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What Web Businesses Can Learn From Online Gambling

Abstract: learn how to gain visitors' trust by studying how online casino websites have overcome enormous obstacles to building trust among site visitors. Online gambling is one of the fastest growing segments of ecommerce in the US, an especially impressive feat since it is illegal in the US. Due to their illegal status, gambling sites face high hurdles in the advertising and promotion arena as well, since most US-based online media companies, most notably Google and Yahoo, refuse to advertise them. You might think that online gambling websites would face an insurmountable obstacle in gaining users' trust, as well. Trust has long been an issue in ecommerce, historically plagued by credit card billings and websites that disappear just before the orders were to be shipped–and a constant mainstream media drumbeat of the dangers of online transactions. Building trust has long been a chief concern of businesses selling over the web.

The trust issue is only compounded for the online gambling industry when it comes to serving US customers. Would you trust a website with your money if it were located overseas, and you had little legal recourse whatsoever to get your money back if you were dissatisfied–and if the "product" itself were essentially intangible, anyway? To top it off, what if the purchase itself was illegal? This is precisely the challenge that online casinos meet every day, with the estimated 60 percent of their industry's customers who come from the USA. Casino websites owned and operated entirely outside the borders of the US are free to accept US customers. But gambling online with real money is illegal in the US under federal law, specifically the Federal Wire Wager Act, not to mention a host of state laws. How Do Online Gambling Websites Gain Visitors' Trust? * Trust symbols: gambling websites' businesses, being located outside the US, are not eligible for most US-based business certification programs such as the Better Business Bureau or Square Trade.

So, they created their own trust seal: ECOGRA, E-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance. Online gambling sites are also wont to make a prominent display of their secure connection certificates, from organizations such as Thawte. * Assurances: users' concerns about reliability are not just answered implicitly with fancy seals or confident language. One of the most successful online gambling websites contains this prominent declaration on its homepage: "We are licensed and regulated by the Government of Gibraltar, and our games are tested by iTech Labs, an independent tester of gaming and wagering devices to ensure that the games are fair and operate correctly." * Transparency: while it is often hard to tell just who is behind most ecommerce sites, successful online gambling sites are models of transparency: the location of the company owning the casino is always prominently displayed, and assurances of honesty are backed up with independent audits of the technology used. * High-quality design: successful gambling websites always look great, no matter how small the business behind them. Plain old HTML may be enough to convince people to post their room rentals on Craigslist, but it doesn't seem enough to make web users fork over their credit card digits to an online casino. * Low barrier to entry: gambling websites generally either have a free option or require only a small upfront payment. * Highly optimized designs. It's usually only a single click, if even that, from the homepage to the virtual betting tables.

When you can get straight to doing what you want to do, there is not a lot of time to start nursing doubts. In short, if you take your online business's trustworthiness for granted, you may be missing out on potential customers who need additional assurances. Take a lesson from websites that can't trust their trustworthiness to be taken for granted: make sure visitors to your site feel comfortable opening up their wallets.


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