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If you want to play real money online casino games, then you may find the choice overwhelming. With so many casino sites to choose from, how are you supposed to decide which are the best and ultimately where you should be playing? That’s where we can help. To help you find the best online casino, we have thoroughly researched, reviewed and rated the biggest names in the industry and compiled all the info you need about the top 10 online casinos. We won’t just tell you which is the best though, we will also provide detailed information about each operator, in minute detail. We’ll explain exactly how we tested each provider so you can be confident that you have a concise and accurate overview of them all.
In this table, you can see some of the important criteria that make a good casino. This is just an overview and you’ll find in depth info about each of these important topics in our reviews. In each of the thorough reviews, you can find useful details about bonuses, payment options, security, mobile apps, and much more. Probably the most important factor that outweighs all others is that the casino operates safely and legally. We’ll look at this topic in more detail later in this article.
Our Ratings and How We Reviewed Each Online Casino
In order for any operator to provide services to players in Great Britain, they must hold a valid licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission. Needless to say, we only included casinos that hold valid licences, and as such are 100% legal. Licensing therefore was not part of our rating, as this was absolutely necessary to warrant our consideration. Next we used 10 criteria covering all aspects of top online casinos, to create a fair and objective test of the operators. Some of these criteria are extra important, and involve a lot of details. As such, we have included separate main pages dedicated to some of these topics. In our bonus page, you will find out not only what offers are available at the 10 casinos, but also all relevant details regarding how to get them and any conditions linked to them. We’ve also dedicated a page to live casino. Here you’ll find out what games are available at which casinos, how many tables there are and the betting limits. There is also a main page covering all aspects of casino mobile apps in detail. Finally, we have created a page dedicated to using PayPal at online casinos. The tenth category includes bonus points for interesting aspects of the casinos, that although do not require an individual review, still are important and should not be overlooked.
How Big Is the Game Selection?
Games are ultimately the primary consideration when assessing an online casino. We’re not just talking about the number available, the variety and quality are just as important. So what exactly does this entail? Well for starters, there should be a good variety of games to choose from. Popular games such as roulette and blackjack should include several different variants, and not just traditional types either. So rather than roulette choice being limited to classic variants of French, European and American, a good game selection will also include interesting and exciting options such as pinball, multi-wheel and 3D Roulette. Likewise for blackjack, along with classic and multi hand choices, many UK Online Casinos also offer various alternatives like Blackjack Surrender, Switch and Double Attack, to name just a few. Slots undoubtedly make up the bulk of any online casino’s game collection, with most operators providing hundreds of games to choose from. You’ll find a huge variety of types and themes when it comes to slots, from classic style fruit machines to video slots based on popular films and TV programs.
Slots, roulette and blackjack are the most popular UK online casino games, and a balanced range should be offered by an operator to meet their customer’s needs. Yet, there are other games, which although not generally as popular, should still be provided to cater to all tastes. So whilst it is true that you’ll find a smaller selection of other games, like video poker, arcade games, and tables games, such as craps and baccarat, they should still be provided by any decent casino. When assessing and comparing the game selection, we have omitted the live dealer games. These have been put to the test in a separate category, which you will learn more about shortly. Overall, in my opinion, William Hill boasts the best game selection. Not only do they have the largest total number of games, and a staggering number of slots, there is also a good balance across all game types, giving plenty of choice to all types of players.
How Good Is the Bonus Offer?
Pretty much every operator offers some sort of bonus to entice you to join their casino. There are various benefits to be had, from free spins to percentage matches on your first deposit. As this is such a broad topic, we have dedicated a page specially to bonuses. On the casino bonus page, you will find all you need to know about the various bonuses on offer from each of the casinos, and all of the important details linked with each.
How Does the RTP for All the Games Compare?
Return to Player (RTP) is often misunderstood or overlooked by players. The following table shows the payout percentages across all games for our selected operators. This shows how much of all bets placed for each game are paid back to players. It’s important to understand that these payout rates are calculated over a long period of time and over many many hands, providing an overall average return to player. So this is not the amount that you are guaranteed to win when you play a particular game. Take for example the days where you play and play and walk away empty handed, compared to those where luck seems to be on your side and you end up with a nice profit. The higher the RTP, the lower the house edge. There are even some games which lack the house edge altogether, like Betfair Casino, meaning the RTP reaches as much as 100% for certain games.
