This section is all about online casinos – covering everything from what you can play and where you can find them. Plus a few hints and tips thrown in for good measure.
To kick things off, we’ve compiled a list of recommended casino sites which you can find below. Some of these are better known as bookmakers but they also offer casino games, whilst others are dedicated stand alone casino sites.
And, just like the bookies we list in our sports section, all of the following casinos are licensed and regulated in the UK. Remember you must be 18+ to gamble and other terms and eligibility criteria will apply.
Looking For Casino Bonuses?
Just like bookies, most online casinos offer bonuses to new players. These range in value from a handful of free spins to a cheeky tenner or even several hundred pounds. You can find a full list of these promotions on the pages below.
List of All Casino Sites
How Do Casinos Get Licences To Operate in the UK?
We’ve already had a look at bookies, but we should explore the way that online casinos work too because they’re a tad different, so it’s important to know how they are licensed and the ways in which your money is protected when you join them and have a flutter on their games.
In principle, an online casino can operate from anywhere in the world, so it’s not exactly practical to turn up on their doorstep if something goes wrong. That’s why it is imperative to check they have a UK Gambling license allowing them to legally offer their services to players in this country before you sing up.
In many ways there aren’t a huge amount of differences between the laws that apply to bookmakers and those that are in place for online casinos. They still have to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and they need to abide by the rules set out by both the 2005 Gambling Act and the 2014 Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act. The criteria laid out before companies hoping to open an online casino for punters in the UK are stringent, and those applying for a licence have to provide huge amounts of information about themselves. They are assessed on:
- Identity and Ownership
They also have to pay an application fee. That info is then looked over by independent bodies in order to ensure transparency and fairness throughout the proceedings.
Provided the casino meets all of the criteria they are granted a license, but this is not the end of it; the UKGC is constantly monitoring all license holders to ensure that they not only stick to the terms of their license, but also that they are quick to act on any changes or additional requirements. Licenses can be revoked and fines can be dished out to anyone breaking the rules.
There are different types of gambling license depending on the type of company that is being set up, but and online casino would need a remote gambling license, and there is an annual fee to pay for all license holders.
It is actually possible for more than one online casino to run on the same license. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do if you are a white label operating under a larger company.
You might have noticed that some online casinos have an oddly similar style or layout, and this is most likely because they are running on the same platform. The platform is the build of the website and the features included in it such as payment processing, customer support, integration, etc.
A white label company is an outside organisation that buys a platform provider’s website template and capabilities then slaps its’ own branding and theme over the top of it. It’s a bit like adding your own toppings to a cheese and tomato pizza – it’s not a literal comparison obviously, you need to go with the analogy.
Anyway, the license can come as part of the package. These platform providers need their own license and some of them run their own online casino brands too, but any outside companies operating as white labels are their responsibility, so they need to ensure their clients are playing by the rules or their own heads might be on the chopping block.
Operating as a white label is an attractive proposition for new casino brands because it is much cheaper than doing everything themselves from scratch, and much much quicker too.
White labels segue quite nicely into the subject of casino groups.
A group of white label brands operating under the same license is not the same thing as a casino group, although we can understand why you might think that.
A casino group refers to an umbrella organisation that manages a number of different casino brands, the difference is that the casino group owns all of the brands it operates, whereas white labels are independent but have bought the services of a larger company.
This setup allows the larger organisation to be protected should one of their brands end up in trouble, and also allows them to pool resources to some extent. Another benefit is that all of the casinos in the group can operate under the same license in a region, because it is the company at the top of the chain that holds the license.
Some groups even have brands that are available in different regions. BML Group are a pretty simple example to look at:
|BML Group||UK Licensed Brands||Other Brands|
|Casino Euro||Star Casino|
|Live Roulette||Loyal Casino|
So while BML Group owns all of these brands, they are run independently and targeted towards different markets – Schnellwetten Casino isn’t exactly UK marketing fodder, is it?
