Comparing Online Casino Sites for Web Gamblers
Comparing online casinos wasn’t difficult a couple of decades ago because there weren’t many sites to choose from.
This has changed greatly today, though, because there are countless online casino sites.
Reviews are the obvious route to comparing internet casinos and choosing the best one. But online casino reviews have also flooded the web, making it difficult to know where to start.
I’m not suggesting that you ignore reviews because these are really helpful resources when it comes to choosing a casino. But you can also visit online casinos yourself and use important criteria to compare them.
I’m going to discuss the main aspects that you should use to determine the quality of an online casino.
Casino Game Selection
The games are the main reason why anybody takes up online gambling. The games have to be good, or everything else regarding a casino doesn’t matter.
Quantity is certainly an important part of a casino’s game selection. Having more options ramps up the entertainment aspect by letting you enjoy a larger variety.
I like choosing online casinos that have 200+ slots, along with 40+ table games. But I can also get by with around 100 slots and a couple dozen table options.
Another aspect to consider is how many different gaming providers are available. This is crucial because more software providers means that you get multiple looks in terms of graphics and game styles.
For example, NetEnt slots have a different style than Rival Gaming. Likewise, Betsoft games will look different than those from Elk Studios.
It’s nice to choose a casino that has at least three or four different software providers. I’ve even played at some online casinos that offer 10 or more providers.
One more thing that’s important to take into consideration is live dealer gaming.
A live dealer casino streams action from a land based gambling venue. This is great because you get to enjoy a brick and mortar casino atmosphere and interact with the dealers.
Some sites still don’t have a live dealer casino. But I really consider live gaming a plus when it’s available.
Gamblers have had fears about online casinos taking their money ever since internet gambling became available in the mid-1990s.
Luckily, many of these fears have subsided because the majority of internet casinos are reputable operations. But there are still a few bad apples in the bunch.
This is why reputation is critical because you don’t want to play at a shady online casino.
Reviews can help you discover whether internet casinos have had any serious issues in the past. These can involve ignoring customer complaints, being really late on processing withdrawals, or running unfair games.
Watchdog sites like CasinoMeister and ThePogg are helpful for finding nefarious incidents in a casino’s past. But it’s also important to avoid getting too wrapped up in previous issues.
For example, ThePogg either blacklists or doesn’t recommend the majority of online casinos. The reason why is because they focus on black marks for online casinos and their parent companies.
While watchdog sites are simply looking out for consumers, these isolated instances don’t always mean a casino is unplayable.
You should still research an online casino’s reputation to see if your money will be safe there. It is, however, important to use some discretion when a casino only has the few mishandled customer complaints.
One of the first things that you want to figure out is if your country is even accepted at an online casino. You don’t want to do a bunch of research on a casino, only to find that you can’t play for real money.
One way to figure this out is by visiting the terms and conditions page at a casino website. You then scroll down until finding what countries and territories are restricted from playing there.
The only problem is that you often have to scroll through a lot of text before finding the restrictions section. This is why I prefer looking at reviews to find what countries are banned from certain casinos.
AskGamblers is an especially helpful site in this regard because they always list restricted countries in a side box. Of course, there are plenty of other online casino review sites that also present this information in a neat manner.
Another thing to look for is if certain countries are restricted from going for bonuses.
Some online casinos deem specific countries as having a high potential for bonus abuse. This is especially the case for certain Asian and Eastern European countries.
If you’re somebody who loves hunting for bonuses, then you certainly don’t want to deposit somewhere where you can’t earn them.
Mobile & PC Compatibility
Having a mobile compatible casino used to be a bigger deal 5 to 10 years ago. But most online casinos nowadays offer mobile compatibility for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices.
Nevertheless, it’s still worth checking to make sure that you can play at an online casino through your smartphone or tablet.
PC and Mac users should also check the status of instant play and download software. Instant play is especially handy for PC/Mac users because it allows you to play directly through your browser.
Most online casinos have done away with download software because it’s less handy. However, there’s still a small group of players who prefer this option.
Virtual reality (VR) gambling isn’t very big right now. But I guarantee that far more casinos will become VR compatible in the next 5 to 10 years.
Customer service is important because you want your questions and issues to be handled in a timely manner.
This is another area where reviews are helpful because they usually discuss the quality of a casino’s customer support department. AskGamblers, CasinoMeister, and ThePogg are helpful in identifying any issues that casinos have when dealing with customers.
Another option is to contact the support department yourself with a simple question. This allows you to judge their response time and helpfulness.
You should also look at what methods are available for contacting the support department and their availability.
Ideally, you’ll be able to reach a casino through email, live chat, phone, and Skype. You also want customer service that’s available 24/7 so you can always reach them.
Welcome Bonus & Wagering Requirements
Online casinos use welcome bonuses to attract new players. This is why you’ll commonly see gaudy offers on a casino’s homepage.
For example, an online casino site might offer a welcome bonus worth up to $5,000. Obviously this is eye catching, but you also need to look deeper into the matter to see if this is truly a good bonus.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at a welcome bonus:
- How many deposits is the bonus paid over? More deposits mean that you can play for a bonus in smaller chunks.
