UK Online Casino Guide
For UK players looking to get involved in the world of online casinos, there will never be anything less than an abundance of choice. The sheer amount of casinos operating online these days is jaw-dropping, and with competition for your money at the highest level it has ever been, it is almost a certainty that any operator will have to work hard to provide you with a worthwhile incentive to sign up.
New player bonuses, welcome offers, free spins and much more are gifted to those who play in a new casino for the first time. This is done as a means of attracting as many gamblers to get on board as possible. While the quality of a casino’s welcome package will differ from site to site, a player will expect something as recognition of their decision to join up and start spending money.
Welcome bonuses aside, there are many reasons for an individual to be careful when they choose the site they feel offers them the best chance to win. For slots players – who tend to be the biggest demographic out there to target – the presence of certain software providers can be a major reason for them signing up. For roulette and blackjack aficionados, there may be an expectation of variety in the games they support. The wants and needs of a player will differ, according to what makes playing in a casino fun for them.
As we look through the ever-growing number of online casinos, we can see that the quality is discernibly different depending on who you choose to play with. From the design of a site to the ease of navigation, it can be painstakingly clear when an operator stands out next to a poorer site. The glitz, glam, and flash graphics are just the tip of the iceberg, however, as there is a lot more to an online casino than just catching the eye.
Below we illustrate what you can expect – and should expect to find – when playing with a casino for the first time online.
From the Outset
There are tiers which each online casino operates from. It is as simple as that. The larger names – many of which you are more than likely already familiar with – occupy the top tier of online casinos. Any site which falls into this category generally has an all-around product, packed with a number of different slots, games, and even a solid sportsbook to bet on. These sites are the ones which attract the most players and have the stronger revenue which means more investment in the casino.
A stronger casino will typically come with a well-designed website, be clearly regulated and licensed, have a multitude of games, and offer pretty much everything a player can ask for. From banking methods to customer service and support, you, the player, will be provided with everything you need to keep you coming back for more. The better the product, the more players it can attract – and most importantly – retain.
Smaller sites, which fall into the lower tiers, tend to typically be at the opposing end of things. Poorly designed sites, with bad reputations and cheap software, these sites are the ones which will have you scratching your eyes out. Many of the lower-end sites are not as trustworthy, lack licensing information and have a poor customer service and support function. In terms of being able to differentiate, many seasoned gamblers can do so within the first look of their landing page.
When we dig a little deeper, however, things become a lot more obvious. What we are looking for can sometimes take a little time to find.
Casino Games & Slots
Many of the better online casinos tend to use software providers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and BetSoft, which generally indicate their size and stature to players. Options in the games provided, however, should also suitably impress. Expect to find a number of Roulette, Poker, Baccarat and Backgammon games, with a Live Casino also a good sign that you are on to a winner. While more and more sites offer Live Dealer Games, the ones that don’t noticeably lose out as a result.
With Slots being by far the most popular game out there for UK players, look for classic slots, jackpots, 3D slots, 3-Reel, 5-Reel and as many other types as you can find to get a picture of where this casino ranks. Without an impressive range of casino games and slots and the software providers to make it all happen, you may find your experience disenfranchising. The choice is all good and well, but if you have a number of games which look so old that they are probably haunted, what is the point?
Casino games and slots essentially make a casino. Even newer players will be able to determine what looks good and what needs improving. By all means, if you are playing an old slot and winning, then it is not really a bad thing. If you are playing a rip-off of a famous slot and losing everything you have as a result, then the chances are that you will lose your shit at some point.
Always check the games you are playing out first in demo mode, which can be (but not always) an opportunity to figure out if it is right for you. Even better, if these slots confirm the RTP and details about their variance, then this will also provide a chance to test them against others which are more established. If you have been playing at one of the bigger casinos and are thinking of giving the others a chance, do your homework and see if it is truly worth it.
While not all top-class casinos have to provide thousands of games, the ones that are most successful and highly rated are the ones that have the right choice of games.
