When it comes to choosing an online independent casino, today’s player is spoilt for choice with hundreds of options now available on the web. There are all sorts of online casinos to choose from, including the more traditional variety of ‘Vegas style’ casinos, to the most modern, designed to fit in with today’s social media and gaming-savvy modern gambler. Aside from the obvious design aesthetics, how does one go about choosing the best possible quality online casino to suit all of your needs?
As a first step check the license of the casino. Avoid the lower quality certifications like Curacao and focus on the UK, Kahnawake, Alderney or Isle of Man ones. Also check the customer support activity, the variety of banking options and read some forum topics to find opinions and experiences from other players.
Main Features of Quality Casinos
To start with, we need to look at what the main features of a good online casino are. While the overall look and feel, or design aesthetics are largely subjective, key features such as casino software, game selection, bonuses, payment options and customer service, are not. By evaluating these key features objectively, it becomes much easier to separate the bad or mediocre online casino brands, from the really good ones.
Key features that should always be assessed include:
- Online casino security: Arguably the most important of all key features, any good online casino needs to feature at least the latest digital encryption protocols, usually SSL (Secure Socket Layer), which ensures that all of your valuable and personal data is always encrypted whilst on the casino’s servers.
- Licensing: All good online casinos will feature up to date licensing that has been issued by a reputable and legal online gambling regulator such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Alderney, and others.
- Customer Support: No matter how experienced you may be at playing online casino games, you will inevitably run into some sort of problem, either with a game, a payment option, a bonus offers fine print or just about anything you can think of. Customer support needs to be there whenever you need and through whichever communication channel is most convenient for you.
- Payment Options: These need to be as convenient and as diverse as possible to accommodate all preferences and needs, with enough options in each category to cover all the bases. Payment needs to be easy to make, and withdrawals should be fast and efficient.
- Ease of Use: Whether you happen to be an online casino newbie or a well-seasoned pro, being able to get around an online casino website easily and being able to find whatever you need quickly is always welcome.
- Loyalty Rewards & Incentives: Top casinos offer their players all sorts of incentives, including loyalty rewards, VIP incentivised programs, cash backs on their losses, free spins on certain occasions and so forth.
The quality of a casino’s software plays a huge role in determining whether the casino is in fact a solid performer or a complete waste of time. While you will always find online casino operators that skimp on this vital aspect, you will also notice that their casino sites are slow, laggy and poor performers in general. The quality of games on offer will usually also be well below average in terms of overall performance, gameplay, graphics and in-game features.
In stark contrast, all the top online casinos distinguish themselves through the use of the best casino software available. This always reflects in the way their casino sites look and feel as well as how they perform overall. While some top online casinos will choose to either use a single software provider such as Microgaming, Playtech or NetEnt, others will really mix it up with multiple software providers jumping in. You’ll find plenty of newer online casinos that were launched in the last five or six years, that feature games from the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming, Betsoft, IGT, Evolution Gaming, Yggdrasil, NextGen Gaming, Thunderkick, Play ‘n Go, Blueprint Gaming, Amaya and many more.
The range of games that will be available at an online casino is directly related to the quality of their software provider or providers. However, just because an online casino features a smaller range of games, does not mean that their site is in anyway inferior. As the old saying goes, quality over quantity often wins out in the end. That said, it makes sense that online casinos with more games to offer will generally be more popular.
Slots are by far the most popular game at any online casino. In fact, this doesn’t just go for online casinos, walk into any brick and mortar casino anywhere in the world, and you will undoubtedly see more slots than any other sort of casino game. This is because casinos are about giving the customers (players) what they want, and slots are it. Slots are easy to play, easy to learn, fun, and can yield huge paydays when played right. The variety found in slots is something else that just can’t be beaten. Most online casinos will carry a good range of 3-reel classic slots, 5-reel video slots, progressive jackpot slot, and even some oddballs include 6-reel and 7-reel slots.
While slots may be the most popular casino game around, table games are undoubtedly the backbone of any casino, real or virtual. Table games is the general name given to any casino game that can be played on a table, including blackjack, baccarat, roulette and various poker games. Again, you won’t find as many games as you would slots, but you’ll still find plenty of variety in each game type such as French, European and American roulette, single deck or multiple deck blackjack and so on.
One of the most exciting breakthroughs of the modern casino era. Live dealer casino games are table games that can be streamed in real time directly from a special studio or even a brick and mortar casino. This gives online players the option to still play at home or even on their mobile device, and still enjoy the feel of a real live casino game. Live casino games cover the classics, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and poker.
Quality Casino Bonus Offers
Virtually every online casino will offer you some sort of bonus for signing up with them. However, caution must always be applied here, and it is important for especially new players to read all the included T’s & C’s before taking any offer.
A good bonus offer should feature:
- Low wagering requirements
- No maximum winnings clause
- A decent cash bonus match-up
- Free spins are an added plus
Banking options are another great way to decide if an online casino is worth the effort or not. All good online casinos should feature the following in their payment options:
- A wide range of payment methods including credit and debit cards, eWallets, prepaid cards and bank transfers.
- Instant deposit times and fast withdrawals (less than 48 hours is great).
- No additional fees on deposits or withdrawals.
24/7 Support Service
Customer support is the face of the casino and should be one of their main focuses. The best online casinos will usually offer full 34-hour support via multiple communication options including live chat, email and phone support. Live support should be fast, efficient and friendly, and should be available on mobile as well.
How We Review Casino Sites?
Our small but dedicated team of casino experts collectively have over fifty years of experience in casino gambling. They know what works and what doesn’t and can usually spot a potentially good casino right away. We use specific and strict criteria when reviewing and assessing prospective online casinos for our recommended listings, much of which we’ve outlined here in this quick guide.
Responsibility in Gambling
If you are new to online casino gambling, you may be concerned with being able to stay in control of your gambling and spending habits. You’ve probably been told by many that gambling leads to ruin and is a bad idea. However, this is patently untrue. So long as you stick you a set budget, and never chase losses or use ridiculous betting systems, use common sense and set reasonable time limits (gaming sessions), your online gambling will be a rewarding and fun experience.