18+. New players only. Min Deposit £20. Max Bonus Bet £5. Winnings from spins capped at £50. 100 Zee Spins valid on Starburst (first 10 credited immediately upon first deposit; rest credited at 07:00 GMT at 10/day). Spins must be used by 23:59 GMT of the day on which they are credited to player account, any unused shall be removed. Bonus funds must be used within 30 days. Bonus funds are separate to Cash funds, and subject to 35x wagering (bonus + cash). Full terms apply. BeGambleAware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 40 x wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 15 Spins on Starburst games will be credited per day for 9 days after qualifying deposit/wager is met. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Skrill + Neteller excluded. - www.begambleaware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 60x (40x referred player) wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 20 Spins will be credited instantly upon qualifying deposit + then 20 per day for 9 days on pre-selected games. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Ewallets excluded. - www.begambleaware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 60x (40x referred player) wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 20 Spins on Starburst will be credited instantly + then 20 per day for 9 days. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Ewallets excluded. - www.begambleaware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 60x (40x referred player) wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 30 Spins will be credited instantly upon qualifying deposit + then 30 per day for 9 days on pre-selected games. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Ewallets excluded. - www.begambleaware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 60x (40x referred player) wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 30 Spins on pre-selected games will be credited instantly + then 30 per day for 9 days. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Ewallets excluded. www.begambleaware.org
18+ Full T&C's Apply. New players Only. £10 min deposit. £5 max bet using bonus. 60x (40x referred player) wagering applies. Bonus valid for 14 days. 30 Spins on Starburst will be credited instantly + then 30 per day for 9 days. Free Spins valid for 72 hours from credit. Max Free Spins winnings £100. Ewallets excluded. - www.begambleaware.org
Licensing of Trusted Casinos
If you are ever unsure about the credentials of an online casino, the first thing that you should check is the license attached to the casino in question. Every reputable casino will be licensed, and if you cannot find a license then you should consider that to be a major red flag and avoid at all costs. It is very simple to find out where an online casino is licensed, you can simply scroll to the bottom of any page and you should find the logo of the regulator of that particular casino.
Of course, as with everything, not all licenses are equal, and some regulators are more respected within the industry than others. The Casino Gorilla knows the good from the bad, and we are going to share that information with you now so that you will be fully aware of what kind of casino you are dealing with.
The Weakest Licenses
Let’s start by getting the weakest online casino licenses out of the way. While you may think that any license must be better than none, in truth there is not much value in a casino license from Belize, Costa Rica or Panama.
These licenses are ones which any casino can effectively purchase as long as they have sufficient finances. The licenses are therefore not worth much more than the piece of paper they are written on and of very little value in real terms. If a player should have a dispute with a casino licensed by one of these regulators, they will not be able to expect any assistance from the regulators.
- Panama: Panama has been offering online gaming licenses since 2002, although there are not very many online casinos which operate under this regulator. A license from this authority costs around $40,000 for the first year and $20,000 for each year thereafter.
- Costa Rica: The Costa Rica license costs around $50,000 per year but companies operating here can benefit from the absence of corporate taxation.
- Belize: Belize has been offering gaming licenses for both land-based and online casinos since 2000, having recognized the potential of this industry from an early stage. Again, not very many online casinos have availed of the opportunity to take out a license from this territory.
Pretty Good Licenses
The next regulators do have value and offer a higher level of security to players. Our Casino Gorilla has put the Gibraltar, Kahnawake, Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda regulators into the ‘pretty good’ category.
It is much more common to find casinos holding one or more of these licenses and players can expect to get a response if they approach one of these with any complaints relating to the licensed casino. The Gibraltar and Kahnawake (Canada) licenses are probably a notch better than the other two although all have attained a certain level of respect within the casino gaming industry.
- Gibraltar: The British overseas territory of Gibraltar has been offering casino licenses since way back in 1998. Licenses cost just £2,000 per year but online casinos with a Gibraltar license are held to a very high standard and licenses have been taken away from casinos which have not met these standards in the past.
- Kahnawake: The Kahnawake are part of the Mohawk Native American community and have the power to license local and international casinos.
- Curacao: The Curacao license is held by a large number of online casinos and sports betting sites, even though this regulator has had something of a ‘hands off’ approach to player mediation in the past.
