What Makes the Best UK Online Casino?
Indeed, the search results are replete with spammy page titles, beseeching players to visit the ‘UK best casino online’, to ‘try their luck at the best online UK casino’, or to sign up with the ‘best online casino in the UK’.
In an effort to cut through all the hyperbolic, often illiterate nonsense, we showcase online casinos that are licensed to operate in the UK. Many of these casinos feature a superb portfolio of games powered by some of the biggest developers in the business.
The online casinos that you’ll find at Inside Casino are organised into specific categories which can be accessed from the links above. For the bonus hunters among you, we’ve also included their welcome promotions and incentives – these are updated on a regular basis. But for the purposes of this page, let’s now take a look at some of the elements you should expect to find at the best UK online casinos.
Casino Game Variety
Leading UK casino sites tend to include a core set of features that elevate their offering above all other operators. One of the most important of these features is of course game variety. Without a great range of games, it’s going to be difficult to attract new customers. So what kind of casino games can you expect to find when visiting top draw casino sites?
Online Casino Slots
Slots form the bedrock of any casino lobby, outnumbering all other games by some margin. Five reel slot games tend to dominate although three reelers and progressive jackpots are often present and correct too. In our view, the best UK online casinos will be able to provide existing and new customers with slot games from some of the biggest providers in the business.
Alternative Slot Games
The best online casino in UK markets will often include a decent collection of big-brand slots to satisfy new customers as well as those already registered. While it’s important to serve players with the very latest games, it’s absolutely essential to offer established classics as well. Whether it’s an iconic slot such as Starburst or an old school video poker game, player tastes need to be taken into account no matter how bizarre they may seem. Accordingly, in the UK, top casino operators usually factor this in when choosing what games to include in their lobbies.
In an effort to be the best, UK online casino operators will often try to include jackpot slots to go along with their collection of standard slot machine games and video poker titles. This is by no means the case with every single casino site. But in our humble opinion, the very best operators will be able to include blockbuster progressive games such as those from the Mega Moolah franchise.
Casino Table Games
We’d also argue that the best UK online casinos will throw in casino table games too. Even though live dealer casino games have taken the industry by storm in recent years, plenty of players prefer computer-based versions. There are a couple of reasons for this. Some players enjoy undemanding gameplay that offers a break from reel spinning – others gravitate towards table games in order to learn the basics before making the leap to real money live casino play. This is often a wise choice considering how unforgiving live environments can be.
Live Dealer Games
Live casino gaming is another major growth area in the casino industry. The most acclaimed live dealer games offer players a level of immersion and excitement that’s akin to some of the best land-based establishments – the technologies that go into the creation of these online environments have come a very long way in a short space of time. It’s a no-brainer then, to include casinos that offer UK live dealer casino suites that are powered by top specialists.
Although not an option with every live casino, more and more operators are including live casino platforms to satisfy the changing demands of players.
To be considered the best casino online, UK players will expect an outstanding range of new and classic online slots as well as table games. However, to be the very best casino, UK online gamers should also be provided with access to a live dealer suite.
UK Online Casino Bonuses
Needless to say, the best online casinos in UK-terms (indeed anywhere) offer exciting casino bonuses and promotions. These should actually constitute value for the player, allowing them to use their bonus funds to play an expansive range of casino games. These might include first deposit deals with high bonus match limits, hundreds of bonus spins, and/or reload bonuses. Here’s a run-down of the best UK online casino bonuses offered by operators as well as info about some of the pitfalls to avoid before committing your funds.
Online Casinos UK – Best Welcome Bonus Deals
This isn’t really a subjective area. A bad casino welcome bonus deal often sticks out like a sore thumb. The first indicator of a bum deal will often be revealed in the offer itself and may include things like underwhelming max bonus ceilings or a meagre amount of extra spins.
