UK Online Casino Guide for Beginners
The gambling world is big and exciting these days. The visibility – and sometimes controversy – of the online casino experience is enormously increased. Every football team in the country seems to be linked up with an internet gambling company, and there are promos, offers, new sites, and discounts to be explored every day of the week.
And an explosion can be dangerous.
There remain a number of pitfalls for UK casino players, and anyone who goes into an online transaction without taking some elementary security precautions, and some extra ones related to gambling and their own behaviour is looking at potential trouble.
So we’ve got a guide to take you through the online casino experience step by step.
1 – Before You Start
We’re a casino portal site so we’re not going to scare-monger or give you bad information. But the most important thing about gambling online is to do so safely.
Yes, it is great fun, and you might even win a lot of money, but before you even start gambling make sure you know how to play safely.
Firstly, make sure your computer is safe. That you’ve got up-to-date antivirus software or equivalent protection.
Make sure you’re using decent password protection. This is especially important because you’re going to be transferring money from your account to a casino site and you need to do so safely. One of the attractions of using money transfer services – like PayPal most famously, or Skrill, or Neteller – is that it puts a buffer between your bank account and the transaction.
Use password services if you’re not confident making up a really good password. Use two-factor authentication wherever it is offered and you practically can.
2 – Take a Look at Yourself
Gambling should be good fun. For the vast majority of people that is all it is. However, gambling is regulated for a reason, and that reason is that it is possible to get into lots of trouble with gambling. It is widely recognised as potentially addictive and – we’re being honest here, remember – a lot of the attraction of gambling is that it appears to offer the chance of getting “money for nothing”. People who turn off their critical faculties enough to believe that a modern capitalist business will actually give you money for nothing are quite likely to be vulnerable in some way: perhaps financially desperate enough that they’ll try anything.
Don’t allow yourself to get into that situation.
There are all sorts of advice about safe gambling, but we’d say take the When the Fun Stops Stop slogan as your number one commandment, and also:
Never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. And never chase losses. Set a limit before you start. Don’t gamble to try to regulate or change your mood or to avoid hard feelings or situations. Keep an eye on yourself: if you’re getting in a bad mood, stop; if you start to notice that gambling is affecting you badly, obsessing you, or you’re avoiding other things in life in order to gamble than it may be time to take a look at your play.
Do all this before you start, and use a guide like our casino guide for beginners to make sure that you’re an informed consumer, not a victim.
3 – Finding a Site
We’re going to try an experiment now:
Right now here in the UK, and I just got 55,200,000 results from Google for a search on, Casino site for UK players.
There’s a lot of choices out there. You could spend all day window shopping. You could spend a week reading review sites (many of which have undeclared links to the sites they claim to be giving you an objective take on). You’ll be bombarded with offers as soon as you start searching.
Online casino reviews can be useful. It’s a reality of the industry that some of them will allow their links with casino sites to cloud their integrity. So take their advice, but look out for sites that are well written and have lots of good quality information.
Just cruising around the web is another way to find a site.
The truth is that we can’t really take you all the way through this, and you’ll just have to choose yourself in the end.
As you explore the online casino scene you’ll also realise that a certain amount of the choice you’re seeing isn’t quite the choice it appears to be.
There are a huge number of UK casino sites, but many of them are run under different brand names by a few very large gambling companies, and even more, are run as “white label” sites that are off-the-shelf and almost identical operations bought from the companies that make casino operation systems.
4 – First Checks on Your New Casino Site
The first thing you need to do at any online casino site is to check that is licensed for use by UK players.
Until the last few years that meant that the site could have a licence from a number of jurisdictions, but now UK players can only LEGALLY play at a site with a licence from the UK Gambling Commission.
This should be displayed on the front page of the site. It is usually at the bottom of the site, along with a load of other regulatory information and some industry body memberships and so on.
It is actually worth checking that the license is genuine. You should be able to do this either by clicking on the front-page link, or going to the UK Gambling Commission Site and searching the public register.
There may be notes on the licence, but that shouldn’t necessarily put you off playing at a site completely. Many of the sanctions – and some of them have been very high profile cases with enormous fines – on casino sites have been about the way they handle problem gamblers.
No honest site will allow you to sign up if you’re not legally allowed to, including checking where you are from.
That also depends on you being honest, and we’d reiterate that here: don’t try to get around locational or age-limit restrictions on play.
5 – Is My UK Casino Safe to Play At?
You’ll be doing yourself a favour if you do a bit more of a check on a site before you start playing. A decent site will allow you to look around with no restrictions.
Good quality casino sites should look like they’re of good quality. Honest sites should look like they’re honest.
6 – Final Choices
You should also expect to see a decent-sized welcome bonus, usually at least 100% of the amount of your first deposit, and perhaps some free spins on popular games.
We’d advise you to accept these offers, but not to take them too seriously as ways of accruing money. All welcome casino offers come with restrictions on how you can use the free casino money you’re given and how much of your own money you’ll have to spend before you can access any money you win by playing with it. It’s advisable to make a small deposit to start with even if the welcome offer tempts you to put lots of money in.
You also want a site with the games that you want to play, so browse their selection of online video slots and see that there’s enough to keep you playing.
If you love table games look for those. If you need a live casino then make sure that is there.
