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Welcome to our reviewed online casinos. Here you will find all the online casinos that we at CasinoShark.com recommend for you. Why that is the case and what we’re actually looking out for and check when reviewing a casino you’ll learn right here.
Licensing and certificates
We look at quite a few criteria when it comes to reviewing our preferred online casinos. But one of the most important aspects is, of course, how well regulated and tested a casino is. An online casino will only ever be legitimate, if it has a license from a major gambling jurisdiction. Some of the most important ones are these:
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) – Malta is one of the most important jurisdictions for online gambling and has thus far licensed hundreds of online casinos, most of which are also settled in Malta. The MGA is well-respected and you can be certain that they regulate their licensees quite well. When we see the MGA seal at an online casino, we’re usually satisfied that the casino is safe.
UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) – Without a doubt the UKGC is the strictest gambling jurisdiction in Europe, perhaps even in the world. They have many rules and regulations and are well known for going after breaches. Consumer protection and player safety are major concerns here. Licenses are issued to online casinos that wish to offer their services to UK customers, but a Gambling Commission seal is good news for customers around the world.
Gibraltar Gambling Commission and Authority (GBCA) – The GBCA is at home in Gibraltar, the other big online gambling haven besides Malta. Quite a few major operators are at home in Gibraltar and all of them are well-respected. The GBCA has far fewer licensees than the MGA, but that doesn’t mean they don’t regulate just as well. Many Gibraltar licensees also have UKGC licenses, which means these online casinos are not only doubly regulated, but very safe indeed.
Curacao – On occasion we will recommend online casinos that have Curacao licenses. Usually we prefer those casinos to be licensed elsewhere as well. Whilst Curacao has been a major online gambling authority and jurisdiction for two decades, the fact that it is so remote from Europe does not inspire confidence when it comes to protecting players. This is not so much a matter of Curacao-licensed casinos not being safe, but rather that any problems that players might experience may not be resolved anytime soon.
The more licenses a casino has, the better. Many of our online casinos have at least two, but sometimes more licenses than that. Additionally to looking at the licenses of a casino, we’re also interested in other certificates. Usually they belong to third-party auditors and independent organisations that will regularly test and audit online casinos. They ensure that games are random, that payouts are fair and that players are secure.
Among such organisations and test labs you’ll find eCOGRA, iTechLabs and TST. If we find one of those seals on the homepage of an online casino, we will check it and will make mention of it.
Safety and security
Apart from proper licensing and additional certificates, it is important that an online casinos has put safety and security measures in place to protect customers’ data and ensure that transactions are well encrypted.
Often online casinos dedicate a separate page to this matter, informing us and players of the measures in place. Among the most important ones is the newest SSL encryption, which should be employed by all online casinos. Additional measures might be in place, differing between casinos. Some even use their own fraud detection tools.
We will always check that SSL encryption is used, and if applicable, will make mention of other measures an online casino has taken to protect their players. That includes all aspects of responsible gaming, which should never be taken lightly by players and which all online casinos are required to pay special attention to.
Transparency is another aspect we have a look at in this regard. Many casinos offer plenty of information, not just on responsible gaming and security, but also on payment options provided and, of course, all terms and conditions. The more information we can find, including payout quotes (RTP), the better. Some online casinos offer only very few information, which we tend to frown upon.
Bonuses and special offers
Once all aspects of safety are checked, we will be looking at the casino and what it actually has to offer. And since bonuses and special offers are one of the main criteria most customers look out for before signing up anyway, you can expect to be well informed by us on both.
We have several articles for you about casino bonuses and what to keep in mind before signing up for one. Make sure to check these as well.
Whilst our preferred online casinos are on the whole very good, some may not offer the greatest bonus terms for you. Whatever advantages or disadvantages we can identify, we will ensure to inform you accordingly.
Special offers are usually promotions run at a given online casinos. About a third of our online casinos run daily or at least weekly regular promotions, something we definitely consider an added benefit. Another third of our recommended casinos may not run that many promotions, but you will usually find regular offers there, including VIP or loyalty programs. But there are also quite a few casinos that have little to offer besides a welcome bonus. Those are rare, however, but we tend to include them, because they have many other advantages as well.
Games selection and variety of products
Some online casinos offer 200 slots and little else, some offer over 1,000 slots, table games, live games, scratch games, poker, bingo, sports betting and more. One does not necessarily make an online casino better than the other. Not all online casinos cater to the same clientele.
What’s more important than the number of games a casino offers is their quality. Some providers simply have better games than other. That aside, however, personal preferences will decide which casino you may sign up for in the end. Are you looking for NetEnt games? Microgaming, Thunderkick, ELK Studios, Playtech, IGT, Rabcat, Betsoft or others?
Plenty of online casinos work with all of these providers, making your choice easier or allowing you to decide for a casino based on other criteria. Few online casinos, however, still rely on just one provider. If that’s your favourite one, though, you may as well sign up there.
There is not a single online casino that manages to work with each and every provider of games out there. But casinos such as Leo Vegas, Guts or Mr. Green make a pretty good job of working with more than a dozen providers each.
Other online casinos bring you a very unique mix of games, which makes them appealing as well.