*The RTP for each game is usually found in the game rules on the casino website. Many operators also publish actual payout reports from independent testing agencies such as eCOGRA and GLI, detailing the actual percentage returned to players across specific game categories during a particular time period. However, there are some casinos, such as Betway that list no information regarding the theoretical return for the individual games. Yet, they do provide actual payout reports from eCOGRA detailing the overall amount returned to players for slots, poker games and table games. This means that you lose the option of seeing specific details for particular games, but it gives you an overall picture of the average amount returned to players across various game categories. For this omission of detail, we deducted a point from Betway. In the interests of transparency, we would like to see Betway also include the theoretical RTP for individual games in the game rules.
As you can see from this table, the differences in the payout rates at each of the casinos we tested do not differ greatly. All provide high return to player percentages, with only slight variations in the highest and lowest payout rates, which you can see highlighted in red and green. When you consider classic games, like roulette and blackjack, the same values are often found across many casinos, due to the fixed rules of the games. The same goes for blackjack. Likewise, you will find little variance in the RTP of video poker games. When it comes to slots, you will find that the theoretical payout rates can vary from 90% up to 99%. It’s, therefore, useful to check the game rules for slots to find out which offer the greatest chance of winning. Any slots offering payout rates of below 90% just do not offer good value for money when you consider how high the RTP’s can reach.
Maybe you’re wondering how the RTP of slots at online casinos compares to slots in land based casinos? Well as a general rule, payout percentages in brick and mortar casinos are considerably lower than their online counterparts. The reason for this being mostly the higher operating costs, which are reflected in the reduced payouts. Another consideration when comparing online and land-based slots is the maximum payouts allowed. When it comes to online slots, there are no limits and restrictions on the maximum amount that can legally be paid from a machine. Therefore, you can see some truly astonishing progressive jackpot prizes online, like 888 Casino’s Millionaire Genie slot, whose jackpot regularly exceeds £1 million. This is not the case for slots in land based casinos. According to UK Gambling Commission legislation, slots are sorted into various categories, with limits on the maximum bet and the maximum payout allowed. The Category A slot allows unlimited payouts, yet these machines are only permitted in a regional casino. As you may be aware, there are no regional casinos in the UK, after the government decided not to proceed with the project. Therefore, currently, the highest machine category available in UK land based casinos is the B1. This allows a maximum payout of £10000 with the option of a maximum £20000 linked progressive jackpot on a premises basis only. So clearly, playing slots online is much more favourable, given that there are higher payout rates and that the jackpots up for grabs are unlimited.
Clear Website and Modern Software
Ever joined a new casino and had a feeling of deja vu? It could well be down to the software provider the casino uses to power their site. The casino operators do not program the software used on their sites themselves. Instead, it is supplied by a software development company. These software providers supply their services to numerous operators. Therefore, there are many similarities between some casinos, and comparing casinos with the same software provider will often look and feel very similar. When you play at a Playtech Casino, like Betfair, William Hill or Ladbrokes for example, you’ll find many of the same games and a similar layout and feel across all sites. This is true of both the downloadable software and the web-based version, where you play the games directly in the browser.
So what is important in terms of the casino software and website? For starters, the software needs to be user-friendly, intuitive and easy to navigate. What’s more, it needs to be stable and reliable, there’s nothing more frustrating than games crashing regularly. It’s also appealing to find slick graphics, and contemporary design, along with quick loading times. Access to useful information is also important. We assessed how easy it was to find info about bonus terms, payout rates and deposit fees. Better marks were given to those sites that clearly listed this info, rather than those where you had to trawl through pages and pages of terms and conditions to find the relevant details.
On the whole, the casinos performed well, with just a few minor exceptions worth mentioning. The two Microgaming casinos we reviewed, 32Red and Betway both felt a little bit dated, especially compared to the likes of 888 Casino, which was slick and well presented, both the downloadable software and the instant play version alike. As for Leo Vegas Casino’s platform, the site is very bright, inviting and full with high-quality NetEnt games, yet there was a distinct lack of information available. It was a good job the customer support agents were on the ball and able to quickly answer the many questions we couldn’t find the answers to on the site itself.
Live Game Selection
Never can you get closer to the experience of playing in a real land based casino from the comfort of your own home, than by playing live dealer games. Live casino games have been around for a while now, having first become available way back in 2002. But as you can imagine, the quality of the streaming and the overall gaming experience left a lot to be desired back when they were first launched. With the vast improvements in technology over the past 13 years, live casino games are now slick and high quality, where you can chat to the croupiers and really immerse yourself in the casino environment. The topic of live casino games will be discussed in more detail on a dedicated page.