And no casino site is any use to you if you’ve got no way of getting money into and out of your account. A good range of payment options is good to see, and you obviously need one that you can use.
Take a look at the general terms and conditions too. Most of them are very similar. Banking terms should tell you how long you’ll have to wait for payments and that’s useful to know.
7 – Signing Up At a UK Casino Site
Once you’re happy with the site you can go ahead and sign up.
Sites want this to be as streamlined as possible and so do you.
We looked at one of the biggest UK casino sites and found a three-stage sign-up form.
On page two, you’re asked to create a username of between five and 12 characters and a password. Please do make sure that your password is a good one, as casino accounts are ones you do not want to get hacked. Make sure you don’t reuse the password from another account.
You also set up your security question here. You can pick from a list of your birth city, your mother’s maiden name, your first school, and your favourite sports team (my answers are Mos Eisley, Trump, Hogwarts, and Anyone But United if you’re trying to hack my account).
Finally, you need to activate your account by providing an address, a mobile number, selecting your currency (the example we looked at allowed you to select dollars, euros, pounds, and Canadian dollars. Remember to untick the box if you don’t want to receive promotions.
Then you click and you’re in!
This is just one example, but it’s fairly typical.
8 – Cashing Up Your Account at a UK Casino Site
The first place you’ll be sent in most sites is the cashier.
Remember to be careful about payment details and passwords at all times.
Our example offers a verification process that allows you to upload a photograph of your passport, ID card, or driver’s licence to verify that you are who you say you are.
Then you can put some money in.
Standard payment methods
The standard payment methods in the example site we used were:
- Payment cards, with VISA and MasterCard, offered;
- PayPal, the Rolls Royce option of online wallets;
- Neteller, a big player in online gambling payments and highly trusted; and
- Skrill, another online payment method that you will see commonly at online casino sites.
There’s also a button to click for assistance and a help option.
Other options you can choose here are a language choice and a quick link to your profile. Click on the More button and you’ll be shown Paysafecard and MuchBetter payment options.
You can also put in a promotion code on this page for extra bonuses. These are worth looking for, and if you sign up for promotional emails you can be sure that you’ll be sent a ton of these codes to encourage you to pay and play more often.
The deposit options are often shown to you in multiples of £10, and this is also designed to encourage you to put in more money. When you can, choose amounts yourself, and remember to never deposit more than you can afford.
You’ll then see that your balance will go up, along with the amount of bonus funds that you’ve earned.
You will normally need to click a link in an email to set up your account fully.
Check if the funds protection information is available. This is a condition of licensing and assures you that player funds are kept in separate accounts so that they won’t be lost if the site ever gets in financial trouble.
9 – Picking Your Games at a UK Casino Site
You can normally click away from the deposit screen at any time and start to take a look around the site at any time.
If you want to play for free, you should be able to use demo mode versions of casino games once you’re a confirmed member.
So take a look around. Your balance – once you’ve deposited – will travel with you, and when you want to play a game you just click in and you can start playing.
Games are usually arranged by type.
Game Type 1 – Slots
By far the biggest attraction for most players – and thus the most advantageously displayed by the site – are online slots. These games simulate slot machines, and they are usually five-reel games.
They’re very simple to play. Basically, you hit a spin button, some simulated reels go spinning and you’re rewarded if sets of symbols align along predetermined pay lines when the reels stop.
That’s the simple and unsophisticated version, and knowing that is enough to get you by in most games.
However, there’s now a huge number of types of game. Many players play on mobile and tablet screens, and games are set-up to work for those devices too.
A good piece of advice for any slot game (or any other game) is to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS before you start playing. Just a thought.
Game Type 2 – Instant Wins
If you like scratch cards you’ll find their equivalent in the online casino world described as instant wins. These are much simpler than even slots. Basically, you press a button, things are revealed, and you win prizes for sets of symbols or special symbols or matching amounts of money.
Game Type 3 – Casino Games
Casino games replicate the play of classic casino games. There may be a huge number of casino games at the site you use, and there will almost certainly be a number of variants on each of the games hosted at a site.
Both are simple to play, but with a good deal of depth to their gameplay. Read up on games before you play them.
In addition, you’ll probably see baccarat, some sort of poker variant (these are usually video poker games, not head to head live poker matches, for those you’ll need a poker site), and many more, like sic bo, or keno.
Game Type 4 – Live Casino Games
Those games are simulations. Live casino games are actual games played live in a studio to which you have a video link. You interact in real-time with other players (where appropriate), and with a dealer or more who run the game.
These games play in exactly the same way and give a more social and more classic casino experience. However, it’s harder to pause a live casino game, and you can’t play these games in demo mode.
10 - Withdrawing Your Money
Let’s say you win! You’ll need to take your money out. To do this you will probably need to complete the id verification process that you were offered earlier.
Then you’ll need to select the method of payment, to an account that can receive funds, whether that’s your bank account, or a PayPal account or other online wallet.
That’s the rewarding part of playing an online UK casino.
The final advice we’ll give you is that you can never know too much when you go into a UK online casino.
That’s real money you’re playing for, so you owe it to yourself to give yourself the best chance of a rewarding, safe, and enjoyable UK online casino experience.