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Online Casino Reviews
Picture the scene. You’ve just passed 18 and you’re now legal to gamble online. All your life you’ve been exposed to gambling advertising – not least via the shirts of your favourite football team – and you fancy giving it a go. So you stick “online casino sites” into Google and… We’ve just tried it – at the end of October 2018 – and got 207,000 hits. By the time this is published and you get your hands on your own Google results who knows how many results there will be. So what does our young friend do? He could trust the site that sponsors his favourite football team. But just because a company spends a lot of money on advertising doesn’t mean it’s the best company for you to play with – if you based your diet on the biggest advertisers in the food market you’d be found dead in a pile of Coke and McDonald’s packaging within a month.
Fictional Gambling Person does have options though.
When you want to check out a game, you read a review. When you want to buy a book (remember them?!) you read some reviews. And when a new film is launched they fill up the poster with great quotes from reviews – not all of them genuine and we’ll come to that later. So, when you want to try some casino sites then you should check out some casino reviews!
Casino Reviews – where to start
Before you even think about looking at reviews though, you need to be sure that a site that you want to use is safe and legal for you to use. This will very much depend on where you are. In the UK you need to find UK Gambling Commission licensing. In the US you need to make sure the site is licensed by the state authorities where you want to play it. And so on.
We can’t emphasise this enough: the site you want to use must be legal for you to use where you are now. If you attempt to get around age or geographic restrictions then you are looking for trouble, you are asking to get scammed and you are putting yourself in a position where you have no legal recourse.
There are loads of good, honest gambling sites out there so take your pick from them. Make sure you’re at a genuine site with good payment partners on the front page, with a real address in a legal jurisdiction that you trust – we’re not in the business of bad-mouthing whole countries, but you can fairly quickly work out where registration legislation maybe isn’t so stringent.
Online Casino Reviews – who reviews the reviewers?
The headline figure on an online casino review is almost always the site’s current bonus offer. You’ll usually be introduced to a site via a tile showing what you can expect to pick up for free. There are good reasons for this but you shouldn’t let a good bonus offer turn off your other critical faculties. Casino review sites know that seasoned players change sites all the time, and will be on the lookout for the biggest and best welcome bonuses. That’s how they find the review sites.
And here lies the semi-dirty, semi-secret truth of the casino review industry. A lot of sites depend on the casino sites for all of their income. If you think that that’s a conflict of interest then you’re not alone. Of course, it’s perfectly legitimate to charge a referral fee when you send a new customer to a casino site. A whole segment of the web in a number of different industries – utilities and phone contracts, travel companies and hotels, for example – operates in this way.
Charging referral fees is no black mark, but we should repeat our warning about casino sites themselves when you’re looking at casino review sites. Check out who owns the site, where it’s based, and have a look at the sites it reviews. Is it realistic and honest to have a site that only consists of glowing 10-out-of-10, OMFG-you’ve-got-to-sign-up-at-this-site-now reviews?
Rating Online Casinos
An online casino rating should be honest and thorough and go beyond just the welcome bonus. That’s a big shiny distraction in many cases because they change all the time in any case, and are often location restricted.
So what should you expect of online gambling reviews? You should certainly be able to get a decent understanding of what games the site has to offer. There’s a huge variety of games on offer now, and a good casino will have thousands of them from hundreds of developers. Some players like particular developers and will want to pick out those for their playing – NetEnt casinos for example.
A good review will go beyond that and tell you how the games are arranged and how easy it is to find the titles you’re looking for – a growing frustration for players.
Not just slots
And while slots are the mainstay of a lot of casino sites, the experience for many players goes much deeper than that and takes in traditional casino games and maybe even sports betting, bingo, and more. Casinos in the real world are best known for a small number of classic games. Typically this means roulette, blackjack, baccarat and poker, but there are more. A good online gambling review will tell you which of these games on offer. It’ll also tell you what variations are being played at a site – there is no game in the casino world that doesn’t have a mass of variants, some more lucrative to players, some more set up in the casino’s favour. Poker is a difficult game to find online, so you will need to check if the site you want to play at is offering video poker – which is really a version of a slot machine – or the actual game played at a table with real players.
