Casino Awards UK conducts independent research on the quality of online casino service and regularly publishes the most trusted and best online casino brands and online casino offers. Online casino brands that provide poor quality service and engage in questionable practices will also be highlighted. We aim to help players to choose the best online casinos and online casino promotions, whilst at the same time avoiding falling victim to dishonest operators. Casino Awards UK believes online casino gaming should be fun – and we are here to help.
The UK has the largest regulated gambling market in the world. According to a report by The Gambling Commission UK, the consumers in the UK spent nearly £3 billion on online casino games in 2018, and this number is still on the rise. Better consumer intelligence will lead to better consumer decision and ultimately better gaming satisfaction.
We welcome participation in the award selection. All online casinos with a valid gaming licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission can be nominated for consideration. The nominated online casinos will be assessed on the following aspects:
Casino Awards UK considers the above aspects of being the most important factors attributing to consumer satisfaction and service quality. And consumer satisfaction and service quality are focus of these awards. The research will be carefully conducted; the best service providers will be awarded. The winner for each category will be published.
We look forward to hearing from consumers and casino operators on how the online casinos can be improved in the future.
Casino Awards UK filters through a vast amount of information on the internet and identifies the characteristic of the most trusted, the best online casinos. The most trusted and the best online casinos in the UK must meet the following four requirements:
1. A Valid Licence issued by UK Gambling Commission.
2. Encrypted Secure Communication – to protect personal and payment information.
3. Games Fairness – Games’ Return-to-Player Rate must be tested and audited by independent test houses.
4. Customer Service.
In our report, online casinos will carry a Casino Awards UK badge if it has satisfied all four of these requirements above. Among them, you can be sure to find your favourite and most reliable online casinos, so you can play with peace of mind.
Casino Awards UK carries out independent research on UK-based online casinos as well as remote online casinos that offering service to UK customers. Casino Awards UK assesses the most important aspects of online casinos’ service qualities. The outstanding brands will be featured on our website.
Award for Advertising Transparency
Advertising is one of the most widely used marketing methods in the online gaming industry. Online casinos rely heavily on adverts of new offers and promotions to attract new customers and to beat competition from other online casinos. However, this is where consumers’ interest is at risk; some advertised offers and promotions typically appeared to be more generous than they are. They often use terms associated with risk-free betting such as “free” to entice potential gamblers to sign up, but in reality, many terms and conditions are tied with those offers, the purpose is to minimise any real generosity offered by those online casinos. For example, newly signed up customers are promised “free cash”, however, this “free cash” is only available after a certain amount of real cash is deposited with the casino; often, consumers won’t be aware of such conditions until encountering difficulties attempting to withdraw. Thus, the word “free” used in the advert is considered unfair and misleading, thus harming the consumers’ interest. Other similar examples include “free spins” requiring minimum wagering, “no deposit bonus” requiring wagering a multiple of the bonus amount received before qualify for withdrawing.
In 2019, all online casinos’ marketing practices are required to comply with the advertising standards issued by The Advertising Standards Authority UK and Advertising/marketing rules and regulations issued by the Gambling Commission. The aim is to ensure that any marketing is done in an open and transparent fashion, ultimately to enforce online casinos to be socially responsible. Consequently, there will be no misleading offers and promotions to better protect the financial, psychological, and emotional wellbeing of customers. However, this is insufficient to end the questionable marketing practices. The Gambling Commission UK is not responsible for checking if the adverts comply with the current advertising standards, and this is where Casino Awards UK comes in. We check the advertisers’ offers and promotions, terms, and conditions. Online casinos with consistently high standards of advertising will be published. This will ensure that the consumers are thoroughly clear about the advertised content so that no misleading information is being passed onto consumers, consequently preventing uninformed decisions being made.
Award for Game Fairness
It is important to understand the concept of Return to Player Rate to understand how fairness in casino games are defined.
One common measure used to assess casino games’ fairness is the Return to Player ratio, also known as RTP. It is defined as gamblers’ total winning as a percentage of total cash gambled of any given game over time. The difference between the two measures is the game’s gross profit.
Different game categories, different games have different RTPs. For example, in European roulette, that is there 37 numbers include 1 zero on the wheel, by only betting on either black or red or green (zero) with 1:1 payout, the Return to Player is about 97.3%; however in American Roulettes, the game 38 numbers including 2 zeros, the Return to Player is 94.74%. The comparison of two RTPs confirms that European Roulette has better odds of winning than American Roulette over time.
The RTP is calculated as mean or average over a large number of games plays most likely over a long period, only then the calculated RTP will approach the true value of the theoretical RTP thanks to the law of large numbers. The average RTP over a small number of games plays are likely to be biassed and not representative of the true RTP, that is why some gamblers can get below or above RTP winnings in the short terms, but cumulatively, over the long run, the RTP is the most gamblers can expect to receive.
