Online Casinos in the UK: An Expert Guide
It takes more than just a flashy interface and a solid collection of games to intrigue seasoned UK online casino players. When playing at a casino, there are things which may look right on the surface that seems to take on a whole new face once we scratch the surface a little. What UK casino players want as clients of a casino is more than just a bonus and few free spins before waving goodbye.
The true value found in playing online games should be with a UK online casino that rewards existing customers as well as new players. There is nothing worse than feeling great when you sign up only to be forgotten about once a casino has signed you up and effectively reeled you in.
Welcome bonuses tend to be the way in which a casino can get our attention, and these are getting more and more competitive. This is down to the number of casinos operating online these days, which drives that push for market share. New and experienced players will be offered the sun, moon, and stars to join a casino, but must decide for themselves if there is any chance of a long-term relationship. The more experienced players should understand that there are small things to look out for which can make a casino a long-term home, rather than a stop gap.
In this guide, we will take a look at everything a UK online casino player needs to know when playing in an online casino. We will assess:
- How Online Casinos Work
- Bonuses and Promotions
- Software Developers
- Terms & Conditions
- Banking Options
- Customer Service & Support
And much more.
How Online Casinos Work
Not every casino is created equally. You might trust yourself to have the knack of being able to identify a poor casino from a good one at a glance. It is fair to argue against anyone really understanding how good a casino can or cannot be without research. Many casinos can appear to be much better than they are by adopting an approach which veneers the crap with a nice and shiny design and a few decent games.
On the flip side, the modest-looking casino you would reject at first glance could be awesome. The best of the best in online casinos are those which we would consider as having a more refined and powerful all around product. Think a massive range of slots, an excellent variety to their games, a solid sportsbook, and many live casino games. Factor in a number of banking options and a solid customer support function and these casinos throw down the gauntlet to competitors.
The Trusted Brands
These brands have more capital to invest in advertising and bonuses, which will typically mean that they have a larger player base. A professionally designed website, strong regulations and licenses, also contribute to making these sites as successful as they are. The strength of the biggest players in the online casino sphere is their ability to tackle almost any aspect of online casino gaming.
When players opt for a new site to play under, they should first be considering these brands. They are literally what other smaller and sometimes shadier casinos will compare themselves against. You can usually identify the size of a smaller casino with their range of games and payment options, in addition to their bafflingly unrealistic bonus offers. If you see a new player welcome offer for thousands of pounds, as yourself how they can afford to offer these sums of cash. You will quite often find the answer in the wagering requirements and T&C's.
Despite all logic, many players fall for these unrealistic offers. Even if they manage to win from the bonuses they gain from some of the more nefarious companies out there, they may find that their accounts get closed and they end up with nothing.
It pays to know who you are dealing with.
Bonuses & Promotions
There are not many people in the UK that would reject the chance to have something for nothing. While one of the 48 Laws of Power is to "despise the free lunch," this clearly does not apply to online casinos. Nor should it, as bonuses, for the most part, are not always as "free" as many casinos would like to have you believe. While some are excellent value and well worth it, others leave a lot to be desired.
With competition between online casinos in the UK at an all-time high, these operators must find new ways of getting as many players as possible through the door. The most common way a casino will do this is by offering you a deposit bonus of some sort. It is important that you do your research on a casino to see what they offer their existing customers, too, as some pretty much forget you exist once you are signed up.
There are a ton of different types of bonuses which are typically offered to players, so make sure that you are eligible to claim as much as you can get. While pretty much every player with a valid payment method can claim a welcome bonus, things can get a little trickier after that. Like you notice at Christmas and birthday times with your aunts and uncles, some are more generous than others. It is exactly the same in the case of casinos.
The Welcome Bonus
Welcome bonuses are designed to get you to sign up to a casino and can be fair to pretty generous indeed. You can get your hands on free casino cash or a combination of chips, free spins and more, just for signing up for that casino. Online casinos typically match your first deposit or can double or treble it.
There is no set amount for a welcome bonus, although this will come down to the casino itself, and how much they are willing to offer. A casino may have a tiered bonus system to get you to make a larger deposit amount by offering more for your money. The typical way in which casinos do things is to offer a flat new customer bonus unless you are VIP or a high roller.
