A Beginners Guide to Online Casinos
Ready to get started at the online casinos and start to enjoy the action that you have been missing out on for all these years? Then you have found the perfect guide to help you do just that.
Throughout our in-depth guide, you will learn everything you need to know about online casinos:
Choose a Good Online Casino
Online casinos are far safer and reputable than they were 10 to 15 years ago due to much stricter regulations, and even though they all offer similar slots and table games, there are still some that offer a better experience than others depending on what suits you.
When choosing an online casino there are various factors you must consider, and you will usually find that certain casinos fit certain types of people better.
Here are some of the influencing factors to choosing an online casino:
- Must be Fully Licensed
- Safe & Secure and using 128 or 256 bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Data Encryption
- Good welcome bonuses and promotions
- Massive catalogue of games
- Dedicated mobile app
- Play via your browser
- Games from multiple gaming providers
- Huge LIVE Dealer Suite
- Good customer support
- A good reputation
- Has a responsible gambling policy
Whether you require a mobile-optimised casino, one that has an excellent suite of LIVE dealer games, one that has fast withdrawal processing times, or one that uses your favourite gaming developer, there will be certain things in particular that you are looking for from an online casino.
Our Review Helps You!
This is why making the choice the right one for you is important. We have reviewed a number of top UK online casinos that accept players from the UK and Europe, and each of them is safe, secure and has earned our seal of approval – go and check out them out!
What You Should be Looking for in an Online Casino
There is no point going to an online casino with a ton of games if you are not able to deposit or withdraw due to lacking payment options and with the same token, there is little point signing up for an online casino with great welcome bonuses if it is not mobile-optimised and you want to play on your iPhone or Android.
Here are some common considerations that all players will have to make before deciding which online casino to sign up to:
Where is the online casino licensed?
Checking out the licensing of an online casino might not be considered as an important factor. However, in our opinion, it really should be.
In fact, we suggest that the licensing of an online casino should always be the first thing that you check out because the licensing bodies are there to protect you by giving online casino members a voice as well as reassurance.
The licensing authority determines the number and type of regulations that an online casino must adhere to before being certified by the licensing authority.
Imagine if online casinos were not regulated:
Without any regulations or if the regulations are soft, there is a good chance:
- You are not always being treated fairly
- You may not get paid for big wins
- Your personal and financial information is not being protected
- You have no voice if you have a dispute with an online casino
Licencesed Casinos Uphold Consumer Rights
Licenses allow online casinos to operate within their jurisdiction. This means an online casino that targets UK players must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, which is a strictly government operated entity.
Reputable online licensing authorities for UK, Europe, and Canada include:
- UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)
- Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
- Gibraltar Gambling Commission (GGC)
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC)
These authorities are at the forefront of online gambling and the most proactive as well as trusted licensing authorities. They ensure that players, their funds and their personal information are being protected by making sure the online casinos pass cybersecurity tests and policy implementation.
Added benfits include:
- Consumer rights are protected
- Casinos must pay players for wins
- Finacial restrictions on the casino means player money is safe
- Player privacy must be respected or the casino will be fined
The best of the 3 casino licensing authorities above is the UKGC.
- UK Players
If you are a UK player, then you should only consider playing as an online casino lincensed by the UK Gambling Commission UKGC.
- European Players
Saying that, both the MGA and GCC are also well respected licencing authorities for those players that are playing in Europe.
- Canadian Players
Kahnawake Gaming Commission is a highly recognised casino licensing body that protects Candians with consumer rights laws applied to any online casino that wants to operate in Canada.
Each of these casino lincensing authorties have the following qualities:
- Regulations in place ensure that random number generators behind the casino games are regularly tested to ensure results are fair.
- Security such as sophisticated firewalls and 128-bit SSL encryption to protect transactions, information and accounts.
- Player account balances are kept separate from the casino’s own assets, operational costs, and cash flow forecasts for the business.
Finding the licensing (or proposed licensing) that an online casino has is usually straightforward. It is usually found in the footer of the webpage. If it is difficult to find, then you are probably best off avoiding the casino altogether.
Below is an example of ‘VegasParadise.com’ where you can see that it has been licensed by both the UKGC and the MGA. Furthermore, it also has a seal of approval from eCogra which is also a big positive.
For players in the UK, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) insists that it licensees all online casinos that wish to cater to UK players.
This is different to some other countries that will allow their players to gamble online at online casinos that are licensed by regulatory authorities that are accepted by their governments such as MGA and GCC.
Are you able to play at the casino from your country?
The next consideration you will have to make is whether you can play the online casino from your country.
Fortunately, for UK players, you will be happy to know that each of the online casinos we have reviewed on our website are all legal and accepts UK players without any problems due to the UKGC.
