There is quite a difference between walking into a popular casino on the Las
Vegas Strip or a well-established bookmaker on the High Street and in visiting
an online gambling site with which you have little familiarity.
Any online business can leave you with many unknowns. There’s no face-to-face
interaction, and in some cases, you may not even be aware of who owns the
website. That can be disconcerting if you’re considering transferring your
hard-earned money into a betting account. There’s risk on your part, and you
need to be assured that you’ll be provided with fair gaming and correct payouts
when the time arises.
We stay up-to-date with the most recent websites to hit the virtual gambling
world, as well as keep tabs on established operators that have been around for
years. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the best-of-the-best
websites. Our extensive research will benefit you and provide you with helpful
recommendations that can considerably narrow down your search.
The Types of Websites We Review
There are hundreds of online gambling providers, and they each offer a
different service to their customers. Some are exclusively casino-only, while
others may focus on sports betting and poker. You’ll find some operators to be a
comprehensive go-to for any type of online betting, with a casino, sportsbook,
bingo parlor, poker room, and lottery area.
We don’t stick to one type of site. We evaluate as many of these services as
we can, and then go back and revisit them for changes and updates. The first
sportsbooks and casinos from 20 years ago are just as important as the newest
websites to hit the market today. Management changes from time to time, software
is updated, and financial methods are continually evolving, so we stay up to
date with fresh reviews and insights.
How We Compile the Data
The “Behind the Scenes” Information
Ranking and rating a gambling site isn’t a one-step process. It’s not as
simple as looking at the games, betting opportunities, or tables, and coming up
with a conclusion.
Our process is much more involved. While we do spend quite a bit of time on
the website we’re evaluating, we first start by researching the owner and the
licensing and regulation that’s in place. Priority number one is knowing who is
behind the operation and how secure it is.
Reliable Player Feedback
We then comb through player forums and Q&As to come up with patterns. Not
that we don’t value an opinion, but one comment about a site doesn’t affect our
conclusion. We need to see consistency. Remember, we’re talking about gambling
sites where everyone is risking money, and they’re not all walking away winners.
So, there will be disgruntled customers.
We’ve seen all kinds of negative posts about how “this game or that game
doesn’t let you win” or “I lost out on a payout because of an unfair bonus” or
“This site is the worst – I waited a week for my payout.”
Keep in mind that sometimes games aren’t always going to offer you the
outcome you’d like. When it comes to bonuses, we still issue a warning about
accepting them, because they do have some stringent guidelines that accompany
their use. But some people jump in headfirst without reading and are then
disappointed. Maybe the site took a week to pay out, but it’s clearly stated in
the banking section that it could take 5-7 days before you have cash in hand.
That’s not to say that there aren’t many compelling pieces of information
provided by players, because regular customers are the experts. They know the
ins and outs of the casino or sportsbook, and their expertise is invaluable.
When it is, though, it will typically match other similar comments.
It’s not enough to see one person complain about a slow pay. But when we find
patterns of the same situation, and some specifics are included to back up the
claims, we need to take it seriously.
Finding uniformity in player opinions is an integral part of our rating
process and can help assess the turnaround time for withdrawals, the level of
customer service, and whether or not the selection of betting opportunities is
enough to appeal to both recreational and experienced bettors.
Our Individual Inspections of Each Gambling Site
After we review the ownership and licensing and then get a good sense of what
actual clients have experienced, we take a very methodical approach in
appraising the website and the online operation as a whole.
We read through the terms and conditions, determining the banking structure
and how quickly payments are turned around, and we go through the bonus and
promotional programs step by step.
It’s not enough to relay the types of offers available. You want to know the
ins and outs of these rewards. The data we compile includes the rollover and if
it pertains to the bonus or also comprises your cash deposit. It also takes into
consideration the games that contribute to meeting the wagering requirements and
what the consequences are for not complying with the bonus rules.
As far as the betting opportunities, every site will be different, and we
keep that in mind. Some are smaller services and are designed to just provide a
sampling of sports markets or a relatively compact-sized casino. We can still
rate a website high even with limited betting options if the overall service is
superior in other ways.
Ideally, though, each operator will provide a healthy balance of quantity and
variety. There should be something that will appeal to most everyone. Geographic
considerations also come into play. A sportsbook marketing to Canadian clientele
needs to provide a substantial menu of NHL, CFL, and MLB games, as well as some
A Closer Look at the Criteria
We’ve given you an overview of the approach, but that’s just the beginning.
We have a long list of items to consider when we put together our ratings and
rankings of online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms.
Providing you with a full picture will be much more beneficial than honing in
on one aspect of the operation. You may not mind that one casino only offers 100
games, but you do want to see more bonuses.
Or you understand that a payout may take a week or two, but that’s fine with
you because the games are superior to other competitors. You may only bet on one
particular sport that isn’t offered through most bookmakers, and that’s your
only decisive factor.