In addition, there are often little caveats lurking behind a casino deposit bonus that serves as the proverbial pin in the balloon. These may be harsh time limits, spiteful wagering restrictions, punitive withdrawal restrictions, and strict time-frames attached to bonus funds usage. Therefore, in our book the best UK online Casino promotions comprise some or all of the following:
- First Deposit Bonus Offers with Plenty of Bonus Spins
- First Deposit Bonus Offers with Low Wagering
- Welcome Bonus Deals with Generous Bonus Matches
- Promotions that allow players to withdraw bonus funds within the course of their natural lives
- Bonus Funds that Must Be Used Within an Acceptable Time Frame
- Match Bonus Deals of more than £100
- Acceptable Min Deposit Levels (£10 is an acceptable min deposit caveat)
- Bonus Spins that can be used with a large range of Games
Tiered Match Deposit Deals
Tiered deposit bonus match deals are very common casino promotions – in fact, they’re among the most prolific deposit bonus deals that you’ll come across, regardless of whether you’re visiting a substandard iGaming site or a firmly established operator. A lot of these bonus offers represent superb value for money with some casino sites offering deposit matches of up to hundreds of pounds in order to entice new customers.
But while some multi-deposit bonus offers look extremely generous at first glance, their overall value may be diluted by specific terms and conditions, namely minimum deposit requirements, wagering rules, max bonus caps and time limits. A lot of the time, the percentage match will decrease for each deposit – Nektan’s tiered bonus package is a fairly typical example and is usually expressed thus:
- 1st Deposit – 100% match up to £100 plus 100 free spins
- 2nd Deposit – 50% match up to £100 plus 50 free spins
- 3rd Deposit – 50% match up to £200 plus 25 free spins
Note that as well as the bonus match, the amount of free spins declines after the first deposit bonus match. If specific time limits are in play, the free spins must be used within a certain period as well.
Free & Extra Spins Bonus Deals
Most online casino sites will include extra spins for use with their slot games. Although bonus spins usually form part of a welcome bonus deposit deal, this type of allurement is sometimes offered as a standalone bonus offer. It would be tempting to assume that the best bonus spins deals are those which feature the most bonus spins (so to speak). Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Like any deposit bonus offer, free spins are sometimes hamstrung by those pesky wagering requirements. It may also be the case that the spins will only apply to a small number of games.
Thankfully, a lot of top online casino sites manage to strike a balance between offering players a good deal while ensuring that they themselves don’t lose money hand over fist. Some even include wager-free spins, although don’t expect to be rewarded with too many. To offset the risk of proffering such tantalising free spins deals, new casino operators, as well as established ones, will limit the number of spins available as part of any welcome deposit deal.
Free Spins No Deposit Bonus Deals
Free spins no deposit bonus deals are quite hard to come by. Even in the UK, top casinos don’t usually include this type of bonus offer. Why? Because they’re not that lucrative for casinos, despite their enormous popularity with players. Naturally, there are a few exceptions to this rule. To make some sort of return, a lot of casino sites will offer free spins no deposit bonuses that don’t require funds and are subject to rather high wagering requirements. Other terms might also be in play such as max bonus limits. As the mantra goes, read the full terms and conditions of any bonus offer before committing. If you’re satisfied that said terms are acceptable, you should take full advantage. Such bonus deals are a great way to sample a casino site’s games at no extra cost.
The best UK online casinos (and elsewhere) provide players with exciting welcome bonus deals and free spin offers that don’t lose their sheen, even after reading the terms and conditions. Good no deposit deals don’t require player funds and are subject to low wagering.
Transparent Terms and Conditions
The best UK online casinos will also clearly explain all of their stipulations and caveats clearly and without ambiguity. Although the Gambling Commission is pretty hot on providing full terms these days, there are some UK operators that do their best to get around this. The cunning wordplay that can still be found in the T&Cs of disreputable online casinos would actually be quite funny if it wasn’t so underhanded. However, UK casino sites that don’t want to risk the wrath of Britain’s most high-profile quango must display terms in the actual promotion. They should also include a ‘Full T&Cs Apply’ link. Anyway, here‘s a couple of T&C s that are attached to casino bonus promotions.
Reasonable Wagering Requirements
Established and new casino sites in the UK and all over the world will probably apply wagering requirements at some level. Players hate them of course but without such stipulations, even the most successful UK casinos wouldn’t be able to offer a worthwhile welcome bonus or bonus spins deals for very long.
As per the UK Gambling Commission, wagering stipulations must be displayed in every single casino promo. Further details can also be found by clicking the ‘Full T&Cs Apply’ link.
As we discuss on our bonus page (link provided below), wagering describes the number of times players need to play through a bonus before being able to withdraw any winnings. In a lot of cases, bonus funds are considered separate from cash funds and will only contribute to the actual wagering rules.
