How We Compare the Best UK Online Casino Sites: License, Bonus, Comments
While evaluating online casinos, there are a couple of criteria we use – you should do the same too. Let’s take a closer look at them and explain why they are important.
If you want to know how reliable an online casino is, check its electronic gaming license. These licenses are given by official institutions, and they really show how “trustable” a company is. Having a license means that the casino is regularly checked by official authorities, and the governments know who the operators are. If something goes wrong, you can also apply to the licensor to solve the problem. Check the website to see whether it is licensed or not. However, also note that not all licenses are the same: Top casinos work with prestigious licensors, such as the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gambling Authority.
Casino Bonuses and Promotions
Bonuses are an important part of gambling sites. A bonus means that you get something for doing a specific action, such as joining the website or making a deposit. Today, almost all of the online casinos offer a bonus to their customers. You can get thousands of Euros for making a deposit or hundreds of free spins just for becoming a member. However, note that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t: You should always check the turnover/playthrough requirements of bonus offers. For example, if a bonus requires wagering the bonus amount hundreds of times, it is no good. We always test the bonus offers in detail and check whether they are really useful or not.
Lastly, the comments of current members are important while evaluating an online casino site. These comments give the most actual information about the gambling operator and especially help you to understand how effective the support team is. We always check for real comments made by real members before giving a final score to a casino. However, you should know the difference between valuable comments and rage-filled ones – we do.
A Guide to the Best Online Casinos
Finding the best online casino is a quest, and there are multiple pointers that can help you along the way. Other than the criteria we listed above, you should check the following features to understand how good a casino really is.
- Payment Options. A gambling site must be able to offer multiple ways to make a payment. This is the most important feature of online gambling: No matter where you are living in the world, you should be able to deposit and withdraw money easily. In this regard, a site must provide support for e-wallets, credit cards, bank transfers, and even cheques – this is how you accept members from anywhere in the world. Moreover, it should offer support for cryptocurrencies too, since they become more and more popular every day. In addition to options, withdrawal speed must be fast too.
- Customer Service and Support. You should be able to reach the support team without any difficulties and any time you want. Live chat, email, and telephone support are a must. The agents must be professional and helpful too.
- Mobile Compatibility. Mobile gambling is probably the most popular form of gaming at the moment. Everybody has a mobile device and they all want to use it for playing games. You should prefer casinos that offer a separate mobile app, if possible. If not, you must be sure that the website (and the game collection) can be viewed in all mobile operating systems.
- Provider Quality. If you want to play the latest and the most popular games, you should find a casino that works with a top quality provider. Developers such as Microgaming, Netent, Novomatic, Bally, and Betsoft offer the best games around. Try to find a website that works with multiple providers: This way, you can be sure that there are enough games at the casino site that will last for years.
- Fairness and Security. Check that if a casino is audited by an independent agency, such as eCOGRA. This is important if you want to be sure that the games are fair – casinos that publicly announce their RTP rates are the best and most trustable ones. In regards of security, be sure that the connection between your PC and the site is encrypted with SSL. To know this, check the address bar of your browser: If you are seeing a green-colored lock icon, that means you are on an encrypted connection. This is the only way of keeping your financial and personal data secure.
List of Casino Games
Once you find the perfect website, you can start playing games for real money. Fortunately, good casinos offer a variety of games that can appeal to every liking. Here is a short list of the most popular ones:
- Slot Machines: Probably the most popular category. They require no previous experience, offer satisfying rewards and a dynamic gameplay which can fit every budget.
- Table Games: Simply put, games played on a table. The most common examples are roulette, craps, and bingo.
- Card Games: These are played on a table too, but they deserve their own category name. Blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, red dog, and pai gow are the most popular card games.
- Poker and Video Poker: Poker is so popular, it needs a separate category. You can play all kinds of poker variants, such as hold’em, three card, stud, and the Caribbean.
Note that almost all of the table and card games can be played against a real dealer too. That’s right: You can play against a real person, just like in a brick-and-mortar casino. If a site offers the “live casino games” feature, you can do this easily. There are also additional categories (such as penny slots, 3D slots, lucky wheel, virtual races, etc.), but these are the most common and basic ones you need to know. Lately, we have started to see “Virtual Reality” gambling as a separate category too. But websites that offer this feature are very rare at the moment since it requires to use a pricey headset & goggles.
7 Frequently Asked UK Casino Questions
Is gambling legal in the United Kingdom?
Since the 17th century, gambling is legal in the United Kingdom. You read that right: A national lottery was authorized for the first time in the UK in 1694. However, the British Parliament is a little slow when it comes to keeping up with the modern times. The majority of gambling types were illegal in the country, until 1960. That year, the parliament authorized the famous “British Betting and Gambling Act”. This is still the primary regulation about gambling in the UK. The Act made commercial bingo clubs legal and allowed them to operate in the country. In 1968, the brick-and-mortar casinos became legal with the same Act. Up until 2005, online gambling was illegal in the UK. However, that year, the British Betting and Gambling Act changed in a major way, and online casinos became legal too, as long as they are licensed by an official institution.