How well does the Mobile App Perform for each Casino?
With the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets, it comes as no surprise that online casinos have developed their games to work on mobile devices. Yet when it comes to mobile development, casinos were a bit late to the party. As such, there’s still quite a limited selection of mobile games available for most casino apps. There is a lot to be discussed regarding mobile casino apps, and you can find out everything you need to know in the mobile app page.
Safety and Security
Safety is a very important factor when assessing an online casino, and there are various areas covered under this umbrella. Probably top of the list comes licensing, given it is absolutely mandatory that an operator is in possession of a licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission, to legally provide services to players in the UK. In order to gain a licence, UK Casinos must adhere to the strictest standards and regulations. Also to be taken into consideration regarding safety is the fairness of games, IT technical security and player protection.
As regards IT security, it is imperative that adequate measures are taken to encrypt sensitive information to keep the data protected. Some operators encrypt all connections, but often it is just the financial transactions which are protected using secure sockets layered (SSL) protocol. We checked for certification from reputable IT security companies which guaranteed the safety of submitting sensitive personal information.
o ensure the fairness and integrity of games, safe online casinos will use testing agencies to provide regular analysis of the random number generator (RNG) and the RTP. Such authorities include the likes of eCOGRA (E-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance), Technical Systems Testing (TST), Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) and Gaming Associates. All are recognised by the UKGC, and are independent from the casino operators. You will often see certificates from these testing agencies in the footer of the casino websites, with links to the most recent payout reports.
Finally, we considered the measures taken by each operator to protect their players from problem gambling. A safe online casino will work with non-profit making organisations, to identify ways to protect their players, and to provide support for those experiencing problems with their gambling habits. Not only do the operators provide advice to their players, and contact details for professional organisations that can help with gambling addiction, they also contribute to organisations financially, investing in the support of problem gamblers and gambling addiction prevention.
Available Payment Options and Fees
In order to play real money casino games, you will first need to fund your player account. Deposits should be swift, straightforward and safe. The other considerations to take into account are the choice of payment methods available and any fees attached to deposits. A good operator will provide a large choice of payment methods which are free from charges. The vast majority of online casinos will accept payments by credit and debit cards, but when it comes to alternative methods, there can be quite a lot of variation from one operator to the next. Also, differences can be found in the minimum and maximum limits placed on deposits and withdrawals, and also there can be considerable variations regarding processing times, particularly for withdrawals. Fast withdrawals are very important to players, so you will see here that we have included the withdrawal times for the operators for you to see at a glance how they compare. We have used the timescales for withdrawals via credit/debit card and e-wallets to provide a general overview.
As you can see from the table, all the operators accept credit and debit cards, with a variety of alternative payment methods also accepted. Some operators fare better than others, in terms of the sheer variety of payment options available, compared to say Sky Vegas, who only offer PayPal and bank transfer as alternatives to paying by card. The majority of operators charge no fees for making a deposit. The only exception here is Betfair, who disappointingly charges fees for depositing through various methods. From 31st August 2015, Ukash is no longer available in the UK, having been replaced by paysafecard. Although vouchers can still be redeemed until October 2015, we have decided to omit Ukash from this table.
What Customer Support Is Available?
Reliable and helpful customer support is an important consideration when assessing a casino. You need to know that help is available should you ever need it. It should also be available through various options, including phone, preferably free of charge, email and probably the most convenient option, live chat. It is also a plus if the customer support is available round the clock, so there is always help on hand whenever you need it. If you prefer to contact customer service by email, then it’s also helpful to know how long it generally takes to get a reply.
Overall, there is a good level of customer service provided by all of the operators. All provide live chat 24/7, and with the exception of InterCasino, support is also available by phone round the clock. It’s worth noting however that calls to Mr Green and Betfair will be charged at standard UK rate, where as the other casinos provide their phone service free of charge. Email queries were responded to within 24 hours by all operators, with 888 Casino leading the way with the fastest replies to our questions. All the operators also provided an additional customer support channel, from on site contact forms, to Skype.
