Our approach to online casino reviews
How to Find the Best UK Gambling Sites
UK players have a variety of gambling sites to choose from, so you may be wondering how best to find the cream of the crop. Well, this is where our experts come in! At Casino Genius, we’re always on the lookout for the best gambling sites, carefully assessing the pros and cons of each one to bring you an extensive review. Read on to find out how we pick out the top online gambling sites, and what you should be looking for when choosing a place to play.
Why Trust Our Recommendations?
When the CasinoGenius team reviews gambling sites online, we look at several different factors that ensure you get the best possible experience whenever you play real money casino games online. Here are some of the important factors we consider.
We will only ever consider recommending a real money gambling site if it holds a licence from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Respected regulatory bodies such as the UKGC require casinos to have their games independently audited to ensure they are fair and payout as they should. Licensed casinos will also have SSL encryption technology in place to protect you and your personal information, and provide safer gambling tools so you can manage your play more effectively.
At CasinoGenius, our collective experience in the industry allows us to objectively weigh up the various elements that make for a great player experience. These include the design and functionality of the site, the quality of the mobile app, how active the customer support team is, and the kinds of banking methods available to members.
Promotions and Bonuses
We know that welcome bonuses and ongoing promotions can be one of the deciding factors when you’re choosing where to gamble. However, we don’t just look at how many free spins you might get, or how large the matched deposit bonus is. The terms and conditions are just as important, so we pay attention to how player-friendly the wagering requirements, maximum win caps, and expiry dates are for bonus offers.
Types of Gambling Sites
Online gambling is a surging industry with so many avenues to explore. Here are some of the types of gambling sites you can discover.
Online casinos bring the excitement of Vegas to your computer or mobile device. Most online casinos offer hundreds of online slots, virtual table games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat and craps, and live dealer options where the action is streamed from studios and land-based casinos. The very best online gambling sites will not only feature a rich range of games categories, but also host titles by leading software developers such as Evolution, Microgaming, NetEnt, and Play’n Go.
The best sports betting sites allow you to delve into dozens of markets. Major sports like the Premier League, tennis, rugby, cricket and horse racing will all be covered, while top gambling sites will also cover US leagues like the NFL and NBA, as well as the increasingly popular esports market. One of the main advantages sports betting sites have over traditional land-based bookies is sheer convenience, as long as you have an internet connection and a mobile device, you can place wagers. Many sites will also let you stream sporting events live, and request bespoke bets through bet builder tools and social media.
You’ll usually find some virtual and live dealer poker games at casino sites, but more serious players tend to seek out dedicated poker sites. These sites allow you to download software that provides access to their bustling poker platforms, where you can take on players from around the world. The top sites even hold tournaments where you can put your skills to the test and go after big prizes. While you won’t usually have to worry about maintaining your poker face when playing online, some sites now allow for video streaming so you can see who you’re up against and try to work out their tells.
Bingo is hugely popular with online players, with tickets to virtual bingo rooms available from just 1p each. There are various kinds available, including 80-ball, 75-ball, and 90-ball, with themes ranging from music to fantasy to gameshows. The social element and the presence of big, progressive jackpots all mean online bingo players aren’t likely to get bored anytime soon.
Esports Betting Sites
Esports are video games that are played competitively. Once a niche interest, esports have skyrocketed in popularity over the past several years, with professional players of games like Dota 2 and Fortnite becoming superstars. While there aren’t currently many dedicated esports betting sites, you’ll be able to place bets on tournaments at the UK’s top sports betting sites.
Lottery sites aren’t just about playing the UK Lotto or Euromillions. They also let you try your luck on draws from all over the world without the inconvenience of having to fly over to buy your tickets. From the German Lotto to the US Powerball to Spain’s El Gordo with its monumental jackpot, there are plenty of options at lottery sites. We look at each operator’s coverage, and the other kinds of activities they offer, such as bingo and scratchcards.
Mobile Gambling Sites
Many players love to bet using their smartphones or tablets, which is why gambling operators almost always offer a mobile-optimised version of their sites. These mobile sites let you play your favourite casino games, enter bingo rooms, or place sports bets with just a few taps on your screen, whether you’re relaxing on the sofa or whiling away time on the train.