For Other Countries:
- Make sure the online casino is legal in your country of residence
- Check if the casino is accepting players from your country of residence
If you have discovered that online gambling is illegal in your country, you are not going to be ‘legally’ allowed to gamble online at any online casino. You will also not be protected under local consumer rights laws.
How do I find you if an online casino is accepted in my country?
- Check the licencing authority (For UK the UKGC)
- Look at the online casino’s F.A.Q section
- Speak to the online casino’s support team
- Reading casino reviews
Is the online casino mobile-optimised?
For anyone looking to join an online casino for mobile play, one of the first things to check before joining is whether the online casino supports their specific mobile device’s operating system.
Mobile gambling is growing at an unbelievable rate. This no doubt comes as no surprise due to the advance in mobile technology, and the fact that almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet these days plus easy access to the internet.
As a result, operators have either had to ensure that their online casinos have:
- web-based versions of their casino that are mobile-optimised
- created mobile app versions of their casinos
- the ability to support Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry
This is all made possible via mobile-optimisation software which essentially detects the type of device, the size of its screen, and its specifications.
The system then customises the website so that it fits perfectly with that device. As a result, it doesn’t matter if you have a 14” screen or a 5” screen on your mobile device, the software will stream a custom configured version of the online casino game so that it fits and runs perfectly on the specific mobile device requesting access to the game. – See the best UK mobile casinos here
- Is there a standalone app or software that needs to be installed?
Online casinos develop standalone apps for mobile players to use. These apps are developed for:
- Windows Mobile
Most players prefer playing at the mobile casinos websites and through a browser, rather than through apps as the browser ten to have more games, and work smoother compared to playing through apps.
What reputation does the online casino have among players?
This has to be right up there with some of the most important deciding factors in our opinion. Even an online casino with suitable licensing can start to gain a bad reputation among players for varying reasons.
Here are some reasons online casinos can gain a bad rep among players:
- Poor customer service
- Long withdrawal processing times
- Too many documents needed with regards to making withdrawals
- Lack of game selections or limited payment options
- Lack of new game releases
- Slow server response times
- Lack of deposit methods
There are many review sites that will be able to tell you if an online casino is reputable or not. Just like each of our extensive reviews, a good review site will research every component of an online casino.
Check out our extensive casino reviews because we let you know just how we feel about them.
In addition to online casino reviews, if you also know other casino players, you can speak to them to get their opinions before signing up yourself. There are also plenty of online casino forums you can visit.
Recap on how to get honest reviews about an online casino:
- Check out online casino reviews
- Speak with other online casino players
It always pays to do a little bit of research on any online casino’s before joining. Your due diligence might just save you a lot of trouble further down the line.
Payment And Withdrawal Options
- Does the casino have the range of payment options that suit you?
Another big consideration you will have to make is whether the online casino has the ideal payment options for you.
Always check which methods the casino let you use to:
- Withdraw your winnings
- Deposit cash into your account
You will need to be able to deposit and withdraw money via your preferred methods in an efficient and convenient way. You will need to make sure you have a way to deposit and way to withdraw.
Usually, you will have the option of using:
- Credit/debit cards
- Bank transfers
While you are checking which methods to use to withdraw or deposit, you might want to check out the withdrawal times and pending times too, which we will cover in the next section.
- How quickly does the online casino process withdrawals?
This goes hand in hand with the previous topic as you will not only want a selection of payment methods to choose from, but you will also want these to be processed quickly.
In fact, a casino that can promise quick withdrawals (deposits are already quick) will instantly earn themselves interested players.
Nobody likes to win at an online casino and wait a week for their money. Unfortunately, there are many online casinos where this does happen – especially if credit/debit cards or bank transfers are the withdrawal method used.
E-wallets are usually the fastest way to get money out of an online casino but sometimes even this can take three business days depending on the online casino you have chosen.
- Check for pending times because this is usually where the hold up occurs.
Fortunately, there are some online casinos that can process e-wallet payments almost instantly. If you are looking for super quick deposits and withdrawals, then e-wallets are usually the best deposit/withdrawal options.
- Paypal – only works on some online casinos
These are the 3 most popular e-wallets online casinos work with.
Online Casino Bonuses and Promotions
- What is the welcome bonus like on the online casino?
In most cases, the first thing that any player will know about an online casino is the welcome bonus that it offers. These are designed to pull players in and will be advertised everywhere on the website of the casino.
While a welcome bonus on its own should never the only reason to sign up for an online casino, it should certainly be considered – especially if it is a good one.
You will find that you can get as much as £1,500 or more in match deposits in some places and even a ton of free spins as well. This could be for your first deposit only or spread across a number of your first deposits at an online casino.