Another deciding factor is indeed the variety of products offered. If all you’re interested in are slots, you can pick just about any online casino focusing on those. Far fewer casinos offer bingo or a poker network, however. Whilst most online casinos nowadays offer live games as well, there are still some that don’t.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll find that we make mention of most if not all providers an online casino offers and we will let you know about all the products on offer.
Payment options and payout speed
Another important aspect to look out for are available payment options. At the very least we always expect to see credit cards, major eWallets such as Skrill and Neteller, perhaps prepaid options, ideally instant banking options and the usual albeit old-fashioned bank transfer.
PayPal, although the most popular eWallet, is not available at most online casinos. If we do find it, we will make special mention of it. We consider is another indicator of an excellent casino, because PayPal works with so few of them.
More payment methods is not always better, because not all of them are available everywhere and to everyone anyway. Plenty of online casinos offer small, local, sometimes even obscure payment methods you may never have heard of. Usually they won’t be relevant to most customers either.
Then there are Bitcoin casinos, which we cover as well. Whenever Bitcoin is an available currency, we will include it. Right now those casinos are still few and far, but they are becoming more popular.
Additionally we will check payout speed. Transaction times only depend to a certain degree on the payment method chosen. Withdrawals have to be checked by the casino first and that’s not always done right away. Any casino approving withdrawals within 24 hours is doing a pretty decent job. Do keep in mind, however, that the first significant payout always also requires a document (ID) check, which means you can’t judge payout speeds based on your first withdrawal.
Its customer representatives are a casinos first point of contact. Having a friendly, competent and knowledgeable team that is available around the clock is the ideal scenario. We would expect customer service to be available in multiple languages as well and via various means, including email, live chat and phone.
We will let you know as much as we can find out about a casino’s customer service, including how well it is regarded by others, when and how it is available and what response times are.
A comprehensive FAQ section is also important here. None of us want to feel forced to contact a casino for every little question we may have. Less transparent casinos may not have such a section for frequently asked questions, which is annoying at best. Other casinos have their own huge help centres, where just about any problem most customers may experience is explained in detail.
Design and usability
What a casino looks like maybe only secondary to many players, but it’s not something we want to ignore entirely. Some casinos use a template that is modern, responsive, brilliant in design and colour and can be easily navigated. That doesn’t mean you’re looking at a good casino. You may enjoy using it, but not all that glitters is gold. A beautiful design shouldn’t deceive you, because it’s just as important to look beyond the surface.
If you get a great casino in all other aspects that is also incredibly well design – well, all the better for you. You’ll have a fantastic experience to look forward to.
On the other hand many long-running casinos stagnate in their design. They’re reliable and safe in every aspect, offer a great product range and extraordinary customer service. But your gambling experience might be impaired for the simple fact that you can’t find the game you’re looking for, that a website is cluttered and visually unappealing or that the navigation is completely counterintuitive.
We will look at all these things first hand and will let you know about the things we liked and those that could be improved. Needless to say that you can’t argue about taste and that looks really don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. But it matters to some and we don’t want to ignore that.
More and more players prefer to play on the go nowadays. Online casinos that don’t offer a good mobile experience are definitely not up-to-date. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but there are still a few that have no proper mobile platform.
But even those that do optimize their websites for mobile use, don’t necessarily make a good job of it. Rest assured that we will also check our preferred online casinos and the mobile products they offer. That includes design, usability and functionality. Not all mobile sites offer full functionality, which is hardly ideal to enjoy the full casino experience.
One major flaw at this time is the fact that not all games are available for mobile play. In fact, considering the huge number of casino games and slots that are available in many online casinos, the percentage of touch versions is relatively small, at least with some providers. New casino game developers such as Yggdrasil Gaming, Thunderkick, Elk Studios and others have a complete portfolio of mobile optimized games, others are still catching up or perhaps they never will. All new releases are usually HTML5 compatible.
Aside from offering a mobile optimized website, quite a few online casinos also offer dedicated apps. Not all will offer them for iOS as well as Android, but more than not both platforms are catered to. We’ll make sure to mention whether apps are available or not.
How to choose your casino
Choosing the right casino for yourself is ultimately a matter of person preference. We offer guides on what you should look out for in order to make sure that you will play at a safe, fair, reliable and fun casino with an excellent reputation. But all other aspects are subject to taste. Except, perhaps, for the welcome bonus, which is more a matter of generosity and meeting certain expectations you may have.
But when it comes to design, available games and products or even your preferred payment method and special offers, you will have your own ideas and we can only tell you the facts, but make no real recommendation on who or what is better for you. We will make general recommendations and you can expect that our reviewed online casinos also receive our seal of approval, even if hardly any only casino is perfect and there are always some small things we’d like to see improved. But in fairness and for the sake of full transparency, we will make mention of those things we disliked or believe could be improved as well.
In the end you will choose a casino according to these criteria:
- License and jurisdiction
- Fair gaming (responsible gaming, transparency, certificates, payout quote)
- Quality and variety of games and available providers
- Customer support and payment solutions (including withdrawal speed)
- Design, navigation, usability and mobile play
- Bonus offers, VIP program and specials
We recommend that you keep an eye out for all of these aspects before choosing an online casino. We will cover all these aspects in our reviews in order to help you to make the best choice for yourself.