Despite this maddening T&C, many of the best UK online casinos will do their utmost to keep their play-through requirements at reasonable levels. As a general rule of thumb, we’d recommend avoiding online casinos that include wagering restrictions of above x65.
Generous Max Bonus Amounts
Max bonus amounts often apply to multi-deposit welcome bonus offers and are usually pre-fixed with the rather ubiquitous ‘up to’ phrase:
- Claim 100% up to £70 plus 100 spins or
- 1st Deposit – Claim up to £70 and 100 spins
In both instances, the £70 sum represents the max bonus. This means that you’ll be able to deposit as much as £70 and the online casino will match it. As with wagering, detailed information about the maximum bonus amounts can be accessed by clicking the ‘Full T&Cs Apply’ link which is located in the small print of all online promotions.
The above deposit bonus deals, free spins and tiered welcome bonus offers are covered in more depth as part of our We also provide further information about the most common casino T&C s that apply to promotions, regardless of whether they apply to welcome bonus deposit offers or free spins giveaways.
Best UK Online Casino VIP Schemes
It’s not just about new customers in casino-land. Leading casinos go to great lengths in looking after existing, high depositing players too. It goes without saying then that we factor in VIP schemes when writing our casino reviews and often look favourably on casino sites that offer the best packages. Recent regulatory changes now require operators to conduct a series of checks before assigning VIP status – they must also be overseen by a senior executive. So in the long run, this can only spell good news for players. But what elements help make a compelling VIP package?
Bespoke Bonus Deals
Offering VIP players standard bonus deals isn’t really going to cut it in the UK. The best UK online casino packages usually include bespoke VIP casino bonus offers such as free spins as well as deposit and cashback bonuses that can be used for slots and table games. Sometimes a casino will remove certain requirements such as the ‘separate to cash funds’ stipulation that’s often attached to wagering requirements.
UK casino sites with high-quality VIP packages often throw in faster withdrawal options as well. So while standard players may have to endure slower processing times, very important players will often be able to withdraw their bonus funds in half the time.
Higher Deposit Limits
Although min deposit levels usually stay the same, a lot of VIP schemes allow players to deposit larger sums of money – an ideal perk for high-rolling customers.
High-Value Bonus Prizes
The best UK online casinos, or certainly those with big budgets, often include standout prizes for their high-rolling players. Available with tournaments, or as part of points-based schemes, these types of bonus giveaways can include things like luxury holidays, high-value consumer goods, and generous free spins deals.
With many top casinos, online players who’ve attained VIP status will expect to be treated as such – and rightly so. It’s therefore a very good sign if a casino operator bestows personalised gifts to their customers. One of the best ways to do this is to offer bonus deals and special gifts on birthdays – it shows that a casino is on the ball and that a dedicated manager is actively monitoring the player accounts.
Dedicated Account Manager
Pretty much all internet casinos featuring a VIP scheme will claim to offer a dedicated account manager. Although the word ‘dedicated’ seems to mean different things to different operators, the leading UK casino sites should allocate a team member to oversee player accounts, offer 24/7 support and help to deliver bespoke bonus deals such as tailored deposit promotions, free spins incentives, and such like.
With the best UK online casinos, VIP players will be provided with clear information about the kind of perks available for any given package. Unfortunately, more than a few casino operators aren’t exactly forthcoming about their VIP ‘incentives’ – this isn’t usually a good sign. It’s also quite a common practice to use the word salad in order to conceal substandard schemes. Our advice to casino operators? Don’t do this.
To be the best, casino online players should be treated to at least some of the perks mentioned above. Clear, transparent information should also be provided to players about precisely what incentives are or will become available.
Online Casino Software
What about the people behind the actual online casino and slot games? Well, this is an area that’s become pretty crowded too. There’s now an extensive range of outstanding game developers from all over the world, serving an ever-growing number of gambling markets. Some of the most illustrious of these developers include Netent, Microgaming, Playtech, and WMS (Williams Interactive).
Considering how competitive the industry has become, a lot of casino software companies are under immense pressure to deliver fresh and innovative casino games on an almost constant basis. While this often results in the introduction of some superb games there’s also a lot of chaff – sometimes companies will dole out derivative games that don’t bring anything new to the table but instead rehash tired, hackneyed themes. Take a look at the number of online casino games based on Greek mythology for a prime example of this lazy approach.