It should be noted that you will not have access to this money straightaway, as in you will not be able to withdraw it or any winnings made from it. This is obviously to stop people just signing up and then withdrawing but it is also because the online casino has to have a chance to win this money back or at least some of it via playthrough requirements.
These playthrough wagering requirements will change from casino to casino and they could be as low as 20x the bonus received or as high as 50x. For that reason, it is always a good idea to look at the finer details of a welcome bonus rather than just looking at the big claims on the face of it.
- Does the online casino run regular bonuses and promotions?
While a welcome bonus is always something that is a big decider for players when they are looking for a new online casino, the regular bonuses, and promotions that online casinos offer should also be considered.
Some online casinos will run daily deposit bonuses, promotions, or other special events that can lead to many more benefits and advantages for players.
Alternatively, other casinos can be a little lax once they get players through the doors via their welcome bonuses. They assume that once they have the player, the player will stay there rather than looking for another online casino.
- Look for both regular bonuses + welcome bonus offer
- Avoid good welcome bonuses + low regular bonus offers
If regular promotions are something that you want from an online casino, you should be looking for those that are known for providing them.
- Check the online casino’s VIP/loyalty program
Also, many online casinos might offer a loyalty scheme or VIP program. The former is usually something similar to those reward cards you get from retailers where the more you spend the more points you will be given.
These points can usually be exchanged for cash to play with at the online casino or some other gifts.
As for VIP programs, these are usually reserved for the high rollers that bet big amounts or players that are regular visitors to the online casino.
These will generally bring added benefits such as priority withdrawals, increased withdrawal limits and personalised support among other things.
How many games does the online casino have available to play?
On average you are going to have a choice of between 250 to 1000+ games depending on the online casino that you choose.
Initially, there are 2 types of online casino players:
- Players that like to change things up and play many different games
If this is you, then you are going to want an online casino that has an extensive catalogue of games to choose from. This would be a mixture of slots and table games.
- Players that have a few firm favourite games
You are unlikely to move away from your chosen games. I.e. you are an avid Blackjack player or an avid slot fan only. A casino with a small collection of games is not such a bad thing for this type of player because they are only concerned with playing their favourite type of game.
It essentially comes down to your own preferences on the type and number of games that you like to see at online casinos.
- Online slots will represent the clear majority of games
For those looking to play online slots, it will more than likely come down to how many slots an online casino can offer. The higher number of slots usually means a wider variety of slots available such as classic slots, bonus slots, video slots, progressive slots, etc…
- Table games will represent a smaller number of games
Anyone looking to play a particular table game, then your choice of the casino may not be down to the number of games available. For example, a player that only play Roulette will look for the number of Roulette tables and how many variations are available. The same applies to a Baccarat, Poker, or Blackjack player.
- LIVE dealer games
LIVE dealer suits are very popular and quickly get crowded. Anyone looking to play at a LIVE Dealer Casino will want to ensure that there are plenty of dealers available so new tables open all the time. Also, the variation of styles of each game is another important factor.
If you are a fan of any of any of these types of games, it would be a good idea to check first if they have the games that you like before you go ahead and create an account at the online casino.
- Which game providers supply the games?
Many players will have their favourite software developers for whatever reasons. Whether this is down to the luck they have generally had on them, the enjoyment that they have had on titles from them or due to other aspects such as quality of graphics and animations will come down to personal preferences.
There are some are some serious names out there now that are responsible for producing some of the most popular online casino games.
You have the likes of:
- Play’N Go
If you do have a preference to which developers you prefer, you will find that some online casinos will stick to just one or two developers for their games.
However, if you would prefer to have an extensive range of games from a wide range of developers, then you will most likely want to check for an online casino that has games from several different providers.
You will find that some casinos will provide a selection of casino games from all the software providers above.
Do they have a good selection of LIVE dealer games?
If you like to experience online casino games that are about as close as you are going to get to the real thing, you are going to really love the many different LIVE suites of casino table games that are out there right now.
These live casino games are streamed to your computer or mobile device from studios or even real casinos and there are real-life dealers using the proper gambling equipment to determine your results.
- Live Roulette
- Casino Hold’em
- 3-Card Poker
We have only listed just a few examples of the classic casino games that you can play in a LIVE dealer casino. You will also find that there are many different variations of these games as well, so you are not limited to the same style of Roulette or Blackjack.
For instance, European, French, and American Roulette tables are all variations of Roulette available in online LIVE dealer suites.
You should also check other factors including:
- Variation of games available (If you like playing different variants)
- How busy are the LIVE dealer suites?
- Can you play LIVE dealer games on your mobile?