Bonus Points for Extra Features
These criteria give a solid foundation to asses and compare operators. Yet there are also other factors that are of interest, which do not fall into any of these categories. This is why we have included a bonus points category in each casino review, where extra points are awarded for certain features. Take for example awards that have been won by the operators. If a casino has been recognised and rewarded by industry respected authorities, then this provides proof of the quality of the casino, and definitely deserves recognition. It’s worth taking note though, some awards that casinos boast on their sites can be rather unauthentic. Many affiliates gift such awards to any casino that they are promoting to paint them in a good light. The only awards that we gave full bonus points for were the prestigious, independent awards managed by well respected organisations, such as the EGR Awards (egaming review), IGA (International Gaming Awards) and the Global Gaming Awards.
Further bonus points can be earned for promotions. Some operators offer a massive range of interesting and rewarding promos, that set them apart from the competition, with others providing very little after the initial draw of a welcome bonus. We also awarded bonus points where special games were offered by the casino, such as exclusive titles, not found anywhere else, or massive jackpot games. Operators that provide a loyalty scheme and a VIP program also earned an extra point. Finally, our wild card offers an extra point where a casino has something extra and unique to boast. You’ll find the bonus points earned by each casino in their respective reviews.
More Information about how we Tested
So now that you know which categories we used to analyse and compare the casinos, we’ll now give you a close up look at how we actually used some of these criteria to put the casinos to the test.
How We Determined the RTP of the Games
As mentioned earlier, the payout rate or RTP is calculated over thousands and thousands of games, working an average of the amount of money bet to the amount of money returned to players as winnings. As such, we were not in a position to manually test and calculate the actual RTP of each and every game offered by each casino, the variance would be too high to give an accurate result. What’s more, the calculation is more complex than simply working out an average, and you need to know the probability of the occurrence of each symbol, which is not divulged by the game manufacturers. The calculation of payout percentages is carried out by regulators, who have analysed the games in detail and verified and approved the results of the games.
So maybe you’re wondering how we arrived at our results? Well, the majority of casinos list the theoretical return-to-player percentage in the rules of each individual game. We analysed these figures and compiled the range of the RTP for each individual game within each given category. This was not a simple case of picking out the lowest figure and the highest figure, as this could be rather misleading. Take for example slots. When analysing the returns for over 200 games, we could see RTP ranging from 80% – 99%. Yet if there are just 1 or 2 games below 90%, and more than three quarters with an RTP above 95%, then it gives a clearer, more accurate overview by discounting these 1 or 2 games from the results and adjusting the RTP range accordingly.
More About How We Tested the Software
We looked at how we assessed the website and software previously on this page, yet there is 1 factor missing there – the minimum requirements. We included not only hardware requirements but also any software specifications, such as compatible browsers and plugins needed. The majority of the operators listed this info on their sites, and as such, we used this to provide the technical specifications within each casino review. Where this info was lacking from a site, we tried to test the minimum requirements using our own equipment. This did prove challenging, though, as very old equipment is required to match the lowest of requirements. In these cases, we ultimately provided details of the minimum hardware and software requirements we were actually able to confirm with our equipment.
How We Tested the Payments
In order to provide accurate information regarding payments, we compiled the details recorded on each casino’s website. We also performed an audit, making test payments with a variety of payment methods across the casinos. This allowed us to verify that the data provided by the operator was correct and up to date. As regards withdrawals, the majority of operators require an ID check to be performed prior to the first cash out. For some operators, this ID check is mandatory even before making the first deposit. As with the payments, we also tested the ID verification process across the operators, to ensure that is matched the instructions recorded on the casino website.
The Advantages of Playing Online
For those who have only played in a land based casino, and are yet to experience playing casino games online, the advantages of the online version will soon become very clear. It may be quite surprising to see all the added benefits the electronic version offers.
Let’s start with the games. Without the limitations of space, online casinos can provide way more games than you’d find in a land based casino. What’s more, a huge number of online casinos allow you to try the games for free, so you can practice and get familiar with the ins and outs of the games before even parting with your own money. You can also forget waiting when playing online. If someone else is playing your slot of choice, you do not have to patiently wait for them to move along for you to have your turn. When playing online, an unlimited number of people can play the same game at the same time.