Bonuses for casino players can generally be used on any game, but wagering amounts may not be the same in terms of what they contribute to turning it over. From the outset, these type of bonuses are advertised as having turnover requirements and wagering amounts, but sometimes the small print is not so obvious. Check these out before you agree to take the offer.
There are many different types of casino deposit bonuses out there, but online casinos do tend to offer deposit bonuses to new players for the most part. Existing customer bonuses tend to form part of daily, weekly, or monthly offers. As mentioned above, there are always terms and conditions built into bonuses. It will be up to you to make sure that these are satisfactory for you before you accept any new player offers.
Those for Existing Players
Existing player bonuses are not offered by every casino, but there is a high number that realises that they are important to players. Existing player bonuses are typical offers which can be sent via marketing channels, luring those with semi-active accounts back to the casino. Sometimes, they are offered as rewards for playing with the casino for a long time or spending a certain amount on games.
Existing player bonuses tend to be anything which is offered after you sign up and have played through your first deposit or bonus at the casino. Reload bonuses kind of fall in between both sides, as are the offers which you can claim after you have played but tend to be awarded when you join.
As mentioned above, there are a number of rewards for players for returning to the site and depositing more cash. This is usually where a casino will utilise the existing customer bonus scheme. You can earn cash, points, or free spins to try on new games or can be given an offer containing all of the above. As with almost all promotions, checking the terms and conditions helps majorly.
Slots/Sportsbook/Live Dealer Specials
Slots are by far the most popular games played by UK casino enthusiasts, so casinos tend to focus on providing slots specials. These are bonuses which are offered directly and for the purpose of being played on slot games. They can be offered by email or telephone and text, or even when you are halfway through a session on one of your favourite games.
These offers tend to be additional free spins which can be built into your welcome package or be offered monthly as a benefit for players who have shown loyalty or the like. Slots bonuses are most often not exempt from wagering requirements so you will have to indicate your satisfaction with any terms before you use them.
The same goes for sportsbook specials, which can be offered as a free bet or a risk-free bet. For example, you could be given three free £5 bets which will bag you the winnings minus the stake if you are successful.
Live casino bonuses allow players a chip or two in order to try out the casino's live dealer games. These can also be offered to new and existing customers depending on the casino and how generous they are.
The "Free-er" Bonuses
Sometimes a casino can offer players bonuses with better terms than one which relies on the player depositing cash first. These are known as no-deposit bonuses. They can work like this: you get a free £5 to play on any games of your choice, but can only withdraw a maximum of £100 after you have met the wagering requirements.
These are usually specified in the terms and conditions, alongside the restrictions on how you can use them and a turnover amount which will need to be agreed to before the funds can be withdrawn. The majority of the time, the casino will require players to play through the bonus multiple numbers of times before it can be converted into "real" cash.
High Rollers & VIPs
High roller bonuses are given to players who are likely to spend a lot of money at a casino. In order to get your hands on these offers, casinos require customers to contribute serious revenue for them. High rollers will always receive better offers, fewer restrictions on bonuses, cashback, points, holidays and a number of other incentives.
VIP bonuses are generally given to those who have proven themselves over a number of months or years to have a propensity for depositing large amounts and showing consistent loyalty to the casino. VIP also get assigned account managers and special representatives. There are sometimes tiers in a casino which allow players to move up ranks over time in order to get these offers.
Many seasoned players will agree with the following statement: a casino can only be as good as the software it operates with. When choosing a new casino to play in, check for the notable names, or those considered as the big software developers. If companies like Microgaming, NetEnt, and BetSoft feature prominently, then you can generally be assured that they are reputable. The range of casino games and slots can go a long way towards influencing players, and rightly so.
This is certainly something which rings true for us. Quality is always better than quantity, and there is nothing better than finding a casino which has both to offer its players. Sometimes the size of a casino’s catalogue of games does not have to be huge for them to be a reputable operator, but there has to be a decent size of games, right?
By far the most popular games to play in a casino, be it online or in a landbased casino. There are a number of different types of slots, which include 3-reel classic slots, 5-reel video slots, 3D slots, and a number of others. The sheer range of slots out there means that players will never be at a loss to find a new game to play.
