How We Do Online Casino Reviews
As you might have noticed, we take our casino ratings very seriously. Accordingly, we offer pertinent, independent information for the discerning player, meticulously highlighting the features it does or doesn’t have. Read on to learn more about the elements we consider when assigning a casino rating to each operator.
Bonuses and Promotions
Promotions provide online casinos with an opportunity to distinguish themselves from competitors and attract new players – in fact they are an operator’s main USP. Given the fiercely competitive nature of the industry, players are constantly inundated with promises of 100% matches, low wagering requirements, no deposit offers and many more incentives designed to arouse interest.
You’d probably think such an abundant array of offers and promotions would spell good news for the customer. And in a lot of cases they do. Unfortunately though, as you’ll see in our casino reviews, some ‘offers’ are tainted by draconian terms and conditions that remove the overall benefit of accepting a promotion in the first place. Here’s a run-down of the T&Cs we consider when writing our casino reviews.
Wagering/Play Through Rules
Wagering is the most commonly known promotional caveat in the industry and applies to all manner of bonuses and offers. Generally, it requires players to wager a multiple of their deposit (and the bonus in some cases) before they can withdraw any winnings that may be generated. While the level of wagering varies between casinos, its use is widespread.
Such requirements are the bet noire of many players who see them as unnecessary and unfair. However, wagering is the only way for an operator to offset the financial risk of actually offering a promotion.
While there’s no hard and fast rule about what constitutes ‘good’ wagering rules, we’d suggest that something in the range of 30 – 35 is comparatively acceptable. Of course, there are a few online casinos which don’t enforce wagering requirements at all, although these are in the distinct minority. If we come across an operator that offers what we think are harsh wagering rules, rest assured that we’ll let you know.
Time limits are another crucial area that should be examined because they can have an enormous impact on the likelihood of you meeting specific wagering requirements. In most scenarios, operators allow their players enough time to satisfy play-through rules. However, should we discover unfair time-limits, we’ll tell you so.
Game Selection In Casino Reviews
Game variety is more indicative of the type of gaming experience a player can expect. This sometimes proves subjective – certain players want a wide range of casino games and online slots to try their hand at while others tend to stick to the same ones.
Nevertheless, we consider game variety to be a good quality indicator. In our eyes, the more games an online casino can offer a customer, the better. Some network operators provide tiered game packages which are priced according to the number of titles in each package. Therefore, a large game portfolio often shows that an online casino has considerable financial clout.
Live Casino Platforms
The ability to offer live casino games is also factored into our reviews – it’s an area that has become massively popular and is, for some players, the only reason for using an online operator. So we look at things such as latency (connection strength), live game variety and in-game features such as chat and statistics in order to gauge the quality of the live platform being offered. It also helps considerable if it operates and displays well on all devices.
Online Casino Reviews VIP Schemes
Relating more to player experience than reputability, VIP schemes are a useful and effective tactic employed by operators to encourage trust and loyalty. To be eligible for VIP status and to ascend the various VIP levels, players usually have to acquire points based on the amount of money they deposit. In some cases these points can also be redeemed for various gifts.
In some cases, VIP schemes are pretty miserly, particular with regards to point acquisition and redemption rates. Nevertheless, many operators reward loyalty with some outstanding perks and prizes such as invites to exclusive events, faster withdrawal processing times and dedicated account managers. It should also be kept in mind that VIP packages are there to target high-rollers rather than your typical player. So this is something we always try to keep in mind when composing our online casino reviews.
Software In Online Casino Reviews
The software used by an online casino can offer major clues as to its reputability. It’s usually a good sign if an operator offers games from big-name providers. After all, major developers don’t allow just anybody to use their software.
Some online casinos are members of a wider network of sites operating on platforms powered by a specific gaming provider. Known as ‘White label’ casinos, they usually function under a regulatory umbrella in which the actual network owner is licensed. The Progress Play network is a typical example of such an arrangement.
Many white label casinos offer compelling content for gamers and feature superbly-designed websites. However, despite running officially sanctioned software, they are considered independent operators.
This unfortunately means that a sizeable number of white label sites fall short in terms of visual appeal and website operability – many don’t bother to customise the software platform available to them, resulting in homogenised online interfaces. This does not make for an immersive user experience.
Such operations tend to stick out like a sore thumb and often indicate the owner’s true intention: to make money with little regard to the customer. This is why we always try to include information about an online casino’s modus operandi.