The only exception to this rule applies to live games. The majority of tables will allow unlimited numbers of players, so if you opt for Roulette, Baccarat, Three Card Poker or Casino Hold’em, you can enjoy the action right away, no waiting involved. If your game of choice is blackjack, then this is where you may find that you have to queue. A maximum of 7 players can join a blackjack table at any one time, so once they fill up, you may have to wait your turn. However, you will often find numerous tables available to play live blackjack at an online casino, so you will generally not have to wait very long. What’s more, there is often the option to bet behind, so even when a table is full, unlimited numbers of players are still able to bet on the game that is taking place.
Next up are the opening times. Online casinos are open around the clock, including weekends and bank holidays. Whenever the urge takes you, you can play your favourite games instantly, from the comfort of your own home. The customer service is generally always available too, with many online casinos providing live chat and phone support 24/7. As for the payout rates, you undoubtedly get a better deal playing online. As the operating costs are considerably lower for online casinos, these savings are passed on to players through higher payouts. RTP’s for classic games such as roulette and blackjack do not differ greatly, as they are determined by the rules of the game, but slots offer a much higher return when playing online.
You will be required to make a deposit online prior to being able to play real money games. The great news here is that there is generally a huge selection of payment options to choose from. Whether you prefer to pay with a credit or debit card, an e-wallet or a prepaid voucher, you will usually be catered for. Deposits are quick, simple and safe and what’s more, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a bonus on top when you make your first deposit, giving you even more playing time and value for money. To find out more about the types of bonus up for grabs for new players, then check out our dedicated bonus page.
Operators Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission
Recently, changes came into place regarding how remote gambling operators providing services to players in the UK are licensed, regulated and taxed. Before these changes took place, casinos were generally licensed and regulated in the EU, most commonly in Gibraltar or Malta. Prior to November 2014, less than 15% of remote gambling operators held a licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission. Nowadays, with the introduction of the new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, all operators offering their services to players in Britain must be in possession of a licence issued by the UKGC. The purpose of this change in legislation was to provide extra protection to UK players, by ensuring that all gambling operators were subject to consistent regulation.
It is not just casinos that are affected by these changes in the law either. All remote gambling operators, including poker, bingo and sports betting providers need to hold the relevant licence. In order to get and to keep their licence, there are strict standards that operators must adhere to. These include complying with technical standards, including testing of the Random Number Generator software to ensure the fairness and integrity of games and payouts. There are also specifications regarding the segregation of customer funds, with clear disclosure to customers regarding how their money is protected. Operators must comply with anti-money laundering policies and practices. What’s more, there is a strong focus on social responsibility, such as protecting minors from gambling and recognising and taking measures to prevent compulsive gambling.
How to Recognise a Licensed Operator
So how can you confirm if a casino holds a valid licence from the UKGC? There are two foolproof ways to verify that a casino holds a licence, and is, therefore, safe and legal. First of all, check the casino website for the Gambling Commission’s logo. This will usually be found in the footer of the main page.
The other step is to check the UK Gambling Commission’s official website. There you will find a handy tool, where you can enter either the name of the operator, or the number of their gambling licence. This will return all details of the operator and their licence, enabling you to confirm if the licence is valid, or if it has been suspended, forfeited, revoked or has expired. Usually, when you click the Gambling Commission logo from the casino website, you will be linked directly to the relevant page on the UKGC website which lists all the relevant details of the operating licence. Once these two steps have been completed, you can play with complete peace of mind that the site is operating legally and that player protection is treated as a high priority.
Conclusion: Top Casinos for Safe and Entertaining Gambling
Playing online casino games can be very entertaining and enjoyable, provided you can find a safe and reputable operator with everything you are looking for. Players’ needs vary, what is right for one person, is not a good fit for another. This is where our reviews are indispensable. For starters, all 10 of the operators are safe, legal and treat player protection as a priority. Through the info you’ve seen on this page, and the detailed reviews of each individual casino, you will find out everything there is to know about them all.
By using our detailed online casino reviews, you can hand pick the perfect one for you. We have covered every important aspect, so you can make an informed choice as to which will suit your needs. Through our testing, the clear winner is 888 Casino and rightly deserves the title of the best online casino in the UK. It offers the full package, including a great game selection, a top mobile app, tonnes of rewarding bonuses and promotions, and then some. Hot on its heels is William Hill. A solid and well-established operator with an outstanding performance across all categories. It’s hardly surprising that both casinos have been crowned with the title of Best Operator at the prestigious EGR awards, amongst many other top awards. Overall, all 10 casinos we reviewed had their strengths and weaknesses. You can find out exactly how they performed in our dedicated casino reviews.