These days, progressive jackpot slots appear to be where it's at for a high number of players. Jackpots considered as progressive build up over time and some are linked to a network of corresponding casinos, making for some giant payouts. When we say giant, we mean giant; typically, payouts tend to be into the millions, meaning just one spin can change your life forever.
Online casinos tend to stock more slots than any other game.
Roulette is a massively popular game among UK fans and can be found in pretty much every online casino around the world. In order to play, all you need to do is to simply place your chips down on the table to reflect the numbers or other choices you have in mind. You can bet on Even, 1-18, and 1st 12, split bets, or simply stick to straight bets.
If you select a number on a standard roulette wheel, you can win 35 times your bet for a single number. Roulette is considered a high-risk/high-reward game and is one which more and more players seem to gravitate towards, year after year. It would be a massive surprise to come across a casino that does not have at least one roulette wheel and we are yet to find one.
There is no doubt how important blackjack is to UK customers. In fact, it is a huge favourite around the world. This casino classic is so fun to play and is one of the easiest games out there to get the hang of. It is also one of the go-to games for value online, given the fact that the house edge is not massively against you like other games.
The association between blackjack and the old gangster movies of the 1940's and beyond makes it a cool and stylish game to be seen playing. Casinos will always have a number of different blackjack titles out there for players to get involved in.
There are two types of poker games which are regularly found at online casinos: Poker and Video Poker.
The latter has been massively popular in terms of casino games for over forty years and still recruits more and more fans each year. There is an element of skill involved and a low house edge compared to other games. Video Poker is one of the most sought-after game types in a casino for these reasons.
Poker, on the other hand, is something which has been around a lot longer, yet also experienced something of a massive resurgence with the advent of the internet. The quality of Texas Hold'em or Stud poker rooms you will find online come down to the quality of the casino, but this is a massively sought after game in its own right.
Many online casinos also have a sportsbook where you can bet on sporting events. The most popular sports among UK players to bet on are football, horse racing, greyhounds, rugby, cricket, golf, and a number of others are also big favourites among bettors.
Not every sportsbook will cater to the sports you want to bet on, and odds and prices will differ. If you are interested in finding a casino with a sportsbook, or the other way around, the larger of online betting sites tend to cater to both.
Terms and Conditions
Every online casino player should make themselves as familiar as possible with how the casino operates; reading through their terms and conditions is crucial. The majority of complaints made against an online casino come down to players not reading and understanding their terms and conditions before playing. This is a massive problem, but one which can easily be avoided, for the most part.
Every player has to read through terms and conditions if they want to consider themselves as smart and savvy, especially when it comes to protecting themselves. Understanding the list of the terms highlights anything which a player may find unfair or unreasonable, especially if it affects your ability to win. The wagering restrictions on payouts and bonuses should play a major factor in any player's decision to sign up to a particular site, even if they do get that far in the first place.
There is a wide range of possible payment methods out there, and the average casino should offer most of them. It is important that you have a means not just to deposit with, but also to withdraw with. Credit cards like VISA, MasterCard, debit cards, bank transfer, e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, voucher options, PaybyPhone and many more are typically widespread in most casinos.
You do not want to get caught out without a decent range of payment methods, regardless of how much you like the look of a casino. Payment methods should always be checked before you start to play with a new casino for real money. Deposit methods, withdrawals, processing times should all be important to you when it comes to choosing the right casino.
This information should be found before you start playing, in order to feel confident and assured that you will not effectively be throwing your money away. Different casinos have different depositing methods, but the international standard should always be found in any respectable casino.
Customer Service & Support
Customer services and support is a very important feature to consider when signing up for a new casino. Educated and knowledgeable staff come in very handy when you need assistance. At times when something does not appear right, or you have a slew of questions which the FAQs simply do not cut, you will likely look for assistance.
If there is no contact information or a customer service support function, you are probably best avoiding the site in the first place. Customer service and support can often be an indication of just how far a casino will go for their players.
What players should be looking for is a casino which can prove where it is licensed and can show that it is safe. SSL-Encryption technology, firewalls, technology to protect players, anti-money laundering measures and proactive customer service and support staff are the difference between a top-class casino and a pretender.
If you ever have any suspicions regarding the security of a site, it is almost always the right thing to avoid them.