Live Casino Reviews
This takes us into another area of gaming you should see covered in your online casino ratings site: live games. Live games are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s increasingly likely that you’ll see them at your favourite sites. However, these things aren’t easy to deliver, and it’s a service that can easily be carried out badly. It’s a high-tech and demanding service. Essentially, games are played out live in a studio with a live dealer, who interacts with the players. You bet in the same way you would on a simulated casino game, but you will probably have the chance to interact with other players and with the dealers too. It takes a lot of bandwidth to deliver that sort of experience. And the casino – or more likely a specialist live game supplier – has to employ, train and pay staff to a level that’s comparable to – and possibly higher – than that needed to work in a real casino. If you like live games you want to know not only that they are fair and honest, but that they are delivered with glitch-free streaming and with good staff. That’s something you can check with quality gambling reviews.
What else to look for in online casino ratings
There is plenty more to add to online gambling reviews. Casinos are now sophisticated sites. Some of them are mega sites linking together lots of services under a single brand. You’ll find sports betting alongside slots, alongside instant wins (an electronic version of scratch cards), alongside bingo… These may be linked sites or they may be all at one single address. Either way, it’d be good to know!
Mobile casino reviews
It’s reckoned – though no really accurate figures are available – that the majority of online gamblers now use mobile devices (not just phones but also tablets) to access their favourite games. Being a good customer-responsive industry, the online casino industry has been well ahead of this particular game. There are mobile sites you can browse too, and increasingly casino sites are offering downloadable apps that sit on your phones home screen.
A good casino ratings site will let you know what the quality of the site is, and whether you need to download an app or you can just browse to an address. Both have their advantages: apps are quick and convenient, but you need to make sure you keep up to date with the latest versions to get the best experience. Our biggest problem with using mobile apps, however, has always been that we think they make you too likely to use a site without checking out the competition.
Surely, the next step is casino review site apps which will pop up with the best new sites and the best online casino bonuses for their owners! It’s only a matter of time.
Mobile casino reviews – extras
Let’s assume that you’ve found an online casino review site that you like and that ticks most of the boxes – telling you what you need to know about a good range of online casino sites. What else can you expect from it? One extra that’s worth its weight in gold is a good guide to the casino world and its games. Casino sites themselves can be low on information. It’s certainly true that most casino operators seem to assume that everyone’s a seasoned expert in all the main casino games and can casually spot the difference between a French and an American roulette table. (Or perhaps they’re happier if they don’t know!)
So that’s a great bonus on your casino review site. Good, long-form explainers on the popular games. This can include slots too because it doesn’t take long in the online gambling world to realise that the help and information provided by some slot games are not of the best quality. It’s variable at best.
Casino Review Sites – Things to avoid
We’ve covered some of the pitfalls of online casino ratings already – basically, it amounts to a form of corruption in our opinion – but there are few other tells of a site that you might want to avoid. Be wary of sites that recommend a casino to you because they say you are likely to win there. Good casino sites do publish an overall theoretical return to player (it’s usually a percentage in the low to mid-90s). There should also be easy-to-find information on the RTP of individual games and machines. You should certainly look for these in online casino reviews. However, what you should never be told is that a site is “lucky” or pays out often. This is terrible advice and we’d browse away from any site that tells you this.
RTPs are long-term figures, often based on the whole lifespan of a game. When it comes to giving an RTP to a whole site it’s such a complicated business involving aggregating so many different figures that it’s a relatively useless measure for players. A decent RTP is something that should be there, and it’s a good sign that a site is honest and fair, but casino review sites that tell you a site is good value or a guarantee of good wins is playing you for a fool.
We’d also be cautious of sites that offer you systems to play casino games. Almost every game attracts this sort of nonsense, and it almost always is nonsense. Games are random, and the best a betting system can do is help you to keep your losses down. Some of them – including some of the most popular – are actively dangerous for young or inexperienced players. It goes without saying that a site that offers to sell you – or is full of links to sites selling systems – a gambling system should be avoided.
Casino Reviews Sites – the verdict
Casino reviews sites are a great addition to the gambling infrastructure. They can be information-packed and highly useful to players. Be cautious and do your homework before you take a review site on trust. As with actual casino sites, a pinch of salt and a bit of knowledge is a great addition to interacting with an online casino review site. And when you find a good one, cling on to it for dear life!