Playing at a real money casino isn't at all a no-brainer these days, especially when you're gambling from your Android smartphone app or browser. Gambling can be fun, but you should be sure that you're playing at a safe mobile casino, otherwise you run the risk of passing your credit card details to a scammer, or end up wasting time and money playing games on an inactive site! Unlike a real casino, a mobile casino does not have a system where you can personally meet the casino's manager and settle any money matters; this should, in no way, deter you from gambling at one though. To put your mind at ease, check out our top 10 things to do before using real money to play your mobile casino games.
1. Are the casinos' licences valid?
Who inserts a 2 quid in a dead coffee vending machine – where you know you'd get neither your hot cuppa or the coin back? Playing at a dead casino is not very different from this analogy.
Mobile casino licences are usually for a specified duration, during which associated regulatory bodies (like the UK Gambling Commission, or the LGA Malta) carry out periodic verification and assessment. It is highly probable that casinos' licences may expire over a period of time, and are not renewed; they also could get cancelled, terminated or suspended. In any case, one must verify the validity of casino's licences, and play only on active casinos.
2. Who powers the casino operators' games?
Once you determine that the casino operator's licence is valid and active, look at the bottom part of the their website. What do you see? If you spot logos for ‘Microgaming' or ‘Probability', you can be assured of a superior quality of the casino's games. Other reliable software providers are InTouch Games, Net Entertainment (NetEnt), AlchemyBet, Playtech, IGT, BetSoft, and Cozy Games (see our top 5 software providers list). Do not trust other software providers easily. Search our site for their names; read our game reviews of the casino (if any) before actually playing there.
3. Are the casino's games tested?
No? Chances are you might never benefit from a payout at all. Playing on such a casino is like making a crazy chess move that results in your own checkmate, even though you had other valid moves! Testing the randomness and fair play of a casino is a supremely important step in the casino's regulatory process. The mobile casino might be tested, audited and certified by independent labs like eCOGRA. UK mobile casinos must declare their payout percentage and / or include a report confirming the same. The payout percentage is usually in the range of 90 – 98% for mobile casinos – this means that mobile casinos should result in a payout of the same percentage, as an approximation over several trials of varying length. Intrigued? Read my article about the algorithm (RNG) that determines whether you win or lose on your spin.
4. What are the Deposit and Withdrawal options?
Okay, you now have an active and a fair mobile casino, but have you considered how you might actually interact with the casino, in terms of depositing money and withdrawing payouts?
On most casinos, these are listed at the bottom of the page with section names like ‘Banking‘ or ‘Deposit and Withdrawal‘. The basic deposit options are using debit cards and credit cards, and the basic withdrawal options are direct bank transfers or cheques. Mobile casinos offer advanced depositing options which involve third party accounts like PayPal and Skrill, and Ukash vouchers, among others. The best deposit option that a mobile casino could provide, however, is phone (SMS) billing. Here's a list of operators that offer the phone billing service. Let us remind you that people all over the world are minting money by playing at the right casino; so isn't it worth spending a couple of minutes to check if everything's okay at the place you're planning to play?
5. Are the casino's contact details real?
This one's a real cringe but trust me, you're likely to find yourself in a rut if the customer care details provided connect you to an impenetrable non-human system-generated message! If there's a phone number on the site, ring them and ask a general question about new member promotions. Some casinos put up a customer query form, or supply an e-mail id instead. You are no detective, but try to e-mail them with a generic question about sign-up or welcome bonus, and see if they respond. If you don't receive a response within the next 7 days, it is unlikely that you ever will! With such casinos, it's pointless to expect any kind of co-operation in case of real money disputes as well.
If you ever happen to go through real money disputes, or feel that you've been cheated, you could log a complaint with regulatory bodies like the UK Gambling Commission or the LGA Malta.
6. What are the Bonuses and Promotions?
After identifying a responsible and safe casino, you now have to determine if the mobile casino is a profitable place to play. Bonuses and Promotions vary between casinos, so it's a good idea to look at this parameter when you want to play a specific game released at two or more casinos. Check out our articles on ‘which Probability Casino offers you the best promotions‘, and ‘top 5 android slots that have great ‘refer a friend' bonus and other social promotions‘.
7. Are you playing on a secure connection?
Cliché as it might sound to you, when it comes to playing at mobile casinos, you may have to enter sensitive bank information, and / or passwords. It's best for you if your browser(s) and device transmit secure data over the internet. Players, hence, usually prefer using Ukash vouchers, or phone billing options, in order to rule out any banking fraud that can occur over an unsafe internet connection. There's also a general tendency to avoid playing on web browsers, and playing on the casino's native apps instead. If you're a real-life tech junkie though, or you work with an anti-spam / anti-virus company, this should be a piece of cake for you!
8. Should you deposit while registering, or after registering?
What do you do when you have to transfer £10,000 to your friend's account for the first time? You do a test transaction (usually less than 10% of your final amount), and verify whether your friend received the money. A similar principle applies to mobile casinos as well – you must ascertain the site's claims on bonus and promotions before throwing away big money for a lucrative first deposit match bonus. Just for the records, I never register on a new site and deposit straightaway. Instead, I tend to look out for the promised sign-up bonus; check any e-mails that mention my ‘registration successful' status; and then utilise the sign-up bonus to test few games on the site. Remember that no mobile casino expects you to deposit right away!
9. Have you played a demo game yet?
In my experience, I've come across mobile slot games which are hugely profitable over several spins on one hand, and on the other hand there are slots that require less initial investment but is a consistent payer. You wouldn't know until you play a test game. Answer these questions when you start to look at the casino's games:
- How much are you willing to spend on a spin?
- Do you like chasing huge progressive jackpots that some slots offer; or are you happier collecting regular payouts? If you're a low-risk person (like me), you'll go for the regular payout mode.
Utilise your sign-up bonuses to test these assumptions, or play free demo games on the site. Try various bet sizes and / or coin sizes; vary the number of paylines; and determine which games are good for you. It's pretty much like flipping television channels until you settle on the right channel for your mood!
10. What is the best depositing strategy for you?
There comes the big question: Should I deposit small, or should I deposit big?
Most casinos offer a deposit match bonus (up to 100% for first deposit, and varying percentages for subsequent deposits). Bear in mind that casinos frequently disallow a direct withdrawal of the match bonus – so technically, you're allowed to withdraw only the earnings from your actual spin. Ask yourself how much do you want to be playing at this casino? If you've played some demo games, you should know the answer to this.
- If you're going to stick around for a while, we recommend using the ‘maximum benefits strategy', wherein you deposit near the max eligible amount, and obtain an equal bulk of extra money to play with. This strategy works well if you're a jackpot-seeker or a long-term player because it allows you to optimise your gameplay for betting high, or for betting long enough.
- On the other hand, a ‘conservative strategy' can be used when you're not sure of playing at the casino for very long; so understandably, you don't want to invest unnecessarily. If you're on a tight budget; or you're a light player, we recommend a smaller first deposit to start with.
So there you go! Good luck on your spin. Let us know in the comments if these tips helped you.