We understand selecting an online casino can be confusing — so we wrote this handy guide to offer a little clarity. Below, you’ll find all you need to know about licensing and potential pitfalls to look out for, as well as some of the finer details of our review process to help you home in on the best online casinos for you. Read on to find out how to choose an online casino.
How to Choose an Online Casino
When it comes to selecting an online casino, the most important thing is to be sure a site is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). A gambling licence from the UKGC is a legal requirement for an online casino to operate in the UK and ensures the brand ticks all the boxes when it comes to player safety, fairness, security, and responsible gambling.
You can rest assured we’ll only ever review and recommend licensed sites. So, if you find one you like through our rankings and reviews, you know the operator follows the strict requirements of UK gambling legislation.
One way to verify if a site holds a licence is to check the UKGC public register. If you scroll to the footer of an operator’s homepage, most sites detail their licence number here and provide a link to their specific page on the UKGC register.
Rainbow Riches Casino, for example, is owned by Gamesys — this is how they display their registration and licence in the site footer:
Playing at an unlicensed casino is a very risky game. There is no guarantee the site adheres to standards of fair play, meaning the games you play may not function correctly or your withdrawals could be denied. You could also be offered misleading or too-good-to-be-true bonuses. Security at the site can be subpar, leading to breaches of personal data in the worst cases. You might also find the site encourages unhealthy gambling behaviours, or does not provide tools such as deposit and time limiters.
Identify Your Priorities
With so many online casinos to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. So, how can you dial in on your perfect match? Essentially, it’s a matter of working out your priorities and matching them to a site that delivers in those areas. To give you a little inspiration, we’ve explained some different areas of strength you might come across when comparing sites.
- Slots tournaments – Some of the best casinos really push the boat out with their selection of slots tournaments. Sites such as Duelz feature exciting player-vs-player action, while others run promos like Pragmatic Play Drops & Wins. If this is a priority, be sure to check out the existing customer promotion section of the site.
- Welcome bonuses and existing customer promotions – Pretty much every site kicks things off with a welcome bonus, but players can choose between matched deposits, free spins, and more. And once that’s run dry, what else is up for grabs? Some casinos switch up their ongoing promotions on a regular basis, keeping things fresh for those who stick around.
- Specific games – There’s a fantastic array of casino games to try out, and many sites weigh their offerings in favour of a particular specialty. If it’s bingo you’re after, for example, check out our selection of top bingo sites. Likewise, we have ranked lists of the best casinos around for slots, table games, live dealer, and more.
- Payment methods – Hoping to use e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill for managing your bankroll? Be sure to check the available payment options of the site before you sign up. Some sites stick with a few popular methods like Visa and PayPal, whereas others, such as All British Casino, support a larger range of services including Boku and Paysafecard.
- Site design – If appearance is a priority for you, there’s no judgement from us! Site design and usability play a major role in the gambling experience. Keep your eyes out for any snazzy additional features too.
- Software developers – You’ll nearly always find titles from the usual leading games developers, but what if you want something a little different? Be sure to see who’s in the library before signing up. You may like the darker themes from developers like Nolimit City, or perhaps the big, bold characters from Push Gaming.
We cover sites to suit all priorities and preferences — be sure to check our detailed reviews to see which sites best align with your interests.
Head to a Specialist Page
At TopRatedCasinos, we have a plethora of reviews covering all the best online casinos. If you have a specific site in mind that you’d like to read about, simply tap the name into the search bar at the top right hand side of this page. If you’re still not sure, here are a few pages that may pique your interest.
- Online Casinos – If you’d like an overview of reviews, this page will help you narrow down your search. It holds mini reviews of sites as well as more details about how we complete our review process.
- Best Slots Sites – Perhaps it’s slots titles you’re after. This page will help you ascertain the best sites specialising in spinning the reels.
If you’re just starting out your search or need broader inspiration, check out the TopRatedCasinos homepage or our list of gambling sites — both of which offer a wealth of information on the best online casino sites to play at. You’ll find reviews, tips, and tricks on all things gambling, plus finer details around payment options and all the other important factors when it comes to choosing a site.
Compare Options in Our Rankings
As you’ll see from the tables at the top of each of our pages, we highlight certain aspects of our recommended sites. Let’s go through what these elements mean:
- User rating – We take into consideration what customers think of a site to ensure an accurate starred score is applied. Below this star rating is a link to the detailed review of the site so you can find out exactly what you may encounter if you sign up.
- Welcome offer – Next on the table is an outline of the welcome offer. This is the promotion available to new customers following sign-up. You will usually be asked if you’d like to accept the welcome offer at the point of initial registration. Be mindful of terms and conditions attached to these offers, all of which we detail in our reviews.
