Online gaming is a massive industry. Statista estimates that the value of the global media and entertainment market will reach $2.2 trillion by 2021. Gaming comprises an ever-increasing component of this, particularly in the US and Canada, and across Asia-Pacific. The fastest growing component of the global media and entertainment market is online gaming – PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices – with a combination of demo-play games and real-money gaming. MMO games are particularly popular, given their multiplayer functionality and fully immersive gameplay. All the metrics point in the same direction: the popularity of the online gaming industry is on the rise, with mobile gaming commanding an ever-increasing share of the market.

Internet connectivity facilitates the rapid growth and development of the gaming industry, but therein lie many challenges. Safety and security measures make up a bigger slice of the gaming budget than ever before. The pervasiveness of adware, malware, hackers, trojans, phishing and pharming scams is reason to be concerned. Online gaming aficionados typically don’t want to be bothered with 2 FA (2 factor authentication) protocols and restrictive measures which impede gaming efficacy, such as Tor (The Onion Router) and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), although these security protocols can safeguard online gaming activity to a large degree. Our security experts have scoured the literature in search of the top 10 tips for safer online gaming – here they are.

#10 – Picking a Reputable Online Gaming Platform

The gaming universe is peppered with terabytes of data, sites, platforms, add-ons, apps, and online multimedia content. Safety is sacrosanct. For example, gaming apps provided through the App Store are inherently safer (owing to stricter vetting) than gaming apps provided through the Google Play Store. While players will not be deterred either way, it’s nice to know that the App Store has more stringent requirements of gaming software providers, in the interests of player safety and security.

#9 – Licensing and Regulation of Gaming Sites

The ‘globalization’ afforded to us through the Internet of things is a marvel to behold. However, companies offering real money games and demo-play games are also bound by the rules and regulations, frameworks and licensing authorities of their respective countries or jurisdictions. As a player entering sensitive personal information like name, address, and payment data, you want to be 100% sure that the site is above board. In the case of online casinos, and online poker rooms, look for stamps and badges from regulators. Notable gaming authorities include the MGA, GBGC, IRC, Government of Gibraltar, and the KGC (Kahnawake Gaming Commission). Be advised that safety and security is not assured simply because an online gaming platform is licensed with an authority. For example, the Costa Rica gaming authority is known for being lackadaisical, as is the Barbuda and Antigua authority.

#8 – Pick a Trusted Payments Provider

Sometimes the safety and security aspect of an online gaming site is impacted by the choice of payments provider that you use. Most of the reputable payment processing providers are household names. These include Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Skrill, NETELLER, POLi, Yandex, PayPal and the like. Stick to a payment provider that will protect you in the event that your information is sabotaged online. You certainly don’t want the money in your account disappearing if your information is hacked.

#7 – Never Open Unsolicited Emails from an Online Gaming Platform

This top-10 tip is an important one. It goes to the heart of responsible gaming conduct. Cookies, trackers, and other malicious code can determine which sites players navigate to during their gaming sessions. If such misconduct occurs, it is entirely possible that a scam email will be sent to your inbox, posing as the gaming site in question. Never click on links within email pages as this could expose your computer or mobile device to malware. Check to be sure that the email address matches who the email claims to be from. There are often discrepancies in this regard. In any event, avoid clicking on spammy email from gaming companies – simply relegate them to your spam folder/junk mail folder.

#6 – Never Store Your Username/Password Combination in Plain Sight

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people’s online casino accounts getting hacked because somebody – a friend or relative or stranger – had access to the username/password combination. If you’re using a password manager, more power to you. Be sure to protect your passwords on your browser with master passwords, and/or obfuscation software to prevent anyone with unauthorized access from getting into your account.

#5 – Play in Demo Mode before You Play for Real Money

Safety takes on many different meanings in the real world. It could mean that you are protecting your bankroll from reckless decision-making. If you are a relative novice to the real money gaming scene and you’ve never played a game of Texas Hold’em before, practice poker in demo mode before you play for real. This is safe gaming behaviour. The last thing you want is to go all in with a substantial stash of cash in your account, not even aware what to expect if your opponent hits their straps with a Runner Runner on the Turn and River, or whether a Full House trumps a Straight Flush.

#4 – Practice Responsible Gambling Behaviour 

Responsible gambling is a multipronged animal. All of this behaviour is geared towards your safety. What is responsible gambling? It’s a lot of things, including setting a budget and never detracting from it, never gambling with money you cannot afford to lose, never borrowing money to gamble with, and never chasing your losses. If you practice responsible gambling behaviour, you will be safe.

#3 – Use a VPN and/or Tor if You Must

A VPN is a virtual private network. VPNs are used to hide your computer’s true IP address and display the address of the server where the VPN network is connecting from. This means that nobody knows your true IP address and nobody can hack your computer (except the VPN service and/or their logs policy). The onion router a.k.a. Tor is like a system of relays that bounces your connection across multiple other computers ultimately connecting to your destination website. It is a browser. Unfortunately, both VPNs and Tor will slow down your Internet connectivity, and unless you have high-speed Internet to begin with, your gaming experience will likely be soured by use of these services. Nonetheless, you may wish to use them.

#2 – Consider Using Cryptocurrency from a Burner Email Address to Play Online Games

This one comes straight out of left field. If you don’t want to reveal your biographic information and financial information, sign up with a fictitious email address and use cryptocurrency at your preferred online gaming platform.  It requires a certain level of technical proficiency and understanding of blockchain technology, but with a little practice anyone can do it. Of course, not all online gaming platforms support Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, TRON, and others. 

#1 – Quit While You’re Ahead

This works well with online casino games, online poker games, and online bingo games. Too many people get ahead of themselves when they’re winning, thinking that the hot streak will never cool. In gambling, the golden rule is as follows: quit while you’re ahead. Even with skill-based games like blackjack and poker, variance will get you in the end. Rather live to play another day than lose it all and feel awful about yourself.

Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.