- Antigua and Barbuda: In years gone by the Antigua and Barbuda regulator was notorious for offering gaming licenses to any operators which could afford one. However, recently this authority has tightened up its standards and become more respected in the process.
The Safest Casino Licenses
The Casino Gorilla gives his gold star award to the following regulators: Malta, Alderney, Isle of Man and the UK Gambling Commission.
These bodies impose very tight restrictions upon any casino which uses one of their licenses and insist upon the highest of standards being met. If you are playing at an online casino which bears one of these licenses, you can be sure that any complaint you make will be followed up on by the regulators.
Because these licenses are so prized, casinos make sure not to risk them being removed for failing to meet the required standards. Finding the logo of one of these authorities on an online casino page is a stamp of quality.
- United Kingdom: The United Kingdom imposes some of the strictest conditions upon offline and online betting operators of any country, anywhere. The UKGC are quick to impose fines upon operators which breach any of their rules and insist upon extremely high standards for any online casinos which carry their logo.
- Alderney & Isle of Man: The same is true of the Alderney and Isle of Man authorities, although you will find far fewer online casinos regulated by these bodies.
- Malta: The Malta authorities have licensed an extremely large number of online casinos attracted by the option to hold an EU license. Despite the quantity of license-holders, the Maltese authorities have managed to maintain very high standards and they are proactive when it comes to customer complaints.
Reliable Companies Behind Online Casinos
Most of the companies that own and operate online casinos are reliable and trustworthy. Some companies have a small collection of casinos to their name, or even just one, while others can have quite a few.
At any online casino, you should be able to find out all the information you need about the company behind it. Scroll down to the bottom of any page and you should find information about the company, as well as the casino’s licence and other important details.
If you visit an online casino and you can’t find information about the parent company anywhere, this may be a sign that the casino operator isn’t being transparent and you should think twice about signing up.
Some of the biggest online casino operators and some of their casinos are listed below:
- White Hat Gaming Limited – Casimba Casino, Playzee and Casilando brands are managed by White Hat Gaming Limited
- Genesis Global Limited – Operates Genesis Casino, Casino Joy and Casino Planet
- Kindred Group – Operates 32Red Casino, Maria Casino, Unibet and Bingo.com
Reasonable Terms and Conditions for Bonuses
Every online casino bonus comes with terms and conditions that list the bonus’ full requirements and limits. There are many different things that you’ll see in the fine print, including:
- expiry times
- betting limits
- caps on winnings
- game restrictions
- wagering requirements
One of the most important points in a bonus’ terms and conditions is wagering requirements. Whenever you win money from using a bonus, that money is credited to your casino account as bonus money, which can’t be withdrawn. Once you’ve satisfied the bonus’ wagering requirements, the winnings will then be converted into cash, which can be withdrawn.
To satisfy the wagering requirements for winnings earned from bonus money, you have to play through your bonus, or the sum of your deposit and bonus, a set number of times. If it’s a free spins bonus, you’ll have to play through the winnings.
Wagering requirements vary from one casino to the next; a single casino can also have different requirements for different bonuses. Obviously, the lower the requirements are, the better. You’ll find that lots of casinos have them set at around 35x your bonus. Bear in mind that if you have to play through both the deposit and the bonus, this can add a significant amount of money you have to spend to satisfy the wagering requirements.
Another important point in the terms and conditions is the cap on winnings. Just about every bonus has a limit on how much actual money you can win from it. If you’re playing a game using a bonus and you happen to win a large sum of money that goes over the limit, you won’t get paid any more than the limit.
Of course, everything in the terms and conditions is worth knowing before you claim any kind of bonus. Always read the fine print in full to see exactly how you acquire a bonus and what you can and can’t do with it.
Independent Game Testing
Despite the fact that online casinos have been around for well over twenty years by now, there are still those people out there who just do not trust online casino games. Apart from live dealer games, the games that you see online are animated and powered by random number generating software. This software is calibrated to pay out a set amount so as to replicate the mechanics of physical versions of these games. Therefore, it is very important for players to be able to trust in the games that they are playing online. Without this trust then the online casino industry would cease to exist.
