Online gambling shouldn’t be a risk – provided you know who you’re dealing with and have done your research, then you probably won’t have any problems playing online, except for a run of bad luck. The danger arises when you’re dealing with an unknown quantity, a less well-known name perhaps, and you have to decide if you want to join them when your eye catches sight of something interesting. This casino is offering you a massive bonus if you sign up with them now and you can withdraw it after depositing just £10? That deal sounds incredible! Which, for most people, you will immediately set alarm bells ringing. Yes, while there are a fair few sites who can offer you a fantastic and legitimate casino bonus when you sign up, there are more than a few who are just trying to get a hand into your wallet. Here are four things you can keep an eye out for to try and minimise the risk when joining a new site.

1. Is the bonus realistic?

In theory, this should be easy, you just let your inner cynic guide you, and if something looks like it’ll give you a massive stack of cash for simply signing up and depositing just a few pounds then you know that it’s not legitimate. While this is definitely the safe way to play it, there’s also a chance that what you’ve found is a genuinely good bonus so you shouldn’t just dismiss it out of hand. Take a look at what exactly it is that’s being offered and make sure you’ve read the entire proposal carefully. This is especially true if you see it in a reduced size banner ad where they can’t include all the details, so making sure that the offer is as advertised and is realistic are good first steps. If a casino is offering you a million pounds to play with if you deposit a hundred, it’s reasonable to be suspicious.

2. Check the Terms and Conditions

This is one of the killers when it comes to these types of bonuses – a deposit bonus might look very generous and appear to be completely legitimate, but a closer look at the fine print might reveal that it’s anything but. It’s generally accepted that offers like this will have some form of catch, the cash isn’t free after all, you may need to stake the whole amount or more of the free cash in order to withdraw anything at all. And the conditions for some of these can be downright punitive. They might require you to wager 100 times the amount of the bonus or that you bet a large number of times before you can withdraw anything: their goal being to whittle down the funds you have so that any profit you do make will be paltry. Some of the less ethical casinos might even confiscate any winnings you attempt to withdraw even after you’ve gambled and lost the bonus and initial deposit completely with just a small sentence in the small print of the Ts&Cs to warn you this is happening.

3. Check the reviews

It might seem simple but checking a few reviews of your chosen casino will probably give you a decent idea what you’re dealing with. Even a small-time casino will have a long review list that tells you all about the ups and downs, as long as you can filter through the list to see who’s worth listening to, then you can feel secure that you’re making the right choice with who you sign up to play with. There are a number of websites that offer comprehensive reviews and feature multiple users’ input, and reading through some of these in order to form a well-rounded picture could be well worth your time to make sure your own analysis of the facts is correct.

4. Are they licensed?

This is the big one and the most important thing to check regardless of any bonuses when you’re looking for a new online casino. Most countries, where online casinos are legal, will have strict requirements that casino operators must adhere to, in order to receive a license to operate which ensures they will be fair to their customers. These licenses prohibit most unethical uses of casino bonuses and guarantee you some measure of certainty that the bonus is legitimate. In addition, the security systems they use when it comes to transferring your money will be another way to check if the casino (and by extension the bonus) is a legitimate offering or not. Most of the reliable online casinos will use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates to prove that they’re going to keep your information secure and guarantees that they won’t offer a fake bonus and run off with your cash.

Provided you follow these guidelines and keep your wits about you,  you’ll hopefully avoid falling for a rogue casino looking to steal your cash!