Online Casino Guide - Test and Comparison of the Best Casinos
Are you new to online gambling? Maybe you're an experienced player? Either way, use our guide to safely navigate through the world of iGaming. We'll present you with everything you need to know about what makes a great casino, and more importantly, where to find it. Let us start by showing you the top 5 online casinos.
Checklist – What Makes a Good Casino
So how do you go about finding a good casino? Well there are certain criteria you should look for, which will help you separate the good from the bad. This is a really good starting point if you are new to online gambling. But we're sure that those of you who have played online before will also find this useful. Here are the key criteria you should use:
- Legality and Trustworthiness – The operator must have a valid operating licence, as well as a stellar reputation.
- Game Selection – Is there plenty of choice? How about the quality of the games?
- Deposits and withdrawals – What payment methods are available and are there any fees?
- Customer Support – What options are available? Is the customer support easily accessible? What are the response times?
- Betting and Winning Limits – How much can you bet, how much can you win, and what else is important to take into consideration?
In the following paragraphs, we will delve into each of these criteria, to give you a more detailed understanding of what matters when comparing operators.
Legality and Reliability – Safety Comes First
Your safety is the number 1 priority when playing online. But how can you be sure that an operator is reliable and trustworthy? It's simple - check they hold a valid licence. This is the only way to ensure that you and your money will remain safe and secure, and that you will not fall victim to scams.
1. Check the Casino FooterAt the bottom of the casino website, check for the logo of the UKGC. The licence number should also be listed here.
2. Check on the UKGC websiteTo verify the licence is genuine, and to find full details of any licences issued to an operator, visit the official website of the UKGC. You can either search for the name of the operator, or the licence number which is listed in the footer of the casino website.
- Victoria Square House
- Victoria Square
- B2 4BP
- Phone: +44 121 230 6666
- Fax: +44 121 230 6720
- E-Mail: email@example.com
Choosing a casino with a valid licence is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure that you will be safe. There are several trusted regulatory bodies that issue remote gambling licences to online casinos. These regulatory bodies enforce strict standards to protect players. These include anti-money laundering procedures and the highest levels of technical security. What's more, the casino's random number generator (RNG) is tested and payouts are analysed to ensure the integrity and fairness of games. Online casinos that provide services to players in the UK must hold a licence from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, which ensures consistency in the regulation of services provided to British players. You can see further details about how to check for a UKGC licence in the picture above.
International Regulatory Authorities
Here are some examples of major regulatory bodies that licence and monitor online casinos across the world. You should check the casino for a licence from one of the following authorities and proceed to double check it on the regulator's official website, like in the example for the UKGC above.
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
- Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Offshore Gaming
- Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority
- Jersey Gambling Commission
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
- Malta Gaming Authority
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission
Another feature which can testify to the trustworthiness of a casino is recognition at the major industry awards ceremonies. There are several prestigious awards ceremonies that take place annually, including the eGaming Review (EGR), Global Gaming Awards, and the International Gaming Awards (IGA). Here, operators are awarded across a variety of categories, with the most coveted prizes being Operator of the Year and Casino of the Year. If an operator has won prizes at such events, you can be certain that they are outstanding, and well worth your consideration. Take for example 888 Casino, who won multiple important awards across their 20 year history, solidifying their reputation as one of the best online casinos in the industry.
Games and Software
Of course, if you want to play at an online casino, then the game selection is one of the most important factors. Yet, the sheer quantity of games is not the only thing to consider. Usually, every casino will offer the most common games, like slots, roulette and blackjack. There are also plenty of exciting variations of these traditional games. Take roulette for example, not only will you find the classic versions of French and European Roulette, there are also unique variants, like Pinball and Marvel Roulette. Also, there are other games available, that vary from one operator to another. Some casinos offer other table games, such as Casino Poker variants and baccarat. There are also Video Poker machines. In addition, some casinos provide a wide variety of arcade games and scratch cards. The software provider of each casino also plays a significant part in game selection, as each provider has their own portfolio of games. In the following paragraphs, we will look into these topics in more detail.
