How We Rate Online Gambling Sites
We’re committed to telling you the unvarnished truth about online bookmakers, casino sites, and bingo rooms. What does that mean?
Well, first the good news: There are dozens of online gambling sites serving the UK that will provide you with a safe and enjoyable experience.
The bad news is that there are very few places where you can find accurate reviews and ratings, so you can never be sure that you’re playing at the very best sites. We don’t know about you, but we’re tired of seeing every gambling site rated 9.5 out of 10. It’s not realistic to suggest that every operator provides a near-perfect product, nor that choosing an online gambling site is a one-size-fits-all type of deal.
We think there are already enough cheerleaders in the gambling industry, so we’d rather produce in-depth reviews that you can trust. Read on to find out more about how our review team approaches each site it puts under the microscope.
Our Rating Criteria
Trying to choose a gambling site is never easy. There are some you might have heard of already, and that can be a good starting point - but how do you know the brands shouting the loudest are actually the best?
There are in fact huge differences, in the level of service, the terms and conditions, the selection of games (or betting markets in the case of bookmakers), bonuses, and a whole host of other factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key criteria that our review team investigates when it’s running the rule over a new gambling site.
Safety and Trustworthiness
Licensing. First and foremost, you won’t find an online gambling site reviewed on this site that doesn’t have the requisite licensing to accept players in the UK. If a site doesn’t have that stamp of approval from the UK Gambling Commission you should give it a very wide berth. Not only does that make it illegal, but it’s also a good sign that you won’t get a fair deal. The regulatory regime is laid down by the government to protect your interests and ensure the fairest possible game.
Reputation. Remember, you’re choosing a website that you need to be happy to give your personal information to, including your credit or debit card number. You can’t simply pick one at random and hope for the best. While the majority of mainstream sites are reputable and well-established, there are murkier corners of the internet too, and getting caught up in a bad casino can prove to be more than a mere inconvenience. Our reviews are designed help you get a sense of the reputation and legitimacy of each casino, and should be one of your first starting points when it comes to deciding the best place to play.
Fairness and Transparency. As a requirement for UK licensing, every casino and bingo operator needs to submit to regular third-party testing of the random number generator (RNG) that underpins their games. The most common agency is eCogra (eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance), although there are others also cleared by the UKGC to provide independent testing. To get the best possible marks, we look for casinos that go above and beyond to make it easy for players to check the payout (what percentage of every pound wagered is returned to players on average) on all of the games on offer.
Betting sites, meanwhile, are required to be members of third-party adjudication services, such as IBAS, which will step in if there is a dispute between the site and a user.
Security. Players are required to place a lot of trust in a gaming site. Not only do we need to trust that the games they run are fair, but we also need to trust that they will protect the money and private data (including all those identity verification documents you’re required to scan and send over) that they hold. High-level SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security is a must (128-bit encryption seems to be the industry standard and should be sufficient, just make sure it’s certified by a reputable third party), as is a clear and fair policy on the sharing of personal information with third parties.
Welcome Bonuses & Loyalty
You won’t have to venture too far to find generous welcome bonuses designed to turn your head and encourage you to sign up with one brand over another. These bonuses are usually matched against the size of your first deposit, or first few deposits. There are also loyalty programs, varying in generosity depending on the amount of time (and money) you intend to spend at the site.
These bonuses can be great news, but you should beware being suckered in by the big claim. They generally come with terms and conditions attached, notably wagering requirements (in the case of casinos especially), which stipulate a minimum number of times you need to ‘play through’ a bonus before you can withdraw winnings as cash. So while it’s important to get a good deal on your signup package, our rating of online bonuses really focuses on the small print - the wagering 5% requirement, the game % contribution and the time given to clear a bonus.While there are good incentive packages out there, not every bonus is as generous as it might at first seem.
Ongoing promotions are a real sign of a top operator. It’s all very well waving money at punters to get them to sign up, but when a site offers regular, interesting promotions, such as enhanced odds in the case of bookmakers, or big jackpot games in the case of bingo sites, you know they care about the long-term happiness of their customers.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Once you’ve checked that a site has the correct licenses, and a bonus that makes it worth signing up, you’ll want to make sure that you can easily get your money on and off the site using whichever payment method you like best.
To get the highest marks possible, a casino should offer a range of payment methods suitable for UK players, including credit and debit cards, bank transfer and a selection of the most popular e-wallets, like PayPal, Neteller and Skrill.