Using mobile-optimised sites means you don’t need to install any new software – except in the case of dedicated poker platforms. However, many of the best gambling sites will give you the option of downloading custom-made Android and iOS apps, which have the added perk of being directly accessible on your device, without requiring the use of a browser. Betting apps also provide push notifications that will keep you in the loop on the latest promotions, so you won’t have to fear missing out.
New Gambling Sites
There are always new UK gambling websites entering the market, and they can often do things differently from the older names – whether that’s supporting Bitcoin as a payment method, or featuring a more playful and experimental aesthetic with quirky visuals and an irreverent tone. Being eager to make a good first impression with potential customers, new gambling sites may also offer particularly generous welcome bonuses with low, or even no wagering requirements.
There can be drawbacks, however. Some new casinos may have fewer slot games or table games compared to longer-established brands. Newer gambling sites may also not have had time to create a native app you can download. Our experts always keep s close watch on the gambling industry so we can recommend the best new sites when they cross our radar.
Bonuses at Online Gambling Sites
Gambling sites offer a wide range of bonuses, both for those making their first deposit and for existing members. Here are some popular offers.
Matched deposits are one of the staple bonuses at gambling sites. Simply put, the operator will match a percentage of your deposit with bonus funds, up to a maximum limit. If there’s a matched deposit bonus of 100% up to £100, and you deposit £50, this will provide you with an extra £50 in bonus funds to bet with. Bear in mind there will usually be a minimum deposit expected, along with wagering requirements – we’ll look more closely at the latter in a moment.
No Deposit Bonuses
Some gambling sites pull out the stops by offering no deposit bonuses. With these, you’ll be gifted a certain amount in bonus funds or free spins just for signing up as a new member. Wagering requirements and other terms usually apply, though, so always check the fine print when signing up.
These are exactly what they sound like: free spins for selected slot games. The word ‘selected’ is key here, because free spins are usually restricted to no more than a few games, or perhaps a specific category of slots. Free spins may either be offered as a standalone bonus or as part of a package with a matched deposit deal.
Free bets are a common bonus on sports betting sites. For example, you may be given a handful of £5 free bet tokens after you create a new account and make a qualifying bet. Some free bet bonuses may function as a form of insurance, where you’ll get some or all of a losing stake back as a free bet, giving you another chance to place a wager with the same funds.
While welcome bonuses for new customers tend to hog the limelight, the best gambling sites will provide ongoing deals, or reload bonuses, to reward returning members. These can take the form of weekly free spins, recurring matched deposit deals, or odds boosts on certain sports betting markets.
Bonus Terms and Conditions
Bettors should always remember that T&Cs apply to bonuses. Here are some of the possible strings that might be attached:
A wagering requirement stipulates the number of times you have to play through your bonus funds or winnings before you can request a payout. For example, if there’s a 20x wagering requirement on a £10 matched deposit bonus, you’d have to make £200 worth of bets before you’re able to withdraw anything you win using the bonus funds. Wagering requirements can also apply to free spins winnings in the same way.
Game and Market Restrictions
It’s important to be clear on how flexible your bonus funds are. Can they be used on all games or sports betting markets, or are they intended for certain categories only? In an online casino, some bonuses may be limited to slots or specific table games, while a sportsbook bonus may only be for horse racing or a specific football tournament.
If you’re dreaming of hitting the big jackpot, it’s worth bearing in mind that you might not have that chance when using bonus funds. This is because many bonuses come with a maximum winning cap. Once it’s reached, any extra winnings will just go back to the casino.
Bonuses don’t stay in your account forever. It’s always a good idea to check your bonus deal’s expiry date, so you can make sure you put it to use. Some gambling sites will give you as little as 24 hours to use a bonus, while others may keep it in your account for 30 days or more. Check the full T&Cs to be sure of what the deadline is.
How to Sign Up to an Online Casino
There are a few steps you’ll need to follow to sign up to online gambling sites.
- Find the Best Online Gambling Site
Casino Genius has made this part easy. You can browse some of the best online gambling sites on this page, compare welcome bonuses, and read our in-depth reviews.
- Click the Link and Sign Up
Like the look of a site? Follow our link to the registration page where you can follow the prompts and provide some basic personal information to create your account. Remember to opt-in for any bonus if necessary.