- Games and Suppliers – how the game selection depends on the software supplier
- Software Platforms – how you can play on your PC or mobile device
- Live Casino Games – everything you need to know about the games with real dealers
- Playing for Free – where and how you can test all the games for free
Casino Games, Software Supplier and Special Game Variants
While it is true that you will find classic casino games, in their original form at pretty much any online casino, there are some special variants that can only be found at certain suppliers. For example, Blackjack Switch will only be found in Playtech software, and Playboy Live dealers are only found at Microgaming casinos. Developing exclusive games is one of the ways the suppliers set themselves apart from the competition. Some suppliers have acquired the rights to use themes from films and TV shows in their slots. Take for example NetEnt's South Park slot and Microgaming's Jurassic Park slot. There are a few big names in the business and you will find nearly the same game selection at casinos that use the same software. There are differences between the main suppliers in terms of the quality and quantity of their games. Take Microgaming for example, they have an enormous game portfolio, with many slots, video poker and blackjack. However their software does look a bit dated. Playtech on the other hand have a smaller selection of games, but the quality is much better. The following table gives you a brief overview of the various software providers and their specialities.
|Supplier||Specials||Famous Games||Famous Casinos|
|Playtech||Good game selection, excellent graphics and sound||Marvel Slots, Beach Life Jackpot||Ladbrokes|
|Microgaming||Very big game selection, especially for slots, video poker and blackjack, but graphics are a bit outdated||Playboy Live Dealer Games, Mega Moolah Jackpot||Betway|
|NetEnt||Top quality casino games with modern graphics and sound, a lot of innovative games||South Park, Mega Fortune Jackpot||LeoVegas|
|NYX Interactive||Good selection of games and good graphics||Judge Dredd, Superman||InterCasino|
|Evolution Gaming||Only Live Dealer Games||Immersive Roulette, Blackjack Party||888Casino|
Different Software Platforms
In addition to the casino software download, instant play directly in the browser was always an alternative option. In recent years, more and more casinos do not have software downloads anymore. New games are now mostly developed in HTML5, making them compatible with mobile devices. In the past, games were developed in Flash as standard, which made them unavailable for mobile play. Nowadays, you can play many games in the browser of your mobile device. There are also apps for download in app stores.
Whichever platform you opt to play casino games on, it will always be free. Casinos do not charge you to join, or for downloading their software or mobile apps. They make their money through the house edge in real money games.
This award winning roulette variant gets you up close and personal with the action. It has HD video streaming, various camera angles and slow motion recaps.
Live Casino Games with Real Dealers
Casino games with Live dealers are about as close as you can get to a genuine casino experience without leaving the comfort of your home. Live games close the gap between pure software driven games and the real thing. In live games, cards are shuffled and dealt by real dealers, and you can watch every move via a video stream. Direct communication is even possible with the dealers. In most cases they will welcome you to the table by name. You can ask questions, and generally chat with the dealers, and they will speak to you directly through the video stream. The games are filmed in a studio, which has been purpose built for streaming real casino games. The downside of live casinos is that the game selection is somewhat limited. Currently, there are only the classic table games roulette, blackjack and baccarat, plus in some cases, Casino Hold'em, Three Card Poker and the dice game Sic Bo.
- Different views: you can watch the games from different angles
- Multi-table option: you can play at numerous tables simultaneously
- Unlimited players: there is no real limit for participating players
Play Money Option to try out the Games
If you're new to online casinos, you may not be aware that the majority of games can be played for free in demo mode. This gives you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the rules and to get a feel for the game, before having to spend any real money. Of course, playing for free lacks the excitement and thrill of playing for real money. But none the less, it's a good way to test out a game before parting with your hard earned money.
Although a large proportion of a casino's game selection can be played for free, there are some exceptions. Occasionally, some casinos do not allow certain jackpot games to be played in demo mode. Live dealer games are usually only available for real money play. Also, some casinos only allow their mobile games to be played for real money. In this case, if you want to try out mobile games for free, simply opt for a casino that offers demo mode for its mobile games, there are plenty to choose from.
Another important issue is that of payment options. This does not simply amount to which payment method you can use to credit your player account. It also covers processing times, and how quickly and easily you can withdraw your winnings. In general, depositing and withdrawing at an online casino is easy and straightforward. Yet there are a few things you should consider, as listed below:-
- Deposits and withdrawals – which options are available and are there any fees?
- Different bonus offers – short and long term advantages for real money players
- ID check before first withdrawal – why it's needed and what you need to know
Online Casinos Offer a Lot More Payment Options
In order to play at a land based casino, you purchase your chips using either cash or a credit/debit card. Of course, you cannot hand over cash to fund your online casino account. However, there are a huge selection of available payment methods that can be used online. These include credit and debit cards, along with prepaid cards, bank transfers and e-wallets, like PayPal and Skrill. It is worth noting however that PayPal is often not available at many online casinos.
