All casino brands must excel at the following ten competencies:
- Brand and Industry Reputation
- Casino Software and Technology
- Licensing and Regulation
- Customer Support
- Banking Infrastructure
- Bonuses and Promotions
- VIP and Player Loyalty Programs
- Casino Games
Our team of casino experts goes into exquisite detail when it comes to investigating the nuances of these categories as something as simple as a casino's choice of software provider, or decision to not pursue a regulated market, can give you insights into their cash flow, whether or not you can trust them to honour your withdrawals and many other important items of consideration.
To give an idea of what we look at, here is a breakdown of what we look for in terms of each of those ten core brand competencies.
1. Brand Reputation
Before we can consider praising a brand for being one of the world’s best casinos, we have to consider whether or not they have a good reputation amongst their peers and among players. Have they shown themselves to be financially sound and do they have a passion for caring for their customers?
We also look at if they are willing to be held accountable for their business practices. Casinos who apply for licenses in strict jurisdictions like the UK, and who allow independent regulatory bodies such as eCogra to review their fair gaming and player protection policies are more likely to be brands you can trust.
2. Casino Software and Technology
The fact of the matter is that not all gaming software is made equal. The reputable game providers like Microgaming, Playtech and NetEnt allow their casino partners to run their businesses without putting the customer and their data at risk. They also intervene in cases where players feel there might be something amiss. The same is not true for less reputable providers and hence would never be considered for our Top 5 list.
These top tier providers will also mean that the casino itself is modern and visually appealing, with the inclusion of great features like gamification, mobile optimisation, and the ability to use the same wallet and player logins regardless of device.
3. Licensing and Regulation
As we mentioned before, a casino's decision to pursue or avoid licensing in certain markets can give you insight into things like cash flow and business practices. Brands who have successfully acquired a license in the United Kingdom have submitted their business practices and financial standing to the UK government for review and received their approval.
In addition, they have agreed to abide by UK law, which is heavily in favour of its citizens, as well having put insurance policies in place or have financial reserves in escrow to ensure that even if the business falters the players will receive payment. Knowing this, you can safely bet on such a brand is a high value, low risk, the long term casino to sign up with.
The inverse is also true; brands who avoid any well-managed jurisdictions and use casino software who don’t care what their operators do should send up warning signals. They do for us and that is why we would never include them as potential Top 5 nominees.
While it is true that there are some stellar fresh casinos brands, we have to keep a dynamic list of the Best New Online Casinos for that reason, there is something to be said for a casino brand that proven it is able to weather the storms this industry is known for.
Whether it’s the constant opening and closing of markets, changes in banking regulations or having survived world wars having a stable brand as your casino of choice can only be a good thing.
5. Customer Support
To be considered a brand of excellence, we expect our casinos to move beyond mere customer support and into true Customer Care! We spend hours testing the response times, the versatility, overall product knowledge and first-time resolution capabilities of the brands we recommend.
We also take into account how many contact channels do they offer – telephone, live chat, email, perhaps even through their social media channels like Facebook?
Lastly, we also look at whether or not they can be trusted. When a support staff member offers to return your call with the information you need, or email over the documentation that is required do they did so when they said they would. That simple point of keeping their word is the cornerstone of a great support team.
6. Banking Infrastructure
While entertainment and fun are great for marketing campaigns, the reality is that the online casino industry revolves around money. For that reason, we go to great pains to ensure that the brands we promote as being industry leaders have industry-leading banking solutions in place.
We delve into the service providers they’re doing business with, have the big banking companies approved them? Have well-regarded web wallets like Neteller and Skrill Moneybookers successfully approved their applications? Have they gone the extra mile to help customers from all over the globe by providing more localized deposit and withdrawal methods?
Then there is also the process, do they make it as simple to receive your payout as they made it for you to deposit? Are there payouts speedy and efficient, or do they tie you up in red tape?
Nothing that the very best will do for you, and that is why this is one of the key make-or-break factors in determining the eligibility of a gambling site for inclusion in our top list.
To be a leader in our list of top five online casinos, the brand needs to be passionate about the people they’re serving. Nothing shows more care and consideration for you than speaking to you in your native language.
For many people, online gambling is a new or somewhat disconnected experience, and to make it that much easier for them by explaining systems and processes in their mother tongue will ensure we give that brand the kudos they deserve.
Then there is the ability to both deposit and withdraw in your local currency using a local banking method. This ensures that there is no confusion when it comes to conversion rates and how much of your budget is being used, as well as ensuring there are hidden fees or unexpected levies.
Any casino that makes your life easier and more enjoyable gets the nod from us!
8. Bonuses and Promotions
When we look at the bonuses and promotions on offer, we do not simply look at the face value offer. More important than the value on the sticker is how clear are the terms and conditions.
Do they clearly and concisely explain things like wagering requirements, minimum deposits, maximum withdrawals and other things which can detract from the enjoyment of the experience if they’re sprung on an unsuspecting player when they try to cash out their winnings?
The same is true for promotions. Do they clearly list if there are geographical or even VIP tier restrictions? The holiday cruise you’re so excited about might require you to get to the departure port at your own cost – if you live on another continent the cost might be prohibitive.
In some cases, the mega prize on display is only valid for players at the highest VIP tier, as a newer player you might only qualify for a smaller prize.
We won’t stand for brands who obscure their terms and conditions, our top contenders will make your participation in their promotions an absolute dream!
9. VIP and Player Loyalty Programs
While many brands use the terms "Loyalty" and "VIP" interchangeably that is not a true reflection of the industry and what goes on behind closed doors. A true VIP program requires a sizable investment in terms of gameplay and more importantly deposit values.
To stand out as a big deal in this industry an online casino of worth needs to have the financial backing and the nerves of steel required to take care of any high rollers who come to play.
However, at the same time, they cannot allow their service and care of everyone else to take a back seat either. For this reason, we require our top tier nominees to have a robust Player Loyalty Programs in place, which will reward you with bonuses, prizes and more for playing on a regular basis.
Balance is the key to success, and serving both the prince and the pauper with equal dignity and care is the true mark of an industry-leading casino.
10. Casino Games
At the end of the day, 99% of our time in an online casino is spent playing the games on offer. Whether it’s because it makes you smile, you love the bonus features or it’s the one you had your first big win on and you know it’ll happen for you again, the quality of the casino games ultimately colour your opinion of the casino as a whole.
When we rate a casino's game offering we consider several key aspects of their library – do they offer a quality game with great graphics and smooth gameplay, do they have live dealer table games, do they offer slots tournaments, are there progressive jackpot games available and are their games optimised for mobile play?
A casino offering all of this (and more) is one that has partnered with the best providers in the industry. They have decided to offer you a premium gambling service, they’re investing in their brand and that means they’re serious about building a sustainable and trustworthy business.
These are the casinos we want to give recognition to, the ones looking to do it right!