- Make a Deposit
You may be granted a no deposit bonus at this point, if not, you’ll need to deposit in order to start betting. Just head over to the cashier page and select your preferred payment method.
- Start Playing
Once your deposit has cleared, you can get betting – either using your own funds or any bonus credits you’ve been given. Whether you’re heading for the sportsbook markets, casino games, or bingo rooms, we wish you luck!
Banking Options at Online Gambling Sites
Most gambling sites offer a range of payment options for depositing and withdrawing funds. So, chances are, you’ll be able to manage your money in your preferred way. Here are some of the most widely supported options.
Most of us already use debit cards in our daily lives, making this an especially familiar and convenient way to deposit and withdraw gambling funds. However, some players may prefer not to enter their bank card details when signing up to casinos or sportsbooks. Card withdrawals can also be slower compared to e-wallets, although fast withdrawals are supported for Visa payouts at some gambling sites.
E-wallets such as PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller are accepted at many UK casinos and gambling sites. They’re super-secure, as you don’t have to input your bank account or card details to pay, plus e-wallets tend to provide very fast payouts, which most players will regard as a major perk. The one downside is that e-wallet deposits are not eligible for welcome bonuses at some betting sites.
Pay by Phone Bill
It’s possible to use platforms like Boku to make deposits through your mobile phone account. All you have to do is enter your mobile number and how much you’d like to pay into your account, and the money will be deducted from your phone credits, or added to your next bill. It should be noted that deposit limits are especially tight using this method, so it’s not suitable for high rollers. In addition, withdrawals aren’t possible via this banking method.
Prepaid cards such as Paysafecard are a great option for depositing at online gambling sites, as they’re highly secure and make it easy to manage your budget. You can simply purchase vouchers online or in a shop, then transfer the value over to your account by typing in a PIN. While this is usually a deposit-only method, some gambling sites will let you make withdrawals through the My Paysafecard account.
Responsible Gambling Tips
Online gambling should be a fun pastime, not a cause of stress or financial concern. Here are some tips on maintaining safe, responsible gambling practices.
- Never chase losses – losing some of your bets is an inevitable part of gambling, and aggressively trying to win back that money can put you even more in the red.
- Only wager what you can afford – it’s a good idea to set a strict gambling budget and stick to it. Money management apps can come in handy here.
- Only gamble when your judgement is clear – it’s wise to avoid gambling when stressed, tired, upset, or inebriated.
- Stay in your comfort zone – try to bet only on casino games and sporting markets you’re familiar with.
- Remember that gambling is entertainment – don’t approach gambling as a serious way to make an income.
Problem Gambling Help
If you are concerned about your gambling habits, there’s lots of help and support available. Two major organisations to consult are BeGambleAware and GamCare, both websites are full of useful information for gamblers and their loved ones. There’s also the GAMSTOP self-exclusion service, which will lock you out of British gambling sites for a set period. If you need to speak to someone right away, there’s the National Gambling Helpline, which runs 24/7 and can be reached on 0808 8020 133.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if a gambling site is safe?
The best way to ensure an online gambling site is safe is to check it’s registered with the UKGC. This means the site adheres to stringent rules regarding fairness, security and safer gambling practices.
Do I have to make a deposit to play casino games?
If you’re new to online casino games and unsure whether you want to deposit your money, don’t worry. Many sites offer a free play option, so you can try the games in demo mode before putting any money on the line. Plus, some sites offer no deposit bonuses which allow you to play certain games without depositing any money at all.
Are online gambling tips accurate?
You’ll no doubt come across some websites that tell you there are strategies for winning casino games or claiming they have a foolproof system for making big money with sportsbook bets. The fact is, there are no guarantees in gambling, as luck is the decisive factor across the board. That said, research into sports can help you make more informed bets, while some casino games like poker and blackjack can be more rewarding if you apply a basic strategy.
Can I make deposits using a credit card?
Credit cards can no longer be used for any type of gambling in the UK. This has been the case since April 2020, when credit card transactions were banned by the government as part of efforts to curb problem gambling.
Can I play in UK casinos if I live overseas?
There’s nothing to stop players from overseas playing in United Kingdom casinos, but it depends on the individual policies of the casino. Some casinos are exclusively for UK-based players, so you have to physically be in the UK to play, while others are quite happy for overseas players to join in the fun. Check before you sign up to see if players in your country can play.