Many experienced players will tell you that there is often a subtle way to judge a casino’s value: by its banking options. In this day and age, there is almost no excuse not to provide players with as many opportunities as possible when it comes to topping up their account. Among the most popular methods of payment are: Visa/Visa Debit, MasterCard, Maestro, Delta and Switch and e-wallets such as PayPal, Ukash, Neteller, Skrill, and more recently, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Many traditional players much prefer to deposit by way of Bank Transfer, too, and you will generally find that the larger sites subscribe to this. The more deposit methods available, the more credible a site will usually be. Of course, this is hardly a rule of thumb, but it is certainly something to watch out for. In essence, what you want to see from an online casino’s banking options are:
- Credit Card
- Debit Card
- PayPal and Other E-Wallets
- Bank Transfer
Another important factor a sound banking system can have for players is how long it takes for them to get their winnings. Smaller sites typically have longer processing times, which adds greatly to the frustration many players feel when playing on a site which is not on point.
Many smaller sites are accused of withholding players’ winnings, and a common method some use is to keep winnings in a state of “pending” processing. For many players who find it hard to walk away, reversing withdrawal can lead to players blowing their winnings rather than receiving them, as they would with bigger sites.
Perhaps not as important when it comes to many online casinos is the presence of a sportsbook. For UK fans, however, who share their time between the casino and the sportsbook, this can be a sound indication of just how good a site is. UK fans – who bet on the sports market – want this choice. With sports such as football, rugby, tennis, cricket, boxing, MMA, cycling, darts, many online casinos earn big plaudits for their sportsbooks.
What makes a sportsbook great is the odds which fans are offered, in addition to features such as in-play, which gives fans multiple chances to bet on a number of markets. This leaning towards live betting can be what earns a casino many new players of other games and slots, too, so it all contributes to the bigger picture in the end.
The Security of a Site
Another stand out feature of a larger site is the attention that is paid to keep players safe. With the growing problem of fraud online, a site which makes a huge effort to keep players protected will always be attractive to any player who has suffered any form of fraud in the past. You will find a number of methods an online casino can use to keep the security of the site watertight.
Generally speaking, a 128-bit SSL encryption put in place to protect transactions and safeguard sensitive information should be in place in any casino you choose to play in. Any site worth its salt will have this, as well as firewall software and other modern day advancements which prevent the dishonest use of the site.
When it comes to the other side of things, fair practice and safety must be in place for a site to consider itself as legitimate and top-class. If possible, always try to get as much information on the security of a site before you choose to play there. Without any solid knowledge of a security policy or any proof that you are protected, you will essentially be playing with risk.
Customer Service & Support
Any reputable online casino will pay a lot of attention to their customer service and support function. Players should always have a way to ask any queries or have their questions resolved, as quickly and as conveniently as possible. There is no doubt that this is among the most attractive features of an online casino, and also one of the ways to determine just how much a casino cares about players’ feedback.
So just how exactly can a company provide a way for players to sound off, or at least, contact the representatives of an online casino? Well, there is, first and foremost, a Live Chat system can give players a way to speak to customer services 24/7. Many of the larger outfits do tend to provide this kind of service, and you can always check a site prior to signing up to see if this is the case.
Other ways to contact a casino’s support teams are typically the email and over the phone. Emails do tend to take longer, and when it comes to trying to resolve an issue which possibly needs instant recognition, this can be frustrating. Times like these generally call for action, so if a live chat function is not available, then a hotline will be the only other option which will come close.
As online casinos continue to grow and are battling for attracting new players, there are other ways to provide a valuable customer service and support function popping up. Some of the larger sites now offer things such as Skype calls and video chat, so expect these to be more common in the future. However, if a site you are using doesn’t have more than a live chat or email function, this is never a good sign and should be questioned before you hand over your money.
The above categories are generally covered by any online casino looking to, at least, establish themselves in the top bracket. As the market will always be a player’s market, you will find that there are more attractive bonuses and offers to get you through the door. However, if we have signed up and deposited only to find that the site is not great, it will be far too late.
Knowing what you are looking for when signing up for an online casino is always a good idea. This will make sure that you are not disappointed further down the line.