Ideally, it should be possible to both deposit and withdraw to all the different payment methods, but often there are restrictions on withdrawals, so it’s worth checking out. Finally, we try to build an accurate picture of withdrawal times based on our experiences and player reviews, and even more importantly the pending withdrawal time that a site imposes before they start the processing of the withdrawl.
Selection & Variety
Obviously, when it comes to game selection things are slightly different for bingo, casino and betting sites, but the guiding principle remains the same: variety and quality. Innovation goes a long way, too.
Game selection is obviously a fundamental consideration when we rate a casino or bingo site, but it can be a difficult category to score fairly. For example, it’s unfair to mark down a casino site that focuses on slots selection just because it offers relatively few table games, especially if it succeeds in delivering on its mission. After all, some of you just want to spin those wheels.
We aim to represent the full variety of online casino sites, so you can expect to read positive reviews of sites with a broad selection of games, just as we’ve given high marks to sites that have a particular focus, such as slots or live casino. What they have in common is that they source their games from the leading developers.
For bingo sites, we like to see plenty of 75-ball and 90-ball rooms, with well-populated games starting every few minutes. The best sites will also offer some of the more niche games, like 40-ball, 5-line, and speed bingo, not to mention popular themed games, like Deal or No Deal Bingo. A good bingo site should also offer a range of slots from leading providers.
The range of markets on offer from decent online bookmakers these days is truly staggering. We expect to see the most popular sports, such as football, horse racing and tennis well represented, with coverage of every league, race and tournament from around the world. There might also be an extra point for coverage of particularly niche sports, but to us it’s more important that there’s broad, deep coverage of the sports most people are interested in betting on.
Whatever type of site you’re thinking of joining, make sure you look beyond the rating and read the details contained in the review before deciding. If you don’t do your homework here, you could end up signing up for a site that doesn’t match your preferences.
Range of Platforms
Quick and easy access is the name of the game here. Whether we’re sat in front of a computer, lying in bed with a tablet, or killing time on the train, we want to be able to place that bet, spin that wheel, or chase that jackpot.
The best sites in this category will have free-to-download apps available for Android and iOS that feature the vast majority of the game catalogue or betting markets available on the desktop site. Speaking of which, you won’t find a brand here that doesn’t offer at least a mobile version of their site. It should also be possible to deposit and withdraw funds, and generally manage your account settings from the smartphone app or mobile-compatible site.
Online casinos have been around for more than 20 years, and at this point nobody expects to be stuck playing games on an ageing download platform. For us to take a casino seriously, we expect the majority of games to be available for instant play in-browser. That means you can access your account and start playing wherever you are.
Design & Usability
This is a category that’s pretty much impossible to score objectively. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be looking for a site that’s easy to navigate but beyond that, personal preference plays a huge role. As a bare minimum, a site should load quickly, make it easy to locate a specific game, or sport to bet on, to browse the catalogue, manage your account and locate important information.
The highest scores are reserved for sites like Casumo and Rizk that use design to elevate the user experience and carve out a distinct personality that stands out from the hundreds of ‘me too’ sites.
You probably won’t worry about support availability until you really need it, so luckily for you we give you all the information you need in our reviews.
In this category, we expect to see a choice of support options, including freephone, live chat, and email, as well as a comprehensive Help section. A good gambling site should provide all of these options 24 hours a day, with quick response times and friendly, knowledgeable support agents.
How We Rank Our Recommendations
Once our team have finished reviewing and rating sites according to the criteria above we then rank them on a weight adjusted base based upon 3 elements
1.Our review teams ratings which is given the greatest weighting
2. The star ratings given to a site by our readers
3. Our player sentiment algorithm which parses the actions and preferences of PlayRight users.
(When a user visits a gambling site via one of our links, we understand that the product on offer holds appeal, subsequent actions then clarify how well a site lives up to its promise. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re already seeing how it adds another layer to our recommendation)
Our rankings are also subject specific, every casino, bingo room and betting site has its strengths and weaknesses. A casino with a great mobile product but poor blackjack game selectino will rank high on our best mobile casinos list but may not feature on our blackjack casinos lits
As you’ve probably worked out by now, reviewing and rating a casino isn’t an exact science. But we can guarantee that our reviews are always honest and fair, and written with UK players in mind. Our goal is to make it easy for you to choose the right casino based on what’s most important to you.