Is online betting safe? How to protect your information online

7 September 2020 | ,

Is online betting safe in South Africa?

The simple answer to this question is, yes. It is generally entirely safe to use your hard-earned money, and ensure you are betting safe online. There are a few key things to be conscious of and look out for, to properly answer this question. To better understand the meaning of safety as it concerns online betting, let us first look at physical security. What would tick this box in terms of controls implemented by online operators?

HTTP versus HTTPS, the first step to betting safe online

Probably the most important check is whether the online sports betting website is secured with HTTPS. This essentially means that the data or information communicated between your computer and the website is encrypted. This makes it far more difficult for hackers to intercept or access your valuable information. Consider things like passwords, banking details, your home address, credit card information and this quickly becomes very important. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) means that the sports betting website owner has had to acquire an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. Trusted certificate authorities take care of issuing these certificates. Most websites today, are available over HTTPS. Especially those that interact with information where there is a back-and-forth transfer of data between the visitor computer and the website.

There are a few ways to check for website security

  1. Does the website address include “HTTPS”? A quick indicator is to look at the website address. This is usually visible along the very top of the internet browser. Or you may have found a website through a search engine (like Google), which clearly displays the website address in search results.
  2. Does your internet browser display a padlock? Most modern internet browsers (like Google Chrome) would then also display a padlock symbol. This indicates that the website is secure and that the certificate itself is, in fact valid.
  3. Don’t see any certificate errors? If there is a fault with the certificate, the browser would normally display some sort of error indicating this. To see what the problem is, one could click on the error to understand more. In most cases, the problem may simply be that the website owner forgot to renew the certificate on expiry. It is similar in concept as an insurance policy, which someone forgot to renew. Reporting such faults to the website’s customer service team will likely have it resolved within a day.

Have you answered yes to all or at least questions 1 and 3, or 2 and 3? Then the sports betting website is secure and you can safely continue.

Sports betting license

Next, we will take a quick look at licensing. There are probably several thousands of online sports betting websites globally. But not all operators have a South African betting license. Many online betting operators will go as far as restricting access to their website from jurisdictions where betting online is outright illegal. That or they are not licensed to offer their services.

It is therefore no indicator that simply because a website is available in South Africa, it is also licensed. Gambling and sports betting licensing in South Africa is controlled on a provincial level. Each province having its own gambling board. For a bookmaker to offer its services, they have to hold a valid and current license with such an authority. A reference to a sports betting license is usually clearly displayed on the betting operator website. It appears at or near the bottom of the home page. More extensive information on licensing and government bodies can be found on our betting law page. Feel free to have a browse and broaden your knowledge.

Available payment methods

Nowadays, there are several ways to fund your online sports betting account and be on your way to betting safe. Depending on your personal preference, some of these methods offer more security than others. Vouchers are a very common purchase method. But as it requires planning, may be less convenient. Vouchers are generally available at supermarket chains. Some, for online purchase also, you can buy while shopping for groceries. In this sense, it also promotes responsible gambling by allowing you to plan your spend and to achieve increased control. Read more on the different payment methods accepted by online betting operators on our payment methods page.

Reputation

This may well go a long way, to help you make up your mind. But be wary. The popular saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind. A fancy and modern website design does not necessarily point to a safe environment. Likewise, an old and dated design does not indicate the contrary. A website’s look and feel, is generally more of an indicator of the potential audience the operator is trying to appeal to. We have seen some pretty rough looking websites, that still tick all the other boxes along the lines of safety.

Instead, think of physical presence or sports betting sponsorships. Although this is not an indicator that can be used in isolation, it is for the most part a good one. Having physical betting shops create somewhat of an advantage for bookmakers in terms of licensing for online operation. The latter being an extension of the overall business. Likewise, sports betting sponsorships create a positive reputation. And operators have to comply with many conditions before the sponsorship takes effect. All being part of a vetting process to ensure good business relationships. See here a short list of bookmakers with land based betting shops.

 
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See here some of the international football sponsorships Betway have entered into.

How can I be sure I will get my winnings?

By using a combination of the indicators listed above. You have already made the best starting point to ensure your winnings will be paid by the sports betting operator. There is simply no guarantee that unlicensed operators will honor payment of legitimate winnings. Plus, you will have no avenues to launch complaints, should this be the case.

This sums up safety in online sports betting in a nutshell. We hope that this information serves you well. Remember that you can in most cases contact a betting operator’s support team in case you have any questions. If in doubt, do so before registering an account with them.

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