How to Stay Safe When Betting on Sports Online
Is online betting safe?
We get asked this question a lot, and we always give the same answer. Online betting IS safe, so long as you know how to avoid the risks involved.
There’s no denying that betting online for real money involves some level of risk. There are steps you can take to ensure your safety, though, and we’re going to explain all about them right here.
One of the most important steps you can take towards safely betting on sports online is to join a trusted betting site.
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You can read more about these safe sports betting sites and why we recommend them if you wish. If you’re in a hurry to place some wagers, rest assured that you can join any one of these sites right now and be assured of safe online betting experience.
Should you wish to learn more about the risks involved in online sports betting, and how you can avoid them, we suggest reading through the rest of this page.
Please note that there is ALWAYS going to be a risk of losing money on your wagers. That’s part and parcel of any form of gambling, and not what we’re discussing here. We’re talking about the risk of getting ripped off or cheated in some way, or even the risk of getting into legal trouble.
These risks, among others, are why people worry about the safety of online betting. But, although it’s not a bad thing to be wary of the risks involved, the fact is that there’s not actually much to worry about.
Very few people who bet online have to face any real safety issues, and there’s no reason why you should either. Avoiding the risks and protecting yourself is actually pretty easy.
Not convinced? Then this article is just what you need. We look at each of the most common safety concerns relating to online sports betting, and explain the steps you can take to ensure those concerns don’t become a reality.
Getting Ripped Off or Cheated
This is THE most common safety concern we hear about. Lots of people worry that online betting sites simply can’t be trusted, and we understand why. Over the years there have been several betting sites guilty of some or all of the following.
- Disappearing with customer funds
- Not honoring winning wagers
- Not paying withdrawals, or paying very late
- Offering unfair terms and conditions
The fact that these things have happened at all reflects badly on the online betting industry. It shouldn’t even be possible for sites to rip their customers off or to treat them unfairly.
Unfortunately it IS possible though, and we’re not even shocked that it happens. There are always going to be people in this world who try to scam or cheat others rather than make an honest living. And in some ways the internet has made it easier than ever to get away with it.
Sadly, it’s not really surprising that some people don’t like the idea of betting online for real money. They’re just not comfortable with the risk of being ripped off or cheated, and who can blame them? We live in a world where these kind of things happen all the time.
The good news is that the chances of being scammed by an online betting sites are actually pretty low.
People do get ripped off and cheated by online betting sites. We’d be lying if we said otherwise. That doesn’t mean that online betting is fundamentally unsafe though.
Actually, we would even go as far as to say that the opposite is true!
A key step towards staying safe when betting online is simply to avoid the shady sites and stick with the legitimate ones. Now, we say “simply,” but how do you do that? How do you know which sites can definitely be trusted?
This is easier than you might think, if you’re prepared to do a little research. Before you join a betting site or online sportsbook, you should look in to them and see if they meet the following criteria.
- Licensed and regulated by a reputable gambling authority
- Established history and proven track record
- Lack of negative reports and complaints (at least recent ones)
- Positive online comments from bettors and expert reviewers
The first item on the above list is especially important. Any site that’s not licensed and regulated should be avoided at all costs, as it’s not obliged to adhere to any kind of guidelines or fair practices. Even though that doesn’t mean for certain that it is a shady site, there’s no point taking the risk.
Licensed sites have to comply with the rules and regulations laid down by their licensor, so they’re typically going to be much safe to use.
Note that we said typically. Unfortunately, even a gambling license doesn’t 100% guarantee that a site is legit. Some licenses are so easy to get that they’re hardly even credible. That’s why you need to check where a license comes from, and how reputable the licensor is.
To learn more about the licensing and regulation of real money gambling sites, including online sportsbooks, please see the following page.
Having an established history is also a very good measure of legitimacy for betting sites. The shady ones don’t generally last too long, as they are constantly getting shut down for one reason or another. So if a site has been around for many years, it’s likely to be one you can trust. That’s not to say that newer sites definitely can’t, but they have more to prove.
If your research turns up a ton of negative reports and complaints about a site, then that’s obviously a red flag. It is worth nothing, though, that sites do change ownership and/or clean up their act. So if the complaints and bad reports are from years ago, and there’s nothing recent, that’s a positive sign.
Positive comments are, of course, also a positive sign. Especially when they come from people who are actively using a site. Genuine user reviews usually paint the most accurate picture. It’s similar with reviews from legitimate experts, too, but you do need to be a little wary of reviews.
We have our own review section here at GamblingSites.com. Our reviews ARE honest, and based on a combination of our own experiences and additional research. We write about the good and the bad, providing our readers with balanced views and the information they really need to know.
When a betting site does engage in unethical behavior, it’s very likely that the people affected will openly express their concerns for everyone to see. That’s why we recommend searching for negative reports and complaints. Just do a Google search with the site name and “scam,” “complaint,” or something similar. If there’s anything bad you should know, you’ll probably find it. If you don’t find anything, then that’s a good sign.