Cashier options relate to the deposit and withdrawal methods available to players. It’s rare to find an online casino that doesn’t offer traditional payment services such as VISA, Mastercard or Paypal. With that said, a slew of new services have emerged in recent years such as Neteller, Skrill, Boku and Trustly which make it far easier for players to deposit and withdraw funds. This is really important these days because many gamers like to play casino games ‘on-the-go’. While we don’t view cashier options as a crucial indicator of quality or reputability, it’s a plus point if an online casino can offer a mix of traditional and new payment services.
Casino Reviews Site Design/Mobile
As you’ll see in our online casino reviews, an casino’s website offers plenty of clues about its values and approach and is effectively its shop window. Just as a tatty-looking high-street retailer will put off shoppers from entering its confines, an online casino website that looks dilapidated and unattractive will have potential customers hitting the back button.
But an online platform which looks fresh, visually appealing and well-put together should offer plenty of positive signals to new visitors. This should be the case across all devices, given that the majority of casino gamers like to gamble on the go. So naturally, we play close attention to the design and operability of each site we review.
An operator that’s not able to offer a responsive site will score badly in this area. While this may seem harsh the sheer number of tools available to developers means that it’s never been easier to create responsive online platforms – so there’s really no excuse!
As is the case in any industry, the quality and extent of customer support can speak volumes. For web-based operations such as casinos, the number of communication channels available to customers is a big clue about how that operator views its players. When we assess a casino in our online casino reviews we consider the following questions:
- Does an online casino offer a dedicated email address and if so, how many?
- Does an online casino offer live chat?
- Is there a postal address?
- Is there an FAQ section?
- How quickly do customer support agents respond?
Site security is obviously important when transmitting personal information as well as funds over the internet. To protect online transactions, websites generally use 128bit and 256bit encryption. Although 256bit encryption represents the strongest form of security, sites which use 128bit SSL are perfectly safe. Browsers indicate that a website is protected by displaying a padlock in the address bar. Click on the padlock and you’ll see the type of encryption that a site has deployed. Should you come across an online casino in our reviews without encryption, don’t even think about depositing funds or providing personal/financial details. An operator that can’t be bothered to secure its online platform should be avoided at all costs.
Alongside site security, licensing is the most important consideration for any casino-gamer which is why it is included in our online casino reviews. The vast majority of online casinos operators are required by law to abide by specific rules. While these vary according to country, British operators are bound by regulations laid down by the UK Gambling Commission.
Although we don’t cover unlicensed operators in our casino reviews, there’s always the chance that a casino may lose its licensing at some point. We update Inside Casino regularly and will of course do our best to inform you if this happens. Failing this, you can also check a casino yourself by scrolling down to the bottom of any of its pages – the UKGC commission requires all approved online casinos to display licensing information in their page footers. If you don’t see any mention of the Gambling Commission, you should leave. Here’s a run-down of the main licensing bodies which apply to UK casino operations.
UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)
For UK casinos, the UK Gambling Commission is the supreme regulatory body and is responsible for regulating all the best online casinos targeting a British audience, even if they’re based overseas. To operate, a casino must apply for a licence and ensure, among other things, that:
- Games are fair and transparent
- Children and vulnerable people are protected from exploitation
- There is no connection between gambling and criminal activity
However, these aren’t the only criteria that the owners of an online casino must satisfy. It must also:
- Prove it has sufficient finances to operate (thereby protecting player funds)
- Provide evidence that its operation is transparent and trustworthy
- Provide evidence that the person in charge is capable of operating a gambling business
- Provide proof of a clear criminal record
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
The Malta Gaming Authority governs all gambling activities in Malta which means that any online casino based within Malta must observe its rules, even if it targets a UK audience. Its licensing procedures are informed by the Lotteries and Other Games Act 2001 as well as Maltese gambling regulations. The MGA is held in the highest regard within the gambling industry and is considered a leading authority in regards to due diligence and good governance. Like the UKCG, the MGA’s mission is to ensure that gaming is transparent, fair and free of corruption or crime. The protection of minors as well as the vulnerable is also a major priority.
How we put it All Together
Once we’ve evaluated an operator according to the above criteria, we assign it a casino rating out of 100. You can see these scores in the header of each review and in the casinos category page.
Alongside each online casino review we provide a table of information for quick information. This includes the following data:
- Launch Date
- Currencies Allowed
- Withdrawal Method
- Withdrawal Limit
- Countries Available
- Contact Information
Online Casino Reviews
See below for our extensive range of casino ratings. There are currently more than 120 reviews, covering dedicated casinos as well as specialist slot sites. To the right, we’ve included some of the most highly-rated operators together with related welcome promotions.