Generally, there are no fees incurred for making a deposit. However, there may be some exceptions, for example with some credit cards, or where a currency exchange is performed. Once you make a deposit, your account is usually credited instantly, meaning that you can start playing real money games right away. The main exception here is depositing by bank transfer, which is not processed instantly.
|Payment Method||Usually Available||Often Available||Sometimes Available||Fees||Deposit||Withdrawal|
|Credit Cards||Visa, Mastercard||Diners Club||American Express||occasionally|
|Debit Cards||Visa Electron, Maestro||Entropay||---||occasionally|
|E-Wallets||Skrill, Neteller||PayPal||Click2Pay||sometimes for PayPal|
|Online/Instant Banking||Bank Transfer||Fast Bank Transfer||clickandbuy||usually none|
Welcome Bonuses for your first Deposit
As there is so much competition in the world of online casinos, each and every one offers a bonus to attract new players. Therefore, when you make your first deposit, it will be matched up to a certain amount by the operator. There are some casinos that offer even more than a first deposit bonus. This can include a freeplay bonus, free spins, a no deposit bonus, or extra bonuses on subsequent deposits. What's more, a good casino will look after its long term players, as well as new comers. This can be done through regular promotions and special events. A great example is 888 Casino, who offer a freeplay bonus and tons of promotions and special offers. Many casinos also reward their regular customers through a loyalty scheme, and a VIP program.
Withdrawal only after ID-Check
Generally speaking, making a withdrawal from your casino account is as simple and straightforward as depositing. You simply go to the banking cashier and enter the amount you wish to withdraw. Your withdrawal will be processed to the same method used to deposit. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, as some payment methods can only be used for depositing. For example, paysafecard can only be used to deposit, it cannot be used to withdraw. Before you can make your first withdrawal, the casino will need to check your identity. This is in no way a ploy for the casino to keep your money. It is a legal requirement demanded by licensing authorities to prevent money laundering.
For identification it is necessary to send a picture of your ID, such as your passport or driving licence to customer support. Your address must be visible.
For verification of your payment option, a copy of your credit card is also needed. You should hide the middle numbers and the 3 digit CVC code.
If a bank statement is required it is only for the purpose of your address. You should hide all other personal data, like your account number and purchases.
The ID check must show proof of your identity, your address and the payment method you used to deposit. You only need to send a photograph or a scanned copy of each piece of identification. These files can be uploaded in the banking cashier, or in your account. Alternatively, you can email the copies directly to the customer service team. It is important to make sure that when you submit your documentation, that no sensitive data is visible. So if you send a copy of your credit card, you should blank out the middle numbers, and also cover the 3 digit CVC code from the back of the card. If you send a copy of your credit card statement as proof of address, then you should cover all other details, such as any purchases, and the card number. This ID check will always be required prior to your first withdrawal. At some casinos, it may even be required sooner, such as following your first deposit.
Most people don't think about customer support when joining a casino. Yet customer support options are something we would definitely recommend that you check out before you sign up. After all, you need to be sure that help is on hand should you ever need it. So what is important when it comes to this topic you may ask? In essence, there's just a couple of things to look out for, to ensure you will have a smooth experience.
Which Contact Options are there?
Nowadays, live chat is probably the best option for customer support. Generally speaking it is the fastest and easiest method to use. However, there should also be a variety of other options available. If you prefer to speak directly to someone, then look out for a phone number, which should preferably be free of charge. The other customer service options that may be available are email, a contact form, fax, and in some circumstances, Skype. If you come across a casino that only offers customer service through a chargeable phone number, with no email or live chat available, alarm bells should start ringing.
Availability and Response Times
The other factor to consider regarding customer service is when it is available, and how long it takes to get a response. The most desirable situation is 24/7 availability. So regardless of what time you play, day or night, you can speak to the customer service team through live chat or by phone. However, round the clock support is not entirely necessary, provided there are sufficient agents available at the times that you are likely to play. After all, if you tend to play during the day or evening, like most other players, it is important that the operator provides sufficient resources to avoid lengthy delays to your queries. Typical response times are:
- Phone and Live chat: Reply within 30 seconds
- Email:: Varies between 30 mins and a day depending on the casino
With these differences in response times, it is clear why live chat or phone should be your first choice for help with your query.
Betting and Winning Limits
When considering betting limits, online casinos offer a much wider range than brick and mortar casinos. Generally speaking, you can play with much smaller amounts of money online. There are hundreds of slot machines that can be played for as little as 1p per line. Plus, when it comes to tables games like roulette and blackjack, you can usually play for just £1 per game, even as low as 10p at some online casinos. This is something that land based casinos simply cannot match, as their high operating costs do not make it cost effective for them. It's not all about low stakes online though. The high rollers are also catered for. The players who want to play with the highest stakes do not need to jet off to Monaco to do so. There are plenty of online casinos which cater for the most experienced of players. A couple of prime examples can be found amongst the Live dealer games at 888 Casino and William Hill. High rollers can bet as much as £40000 per coup on many roulette tables at 888 Casino. William Hill's Salle Privé provides even higher stakes, with bets up to a staggering £500000 available.
