How to Find the Best Casino Sites Online
I’ll start this page with a question, what makes one online casino great and another one lame?
For me there are 3 main factors in play.
Contrary to what those flashing banners will tell you, the fat welcome bonus is only a small part of the equation… after all, they are gone pretty quickly.
These factors are trust, player benefits and great games. The picture below shows how I think about how these factors work together. By the time we have got through this process, 10% of online casino sites are still on the shortlist. From there it is a matter of your location (mostly US / non-US) and your preferences for different games… more on those below.
The rest of this article goes into more detail on my 3 criteria. If you want to drill down into a particular aspect of casino gaming, then there are links to many more articles too.
If you want a short cut, then the table below shows 3 casinos which both hit the ‘upper right’ of my graph and have trusted track records of looking after their players (again, for your location):
|TOP ONLINE CASINOS|
|TOP US FRIENDLY CASINOS|
Best Online Casino Sites – Ongoing Rewards and NOT Welcome Bonuses?
Don’t get me wrong, welcome bonuses are great – especially those which come with extras like slot spins, tournament entries or even credit for play on live dealer casinos. The point to get across is that these are short term, while the ongoing rewards and promos can benefit you for many years to come.
The 80 / 20 rule applies.
If you are going to enjoy casino games regularly, 80% of your benefits will come from the promos and ongoing loyalty rewards, and just 20% from the welcome bonus.
So, the next question is how to tell a good package of loyalty rewards from a ‘meh’ one?
The detailed explanation can be found in this article. Here I’ll give you a list of what to look out for:
Reload Bonuses: If you run out of funds, a new bonus attached to your future deposits is a must-have. Some casinos offer these for specific games (check for your favorites), others more general ones.
Point Collection Schemes: These range from simple points for cash schemes where you accumulate points each time you make a bet, to complex schemes with tiers that have increasing rewards the higher you get. Remember that cash is king, if you get to swap these points for bonuses, you’ll often need to play through to release them.
Free Spins / Tournament Entries: Many casinos will offer free play on their best (or newest) slots. 20 free spins is not really a huge extra, though you never know when you might hit a decent sized win!
Game Specific Promos: Blackjack Mondays, Video Poker Thursdays and so on… this type of promos can include cash back (on losses), reload bonuses, extra loyalty points or a fixed bonus for playing so many hands. If you are a fan of a specific game, simply playing at the right casino on each day can end up making a significant difference.
Give-Away’s / Draws: Many of the bigger and better brands will run promos where they give away gadgets, cash prizes or even holidays.
Summing it up: Before you join a casino, have a look at their promotions page and if possible check their recently finished promotions too (a news section will sometimes have this). If you are not getting looked after by your current casino, then you can be sure that there are many casinos that will offer you a much better deal.
Of course these count too… I have gone into a lot of detail on sign-up bonuses in this article.
The most important factors are to check the play-through requirements and weightings for the different games.
Best Online Casino Sites – Good Games, or Great Games?!
One of the first things you’ll find out when playing online casinos is that the casinos and the creators of the games are separate companies (well, 99% are, 888 and Party Casino the main exceptions).
Most people find this out when they find the same games at more than one casino and look into why.
In the past, casinos went with one software type, which required a download to run. Now most casino games work in browser windows, which means the casino sites can choose games from more than one software provider.
This is great news for players, who get a bigger choice of games.
It is also great news for smaller / niche software houses – they can get their games out to a much wider audience than before.
So, which casino software has the best games?
Complex question – there are many great options. Again, you will find a lot of detailed comparisons covering exactly this question elsewhere here at High Tech Gambling.
Below you will see a summary of the types of software providers out there. I recommend every casino fan check out the main ones (this can be done for free / play chips).
Casino Software Types Summary
#1 The Online Casino Giants
Companies like MicroGaming, PlayTech and RealTime Gaming defined what we know as the online casino industry. All of these have been around for more than a decade (much longer in the case of MicroGaming) and have large portfolios of games which came from the download-only days. All of them provide the ‘backbone’ of many large casino bands – and have some of the biggest slot jackpots too. You could add Net Entertainment and Rival Gaming to this list.
