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December 20, 2023

Unveiling the Hazards—What Are the Risks of Online Gambling?

Online gambling is a booming industry with significant financial potential. Recent estimates show that the industry will grow at a projected rate of 8.54% annually, hitting a jaw-dropping $131.90 billion by 2027. However, like visiting a traditional brick-and-mortar casino, internet wagering comes with unique risks that every player should understand before placing bets.

This article will answer a common question most newbie gamblers ask: What are the risks of online gambling? We’ll also explain how online gaming is treated when it comes to your security and the steps you can take to ensure your safety.

The Most Common Risks of Online Gambling

Internet wagering isn’t all rainbows and unicorns—it packs a punch of potent risks that, if ignored, can lead to financial turmoil. Before staking your hard-earned cash, we recommend conducting thorough research on the potential dangers you may encounter from internet betting platforms and taking proactive measures to protect yourself.

Here are five main hazards you’re exposed to when gambling online:

  1. Fake sites that steal your money
  2. Deceptive campaigns that promise free money
  3. Identity theft and personal data exposure
  4. Addiction and adverse health effects
  5. Financial consequences

Fake Sites That Steal Your Money

Source: Growtika

The increased penetration of online gaming has provided booming business for scammers. Fraudsters can design sites that trick players into providing their credit card details and later steal from these cards, or they may trick them into depositing funds and then disappear with the money. They may also withhold the winnings until the target gives up on trying, or they may ban the player’s account to avoid releasing their payout.

To avoid being scammed by an illegitimate online gaming site, we recommend checking the registration status and license of the site you intend to open an account with. For example, to check whether a casino that interests you is licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), do the following:

  1. Go to the home page of the site whose license you want to verify and look for License at the footer
  2. Copy the license number if available
  3. Open a new tab on your browser, type the name of the license, and press Enter
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and look for the Search for Licenses/Permits/Authorizations/Registrations tab
  5. Click Search
  6. Paste the license number in the License field
  7. Click Search
  8. If the status is Inactive or the record is unavailable, then the site is unregistered, and you should avoid it

Deceptive Campaigns That Promise Free Money

Deceptive campaigns are a real risk in online betting sites, so you should be cautious when a site promises unrealistic profits way above what the competition offers.

The telltale signs you’re about to be scammed include:

  • The casino promising that gambling will solve your financial problems—gaming can be healthy if done responsibly, but you should never consider it a source of income
  • The casino promising “guaranteed” profits or wins
  • Reputable reviewers flagging the site and its campaigns
  • Other players complaining that the site doesn’t release winnings

Identity Theft and Personal Data Exposure

Online casino play exposes you to potential personal data exposure and identity theft. When opening an account, most gambling sites require you to do the following:

  1. Enter your email address and phone number
  2. Provide proof of identity
  3. Provide your age or date of birth
  4. Enter your credit card details
  5. Provide your home address

There’s always a possibility that hackers may infiltrate the gaming site and steal your data. Armed with that information, they can commit identity theft and financial fraud, putting you at risk.

To minimize such risk, we recommend registered and licensed sites that meet regulators’ data privacy and confidentiality requirements. Legitimate casinos use robust security measures to protect your identity and bank details

Addiction and Adverse Health Effects

Source: Chris Liverani

Addiction and the harmful health effects of gambling are serious concerns among Canadians. A recent scientific study reports that 2,710 out of every 10,199 Canadian gamblers—which is approximately 26.6%—are exposed to mental health hazards due to the lack of self-control when gaming.

Some of these harmful effects include: 

These risks increase when it comes to online gambling, thanks to its live games, 24/7 accessibility, convenient transactions, and extensive game variety. This is why reputable casinos emphasize responsible gambling.

Gambling won’t solve your financial problems, so stake only what you can afford to lose and avoid chasing losses (continuing to stake after losses in hopes of a big win and recovery).

Financial Consequences

Source: Towfiqu Barbhuiya

Compulsive online gambling comes with financial risks, one being bankruptcy. With web-based wagering, you don’t need to visit any physical casino. This may encourage you to gamble more since you won’t incur the typical costs of going to a physical venue, such as travel and eatery expenses. Spending more time online and staking more money than you should may motivate you to borrow funds to sustain your new hobby. That habit can sink you into debt and render you bankrupt.

Scientific studies also show that excessive gambling can lead to financial distress. For instance, a study conducted in Britain established that about 63% of gamblers in the country have debt due to irresponsible wagering. Interestingly, most gamblers never admit that compulsive gambling led them down the path of financial ruin.

To avoid getting into debt, we recommend setting responsible gambling limits and meeting all financial obligations before betting.

How Is Online Gambling Treated Regarding Player Security?

Due to the risks, online gaming remains illegal in most of Canada. However, provincial governments are allowed to register online betting sites within their jurisdictions.

Despite the lack of uniformity, internet gambling in Canada isn’t the Wild West but a well-regulated rodeo. The industry takes player safety seriously, and here’s how the Canadian government treats online gambling to improve player security.

Licensing and Regulation of Online Gambling Sites in Canada

Canadian provinces that permit online gaming require all operators to have a valid license provided by the relevant regulatory body. For example, all betting sites in Ontario must be registered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

Here are the gambling authorities in different Canadian provinces:

ProvinceRegulatory Authority
AlbertaAlberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC)
British ColumbiaBritish Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) 
Kahnawake Mohawk TerritoryKahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC)
ManitobaManitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL)
New BrunswickThe New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (NBLGC)
Newfoundland and LabradorAtlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)
OntarioOntario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG)
Prince Edward IslandPrince Edward Island Lotteries Commission
QuebecLoto-Quebec
SaskatchewanSaskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA)

These regulators are strict, and gaming sites must meet their requirements to access the market. As a result, you’re protected from fake sites and scammers who may try to steal your money or personal data.

