Online poker is a huge industry, with an estimated 5.5 million real-money online players active at any given time, and a valuation of over $650 million in the United States alone. This is a big money business, which is why Pokerstars was recently valued at close to $5 billion and why so many other companies are trying to get in on the act. The men and women behind 888 Poker are reported to turn over close to $500 million a year, whilst the revenue for Party Poker is close to $100 million more than that. All aspects of this game are on the increase, and the big players are doing their best to snap it up piece by piece. Playtech, the company behind the iPoker network, snapped up a simple poker strategy website for $50 million in 2013, whilst the deal that allegedly handed the Cake Network over to the controversial Lock Poker was supposed to be even higher.
Despite all of this, and the fact that some of the safest securities around are employed on poker and gambling sites, there are still those that are cautious about giving their financial details to a poker site. This could be the result of a handful of scam sites, ones like the aforementioned Lock Poker that simply stopped paying players their winnings, but these are the exception, not the rule, and poker sites stand to make much more money playing by the rules than they do breaking them. That applies to the gambling industry on the whole, an industry that is worth billions and one that continues to climb.
Still, if you are concerned about using your credit card then there are some precautions you can take, and some things that you should know.
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Pay Attention to Hidden Fees
Many credit cards have extra fees for use overseas, and not all gambling sites will be located in the same country as you. In fact, even the ones that appear to be based in your country are probably based overseas, operating in a tax/gambling haven. As an example, “English” gambling site Stan James is actually based in Gibraltar, whilst “Swedish” gambling site Betsson is based in Malta.
The amount that you will be charged depends entirely on your credit card company and on their individual rules concerning this, but more often than not it is a set amount of a few dollars. Although not a great deal, it can be enough to double the cost of a minimum deposit, therefore making a credit card a poor choice for micro stake players.
As well as the credit card companies themselves, the poker websites may also charge for you using a credit card. Again, this can vary. Carbon Poker, for instance, charge 3%, whilst Betway don’t charge anything. A sign of a good and strong site is one that doesn’t charge a lot for this, as typically the website will do their best to cover these small costs in order to please their customers and to keep their accounts ticking over. If you encounter a percentage above 7% then you should avoid the website, this figure is extortionate and anyone who charges this much is hoping not only to cover their own costs, but also to make a few extra dollars on top of that.
Know your Rights
The good thing about a credit card, as opposed to a debit card, is that it is protected against fraudulent use. Not only can you reverse a payment if you ordered an item that wasn’t delivered, or paid for a service that wasn’t given, but if your credit card is used without your permission then you can claim your money back. Credit card fraud is not pleasant, but in the modern world we have to accept that it is common. In the United Kingdom alone it is estimated that over £500 million is lost to credit card fraud every year, a number that is increasing. The odds are that it will happen to you or to someone that you know at some point, but luckily there are systems in place to fix things when it does.
Credit card companies typically pay back any fraudulent losses straight away, without any fuss. This makes you nearly invulnerable when using your credit card, which in turn means that even if you’re not 100% sure about the legitimacy of a website, you can still afford to take the risk. That’s not to say that you should go around giving your credit card number to any website that asks, but it gives you a backup plan should the unthinkable happen.
Be Wary of Absence
A credit card is your friend in the online environment. With a credit card you can buy anything, you can gamble and you can play poker to your heart’s content. As we have mentioned in this article, there are also other benefits to a credit card, making it your secret weapon against the internet and internet scammers. If, therefore, a website refuses to accept credit cards and only accepts archaic payment methods such as checks and wire transfers, then you should be very cautious. Those methods offer no precaution for you whatsoever. If someone steals your money and has no intention of giving you anything in return, let alone paying you any winnings, then there is nothing you can do about it. As we discussed above, the same doesn’t apply to credit cards and those companies know that, so scammers are unlikely to accept credit cards as a payment option.
Of course, that’s not to say that all sites that only have those two options are scams, but unless you live in the United States (where restrictions have made it common to limit banking options) then we suggest that you stay away form such websites.
The Safest Gambling Destinations
The safest destinations are the ones connected to sports books. These are incredibly rich companies, much more so than the standard poker sites. Many of them have been in business for decades in one form or another, and from the moment they launched themselves online they all concentrated on making sure their payment software was 100% secure. This is a long list, but if you want to stick with those at the very top then head for SkyBet and Betway. The former is part of the colossal media empire that is BSKYB, whilst the latter proclaims itself to be the most popular bookmakers in the United Kingdom. Both also have very good poker rooms, not to mention the sports book and casinos.
Other websites worth considering include Irish giants Paddy Power, who add a bit of humor and quirkiness to everything that they do and also have a wealth of unique bets and casino games, and William Hill, who are one of the oldest bookmakers in Europe. Betsson, Ladbrokes and Victor Chandler also have a lot of swing in the gambling world, and although not everyone has heard of all of these companies, we can assure you that they are well established, having been in the industry for several decades, processing billions of dollars and working with customers all over the world.
Mansion Poker, who once sponsored Tottenham Hotspur’s shirts and also had a deal with Manchester City, are also a good choice. They use the iPoker network, but unlike some of the names previously mentioned they are dedicated 100% to poker, and therefore they tend to have better promotions and guaranteed tournaments. They also have a great loyalty point scheme, where dedicated players can earn everything from cash-back to tournament tickets and much more. Although their site is dedicated to poker, the people behind Mansion have many irons in the fire and as well as Mansion Casino, they also own the enviable domain Casino.com.