Some of the best known casino groups include:
- AG Communications Limited
- Betit Operations Limited
- Cassava Enterprises
- Daub Alderney Limited
- Dazzletag Entertainment Limited
- Genesis Global Limited
- Intouch Games Limited
- Jumpman Gaming
- Nektan Limited
- ProgressPlay Limited
Sometimes these groups launch all of their brands themselves – intouch games ltd are a perfect example of this – and other times the group is built by acquisition after acquisition, or sometimes it’s a mixture of the two.
How Do Online Casinos Make Money?
There’s a slight difference between the way that bookmakers make a profit and the way casinos do the same. Bookies normally balance the odds to ensure that there is a margin built in which gives them the greatest possibility of making money. Even so, they don’t have any control over what is going to happen, so even the bookie can lose occasionally.
This is not the case with casinos, mainly because of the fact that the games you’ll play in a casino, both physical and online, have fixed odds that guarantee them a margin.
The key to a casino’s ability to make money is the fact that they think long-term. If you flipped a coin one hundred times it might land on heads 59 times and tails 41. The next 100 times it might land on heads 48 times and tails 52, meaning that heads will still be ‘in the lead’. Keep flipping it, though, and eventually things will even themselves out to ensure that the coin has landed heads and tails an even number of times. That’s what casinos do, they know that over time the odds of a specific event happening will even out, so as long as they’ve got their edge built in to whatever it is that you’re betting on they’ll always come out on top.
Over a shorter period of time one player might win every single hand they play but another player will lose all of theirs, but if the lucky player continued indefinitely they would eventually lose their money too. That’s why they say ‘the house always wins’.
On a bet by bet basis casino games are better value for money than sports bets – some versions of roulette for example can have over a 98% payout. The difference is that we tend to place many more casino bets in one session than we do with sports, so over time the odds even out. There are occasions where the odds are in the favour of the player though, this can happen with games of skill and progressive jackpots.
Random Number Generators: Are They Fair?
Sometimes referred to as an RNG, Random Number Generators are the computer systems used by online game developers to ‘ensure’ that games are as fair as possible.
The only thing is, they’re not really random. That’s not because casinos are cheating – they’d be shut down in no time if they were – it’s just that nothing is truly random when it comes to mathematics. 2+2 will always equal 4, so there’s only a certain extent to which the randomness of RNGs can be guaranteed.
You might be wondering why this matters, after all you don’t play a game called RNG so it’s not your problem. Except if you’ve ever played a game online without a human dealer then an RNG will have been deciding the outcome of every spin you made. Whether you’re talking about online bingo, blackjack, or slot machines, Random Number Generators are used to ensure that the outcome is as random as it is possible to artificially be.
Policing this comes down to the external companies that test the software involved in RNGs, they run countless tests and demo spins/hands to make sure that the RNG is working as it’s supposed to. Licensed casinos have their software checked on a regular basis, so while there might be an edge built in favouring the casino, the result of each game will be as fair as it can be.
How Can Casinos Afford To Give Generous Bonuses?
Join an online casino for the first time and you’ll doubtless be offered what seems like a ludicrous welcome package.
“Deposit £100, Get £200 in Bonus Money!”, as an example.
How on earth do casinos manage it? Well, as mentioned before, the fact that they have a built in edge means that they make a pretty healthy profit every year almost guaranteed. Online casinos also have far fewer overheads than their land based cousins allowing them to direct more of their profits directly back to the customer.
Giving away ‘free’ money to entice players to place their wagers with that specific casino will work out in the casino’s favour in the long term. There’s also the fact that casinos normally apply well thought out terms and conditions to the welcome offers that mean only a small number of people end up walking away from an introductory bonus with cash in their pockets.
For example, there are turnover requirements, declaring that you have to bet your free money, say, thirty times before you can withdraw it. The more times you need to roll your money over the more likely it is that you’ll lose it. As we said before, casinos play the long game and are happy to take a short-term loss in order to generate a long-term gain.
Look out for:
- Wagering requirements
- Game weighting
- Time limits
- Maximum winning caps
- Game restrictions
These bonuses are still worth taking though. Eventually, by the law of averages you can probably convert some of these bonuses into real cash if you take advantage of enough of them. Only do this if you are going to play casino games online anyway though, don’t spend money you wouldn’t have otherwise spent just to get offers – this is a sure way to lose.