No casino would offer game with a theoretical RTP that is equal to or greater than 100%, if the RTP is exactly 100%, that would mean casino operators are letting people playing their games without making any profit; if the RTP is greater than 100%, then the casino is handing out cash over time.
So the higher the RTP, the better it is for the gamblers; the lower the RTP, the better it is for the casinos. Gamblers’ winning is casinos’ payout. This is why there is every incentive in casinos’ favour to lower the RTP as much as possible. This is why casinos in the UK are required by Gambling Commission to make their RTPs clear to prospective players so that the gamblers are informed about the likelihood of winning over the long term, thus helping gamblers to better protect their financial interest.
Typically, the game with the highest RTP is Blackjack, which has an RTP of 99%, the second place is European Roulette which has an RTP of 97.3%, online slots have an RTP of 96%, etc. so if winning as much cash is your objective, then looking for the game has the highest RTP when playing online.
In theory, an online casino could alter the return to player rate to their favour, i.e., rigging the games; however, in reality, few choose to do so. Such practice is not only unethical but also highly illegal. Unethical online casino operators not only face getting their gambling license revoked, but they could also face criminal prosecution and severe financial penalties. Therefore, it is ultimately in the interest of online casinos to offer fair games. By having regular checks and audits by independent bodies shows that online casinos are operating ethically and comply with the industry standard specified by the UK Gambling Commission.
UK Gambling Commission has published a list of approved 3rd party organisations whose job is to test the games and equipment of online casinos. The aim is to ensure that the odds of the games being offered are indeed fair, not biased against the interests of their customers.
Some of the Test Houses include BMM Testlabs, eCOGRA, Expleo Technology UK, GLI UK Gaming Limited, Gaming Associates Europe Ltd, Gaming Laboratories International LLC, iTech Global Pty Limited, Quinel M. Ltd, Trisigma B.V., etc.
If an online casino has passed the tests by one of these organisations, i,e, that the odds of the games closely resemble the theoretical odds, it can be concluded this casino is indeed playing fair and not operating fraudulently to make extra profit by cheating their customers.
Customers are advised to take the checks and audits into consideration when choosing an online casino. Casino Awards UK will regularly screen and update the information on the test reports on UK’s online casinos, so only the most trusted online casinos are included in the Awarding process.
Award for The Best Customer Service
Technical and transactional issues often arise when playing at online casinos. Therefore, it is very important to have access to help when needed. Online casinos with a readily accessible and helpful customer service team can get to those issues quickly and get them resolved as early as possible. This is especially true for issues concerning transactions, i.e., deposits and withdraws.
In the year 2019, many online casinos offer 24/7 telephone, live chat, and email support. For getting the most responsive customer support response, telephone and live chat are the best options. When it comes to choosing the right online casinos, casinos with 24/7 telephone and live chat support should be given priority consideration. In our assessment, online casinos with the best customer service are also the ones that are most trusted in the community. Online Casino Awards UK participates anonymously at online casinos to assess the various aspects of customer service quality. The outcome is then taken into consideration during the awarding process.
To be able to withdraw reliably and quickly are the most important aspects of the online casino experience. Most online casinos offer hassle-free 24-hour withdrawals, some are even quicker, though withdrawal speed difference does exist, it largely depends on the chosen method of payment, some are quicker than others.
Before making a deposit, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the withdraw terms and conditions, specifically, what payment options are available, daily withdraw limit, estimated process time, any charges or fees. Because at this stage, you can plan to avoid any surprises. You may wish to use a preferred method of withdrawal, also check beforehand to ensure that the payment method is offered. Some casinos only offer withdrawal using the same method as deposits to prevent any suspicious transactions, e.g., money laundering, identity theft.
Although withdrawal is a fairly straightforward process, some customers do encounter trouble. This is especially true for people who have signed up with bonus offers. Again, since 2018, the UK Gambling Commission has tightened up the rules on how online casinos should advertise their offers and promotions. The terms and conditions of those offers and promotions must be made as clear as possible. Please refer to our Open and Transparent Advertising section for more details. In other words, consumers would be able to have sufficient information on any aspect of playing at online casinos.
Casino Awards UK regularly publishes lists of online casinos that offer the quickest withdrawal and largest daily withdraw limit.
This 2-minute read encapsulates the most important aspects of online casino gaming in the UK. As a result, you will become informed about how to get the most out of your online casino experience.
UK Gambling Commission – The Regulator of online casinos in UK
Established in 2007, the Gambling Commission is a government executive body. Its function is to license and regulate entities that provide gambling service in the UK. The main aim is to protect the public, especially vulnerable people and children, from the harms resulted from gambling-related activities as well as the prevention of money laundering. Consumer protection tops all UK Gambling Commission’s priorities.