The reviews we provide are broken down into different sections, and we try to
be as fair and objective as possible when looking at each component
This first category can be the one significant determinant of whether we
recommend a website or not. If you look at some well-known, reputable gambling
service providers, you’ll notice that a link to their licensing and regulation
is prominently placed on the homepage, and if the ownership group isn’t in the
same area, it’s typically noted in the “About” page or the “Terms and
If we pull up a site and have no idea who owns it or if it’s even licensed
and regulated, it doesn’t matter if they offer one of the biggest betting
selections or are promoting a two-hour payout turnaround; chances are, we won’t
recommend the site. We will give you an honest assessment of all of the
different areas of the operation, but we can’t in good faith encourage you to
patronize an unlicensed organization.
Transparency is essential for gambling websites. You need to know that your
money is safe, and there should be no reason why a link to an overseeing
authority isn’t being provided. That is, unless the operator didn’t retain the
proper licensing and regulation.
We’ll get into the banking section separately, but in the matter of
transparency, it needs to extend to financial services as well. Everything
should be upfront and easy to review.
It’s helpful, but not necessary, for an excellent site to have longevity in
the industry. We do provide the launch date for each operation, as well as any
information we can gather regarding sister sites under the same ownership.
If an operator has been in business for quite a while with a good reputation
and proven payment record and then launches a new site under the same umbrella,
chances are the new site will be equally as reliable.
Behind the Site
This category doesn’t affect sportsbooks as much as casinos, but it is
important that the website is providing quality, licensed software. Casino
players know the “big guys.” They seek out Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt, or a
handful of other prominent developers.
These days, we like to see a combination of software companies used on the
same site for enhanced quantity and variety, but at the very least, we want to
see a name that carries a good reputation in the industry.
Software providers also determine the level of gaming you’ll be offered.
Bigger names provide greater opportunities for top prizes. A company like
Microgaming, Playtech or NetEnt is going to have some millionaire-makers in
their collection – slots like Mega Fortune, Mega Moolah, or Age of the Gods.
This area is just as important as the gaming being provided. You can’t stake
bets if you’re unable to fund your player’s account, nor will you stick around
if you’re not being paid on a timely basis.
When we review the banking section, we look for a varied menu of options,
fee-free transactions, quick turnarounds for payouts, and full disclosure.
Full disclosure references the transparency factor. Before you register a new
player’s account, you have the right to know the whole service that’s being
provided. Meaning, there should be a comprehensive banking page detailing every
method that’s accepted, if any fees apply, minimums, maximums, turnaround times,
and if there are any restrictions on using a particular provider.
Believe it or not, some sites won’t show you this information until you’re a
full-fledged registered customer. That’s just not good business.
Why would you divulge your personal information without knowing what you’re opting into when
Matching up financial services to the player’s locations is important. An
international servicing site needs to host a variety of options, including
debit, credit, e-wallets, prepaid, and bank transfers, and cryptocurrency is
A US-servicing site should be obligated to include Bitcoin in the mix, as
Americans have a very challenging time getting a betting account funded,
especially with credit and debit cards. And e-wallets aren’t as widely
available, either. Operators that do allow US players also tend to tack on some
significant banking fees, and we focus on those, especially when they get too
Ideally, the best sites will offer a wide variety of options, as well as low
minimums and higher maximums for both deposits and withdrawals. Financial
technology these days also makes it possible for much faster payouts, so sites
promoting one- or two-week turnarounds should be stepping up their game and
competing with others that are turning them around in a day.
Financial services also encompasses the internal processing time and if
reverse withdrawals and manual flushing are part of the picture.
If you’re not familiar with these terms, some operators will take all
withdrawal requests and put them into a “pending” status. It could be something
like 24 hours, but we’ve also come across some with much longer waiting periods.
That pending status allows players to go back in and change their mind. They
can request a “reverse withdrawal,” and the cashier will put the funds back into
the betting account. There are two sides of the story when it comes to reverse
withdrawals, but for players who get tempted quickly, reverse withdrawals don’t
do them any favors, because they are apt to take advantage of them.
However, there’s also something called “manual flushing” where players can
specifically request that their transfer is moved from pending to processing. It
doesn’t expedite their payout, but it does take away the option for a reverse
There aren’t very many, but some casinos are notorious for long pending
periods that encourage clients to reconsider their decision. When a pending
period is extensive, it’s included in our overall assessment of financial
Bonuses and Promotions
The promotional programs can be tricky areas to review, but we do our best to
be objective. Some players love and rely on deposit match bonuses, while at the
same time, they’re the most significant area of complaint and debate by those
who accept them.
When we look at a casino’s promotional program, we initially take note of the
variety of bonus opportunities. While most sites will offer some deposit match
bonus, especially for new players, we prefer it when more thoughtfulness is
applied. Deposit match bonuses may suffice for some players, but we’re looking
for free spins, tournaments, contests, and an all-around creative approach to
Of course, then we delve deeper into the ins and outs of the opportunities.
Low rollovers that only include the bonus and not the bonus/deposit combination
are preferred. And alternative rewards that have no wagering requirement
attached are even better.
We also look for a loyalty or VIP club that has some real meat to it. It’s
one thing to offer a standard “betting converts to points, and then points
convert to a small amount of cash” kind of program. We’d prefer faster payouts,
private tournaments, real cash prizes, gifts of value, individual invitations,
exclusive opportunities to try out new games first, etc.