There is nothing more annoying than choosing a LIVE casino where the LIVE table games are always full or there is a long waiting list or not being able to play on your mobile.
Make sure that mobile streaming to the LIVE dealer suites is available and that there are plenty of tables by using a reputable LIVE casino with one of the following LIVE dealer suites:
- Extreme LIVE Gaming
- Evolution Gaming
These LIVE Dealer software providers provide plenty of tables, so you rarely have to wait to be seated. Even the Blackjack tables are available thanks to Bet Behind features as well as plenty of dealers and tables available during peak times.
LIVE dealer games are not only great fun but because they are being played in real-time and with no random number generator software, you get to see your results as they physically happen rather than having them determined by software.
- Is their customer service responsive and do they have a variety of ways to be contacted?
The quality of customer service is another area that you will want to consider when you are searching for a new online casino to sign up to. When you get an issue, the last thing you want to have is customer support that is slow to respond and even slower to bring your issues to a resolution.
On the whole, customer service has improved a lot across the online casino industry due to some strict regulatory authorities that are known to side with players if they have been treated unfairly. However, despite these improvements, there is always going to be some that offer up better levels of customer service than others.
Throughout our reviews of online casinos, we always inform our readers of how good we feel the customer support is. What you want to look for is customer service that responds quickly, reaches a resolution quickly and has a number of different ways in which you can contact them.
Generally, getting in touch with customer service at the many online casinos is done via:
- LIVE chat
- Email forms on the website
- Requested call back to your telephone
- Social Media
Test Out the Casino with Some Free Games
Now that you know what you should be looking for from your online casino, the next step is to play some free to play games to get a feel for how they work. You are not required to deposit any money and can test out the many slots, table games, scratch cards, video poker games and instant win games using virtual credits that have no real-life value at all.
Almost every online casino will allow you to do this and in most cases, you do not even have to create an account.
Check out a number of games at your chosen online casino by playing free games to see if there is anything you like in particular. This is a perfect way to practise playing online casino games, understanding how the games work, and getting to know any rules that might be associated with them..
You can also play free slots games here at casinos.org.uk
*Please note that LIVE dealer games are the only games that you will not be able to play for free. This is simply because there are real dealers involved and they have to get paid after all.
Signing Up for an Online Casino Guide
When you do find an online casino that you are happy with and want to sign up for an account, this is fairly straightforward and can be done by following our series of steps.
Step 1: Navigate to the homepage of the online casino and click sign up.
You will see a screen similar to below:
Here you will be asked to fill in some basic personal information such as your name, email, date of birth and contact telephone number.
Step 2: Fill in your correct address (you will need to verify this when requesting a withdrawal)
Here you are asked to provide your full address and postcode as well as the country you are residing in.
Step 3: Complete your registration by creating a username and password.
Finally, you will be asked to create an account by giving a username and password, declaring your gender and then indicating which currency you would like to use at the site. This will be followed by being asked for further information such as your full address and country of origin.
Summing up the entire process, depending on the online casino you are signing up for, you will have to provide various information such as:
- Full name
- Full address
- Country of origin
- Date of birth
- Mobile number
- Email address
All online casinos differ so you may be asked for some additional information such as your occupation and a security question that you can use if you ever need to speak to anyone.
Step 4: Login to your new account:
Now all you need to do is log in with the username and password that you created. Some casinos may ask for an email address instead of a username but that is fairly straightforward to do as well.
Step 5: If required – download the app to the online casino
This will not be required for every online casino, so if yours does not have an app or is an instant-play casino that is done via the browser, you can ignore this step.
Here is an example from Golden Tiger Casino:
You will usually be able to find a download button to click that will take the specific app store that provides apps for your platform be it iOS, Windows 10 or Android. At the stores, you will have to click through a couple of steps to download the app but most of the process will be automatic after that.
If the online casino also has downloadable software for computers and laptops, this download will happen directly and will require you to decide where you would like the software to download to on your computer. Below is an example of what this will look like:
Once you have decided upon a location on your hard drive, the software will be downloaded and you will have to navigate to that location so that you can double click on the .exe file to install.
A dialogue box similar to the following will appear on your screen and all you have to do is select run.
Once the exe file opens up and starts running this is when you know that the software is installing. It might look something a little like this depending on which casino app you are using:
You may be asked questions such as where you wish to install the software on your computer and what language you wish your casino client to use once its ready.
Then you just let the install finish and you are now ready to start playing at the casino – for free at least until you make your first deposit.
That just about concludes this in-depth guide that has been aimed at any newcomers out there and we hope that you have gained some valuable information about online casino and what you should be looking out for when you decide you want to try one out for the very first time.