#2 The Live Casino Specialists Now Online
IGT are the biggest example of slot / game makers who made their name in live casinos (and created many of the innovations (linked progressive jackpots for example)) that we take for granted today. I would also include Bally, WMS, Aristocrat and Blueprint games in this list. Some of the best slots around come from these software houses. The new browser / mobile technology allows you to enjoy them at online casinos.
#3 Mid-Sized Online Casino Specialists
This list includes some newer companies (think 5+ years old) and some established ones which are benefiting from the new wave of casinos which can host their games without a restrictive download. BetSoft are a great example (amazing 3D slots), I would also put Leander Gaming in this category, along with High 5, TopGame (a longer established example) and more.
#4 Small Innovators
I expect to see a lot more of the smaller / upstart companies developing over the next few years, filling the innovation gaps with mobile casino games and slots. Examples I would put here include Yggdrasil and EDM.
Casino Sites with a Big Choice of Software
Some casinos stick to the games from a single software house – though these are becoming the minority. I like the casinos which have embraced the new technology and offer games and slots from several software houses at the same time.
The table below highlights which software is used by which casino (remember, all of these pass the test I put forward at the top of this page too)
|TOP ONLINE CASINOS|
|TOP US FRIENDLY CASINOS|
Best Online Casino Sites – The Vital Component of Trust
My advice to High Tech Gambling readers is simple, if you are not completely sure a casino is trusted, don’t deposit.
To help you make the best decision, there is a checklist below of what to look for. After almost 10 years in the industry, I am convinced that the single biggest factor to look out for is the length of time a brand has been operating. Bad casinos do come along from time to time, very few last more than a year without the internet being full of ‘red flags’ about bad service, delayed payouts and other nasties.
If you stick to the big, well-known brands the chances of falling victim to a scam / scandal are miniscule… go with that unknown new casino with a bonus which is almost ‘too good to be true’ and well, you know what to expect!
Here is my list of trust signals:
#1 Known brand / long service: As above, the single most important factor. Search for scandals online (not just people who lost their money crying about bad beats), if you find real red flags, dig further.
#2 Connected to Regulated Software Provider: MicroGaming, PlayTech and IGT are all run by listed / regulated companies and choose their partners carefully.
#3 Licensed Casinos Only: The better licenses are from the European / UK markets (Gibraltar, Malta and so on). US casinos are licensed offshore in the Caribbean / Central America. Stay strict on this, no license = no deposits.
#4 External Testing: Game fairness and ‘Return to Player’ percentages are usually checked by auditing specialists like iGaming labs or eCogra. Look for this info on your casinos homepage, along with links to the test certificates.
#5 Payment Methods: PayPal is a great signal (for non-US casinos only) as bad casinos will not usually be able to get an account. Look for a wide range of mainstream payment options. I recommend caution for casinos with only 1 or 2 ‘creative’ payment methods.
#6 Contact Information: Addresses and phone numbers on the website should be a minimum. If a casino only has a web contact form (especially when combined with other factors), then this should be a red flag.
I’ll end this page by summing up my criteria for choosing online casinos once more:
Choose the longest running and best known brands with a wide choice of different software available via one site. Make sure that the ongoing rewards and promos are great quality – and you’ll find online casinos safe, trustworthy and most of all, great fun!
Only one US casino offers games from 3 different software providers, a long list of player promos and a 10+ year track record of speedy deposits and withdrawals… Bovada.lv is the most popular online casino welcoming US players. Check out the games and latest promo listing for yourself now at www.bovada.lv.
888 Casino are not the biggest worldwide by chance! This casino hits the sweet spot with games and slots from multiple software providers, true mobile and desktop compatibility and very generous player promotions. You can check out the games with no risk, 888 gives you $88 upfront, no deposit or card info needed to sample their games. Check out www.888casino.com for yourself to see the latest games!