One of the ways that online casinos encourage their players to believe in their products is by having respected licenses, and another is by getting their games independently tested. There are bodies in operation which exist in order to carry out tests on online gambling games. eCOGRA is one of the more prominent and respected of these organizations within the online gaming industry but there are others which exist to make sure that online casinos are playing it fair. You will find the certification at the bottom of the page next to where the casino’s regulator is located.
- eCOGRA is a well established testing agency and regulatory body for the online gambling industry. The company is based in the UK and was set up in 2003. Its purpose is to ensure that casino games are fair and working properly, that operators are behaving responsibly and that players are protected. It also tries to prevent underage gambling and reduce crime. The company’s name stands for eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance.
- iTech Labs. This is another regulatory body that is similar to eCOGRA in what it does. iTechLabs has been testing online casino software and working to make online gambling safe, fair and enjoyable for everyone since 2004. The independent company is based in Melbourne.
Joining an online casino – a respectable one anyway – will involve you confirming your age and identity to make sure you can legally play. This can involve sending important documents such as passport or ID scans, and you need to know that these are being kept securely. Plus of course playing at an online casino involves financial transactions, and you don’t want any problems with your transactions being intercepted. Casinos which fail in either of these regards will find themselves with some major problems as they will not be able to get a respected license and players will stay away in droves.
Casinos keep all of this information safe by using secure encrypted software. This means that nobody is able to access information that is supposed to be private and confidential. Reputable casinos will constantly update their software to ensure that it is the latest and most sophisticated available. You can check the security of a site at a glance, by looking at its url. If that begins with https (as opposed to http) it means that the site is secured.
You should also be able to see a green padlock or similar symbol which shows that a website is secured. The reality is that because it is so important for popular online casino sites to hold onto their licenses – not to mention their customers – that you will be able to play online safe in the knowledge that your personal details are perfectly safe and secure.
- An SSL Certificate shows that an online casino uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption technology. What this technology does is it secures all monetary transactions made at a casino, i.e. deposits into a player’s account and withdrawals out of a player’s account. It also protects information uploaded to the casino, including a player’s personal details, to ensure that sensitive data can’t be compromised and stolen.
- Transport Layer Security (TLS) is another type of encryption protocol that’s used to keep things safe and protected at online casinos. It’s a more modern and advanced version of SSL encryption, though it works in a similar way. Many online casinos now use Transport Layer Security encryption.
Going Through the Player Authentication Process
If you’re going to gamble at an online casino with real money, you’ll need to complete the player authentication process before you can cash out your winnings. Casinos have these procedures in place to confirm a player’s identity, make sure a player is old enough to gamble and check the player hasn’t previously self-excluded.
To complete player authentication, you’ll have to send the casino copies of documents that confirm your identity, such as a driver’s licence or a passport. At some casinos, you can sign up and play games with your own money before completing the authentication process. On the other hand, some casinos may require you to complete it before yous tart playing.
The Random Number Generator (RNG) Explained
A random number generator (RNG) is a software program that randomises the outcome of casino games. When you play any sort of game at an online casino, the line-up of symbols on the reels or the cards that are revealed are determined by the random number generator. Thanks to this software, the outcomes of games are well and truly unpredictable and all players have the exact same chances of winning; there’s no bias and games are always fair.
Trusted Casinos Promote RTPs
In case you’re unfamiliar with RTP, it’s a figure that represents how much of your money the average bet returns. It’s measured as a percentage and the higher, the better. Each individual casino games, whether it’s a slot, a table game, a live dealer game or something else, has an RTP. A lot of the time, a game’s RTP is listed in its paytable.
Every casino has its own RTP too. This is worked out by taking the amount of money paid in winnings and dividing it by the amount of money taken in bets, then multiplied by 100. A casino’s RTP is usually measured over a set period of time, e.g. a few months, and it can change from one period to the next.
Some online casinos display their most recent RTP for players to see. Others list the RTPs of all of their games. If a casino doesn’t reveal any RTPs at all, this isn’t necessarily a red flag, as many highly rated sites don’t display them.