- Payout speed – The payout speed details just how quickly a withdrawal will reach your account. Many sites support fast withdrawals, usually via e-wallets, but some are faster than others with the very best offering instant payouts.
- Key features – In this section we highlight three of the main strengths of that particular site. This could be specialisation in a particular type of game, the reputation of the operator, the supported payment methods, or something else entirely.
- Claim bonus – Finally, the green button on the right takes you straight through to the site, where you can sign up and claim the welcome bonus.
If you’d like to take a look at our reviews, check out our reviews page where you’ll find a collection of top online casinos. It also covers our process in detail, explaining different factors to look out for including bonuses, payment methods, and T&Cs.
Read Our Expert Reviews
We’ve already mentioned our reviews process on this page, but what exactly goes into each one? Here are the steps.
- Firstly, one of our experts registers with a site, makes the minimum deposit, and tries out the games — just as a regular customer would do. We want our reviews to be as authentic and detailed as possible, and this first-hand experience is how we achieve that.
- Following a thorough evaluation, the first draft is written up, outlining the key aspects of the site. We detail where it excels and where it could be improved, including areas like the games library, customer support, payment methods, usability, and more. We also assess the site’s mobile compatibility using a range of iOS and Android devices.
- The write-up is handed to our editors for a fact check and final polish.
- We publish the review on TopRatedCasinos, ready to be used as a source of information by customers like you. Want an example? Check out our review of All British Casino.
What We Review
When reviewing a site, we focus on a set of areas we believe are integral to the online gambling experience:
- Licensing and audits
- Bonuses and promotions
- Payment methods
- Customer service
- Games library
- Site design and usability
- Mobile capability
We only ever review sites licensed by the UKGC. Adding onto this, some of the best online casinos hold licences from other regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) or are audited by third parties like eCOGRA.
Many people are attracted to the initial welcome bonus of a site. We always give this a complete lookover to assess its value, alongside any existing customer promotions that may be available.
When something goes wrong with your account, you’ll need to get hold of someone from the site. During our review, we verify which communication lines are available and whether any are available 24/7.
An essential aspect of our process is to see which games are available in the library. This includes checking which developers the site has partnered with, and the amount of variety within each major category, including table games, slots, live casino, poker, and bingo.
There are some unique and well-designed sites out there, and strong performance in this area can really add to the gaming experience. While the layout of a site may not seem hugely important, once you’ve played at a really impressive online casino, you’ll never want to go back to an inferior site again.
The majority of sites are optimised for use on mobiles and tablets, and we always give them a test run on these devices during our reviews. While a few differences are to be expected, the site should still be easy to navigate. On top, games should still perform flawlessly and fit perfectly on the screen. We love sites that offer native apps for iOS and Android, as these apps are often faster to load and more bespoke to your device.
Don’t Sweat It
There’s a lot of information on this page about choosing the best online casino, but don’t worry! You don’t have to pick the perfect site the first time. It’s free to sign up to a licensed casino, and you aren’t obliged to deposit any money — although be mindful that welcome bonuses are often only available for a certain amount of time.
Speaking of bonuses, the terms and conditions attached to these promotions usually render it difficult or even impossible to withdraw any resulting winnings. Instead, we recommend you treat such offers as a bit of extra free play to test out the games and familiarise yourself with the site.
Now you have all the details you need, get stuck into our reviews. Once you’ve found a site that ticks your boxes, click through and sign up to your favourite online casino!
Frequently Asked Questions
This very much depends on your own needs and preferences. For example, you might want a site that specialises in bingo games, or a good variety of slots tournaments. It’s important to read through our reviews to see which sites align best with your interests.
Yes. At all the best online casinos you’re able to make a deposit, play games, and win withdrawable money. However, keep in mind your money is at risk any time you gamble — only bet what you can afford to lose.
Yes, as long as you’re playing at a casino licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. By sticking to licensed sites such as those listed on TopRatedCasinos, you’ll get a degree of protection thanks to strict requirements around fairness, security, and responsible gambling.
A sportsbook is a site that allows for sports betting, including pre-match and in-play betting, whereas an online casino features popular games of chance like blackjack, bingo, and slots. Some operators run all-in-one online casinos and sportsbooks, letting you access both with one account and betting wallet.
Many online casinos support PayPal, but it’s worth checking before signing up if this is your preferred payment method. Where PayPal isn’t available, you’ll find a wide variety of alternative e-wallets including Skrill, Neteller, MuchBetter, and AstroPay.
Alice is a Content Editor at TopRatedCasinos.co.uk, joining us from Gambling Insider in 2022 with two years and counting in the online gambling space. She has a keen interest in gambling regulations and the promotion of safer gambling measures, and regularly conducts interviews with industry experts from payment providers and software developers to regulators and casino game auditors. Outside work Alice plays lacrosse and supposedly gets haircuts at establishments that serve champagne.