- What are the match percentages on each deposit bonus? The higher the match percentage (e.g. 200% or 300%), the less you have to deposit to get reasonable bonus money.
- What are the wagering requirements? Lower requirements mean that you’ll have an easier time unlocking your bonus.
- What are wagering requirements for table game players? These are usually much higher because table games have a lower house edge than slots, keno, and scratch cards.
- Is there a time limit on meeting wagering requirements? Some casinos only give you 30 to 60 days until the bonus offer expires.
- Do you receive a no deposit bonus? This is nice because you get a chance to win free money without even depositing.
- Are special deposit rewards available for using certain banking methods (e.g. Skrill or PayPal)?
You especially want to pay attention to the wagering requirements because these affect your chances of earning your bonus in a timely manner.
The industry standard is 20x the bonus plus deposit amount, or simply 40x the bonus. But some online casinos offer higher or lower requirements.
Most casinos have a specific terms and conditions page for bonuses that explain the wagering requirements.
Obviously, you want the rewards to keep coming long after your welcome bonus has passed. This is why you should choose an online casino that offers plenty of promotions.
The typical promos include deposit bonuses, extra loyally points, free spins, leaderboard races, tournaments, and social media bonuses.
Most casinos change their promotions every month so that you get a nice variety. Other gaming sites offer a different promo every day of the week.
It doesn’t really matter how the promotions are presented. The best part is that you have a chance to win extra cash and bonuses on the side of your play.
You can quickly see what kind of promos a casino is offering by visiting the appropriate page. Given that this takes less than a minute, I highly suggest you do it.
Another way that you can get rewards at an online casino site is through the VIP program.
Online loyalty programs are tiered so that the most frequent players get the best rewards. But you can normally look forward to some bonuses as soon as you deposit and begin playing real money casino games.
Standard VIP rewards vary based on your status. Here are common VIP rewards that you can get across internet gambling:
- Anniversary gifts (based on your signup date)
- Birthday gifts
- Deposit bonuses
- Loss rebates
- Points for cash exchange
- Quicker deposit & withdrawal times
- Special VIP host
- VIP casino tournament invitations
New players usually start off with deposit bonuses and the ability to exchange points for cash. You gradually pick up more rewards as you move up the ladder.
You should also put some research into VIP programs before making a deposit. This is especially the case for figuring out the points for cash exchange rate and if you get to keep your status upon earning it.
Some internet casinos require that you meet point requirements to keep your status, while others allow you to stay at the same level for life once you achieve it.
One more point worth making is that certain casinos have invitation only loyalty programs. These are the worst because the casino deems when you’re eligible to start receiving VIP benefits.
Another thing that I recommend you do before researching an internet casino site involves looking at the banking page. After all, you can’t play for real money at a gaming site unless you can actually deposit there.
The good news is that you shouldn’t have trouble depositing because most internet casinos accept Visa, MasterCard, Bitcoin, Neteller, and Skrill. If you can’t use any of these banking options for some reason, then you’ll need to find a casino that accepts your preferred payment method.
Here are various banking options that are accepted around the online gambling world:
- Amazon gift card
- American Express
- AstroPay Card
- Bank wire
- Diners Club International
- Discover Card
- Visa Electron
It’s also wise to look at deposit and withdrawal limits for any prospective casino.
Low rollers appreciate small minimum deposits, while high rollers want the ability to move large amounts of money to and from a casino account.
The wait time on withdrawals is also important. Casinos usually list wait times in their banking section.
But if you don’t trust what the casino lists, then you should read reviews and see what they say on the matter.
Casino interfaces add entertainment value by giving you something interesting to look at when browsing around.
Many casinos go with a sleek look and limited graphics to portray their theme. The reason why is because they don’t want to clutter the interface and make it hard for players to browse the games and promos.
Other sites go all out by including lots of graphics and a distinctive theme. I recently reviewed a circus themed casino that pictured everything from a ringmaster putting his head into a lion’s mouth, to a strong man lifting weights.
Your personality will largely determine what kind of interface you’re interested in.
If you’re somebody who just wants to get straight to the games and doesn’t care about frills, then choose a simple casino that focuses on the options.
You should just check out the circus themed casino if you want something cool to look at when navigating a site.
Language and Currency Options
One final valuable factor when looking at online casino sites is the number of language and currency options.
I personally only need a site that offers English and the American dollar. However, given that there are many different languages and currencies throughout the world, this is an important aspect.
Most casinos put a drop box near the top of their homepage that shows what languages are available. You can visit the banking section to see the different currencies that are accepted.
Hopefully any casino that you like will be available in your desired language and currency.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to pinpointing quality online casinos. And you should go through all of the aspects I discussed if you have the time.
But if you’re short on time, then you can judge what’s most important to you and use this criteria.
For example, I highly value game selection, casino reputation, customer service, and promotions. Your list may differ, but you get the point in that comparing online casinos sites doesn’t have to take hours.
You can also take a shortcut is by reading reviews on prospective casinos. But I still recommend that you also do your own research to ensure that the casino has what you’re looking for.