Thankfully, the very best studios manage to maintain exceptionally high standards when it comes to the development of casino games. Many of them also push the boundaries in terms of innovation and ingenuity – just think of the refined game mechanics that have been released over the past five years or so. Mega Reels and Cluster Pays are some of the most storied examples and are usually high on a UK online casinos list of sought-after titles.
The best online casinos in the UK include games developed by the biggest providers. While we recognise that it’s not always possible to include games from every single developer, the ability to serve players with a solid collection of popular titles can take a casino operator to another level.
Safe Online Casinos
Player safety is a big deal when it comes to casino sites. Accordingly, all the operators on Inside Casino are completely safe to use and fully licensed by the UK Gambling Authority.
Personal Data Protection
Security is going to be one of your chief concerns if you’ve decided to register and provide personal and/or financial information. Thankfully, all bona fide casinos use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology to encrypt connections and lock down your personal data.
It’s easy to tell if a website uses SSL. Your browser will display a padlock to the left of the website’s address. Should you come across an actual casino site without SSL, don’t even think about submitting personal information. If it purports to offer gambling games, you should treat the site with the contempt it deserves and leave.
Player Welfare and UK Licensing
Player welfare and licensing are also key considerations for online casinos in the UK. Happily, we have the Gambling Commission which sets exacting standards for all British casino sites offering online gambling games. It’s one of the most respected regulatory bodies in the industry because it prioritises player welfare over profit.
Thankfully, you can verify whether or not any casino sites are licensed by the UKGC by scrolling down to the home page footer. Hopefully, you will see a link to the Gambling Commission site along with a license number. If not, the casino site is either disreputable, does not include online gambling games (like Inside Casino) or is based in a foreign country.
Online Casino Sites – Game Testing
Thanks to the UK Gambling Commission, all games are rigorously tested to ensure fairness. These tests are conducted by independent third-party companies such as eCogra. All licensed sites in the UK must undergo these regular evaluations. Details about the processes used to test games are provided by the best UK online casinos – Mansion Casino is a fairly typical example and furnishes information about third-party auditors on its casino games page.
Despite a contradiction in terms, ‘Please Gamble Responsibly’ is an honourable ideal promoted by all casino sites in the UK. It applies to all aspects of a customer’s gambling experience including the use of bonus offers and general real money play. Promoted by GamCare, responsible gambling initiatives aim to prevent problem gambling. Detailed information about this and other ‘socially responsible’ programs can be found in the footer of any UK casino.
A top casino in UK gambling verticals will take every available precaution to ensure player safety including the encryption of online connections and the protection of private data. It is also incumbent upon UK online casinos to observe the licensing rules imposed by the UK Gambling Commission.
Fully Responsive Online Casinos
Mobile casino gaming is huge. In fact, the majority of players now prefer hand-held devices over desktop computers. These days, many of the cool in-game features you’ll find on desktops have also been successfully ported over to mobiles.
Play is further enhanced by the touch technology of smartphones and tablets which add an extra layer of interactivity that’s not available with most PC machines. To tap into this enormous market (pun intended), game developers are now fully harnessing the potential of HTML5 to deliver mobile casino games that are actually worth playing. There’s no need to download apps, loading times are faster and the software places fewer demands on your mobile device.
Most online casinos in the UK (and anywhere else for that matter) are now responsive and able to serve games across all devices. Indeed, any casino operator that wants to build a solid customer base in the UK should serve players with a flexible, reliable, and fast-loading platform that doesn’t necessarily require a Wi-Fi connection.
Wide of Choice of Payment Methods
Among the many things that customers look for when visiting a shop or e-tailer, variety of choice and convenience are among the most important. For casino sites, these two elements often translate to games selection and deposit options.
Traditional Payment Options
The vast majority of online casino sites offer traditional payment methods such as VISA and Mastercard as a bare minimum requirement. Mastercard casinos and Visa casinos are still widely available and remain the deposit option of choice for many casino gamers. But they’re not perfect. Before making real money deposits you’ve got to enter your card details. Some even require you to re-enter these for each casino site transaction. This isn’t exactly ideal when all you want to do is have a flutter or try your hand at the latest UK slots and traditional casino games. So what’s the solution?