Players can also join offshore betting sites licensed by reputable international regulators. Some well-known offshore authorities include:

Implementing Responsible Gambling Initiatives

Besides proving they’re trustworthy enough to earn a license, online casino operators must demonstrate their commitment to protecting consumers and ensuring fair gaming practices. Some of the responsible gambling initiatives online casinos must fulfill to continue operating in Canada are:

  • Limited advertising and promotion of gambling
  • Limiting the amounts consumers can stake 
  • Transparency in operations
  • Introducing self-exclusion programs 

These measures aim to help individuals control their gambling habits, reducing the risk of addiction and bankruptcy.

How Safe Is Online Gambling?

Source: Towfiqu Barbhuiya

Online gambling is safe in Canada, thanks to the strict legal conditions casinos must meet to get licensed to operate in the provinces.

Regulated operators must implement adequate security measures to protect their customers’ data and finances. Here are five ways these platforms protect you:

  1. Using encryption protocols 
  2. Ensuring privacy and data protection 
  3. Encouraging responsible gambling
  4. Ensuring fairness and randomness
  5. Offering customer support

Using Encryption Protocols

Encryption protocols are a crucial security tool licensed internet wagering sites use to protect your identity and data. The casinos employ cloud service providers that convert your data into a code comprising random characters that third parties can’t understand in case they steal the data.

These protocols convert your credit card details into random letters and numbers and scramble the new characters, ensuring unauthorized parties won’t make any meaning of the data.

Ensuring Privacy and Data Protection

Improved privacy is one of the striking features of online gaming. Since you don’t visit any physical outlets, you won’t meet prying neighbours or friends.

Registered online casinos take steps to ensure your privacy is protected. They won’t share your data with unauthorized third parties, so you get maximum confidentiality.

When opening a new online gambling account, read the terms and conditions to be aware of the organizations to whom the casino may provide your data—such as regulators and independent casino auditors. If what you find makes you uncomfortable, consider a different casino.

Encouraging Responsible Gambling

Legitimate operators encourage responsible wagering by issuing disclaimers on their sites and limiting the maximum amounts you can stake on different games. We encourage you to observe such disclaimers to minimize your losses.

Safe venues also include player verification as a mandatory step to ensure only individuals above 19 years old place wagers on their sites. Some of the details you must provide are:

  • Your date of birth
  • Name and address
  • A copy of a valid government-issued ID

This not only protects minors from fraudsters but also guarantees the people you interact with on any site’s community page are real and can be traced if they commit fraud on the platform.

Fairness and Randomness

Reputable online casinos use random number generators (RNGs) that have been rigorously tested by third parties and regulators to ensure the outcomes of all games are unpredictable and free from manipulation.

Since the casinos we recommend are registered by respected authorities, you can rest assured their games aren’t rigged, and each player has an equal chance of winning.

Offering Customer Support

Customer support and dispute resolution are crucial safety measures legit online casinos take to protect you and address your concerns.

Here’s how customer support promotes safe online gambling:

  • Addressing inquiries related to your account security—For instance, they can lock your account if you inform them you lost your logins or suspect hackers stole your details
  • Activating self-exclusion programs—If you want to take a break from gambling, you can inform customer support to deactivate your account for a specified duration
  • Sending notifications when someone attempts to change your logins—Customer support may send you emails and text messages to verify if you requested a new password, making it difficult for third parties to access your account and lock you out
  • Notifying users when there are data breaches—Customer support also sends notifications if unauthorized individuals access your data or credit card details

Although licensed online casinos protect their customers, you must take the necessary measures to secure your account—here are a few things you can do:

  • Use a strong and unique password—Ensure the password has a mix of lower and uppercase letters and special characters like #, @, or *
  • Use two-factor authentication—That means each time you log in, you must provide both your password and a one-time password the operator will send to your phone
  • Use secure payment methods—Always ensure your payment gateway is registered and reputable
  • Ensure regular software updates—If using an app, install updates as frequently as possible. Updates fix bugs, including weaknesses that may compromise your security when using a casino’s app

Explore These Legitimate and Secure Casinos

If you’re ready to get the thrill of online gaming, here are ten reliable and reputable casinos worth checking out:

CasinoLicense NumberIssuerGateway
PokerStars CasinoOPIG1232716AGCOClick here to register
NorthStar BetsOPIG1226485AGCOClick here to register
PlayOJOMGA/CRP/171/2009MGAClick here to register
BetwayMGA/CL1/302/2006MGAClick here to register
High Flyer CasinoOPIG1241860AGCOClick here to register
SpinzMGA/B2C/599/2018MGAClick here to register
Lucky DaysOPIG1242643AGCOClick here to register
WheelzMGA/B2C/599/2018MGAClick here to register
Zodiac CasinoOPIG1246863AGCOClick here to register
Jackpot CityOPIG1236392AGCOClick here to register

Aside from the listed issuers, these casinos are regulated by additional authorities, solidifying their credibility. For safe play, choose one of the listed casinos and be aware of the dangers of online gaming to bet responsibly. 

Featured image source: Amit Lahav

Tuomas Laine

Navigating offers and finding the best, Tuomas is our dedicated Casino Bonus Hunter

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