Just like bonus preferences, customer service is up to interpretation as
well. A service agent could be having a bad day and come across as short or
unhelpful, though at any other time, he or she may provide superior assistance.
We do look for trends in player feedback regarding customer service, as well
as rating the department as a whole. It’s important for a 24/7 site to have
round-the-clock service, because there could be some immediate assistance
There should also be several ways to contact the service department,
including email, phone, and live chat. Additionally, the service agents should
fluently speak the language of the majority of the customers and should provide
thorough responses. It can be frustrating to go back and forth with a
representative trying to get a definitive answer.
The heart of the matter – the variety and number of betting opportunities.
Sportsbooks should provide a comprehensive menu of sports, as well as
thorough market coverage for each, especially for the most popular matches
favored by its customers. UK bookmakers should be well equipped with hundreds or
even thousands of football markets. US-centered bookmakers will have a different
focus, and American sports (football, baseball, basketball, and hockey) should
Casinos need to consider the various types of gaming, including slots, table
games, live dealer tables, specialty, and video poker. But the focus will need
to also be on the variety within each category. For example, a table game area
with just blackjack and no craps or poker leaves out many players who aren’t
looking for the game of 21.
It’s handy for a slot game section to have a mix of classic and video slots,
as well as some jackpot progressive opportunities.
Specialty games and video poker can be the most neglected types of casino
games, so when a site steps up and well-stocks those areas, we take notice and
pass along that information to you. It can sometimes be hard to find more of the
non-traditional casino games, so we want to assist you in your search.
Poker rooms and bingo areas also need to provide variety, not just with the
games, but with the betting options. Some players only want to invest the bare
minimum and just enjoy playing, while others are looking for big money action
and require high-stakes betting. Bonuses and promotions, especially tournaments
and free rolls, are a must for poker players.
When it comes to casinos especially, we place a lot of weight on the software
provider or providers. Well-established gaming developers don’t just allow their
products to be used anywhere. They have a vetting process that also helps us
with our review procedure.
On the whole, we take into consideration the variety of betting options, the
ease in finding precisely what you’re searching for, and an interface that
allows you to quickly place your bets without the fear of making a mistake.
These days, sites are always trying to outdo each other by adding more and
more to their list of betting options, so the bar is set much higher. We do need
to consider that. The more established operators still need to remain
competitive and continuously add to their libraries and keep things fresh.
In just the past few years, smartphone and tablet access has become
increasingly more important. More players have the desire to take their betting
with them everywhere they go, so mobile formatting is a prime consideration.
We use 50% as the starting number for a decent mobile casino. If a player can
access at least half of the games available on the full site, they should be
pleased. That number is starting to rise, though. We’re noticing more websites
focusing in this area, and some are now even coming in with sites that are 100%
available regardless of if you’re on a laptop, PC, smartphone, or tablet.
Our ratings factor in the games, as well as the ease of use. Do the graphics
translate well? Does the site load quickly? Is there an app available? Is it
easy to navigate?
Perception and Feedback
This section follows up on the “reliable player feedback” that we previously
outlined. We’re not looking for one player’s opinion of a website. Everyone has
different ideas of what’s good and what they’d prefer, so we look for trends.
The most important things we hope to learn from players’ experiences is if a
site is paying out as it promises, if customer service is being answered quickly
and efficiently, and if bonus requirements are spelled out adequately. If every
comment references a problem with a bonus, then the operator either needs to
change the program or detail it in layman’s terms.
Comments become even more valuable in our rating process when they’re clearly
detailed with facts rather than mere opinions, and when a pattern has emerged
with consistent feedback. You have the right to know if a site promises a
two-day payment turnaround but implements a two-week process, or if the customer
service department has been contacted several times and remains unresponsive.
With online casinos and sportsbooks, you sometimes have to rely on the
experiences of others to know what to expect, and many loyal players are willing
to share what they’ve learned along the way, so we do factor that knowledge into
Why Should You Trust Our Ratings and Rankings?
The immediate answer to this question is, “Because we’re fair.”
We take into consideration all of the factors that we’ve outlined, and we
spell them all out for you as clearly and efficiently as possible. Our objective
is to do the legwork and provide you with the facts as we’ve identified them to
be so that you can then decide for yourself which website is the best fit for
You may note that we may be especially critical in one area, but that doesn’t
affect our view of the entire service.
For example, a casino might be offering bonuses that come with a high 40
times rollover that applies to the award and deposit combined. In this case,
we’re not going to sing the praises of the promotions.
But it may also offer a casino with 1,000 games from the top software
companies with a better-than-average variety. We are going to give credit where
credit is due. Our overall ranking will reflect the average of all of the
ratings, but you’ll also see an unusually high number for the casino and a lower
one for the bonuses.
Using a wide range of criteria helps us to come up an accurate overall
picture of the service, as well as break it down one by one so you can decide
what’s most important to you. After all, it’s your money that’s being staked, so
you need to be well informed.
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