If you’ve spent any time at all researching gambling on the internet, you’ve noticed that there’s a seemingly endless number of websites offering gambling information.
You’ve probably also noticed that most of them offer aggressive, colorful advertising for online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks.
What should you expect from a gambling information site? What makes one gambling info website better than another? How do you know whether you can trust a site’s recommendations or reviews?
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that real money online gambling webmasters have a lot of incentive to refer players to certain gambling companies.
This post offers some things to look for when you’re deciding whether a gambling information site is legitimate or not. Not every site will feature all of these aspects, and just because a site is missing something on this list doesn’t mean it’s not reputable.
Use this as a rough guide for comparing one portal to another.
1 – A Robust About Page
I have a friend who used to edit a couple of volunteer-staffed website directories. Before search engines became so robust, humans had to list websites in various categories, and users would surf through those categories to find information.
Yahoo got its start as a directory. One of the directories where my friend worked refused to list any site that didn’t include two ways to contact the site owner.
Anyone operating a website offering information to gamblers should publish a page that gives you at least a general idea of who runs the website and what the site’s goals are.
2 – How-To Pages
“How-to” pages include guides on how to play the games the information site is about. For example, if you’re visiting a site that purports to offer blackjack information, it should have a prominent page about how to play blackjack.
It should also include pages about how to play blackjack variations of the game, like Spanish 21 or Super Fun 21.
Some sites specialize in casino games of all kinds. In that case, you should be able to find a page about how to play any of the major casino games like blackjack, craps, roulette, slot machines, and video poker.
These sites should also offer how-to information around strategy, odds, and tactics. The idea behind a gambling information site should be to aid the customer in getting the most for his money.
You can’t do that if you don’t explain the details behind the games’ odds and the best strategies for trying to win. All of the above also applies to sites focused on poker and sports betting, too.
3 – Updates on the Site’s Content
Some websites are intentionally designed to be static sites. They publish information that’s meant to be evergreen, and their pages are never updated.
I think you should expect more from a gambling information site than that. You should have an idea of how often a site gets updated.
Most legitimate sites have a blog section somewhere on the site. Or they’ll have a page devoted to updates where they’ll explain which pages they’ve updated and what they’ve done to them.
Imagine a site that offers reviews of online casinos, for example. Suppose that this site never updates its content. How do you know that the reviews of the casinos are still valid?
Gambling companies change hands all the time. Even blackjack strategy changes over time to account for changes in game conditions.
4 – Questions and Answers Section
Anyone reading a website is looking for answers to their questions. I think any page worth reading, especially a static page that purports to be a comprehensive look at a subject, should have a question-and-answer section.
Honestly, this is the easiest way for an online gambling webmaster to get ideas for content to update their site with. If you spend a little time in some gambling forums or just searching a major search engine, you’ll find lists of questions on specific subjects.
Not every site should be penalized with your disdain if it doesn’t include questions and answers, but if you’re trying to decide between a site that has a frequently asked questions page and one that doesn’t, go with the site that does, all other things being equal, anyway.
5 – Recommendations on Games or Casinos
You’ll have no problem finding a gambling information site that offers recommended places to spend your money. You’ll occasionally find a webmaster who’s so sold on a specific property that he only promotes it and nothing else.
But a webmaster should participate in the web. And it’s called a web because it’s a web of links.
What I’m getting at is that webmasters should link to other useful resources, not just to the businesses they’re taking advertising dollars from. It’s usually easy to spot the difference in these kinds of recommendations, too.
That’s a bummer, but that’s the nature of the business. Since most search engines recommend sites in part by how much link popularity they have, aggressive marketers in some industries will be stingy when linking to other resources.
I don’t believe surfers should reward that kind of behavior on the part of a webmaster when they realize that’s what’s happening. You might feel differently.
6 – Trustworthy Reviews
Every gambling information site I’ve ever visited offered at least one review of an online casino, an internet cardroom, or an offshore sportsbook. Some sites consist of nothing but reviews of these sites.
The problem with most of these sites is that they’re not offering real reviews. These so-called reviews are just thinly-disguised advertisement pages. They’re sales letters, not reviews.
How can you tell the difference? For the most part, you should assume that any review of an online casino is biased toward that casino. That’s the nature of the internet today. The question is HOW biased the review is.
Does the review use a lot of marketing language to describe the casino and its games? If it does, then it’s just an advertising piece, and you should move on.
On the other hand, sites that list the various pros and cons of a site has more integrity. If the negatives on a casino seem serious, then you might be reading one of the most legitimate reviews on the internet.
If you can find an online casino review that uses the first person singular instead of the royal “we,” you might have found a real person with a real opinion writing about a property.
But once a review starts saying stuff like, “We thought the bonuses were amazing,” you’re starting to slip into advertising territory. These are all just rough guidelines to think about.
There’s no perfect way to differentiate legitimate online casino reviews from pure advertising.
7 – Search Box
The best information sites have a means of finding information you want on a site. Often, this is a search box where you can type in a phrase and find the appropriate pages on the site covering that topic.
A good website has a good, simple, useful navigation structure, but a site map provides a broader overview of a website’s pages than the navigation usually does.
When it comes to gambling information websites, buyer beware.
Of course, most of these sites don’t offer anything for sale directly from their sites other than advertising. They’re not selling the advertising to their readers, though, they’re selling that advertising to the casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks who want to sign up their users.
This tends to color the editorial policy for such sites. The degree to which this happens depends on the integrity of the operator of the information site. I’ve met webmasters in the industry who cared about nothing but getting the most money from the highest bidder.
I’ve also met webmasters who refused to promote any site that didn’t live up to a strict code of ethics.
Use your own best judgment when deciding which gambling information sites to trust, but be aware of what to look for.