In a move to protect online players and help them get the best out of Internet gambling entertainment, the UK Gambling Commission has published a useful beginner's guide at http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/UploadDocs/publications/Document/Online%20Gambling.pdf.
The guide sets out the things consumers should look for when gambling online or considering whether to gamble online. "It is sometimes difficult to know who you are gambling with when online, as operators can offer various products on their website and these may not be regulated by us. Gambling websites will offer different levels of protection and consumers should satisfy themselves that they are content to gamble on a particular website before doing so," a Gambling Commission spokesman said.
Among the topics covered are:
* Who am I gambling with? A recommendation to use properly regulated operators, and to check whether the gambling website is regulated and by who.
* Look for clear contact details for the company. The value of upfront details of the operating company and where it is licenced.
* Check where different gambling products are regulated. The importance of understanding that some operators may have multiple jurisdictions and why, and how to check this.
* Be aware of the complaints procedure. There should be clear information about how to make a complaint against the operator and how it will be dealt with, and what further steps are open.
* Comments from other consumers in forums. The valkue of researching before playing. But be aware that some sites are paid to deliver a favourable opinion of the operator.
* What am I signing up to? The importance of reading and understanding the often complex T&Cs governing the behaviour of both player and operator.
* Check if you will get your funds back if the company becomes insolvent.
* Will the company ensure your personal details are safe? Privacy policies and data protection measures are important.
* Are there measures in place to help you gamble responsibly? Various online measures that responsible operators take to guard against problem or underage gambling.
* How do I know the game is fair? Check that the game rules are clearly explained. Does the software and game meet minimum technical requirements laid down by the licensing jurisdiction?
The Gambling Commission comments in the advisory that it is the player's responsibility to satisfy him/herself that he/she understands the conditions and is happy to deposit money.
"You should exercise the same caution when gambling online as you would when purchasing any goods or services via the Internet," it advises. "If you are uncertain about any aspect of online gambling then you should think seriously about whether to go ahead."