Online casinos encourage people to gamble responsibly. Each casino should have a page on responsible gambling that offers help and resources for those who think they may have a problem. Below is a summary of what you may find at a casino’s responsible gambling page:
- Limits you can set up, such as limits on how much you can deposit into your account, how high your bets can be and how much you’re able to lose
- Having your account blocked for a set amount of time, or even indefinitely
- Putting limits on how much time you can spend at a casino
- Blocking certain games
- Links to trusted gambling addiction charities
Even though online casinos have to make money (they are businesses, after all), they still have a sense of responsibility for their players. It’s also good from a business perspective to give problem players as much the help they need. After all, if a casino doesn’t provide players with help, it can end up getting in trouble from a regulatory authority, it can get fined and it can get some unwelcome bad publicity.
Dependable Withdrawals at Reliable Online Casinos
One of the most common reasons that customers complain about online casinos comes down to the thorny issue of withdrawals. People get understandably upset when there are excessive delays or when withdrawals are not permitted. Some of this comes down to confusion on behalf of the player. For example, casinos may request ID scans before withdrawals are processed as they are obliged to do if licensed by respected regulators such as the UKGC or Malta Gaming Authority. It may also happen that funds are locked into a bonus and so cannot be withdrawn until a certain wagering requirement has been met.
However, there have been incidences when casinos have simply refused to pay out winnings to deserving players. Dodgy casinos have added terms and conditions after the event to justify paying out jackpot wins, and there have been plenty of complaints of unnecessary delays in processing withdrawals.
The Casino Gorilla hates any kind of improper conduct with a passion, and only recommends the most trustworthy of online casinos. If you see a casino listed on these pages you can be confident that your withdrawals will be processed in a timely manner without any pointless delays and that you will receive all of your winnings whenever you want to claim them.
Reliable Partners and Brands
It’s not just enough for an online casino to be reliable, the companies it partners with and the services it uses have to be reliable as well. These include:
- The companies that supply the casino with its games. If a casino gets games from trusted providers, there shouldn’t be any problems. However, casinos with games from dodgy providers may risk getting into trouble if the games are unfair to players in any way.
- The payment methods it allows players to use. Most casinos only accept tried and tested payment methods, such as established bank cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards and more. Many players feel safe when they use a payment method they know they can trust.
A good online casino needs to have a good customer support team, as these are the people who will be interacting with their players. The customer support team is the only human contact players will have with the casino (besides the dealers at the live casino tables) and often if somebody is contacting customer support they are unhappy about something. This is when a professional and friendly customer support staff is vitally important.
Dealing with player queries and issues competently and with empathy can lead to an increased level of loyalty to the casino. And naturally, the opposite is true if a customer receives bad customer service. The Casino Gorilla looks for online casinos with a good reputation for customer support and where staff are easy to contact at all times.
Making It Easy to Find Important Information
Online casinos should be upon and upfront with their players. When someone visits an online casino, it should be easy for them to find important information, such as where the casino is licensed, who operates the site, what the terms and conditions are and so on.
If there’s something you want to find out that isn’t displayed, you should contact customer support. A team member should be able to fill any gaps and provide you with important facts that aren’t displayed on the casino site.
The more information you can find out, the better. If you come across an online casino that doesn’t supply any basic details and customer support won’t help, it’s best to sign up somewhere else instead.
Track Record of Trusted Online Casinos
The track record of online casinos is something that is very easy to check with a minimal level of research. A quick search online will reveal a lot about the experiences of other players with a particular casino as well as any major issues involving the site. The fact is that casinos which have been operating for a long time – say ten years or more – must be doing something right or they would have gone out of business long ago.
Don’t worry though, you won’t need to do your own sleuthing into the background of online casinos as the Casino Gorilla has done the hard work for you. The big guy checks out every casino for any issues or problems and is careful to only point our readers in the direction of fair and trustworthy online casinos.
Reputation and Age
As we mentioned above, the age of an online casino can be a good indicator as to both its quality and its record for fair play and security. The online casino industry is a relatively new one, as even the very oldest casinos date back to the late 1990s. With that in mind, any site which has been in business for ten years or more is positively ancient and has obviously been keeping players satisfied for a long time. Of course, that doesn’t mean that new casinos are untrustworthy – everybody has to start somewhere – they just can’t attain quite the same levels of trust as a veteran casino.
Reputation is crucial for an online casino, as without trust you will quickly go out of business. Mud sticks, and any improper behavior or actions from the past will remain online just a quick search away. That’s why you are best to follow the recommendations of the world’s best casino-loving gorilla, as only the best get his approval.