we might deposit, NZ $10, NZ $20, or sometimes NZ $50, but nothing that is going to break the bank.
If this is the case, it will be an instant disappointment if your casino of choice applies an NZ $500 withdrawal limit. Where this rule applies players will have to be very creative or extremely lucky to be able to withdraw at any point.
When a casino applies such a limit, I can only imagine that this means that they are thankful for your cash, but please do not ask for it back!
It is unlikely that you will ever see your deposits at sites like these again.
What can be worse than high withdrawal limits, I hear you ask?
Where casinos do not bother to pay you out at all.
As already mentioned, this can only happen at unregulated firms.
Casinos that are licenced by the UKGC, MGA, GGC, and the AGCC, are compelled to ringfence money that belongs to players. This means that pay-out requests are nearly always completed.
However, unregulated casinos offer no such safeguards.
Casinos of this type may well suggest that some form of suspicious activity has occurred, with this, in turn, seeing payments cancelled.
Some casinos use similar methods to suspend player accounts and hold on to supposedly dubious winnings.
Casinos that have a track record for committing such acts tend to be named and shamed at online review sites. It is always worth taking two minutes to check out the credentials of a website before you decide to deposit.
Low RTP rates
If suspect casinos fail to trap you in this way, then keep an eye out for low RTP rates.
ECOGRA do a great job in assessing the fairness of casinos. Playing at a site that does not display the eCOGRA logo is always a risk.
Sites with low RTP rates will eventually take your money by stealth. There is little chance that you will ever return a profit at venues like this.
- Check for licencing details.
- Review payment options.
- Avoid crypto-currency only venues.
- Check casinos for high withdrawal limits
- Be wary of sites that allow withdrawal reversals.
- Look for the use of SSL encryption technologies.
Safe Online Casino FAQs
What is the best online casino for real money?
Betway Casino is one of the best of the best online casino for real money play in New Zealand. Betway is licenced by both the UKGC, and the MGA so is a highly reliable and safe operation.
Are online casinos safe to play?
Most licenced casinos are safe to play in. If you ensure that your casino has a licence from the UKGC, MGA, GGC, or the AGCC and has been tested for fairness by eCOGRA, your money is likely to be very safe.
Is it legal to play on online casinos in New Zealand?
It is legal for New Zealanders to play at online casinos, so long as these casinos are not located within New Zealand itself. Casinos based in Malta are excellent options for Kiwi casino enthusiasts.
Are online casinos rigged?
Casinos always make a profit. This means that they are designed to make more money than they payout. However, all casinos should be transparent as to how much money, on average, they will take off you over time. If casinos do this and adhere to fair terms and conditions, players can decide whether they wish to play there.
Are casino slot machines rigged?
Slot machines are designed to pay out between 5-10% of all stakes as profit. However, slots machines can also pay out huge jackpot wins. It depends on individual attitudes to risk whether the rewards exceed these costs.
How secure are online casino games?
Casinos licenced by either the UKGC, GGC, MGA, or the AGCC, are generally believed to be secure. These casinos are obliged to use SSL encryption technology to protect the personal and banking details of their customers.
Can you trust online casinos?
UKGC, GGC, MGA, and AGCC licenced online casinos are highly trustworthy. These sites are required to meet exacting standards when gaining accreditation.