Since Gambling Licensing & Advertising Act 2014 In the UK, any gambling service provider, locally or remotely based, must have a valid licence from the Gambling Commission UK; this includes all the online casinos that wish to offer services to UK customers. The requirements to obtain a gambling licence are strict and costly. Once the licence is granted, an online casino has the official permission to accept business from UK customers. The operator must act according to the guidelines outlined by the UK Gambling Commission or risking the licence getting revoked. This is why playing at the online casinos with a valid UK Gambling Licence is essential for getting the best consumer protection and the highest service standards for UK customers.
Gambling Commission UK requires all UK online casinos to display terms and conditions clearly on their website, and additional measures to protect customers’ money where available. However, the UK Gambling Commission’s responsibility does not include visiting every single online casino site to see if a valid licence is present. This is where Casino Awards UK comes in. We will visit every online casino that is offering service to UK consumers, and verifying the validity of the UK gambling licence. Casino Awards UK will only include online casinos with a valid UK gambling licence in our list.
All UK online casinos must have a valid licence by UK Gambling Commission even if they are licensed by Malta Gaming Authority and Gibraltar Gambling Commission. Casino Awards UK verifies the validity of all UK online casinos; only the online casinos that passed our verification will be featured on our list. So, consumers can safely choose from legitimate brands.
Communication security between websites and their customers is one of the most important aspects of transacting on the internet. Online casino sites are no exceptions. Personal and payment information are frequently exchanged, without secured communication, valuable information could fall into the wrong hands, which could lead to devastating financial losses. In the year 2019, the vast majority of reputable websites like casinoawards.co have Secure Sockets Layer SSL or Transport Layer Security TLS encryption protocol in place to ensure any exchange of information is protected.
Just in case there are online casinos that are not protected by information encryption technologies like the Secure Sockets Layer SSL or Transport Layer Security TLS, Casino Awards UK will check if this is the case and only publish those online casinos with either SSL or TLS encryption protection, so, you know for sure that you only be playing at trusted online casino sites and your information is safe.
TLS or SSL security certificate logos are displayed on the left-end the address bar of the browser once upon visiting the website. No logo means the communication between the visitor and the website is not encrypted, avoid.
You can check out Malta Gaming Agency’s list of bad casinos.
Responsive and knowledgeable customer support is essential for a great online casino experience. Many online casinos offer 24/7 live chat support. There are many benefits of live-chat support: first, help is always available when needed; secondly, customers no longer need to spend time and money calling, and sometimes it is a long wait just for the phone call to get nowhere; thirdly, the communication between the customers and the support agent can easily be saved as a script, very convenient to save for future reference in case issue does not get resolved at the first attempt. Casino Awards UK strongly endorses this method of customer support. It is simply the most convenient way for both the customers and the online casinos to resolve issues quickly.
Signup to an online casino is straightforward. By law, customers are required to supply accurate personal information; this is to ensure that any new customers are only of legal age and it is also done in compliance with current anti-money laundering legislation in the UK, this practice is referred to as Know Your Customer or KYC. Along with actual name and address, new customers are required to submit a scanned copy or a photograph of a valid UK photo ID, i.e., driver’s license or passport. Many online casinos would require the proof of photo ID within the 72-hour of the initial deposit. Failing to do so may result in the suspension of the customer’s account. Customers may also run into trouble when making a withdraw.
Online casinos that comply with these industry standards and regulations is also a good sign that they are properly run businesses instead of criminal organisations just to take the deposits and then disappear. Casino Awards UK advises any new customers to avoid online casinos that do not comply with proper registration requirements to prevent becoming victims of online crime.
Almost all casinos will offer some incentives to attract new customers. The most common ones are cash bonuses as a percentage of the initial deposit and free spins. Both well-known brands and recently launched online casinos are competing hard for new customers, however, to compete with the established brands, new casinos need to offer even greater incentives to attract new customers, this is where the good deals are. Make sure to check out our New Casinos list for the recommended new casinos.
Different online casinos offer different welcome incentives. However, those incentives almost always come with different terms and conditions. It is very important to read the terms and conditions carefully before agreeing to anything. Doing so will prevent any disappointing surprises when making a withdrawal later. The welcome offers will be applied to your account once you have accepted the terms and conditions.
Fortunately, Gambling Commission UK and Advertising Standards Agency has also stepped up its measures to better protect consumers by explicitly specifying how online gambling promotions and offers should be advertised, one of which requires the prominent placement of terms and conditions to avoid consumers being misled.
No Deposit Bonus and Free Spins – Sometimes, online casinos will offer no-deposit bonuses or free spins. It is a risk-free way to try out those casinos and evaluate their customer services before making more serious deposits.