E-Wallet Payment Options
Thankfully the introduction of E-Wallet services has made things easier for hyperactive players who are always on the go. They enable you to transfer real money to an online ‘wallet’ or account after submitting your card details. You then have access to your bonus funds by submitting a password. Paypal casinos are perhaps the most popular of all, although numerous high-quality variants have emerged since including Skrill casinos, Trustly casinos, and Zimpler casinos. Specialist casino site deposit services are also readily available such as the Neteller casino, which makes it easy to deposit and play games via mobiles.
Mobile Payment Options
Then you’ve got payment platforms that have made pay-by-mobile casinos highly sought-after among players of mobile games. Boku casino payments are the most prominent and extremely easy to use. Boku works with almost any browser and does not require you to enter any bank details. In some instances, you don’t even have to set up an account. All deposits that you make are either added to your monthly phone bill or taken out of your credit card. It can be used with a variety of mobile phone networks including EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three. Many experts predict Boku will be adopted by more and more casino operators in the coming years.
Whether you’re a new casino or an established one, being able to offer quality customer support is key. To begin with, it’s usually a good idea to include a comprehensive FAQ page that offers solutions to questions relating to account registration, the bonus offers, how to play the games, max/min deposit limits, and so on. Live chat functionality is a useful inclusion these days too. At the very least, an email form should be provided too as well as precise information about customer support hours.
The customer support suites of most top UK casino sites tend to include an FAQ section, live chat, and email. While some won’t include all of these options, we consider the latter two to be bare minimum requirements.
New Online Casinos
Many of the top UK casinos are relatively new online casinos. To weed out the most reputable ones, we’re constantly scouring the web. In fairness, this isn’t too difficult. The online casino industry is a highly lucrative sector. As a result, casino sites are constantly popping up as new operators try to elbow their way into an already packed marketplace.
While the introduction of new game platforms can be good news to gamers, a strong degree of caution is recommended. Because for every cutting-edge casino, there exist at least twenty sub-standard casino sites created solely to make a fast buck to the exclusion of all else. These kinds of online casino sites are often easy to spot – comically bad designs, poorly conceived structure and a lack of contact information are just some of the clues that you should probably hit the back button.
But what about those new online casino sites that look the part? Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to use visual cues to decide a platform’s worth. So before we even consider including a casino site on our pages it must, at the very least, be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. SSL encryption should also be fully deployed. If these are in place, we’ll then compose a review based on a wider set of factors.
Established UK Online Casinos
We apply the above same standards to established UK casino sites too. OK, so it’s not possible to become a big-brand gambling operation in the UK without a licence from the Gambling Commission, a reliable, secure website, or a good range of games. But even with these, a few UK online casinos will sometimes test the patience of regulatory authorities. Aggressive marketing, unclear T&Cs, questionable money-laundering safeguards, and the like have resulted in major slap downs in recent years.
We take each casino site at face value, regardless of whether it’s a new casino or an established one. Once we’re satisfied that it’s secure, safe, and of course licensed, we’ll compose our reviews.
How We Grade Online Casino Sites in the UK
The aim of our online casino reviews is to give you the complete low-down on the operators that we place under scrutiny. Many of the UK casinos that feature on our site have already satisfied certain prerequisites before we even begin our assessments. So you’ll rarely find an over-negative review. With that said, if we find a casino that’s lacking in certain areas we’ll certainly tell you about it. For our casino reviews, we cover all of the elements mentioned on this page including:
- Welcome Bonus Offers (1st Deposit, No Deposit Deals)
- Free Spins Offers
- Games Variety
- Live Dealer Games
- Casino Site UX and Responsivity
- Casino Safety and Security
- Casino VIP Packages
- Payment Options
- Customer Support
Once we’ve evaluated each of the above areas, we assign casino sites with a 0-100 grading. But unlike other ‘casino review’ specialists, we don’t just arbitrarily allocate these ratings – they’re based on detailed and considered evaluations.
Best UK Online Casinos – Rated and Ranked
There’s nothing quite like a positive rating to instil confidence when you’re not quite sure about a particular operator. Therefore, to help guide you in your pursuit of leading casino operators we’ve arranged the top-rated casino sites in ascending order (see above). These trusted websites tick most boxes as far as we’re concerned and excel in multiple areas of importance, especially with regard to games variety.