The online gambling sphere has been around since the mid-1990s when InterCasino opened its digital doors thanks to CryptoLogic and its proprietary payment technology. Year over year, this industry has notched impressive growth, and the most recent projections claim that it is on course to hit a size of $158 billion by 2028. With a global market that is so swiftly expanding, it has become harder to weed out safe online casinos from those that may be shady. Thus, what follows is a set of criteria that will help parties interested in partaking in games of chance over the internet to select a secure gaming home. It does not matter if that is a UKGC-licensed site or a non GamStop casino accepting UK players.
Regulation & Licensing
Licensing is an essential aspect of the gambling sector. Depending on a specific country’s laws, a territory can have its gaming regulator, or gambling services can get offered to its residents by operators that have attained permission to do so from an international overseeing body. The Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao’s master license holders, and Panama’s Gaming Control Board fall in the latter camp. The UKGC is Britain’s gambling regulator, and it has a reputation for being one of the strictest in Europe. However, UK residents can also play freely at sites that have attained approval from an international licensor without fear of prosecution.
Data ciphering is another factor to consider when picking an online casino. It is the process of wrapping the information that users share in an unhackable cover that makes it impossible for third parties to sneak a peek. Most gambling platforms utilize SSL encryption of the 128-Bit variety to protect player data, but some go the extra step to implement 256-Bit ciphering. Both are perfectly adequate.
Veteran gamblers know that a diverse set of payment methods can dramatically improve the online gaming experience. Sadly, since April of 2020, the UKGC no longer allows operators to feature credit cards as an acceptable payment option. At casinos not blocked by GameStop, this is still an option, as is the ability to utilize niche cryptocurrencies.
Players should always check the banking page and the general terms and conditions to get acquainted with the processing times and fees associated with each payment method on offer. As a rule of thumb, deposits through all transaction options are instant. However, when it comes to withdrawals, cryptocurrencies and e-wallets are always the fastest. Credit/debit card withdrawals may take up to three days to process, and utilizing the bank transfer option can induce a wait of up to five working days.
Bonuses are the marketing engines of this industry. They are why most players choose one platform over their competitors, as everyone is out to take advantage of deals that can land them free-playing funds. Thus, operators do their best to entice new players to join their sites by offering generous welcome packages that usually consist of a percentage match paired with free spins. The first signifies that the casino will match a player’s deposited funds using a predefined percentage up to a specific sum. While the latter refers to complimentary reel rotations on a designated high variance slot.
Other commonly found promo deals at gambling sites include special event deals, cashback, reload bonuses, and VIP schemes. Programs that reward patronage also play a massive role in operator selection. These are schemes where players earn loyalty points, sometimes referred to as XPs, via their betting activities. The more points a player accumulates, the higher he/she moves up the scheme’s perk ladder, en route to more lucrative prizes.
Nowadays, most online casinos offer hundreds of gaming options. Still, not all platforms are equal when it comes to game selection. While many focus on slots, others try to feature a more diverse gaming arsenal. That last statement mainly refers to casinos not signed up to GamStop, which try to incorporate specialty games in their libraries like fish table shooters, keno, Slingo, and other nonconventional online casino products.
Naturally, not all platforms also have a live dealer section. These are tables that broadcast feeds from an HD studio or a land-based gambling establishment. It is unusual for an operator to feature such products from more than one provider.
While a vast catalog of games is a massive positive, players should only pick sites that transparently list game specifications and undergo regular RNG testing from independent agencies like TST, iTech Labs, and eCORGA. These companies make sure that all game results are 100% random. Players can view if their chosen operator undergoes such checks by looking for the logos of the mentioned agencies in their casino homepage footer.
Responsible Gambling & User Support
These days, 24/7 live support is a must. Sadly, many sites have yet to conform to this standard. Thus, on some platforms, email may be the only option. In general, UKGC casinos are more likely to offer phone support than casinos not on GameStop. Nevertheless, all their help options are usually only available during regular working hours or until midnight. Foreign sites cater to a client base that spans multiple continents, so they do not have this luxury, which is why they always have someone on standby.
GamStop is the UKGC’s mandatory self-exclusion program. So, all online casinos with a base of operations in Britain have to tie into this network. When a player self-excludes at one UK casino, he/she is unable to play at all UKGC-approved sites. Non GamStop casinos for UK players have site-specific self-exclusion. They still promote responsible gaming and offer links to services that can aid in dealing with gambling addiction, such as GamCare and BeGambleAware.
UK Sites vs. Non GamStop Casinos
A recent YouGov survey forced problem gambling to enter the public discourse in Britain. It stated that close to 1.4 million UK residents have issues controlling themselves when betting on sports and games of chance. Such a shocking statistic caused the UKGC to clamp down on operators. It made them implement new measures that make the gaming experience less engaging/addictive. These included the incorporation of spin timers, lower max bet limits, and the removal of auto-play.
There is a decent list of betting sites not on GamStop that are reputable and accept UK players. Reasons why some Brits tend to prefer these sites are because they have more sizeable bonuses, perk-rich loyalty schemes, diverse game libraries, and they allow less established payment methods.
To Wrap Up
Every month the number of sites available for casino-style real money play grows vaster. According to some estimates, now, the total figure of gaming homes on the internet is well above 3,000. Thus, picking a reliable and option-rich platform is not as easy as some people would believe. So, players must do at least some research into the operator they are considering. No one should register with a gambling site on a whim. Furthermore, it is of even more substantial significance that everyone gambles responsibly, not spending more than they can afford to lose. Not having impulse control when laying down bets can lead experienced and casual gamblers on the road to financial peril.