Usually, the size of the bonus is related to the size of the deposit, more deposits are often linked to larger bonuses, but to find out the specific bonus amount you will receive, one needs to refer to terms and conditions carefully.
Another very common requirement of receiving the bonus is the number of times the bonus amount needs to be wagered. This varies among different online casinos. The most favourable type of promotion only requires customers to wager the deposit once to qualify for bonuses, whilst others require that deposit amount to wagered up to 30 times.
Customers won’t have the bonus applied to their accounts until a pre-specified number of times of the initial deposit is wagered. Of course, the smaller, the fewer number of times, the better is for customers. Often, the bonus fund won’t be applied to the account until all initial deposit is used up.
Please note, some online casinos require customers to use the bonus fund before its expiration date, once it has passed, the bonus fund will no longer be available even if the wagering requirements are met.
Another important aspect of getting the bonuses as quickly as possible is to be aware of that different games have different bonus-to-wager ratios i.e. the percentage of bonus to be received over the amount wagered, i.e., a game with 100% bonus-to-wager ratio means that 100% of the amount wagered will be counted towards qualifying for bonus; playing games with higher bonus-to-wager ratios like slots 100% will qualify much quicker than playing games with a much lower bonus-to-wager ratio, like roulette 20% or craps with only 5%. Slot games tend to have the highest bonus-to-wager ratio if you are keen to get that bonus.
Taking advantage of the right bonus offers that is a great way to start online casino gaming experience, however, make sure that you carefully read the terms and conditions to best protect yourself from any misunderstandings or misleading adverts even though it is a rare occurrence. Casino Awards UK will filter through all the offers and highlight the important aspects, so you can save time and be informed about the best available offers.
Table limit is simply the maximum and minimum amount allowed per bet at a given game. Some gamblers like to place a large amount per bet, whilst others only like to place a small amount per bet. Usually, when gamblers have a big budget, more familiar with certain games, i.e., having more experiences, tend to play games with larger table limits; whilst gamblers who have smaller budgets are less familiar with certain games, tend to play games with smaller table limits. For example, high rollers would find games with high table limits more suited to their risk-appetite and would, therefore, find the game pace of small table limits too slow, does not hit the spot.
It is also very common for anyone to play games with smaller table limits, especially when their objective is to learn about or to experience a game. Games with higher return-to-play rates tend to have higher table limits. You can find games with table limits from pennies to thousands of pounds whatever your preferences are. However, it is always advisable to start small.
Another very important concept of casino games is the return-to-player rate or abbreviated as RTP. Return-to-player rate shows that over a larger number of plays i.e., 10000 or 100000 plays, the percentage of the amount wagered will be returned to the players. Yes, that is right, it takes tens thousands of plays to calculate the RTP of a given games, the larger the number of plays the more accurate the RPT estimate is, because of the law of large numbers which basically means the estimated average approaches to the true or the theoretical one when the numbers of times sampled is sufficiently large.
The higher return-to-player rate means the higher percentage of wagered cash is eventually returned to players, as a cumulative measure, thus the better it is for players. And, the less profit the house keeps. However, if the sampled period is short, anything could happen, there could be huge and frequent wins or frequent losses, RTP only takes into account of the cumulative effect over a large number of plays usually over a long period. RTP can be more accurately estimated for games that are more probability-based like roulette, than skill-based like blackjack, poker or baccarat. Return to Player rate is essentially determined by random number generators, which ensures that the games’ chances of winning or losing are indeed occurred as the rule of the games dictate rather than human manipulation. Approved test houses like eCOGRA test RTP and random number generators to ensure that games are fair. Casino Awards UK always advises picking games with a high return to player rate.
Games by Reputable Developers — A Sign of Trust
Many online casinos offer a wide variety of games from different game developers. Companies like IGT Interactive, Cryptologic, NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech are the leaders of the online casino game development industry, such as Playtech is a constituent of the FTSE200 index in the London Stock Exchange, United Kingdom. They design games consistent with industry and legal requirements in terms of quality, safety, and fairness. Games designed by these companies is a sign of trust for online casinos, so customers can play with total peace of mind.
Virtual Slot machines, table games, card games, and live games are the most popular games on online casinos. Customers are familiar with these games. The return-to-player rates are high; they are also great for playing on the move, too.
The latest big trend in online casino gaming has to be live casino games where players are served by a real person dealer via an in-game video link. Just like being inside a real casino, players can interact with the dealer via chat, then the dealer responds via live video stream, this brings the betting experience one step closer to the real thing, making it a quality entertainment. Typically, live roulettes, live blackjack, live casino hold’em, live baccarat games are some of the most popular online casino game offerings.
Worried about unfair games and unscrupulous operators? Make sure you have a read of this article Are Online Casino Rigged?