Please note that none of the individual criteria we’ve discussed here GUARANTEES that a site is a trustworthy. If you put them all together you can be pretty confident that a site is legit, but you still need to proceed with caution if you want to protect yourself. We advise testing a site out with small deposits until you’re absolutely certain they can be trusted.
Of course, we realize that most people who bet online, or want to, would prefer to just sign up with a site and start placing their wagers right away. Researching various different sites and testing them out is just too much hassle. They still want to stay safe though. That’s why we provide rankings of the top betting sites, making sure that ALL of our recommendations are legitimate, trustworthy, and safe.
Our rankings cover various different categories. For all the details, please visit our page on the best online sports betting sites.
Breaking the Law
Why would anyone be worried about breaking the law when betting online? Anyone who lives in a country where online betting is fully legalized or regulated may be wondering this. Unfortunately, in other countries around the world, there are people who completely understand why breaking the law is in question.
These people genuinely don’t know whether it’s legal for them to place wagers online, because the online betting laws in their countries are either outdated, confusing or both. It’s simply not clear what’s legal and what’s not, so people naturally worry that placing an online bet MIGHT be breaking the law.
Now, we’re not lawyers. We HAVE studied the laws relating to online gambling extensively though, and we’ve come to two very clear conclusions. The first is that most online gambling legislation is aimed at those who provide online gambling services and operate gambling sites. The second is that there are no laws that explicitly make it illegal for an individual to place a sports wager online.
Well, in our opinion it means that there’s very little risk of getting into legal trouble for betting online. We can’t say for certain that you’re 100% safe from breaking the law, but we really don’t think this is an issue.
It’s important that you stay away from betting sites that might be operating illegally though. The people operating an illegal site are far more likely to face prosecution than the customers, but why risk it? Even if you don’t get arrested (and you probably won’t), guess what happens when an illegal betting site gets busted? All their assets get seized, which means you’ll probably lose any funds you have at the site.
There are plenty of betting sites that operate legally within the jurisdictions where they’re based. This includes ALL the sites that we recommend. Stick with these and you should never have to worry about any legal issues.
Personal Details Being Sold or Stolen
These are two separate risks really. The risk of your personal details being sold is easily avoided, as you just need to use one of our recommended betting sites. These are legit sites that simply don’t engage in this kind of behavior. They won’t sell your email address to other companies that will spam you to death. Nor will they sell your banking information to fraudsters.
Using reputable and trustworthy sites will also reduce the chances of your personal details being stolen. These sites use the latest security and encryption technology to ensure that your data is as safe as it can be. There’s still SOME risk unfortunately, as even the most reputable companies in the world are ultimately susceptible to hackers. Just ask Microsoft, Sony or Amazon. These companies have all been hacked and had customer details stolen.
Realistically, there’s only a tiny chance that your personal information will ever be stolen from an online betting site. Tiny enough that it’s not even worth worrying about it. What’s more likely is that the information will be stolen from YOU when you’re accessing and using betting sites.
Here are some security tips that will help you to keep your details safe, and also prevent unauthorized access to your betting accounts. We strongly recommend you follow them.
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware software on all your devices, and KEEP IT UPDATED.
- Use strong passwords. Ideally with a combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers and other symbols.
- Use different passwords at different sites.
- Don’t give your usernames or passwords to ANYONE.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Use unusual security questions/answers.
- Don’t send banking information via email, live chat or Skype. Only enter it directly at a betting site, where everything will be encrypted and protected.
This is a different type of risk to the others discussed so far. It’s a very real risk though, and one you should definitely be aware of. A small percentage of people do get addicted to online betting, or at least experience some form of problem gambling. If you want to stay safe from these dangers, it’s VITAL that you gamble responsibly.
Your first step should be to set a budget based on how much you’re prepared to deposit online. This should ideally be a weekly budget or a monthly budget. It should be money that you can afford to lose, and that isn’t needed for anything more important.
You then need to be very strict about sticking to your budget. Don’t justify overspending by saying “just this once” or “I’ll win it back.” That’s how problem gambling starts, and things can soon get out of control. Don’t ever borrow money to bet with either. If you don’t have the money yourself, then you shouldn’t be betting. It’s that simple.
Be aware that most online betting sites allow you to set your own deposit limits. Please take advantage of this if you think overspending is going to be something you struggle with. It’s an extra layer of protection that you might be thankful for later.
We also recommend learning about bankroll management and staking plans. This will help you stay in control, and it can even improve your overall chances of winning money.
Please note that it’s best to avoid gambling all together if you have an addictive personality. You might be able to stay in control, but you might not. It’s just not worth the risk.
There’s no real reason why online betting shouldn’t be a completely safe experience. There are some risks involved for sure, but most of these risks could easily be avoided. You just need to take a few simple precautions.
If you only remember one thing from this article, let it be this; which sites you choose to use CAN and WILL make a difference. By sticking to legitimate and legal sites that can be trusted, you’ll be able to eliminate many of the common safety concerns. If you also gamble responsibly, and take some security measures to protect yourself, you WILL be safe.
Then you can concentrate on having fun and trying to win some money, which is EXACTLY what online sports betting is all about.