The name of that institution is the “United Kingdom Gambling Commission”. This commission is the only authority that can provide an online gambling license. UK residents are only allowed to play at online casinos that operate under this license. This British license is considered the most prestigious one in the world, due to its heavy terms and conditions. In fact, most of the other European countries accept a UKGC license, instead of issuing their own institutions. Basically, if an online casino is able to meet the conditions of a UKGC license, it is good enough for other major EU countries too.
You can see whether an online casino holds this license or not by checking the UKGC logo on the main page. Licensee logos are usually placed at the bottom. It just says “GAMBLING COMMISSION” and when you click on it, another web page opens which shows you a copy of the official license.
What is a “Download Casino”? Is it different from an Instant Play or Flash Casino?
Online casinos that offer the option to download a program are a thing of the past. Back in the days, almost all casino software (customer management and games) were developed with the Flash technology. The Flash platform was not stable enough to provide an uninterrupted gambling experience, there were lots of “disconnects”. Online casinos started to develop a desktop application to solve this problem: This software was acting as a “buffer” between the customer and the casino. Since they were running mostly on the client side (instead of the server side), interruptions were happening much less.
“Flash casino” was the general term to describe these casinos. Thanks to the HTML5 technology, you do not need to download software anymore. You can play games and access other features of the online casino through your browser. This is also why they are called “instant play” since you don’t need to install a separate program.
If the option is there, should I still download a software?
It depends. If you are on an unstable or low-speed internet connection and experience lags, downloading a software and playing games through it may help. Give it a go. However, note that almost all casino games are developed with HTML5 technology now – The Flash-based software is no good for new games. Moreover, you won’t be able to get cross-platform features, which means your session won’t be recorded and you have to start from the beginning every time you switch between devices.
Do I have to pay taxes for my gambling winnings in the UK?
Believe it or not, no, there are no taxes in regard to gambling winnings in the UK. Up until 2002, gambling winnings were considered as an income and gamblers were paying a 9% income tax for them. In 2002, a brave chancellor named Gordon Brown offered that it should be gambling operators who pay the taxes, not the players. Thanks to him, you do not need to pay any taxes for your gambling winnings. Casino operators pay a 15% fixed tax and cover the players too. In fact, even the professional gamblers (such as poker players) do not pay a gambling tax in the UK. Therefore, you do not need to declare any winnings if you are a resident of the United Kingdom.
Is there a free to play option in the UK online casinos?
To be honest, this depends on the casino itself. The majority of UK online casinos offer the “free to try” option to their customers. However, you must be a member to take advantage of this feature. If an online casino does not offer this option, you can always find a review site such as ours and try all kinds of games for free.
Moreover, we highly recommend you to do so – play games for free until you fully understand all the rules. This is a risk-free method. Free casino games offer the same winning chances and rules as the real money online casino games. So you are actually playing the same game, but this time no cash is needed. Practicing for free is the best way to see the actual payout rates of the games, especially slot machines. This is also a very good form of casual gambling: You do not need to register for an account in order to access the games. Simply put, no download and no registration are required. Just visit our site, find a game you like, and click on the “play” button – it is that simple. You can switch between games and keep playing as long as you want, there are no obligations.
What is an RTP rate? Why is it important?
- All casino sites have an RTP rate. This is short for “return to player” and it is probably the most important aspect of real money online gambling. RTP rates show how much you are going to lose in an online casino in the long run. They are not related to winning chance, but they can give you an idea about the frequency of winnings. Here is an example:
- You have a 100 USD budget, and you choose to deposit it all to a favorite slot machine of yours.
- The RTP rate of that slot machine is 97%.
This means, in the long run, you can recover 97 USD of your initial deposit (100 USD). Your losses will be no more than 3 USD. It is true only if you play the same game for a long time.
As a general rule, you should always prefer games with higher RTP rates. For slot machines, this rate should be 95% and higher. If the RTP rate of a game is too low, this means you will lose more, and it will take way longer to recover your investment. In this regard, “house edge” concept is important too. It is the opposite of RTP and shows that how much the casino will win from your bets in the long run. For example, a game with a 97% RTP rate also has a 3% house edge. This means the “management” will win 3 USD from every 100 USD bet you make.
How can I be sure the games are fair?
You can’t. Even the professional gamblers cannot be sure how fair a casino game really is. That is why you need independent auditors. There are a couple prestigious audition companies out there, such as eCOGRA and iTechLabs, established only for this purpose. They audit the games on a constant basis, check their RTP rates, and prepare a report that shows how fair the games really are. Some of the online casinos publish this report publicly, some don’t. Nevertheless, if you see a logo of one of these auditors on the gambling website, you can be sure that the games are fair. This is the general practice of all trusted casinos. However, working with an auditor is not a condition of any electronic gaming license. Online casinos decide to do this or not. If an online casino does not work with an independent auditor, there is no way to know the fairness levels of its games, no matter how “famous” that casino is. So, try to play at casinos that work with an audition agency.