UNITED STATES—Millions of people now play casino games online. It’s an industry that has grown massively over the past few years. Sadly, this does also mean that more and more of us are in danger of falling foul of online tricks and traps: online gaming carries plenty of risks. Spending money online by any method is always going to carry some risk; however, casino games offer a slightly different angle on things.

So, how do you stay safe playing casino games online? Is it best to stick to Vegas and real-life tables and slots? Not always. What’s more, online gaming is getting safer. Online casinos are taking huge strides to make sure that players receive protection when gaming. It’s actually easier than you think to spot a reputable casino online, however, it is also very easy to fall into a series of traps. Here are a few methods you can use to protect yourself.

Check a casino’s security standards

As standard, an online casino should offer up-to-date security standards. You should be able to check all of this before you spend any money or even register to play. Sites and casinos that are proud of their credentials will highlight this fact on their main pages. What’s more, you will be able to spot a secure site based on whether or not it has a recent security certificate.

A quick way to check security credentials is to click the ‘padlock’ symbol on Google Chrome – which appears to the left of a web address. This will give you full information on the security rating of a website. Also, reputable casinos will use HTTPS instead of HTTP in their web addresses. HTTPS is a secure protocol, which means that any data shared between you and the site receives full encryption. All of the casinos listed here, for example, will offer top security standards by default.

Be careful with payment methods

Many people use credit cards to fund playing games online. At reputable sites and casinos, there is little harm in using your credit card to pay for games; however, you may wish to use a wallet or payment system that’s secure by design. Many sites and casinos use PayPal and Neteller, for example, which are e-wallets.

They will let you pay with digital funds – you don’t have to connect them directly to a bank unless you want to. What’s more, services such as PayPal offer a certain amount of protection, which means in the event of fraud, you may have more of a safety net than you might with your bank. That, of course, will vary.

Read reviews and trusted opinions

It’s never a good idea to sign up for an online casino without doing some research. You should at least take a close look at what leading experts have to say about how a site performs. There are plenty of reviewers and commentators out there who look at big casinos and even smaller platforms to give you the full lowdown on what to expect. The last thing you are going to want to do is end up risking money by taking a blind leap of faith.

Check regulation

All online casinos should have some form of regulation in place. This means that there should be an overall body or organization which holds a casino accountable. These regulators can vary across the US, but various authorities based in Gibraltar, Malta and the UK help to ensure games are fair, secure and above board.

Once again, regulation is something that good casinos are proud to shout about. You’ll likely find regulator banners and badges on the main pages of most reputable casinos and sites. Therefore, it shouldn’t take you too long to decide whether or not a casino is going to offer you a fair, safe experience or not.

Check privacy policies

Reading terms and conditions is one thing but reading privacy policies is another matter entirely. Many of us may be sick of reading privacy notices and cookie warnings, but it’s very important you understand how a casino is going to use your data. A regulated casino should safeguard the information you share and any payment details you process. If not, you could be at risk of fraud. Tread carefully

Don’t shy away

Many people shy away from online casino games for fear of fraudulent activity but playing games online really hasn’t ever been safer. With more of us than ever playing casino and slot games online, there has been a huge push to tighten up privacy and gaming safety. Therefore, take your time to look through safety notices and don’t be afraid to play a few games.