|Game||Total Bets||Single/Side Bets|
|Slots||£1500 per Spin||£100 per Payline|
|Live Roulette||£500000 per Coup||£12000 Simple Chances|
|Live Three Card Poker||£7500||£2500|
|Live Casino Hold'em||£7500||£2500|
As for limits on winnings, these do not exist. You can win millions of pounds, and the entire amount is yours to keep. It is worth bearing in mind though that there may be limits placed on the amount that you can withdraw from your account at any given time. Some casinos may have a monthly withdrawal limit of say £100000. So you will still get all your winnings, but not necessarily all in one withdrawal. The other thing to consider is that there may be restrictions applied to some bonuses. Here, there may be limits on which games you can play with your bonus funds, or it may happen that some games are excluded all together. These restrictions vary from casino to casino, but you will find such details described in the bonus terms.
So Which is the Best Casino?
There is no definitive answer to this question. The best casino depends very much on the requirements of individual players. Of course, there are some providers, such as 888 Casino who you will often see within lists of top casinos. There are very good reasons for this. They offer a wide variety of games and betting limits to suit both new players, and the most experienced players. They provided top notch customer care, plus an attractive selection of bonuses and promotions, all within a completely safe and secure environment. It is no surprise that they have won more prestigious industry awards than any other operator.
So 888 Casino is a great choice all round. You can also check out our recommendations for the top 5 casinos. Alternatively, if you are looking for something very specific, then you may be best choosing another casino to better suit your needs. If for example you are only interested in playing Blackjack, then you should look closely not only at the game selection, but also at the bonus terms and conditions to ensure it caters to your requirements.
Try Before you Buy!
So maybe you like the look of some of our recommended casinos, but you're still not entirely sure if they are the right choice for you? Well fear not! With any online casino, as long as you have considered all the points in our checklist, then there is no reason why you should not give it a go. As already mentioned, you can play for free at the majority of reputable online casinos. This will give you the opportunity to play some games and get an overall feel for the site. This will help you decide if it is the right casino for you.
You really have nothing to lose. It takes just a matter of minutes to sign up and open a free account. You do not need to deposit any money, and you can play for free for as long as you like. If you like what you see, then you can simply make a deposit and benefit from the welcome bonus. Then you can start enjoying the thrill and excitement of playing real money games, with complete peace of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online Gambling
You often hear the same sort of questions from players who do not have any experience with online casinos. In order to help you as much as possible, here we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions. What's more, we have also included links for you to find out more details on anything that is of particular interest to you.
How can I be sure that online casinos are safe?
The best way to reassure yourself that an online casino is safe and trustworthy is by checking that they have a valid gambling licence. In order to get a licence, the operator must adhere to strict standards regarding player protection. These include testing game results and payout rates, procedures for the prevention of money laundering and ensuring that measures are taken to prevent underage gambling occurring on their site. What's more, technical security must be proven, to ensure players will not become victims of fraud. Once a remote gambling licence has been issued, the operator is continuously monitored by the relevant regulatory authority. Licences issued by official European authorities can be trusted, and you can be certain that playing at an online casino which holds a licence issued by one of these will be safe. That is not to say that offshore authorities cannot be trusted, but their standards for regulation may not be as high as their European counterparts.
How do I know that the games are fair and have not been manipulated?
The fairness of games can only be guaranteed in online casinos that are licensed, legal and regulated. Each game must get approval from the regulator before it can be offered to players. In order to get this, the rules of the game and the mathematical probabilities must be submitted. Also, the random number generator (RNG) which is used by the casino must be tested regularly by independent authorities to ensure that results are truly random, and not predetermined. What's more, the actual payout rates across games are analysed and compared to theoretical probabilities of winning, which would highlight any discrepancies.
What is the minimum age requirement to play online?
The minimum age requirement to play at an online casino is the same as for playing in a land based casino in your jurisdiction. In the UK, the minimum age, as with many other countries is 18. However, this can vary depending on which country you are in. If you are considering playing whilst in another country which has a different minimum age requirement, for example, when you are holiday, then you will need to meet the requirements of that particular jurisdiction. Your online location is determined by your IP address. Whereas this will not pinpoint your specific location, it is a reliable indicator of the general region in which you are located.
Will I have to pay tax on my winnings?
No, any money you win is yours entirely. The casino operator will need to pay tax to the relevant authority on any profits they make.
Why am I asked to provide my ID and address?
This is a legal requirement implemented by the regulatory authorities as a measure to prevent money laundering. It is stipulated that any winnings paid out by the operator must be paid to the same person who made the original deposit. Therefore, a copy of your driving licence or passport must be provided to confirm your identity. A player's residence also affects the amount of tax that the operator must pay, and for this reason, proof of address is also required. Also, you will need to provide a copy of the card used to fund your account, again to verify that the payment method belongs to you.