How Do Casinos Reward Loyal Customers?
Casinos have two major ways of rewarding punters that stay loyal to them. The first is by offering Loyalty Points which are dished out for playing games and general activity at the casino. If you deposit money into your account, for example, you’ll earn some Loyalty Points; you might get extra points for playing specific games, or for logging in every day of the week.
These points can be accumulated before being swapped for things such as free spins, cash bonuses, and even computers or tickets to gigs etc at some casinos. Lots of casinos also run VIP schemes that will see their most active customers rewarded with invitations to special events, personal account managers, enhanced comp points, etc. In short, if you bet big with a specific casino or even if you bet small but only bet with them, then they’ll find lots of ways to say thank you.
Most good loyalty programs give you at least 1% of your stakes back, and higher percentages the more you play. Again, only take advantage of these schemes if you are going to play casino games anyway, playing games just to get points is a false economy.
Gambling at Online Casinos Responsibly
It doesn’t matter who you are, there is always the chance that temptation will rear its head and encourage you to make one more bet than you should.
Perhaps you’ve just lost and you’re hoping to recover those losses. Maybe you’ve been told about a system that will ‘guarantee’ you a profit and you want to put it to the test. Whatever you are thinking, it’s important to ensure that you never gamble with money that you can’t afford to lose and you always do your best to gamble responsibly.
There are few organisations who can help:
|GamCare||0808 8020 133|
|Gamblers Anonymous||0330 094 0322|
|GamStop||0800 138 6518|
|National Problem Gambling Clinic||020 73817723|
Casinos will do their bit to help too, and this is a condition of their licence, offering limits on how much you can deposit into your account and also allowing you to exclude yourself from the site if things are getting too much. If you feel like you need help then make sure you take it. There are many independent sources of advice available, Be Gamble Aware.
If you believe that an online casino has done something wrong or you want to make a complaint then start by contacting the casino directly. By gaining a UK Gambling licence they have made a promise to settle any issues with customers as well as they can. If you feel they aren’t listening or that things have come to a deadlock then you might want to contact the UK Gambling Commission directly and you’re allowed to do that.
They don’t settle disputes themselves (although they will investigate the claims against the casino), so you might choose to turn to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service who will step in and look at your case and assess your claim.
If you feel that you’ve been sold something under false pretences or that an offer/advertisement is in some way illegal or immoral, then you can also speak to the Advertising Standards Agency.
Do You Need To Pay Tax On Casino Winnings?
If you are playing in the UK the short answer is ‘no’.
The tax laws of the United Kingdom as they currently stand mean that you do not need to pay tax on money you’re staking on, or profits you’ve won from, gambling.
Online casinos on the other hand will need to pay tax at the point of consumption.
Many casinos used to get around betting taxes by basing their headquarters in tax havens, however, a point of consumption tax is now payable by all companies on profits made in the UK if they want to operate in this market legally.
The fact that casinos are taxed directly on UK profits means that at some level the player is still paying for it, because the casino will simply pass the expense onto their customers via increased margins or smaller free bets etc. The most important thing to note is that if you win big on an online casino then the money you get paid out is yours to do with what you please, every penny of it.
That said, if you do have a large win it is worth declaring this to HMRC anyway. You won’t be penalises for this in any way but it means you can explain where the sudden chunk of money came from if you are questioned later down the line. It’s not a necessity but it could save you some hassle.
Why Trust Our Casino Reviews?
Much the same as with bookmakers, we don’t recommend a casino that we haven’t been using personally for some time. We have inspected all of the casinos on this site to make sure they’re reputable, and we can vouch for their quality too.
One of the key ways we do that is by only recommending online casinos that are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Every online casino listed on this site holds a valid license, otherwise it wouldn’t be here. If your money isn’t safe then we’re not going to be recommending a welcome offer, no matter how good it might sound.
Finally, our opinions are unbiased. The best way to find a good casino is by trying a few different types, and we try to list a varied range of casinos giving our honest opinion so that you can find the right one for you. Remember you don’t need to claim the full bonus to try a site out, most deposit match offers start with deposits as low as £10.