Guide to Online Casinos
Ever clicked 'spin' on an internet slots game or placed a virtual poker chip? If so, you'll probably have done it in one of the hundreds of UK online casinos.
Internet casinos are a major part of the multi-billion-pound online gambling industry in the UK. Since the first one appeared in the first few years of the 21st century, their use has increased dramatically, to the point that the average person is probably more likely to bet online than in person.
As part of Casino Meter's mission to give you all the information you need to gamble safely online, we've created a series of guides that will take you through every aspect of the internet gambling experience.
This page is a great place to start. We'll be looking at the workings of online casinos, how to choose the best one, how the different types of games work and, of course, how to gamble safely online.
So, sit back and continue reading!
What are online casinos?
Online casinos are internet-based platforms that host interactive betting games. Players can compete against the casino or other players, with winnings and losses shown in an on-screen cash balance.
To access an online casino, you'll need an internet connection, a connected device and a payment method, although you can effectively play for free if you claim a no deposit bonus.
Online casinos offer a much wider range of games than traditional venues, and many players enjoy the convenience of playing them at home or while travelling. They also have more special offers – typically online casino bonuses – as they face stiff competition for your business from scores of competitors.
On the other hand, they typically lack the 'buzz' of the in-person experience and some sites may feel a little flat. Many modern casinos, particularly live-dealer sites, do their best to replicate the live experience, to the point where some people feel that it's very similar to being there in person. For some players, though, nothing beats being at the real-life venue.
How online casinos work
When internet casinos first appeared, many people were nervous about using them. It was a valid concern: internet security back then was much more lax and casino software was rudimentary.
Nowadays, though, it's a different story. All good internet casinos use sophisticated software that excels in making casino operation random, fair and entertaining.
To make sure you always get a fair go, the software employs a Random Number Generator (RNG) which guarantees that a game produces a random result every time someone plays it. Online casinos instead make their money through the house edge built into each casino game, which we'll cover later.
Modern casino software delivers excellent gameplay and graphics. HTML-5 technology, for example, means that mobile casino games run just as well as on desktops, while virtual reality (VR) games are becoming more popular.
Casino software also helps to keep us safe. It works with secure payment and fraud prevention systems to minimise the risk of financial crime. Know Your Customer (KYC) technology is a prime example of this, identifying players on the casino's behalf via multiple security checks.
The best online casinos hold one or more casino licenses from approved regulators. All the casinos you find on this website hold the Gambling Commission (GC) license which ensures that each site meets certain safety requirements and subscribes to safe gambling tools like Be Gamble Aware.
In short, the modern licensed internet casino should be a secure place to play. There are safety frameworks in place to help you should you have an issue, so you should always be able to play with peace of mind.
Types of online casino games
When you sign up to an online casino, you should have a good choice of games to choose from, however it's useful to know a little about them before playing for the first time.
Whether it's a virtual slots game or a classic table game like roulette, here's a brief summary of the most popular types of games available at UK online casinos.
The most popular and, in theory, the simplest casino game. Online slots are centred on the concept of hitting the 'spin button' and hopefully winning a prize from the combinations that appear on the reels.
Yet, modern slots come with added extras. Many, especially video slots, come with progressive jackpots, complex bonus features, scatter symbols and expanding wilds, just to name a few examples.
Roulette is the classic casino table game, and internet versions don't vary much from the original rules thanks to its popularity.
Although a game of chance, it's a good idea to consider roulette odds and probabilities when you play.
This classic card game pits you against the dealer to see who can get closer to the Blackjack total of 21.
There's an element of skill involved as you need to know when to 'Hit' (take another card) or 'Stand' (keep your cards), but fortune still has a big say in the cards you receive.
Again, online blackjack games don't tend to vary from the classic table game too much.
Online video poker
Despite all of poker's variants, video poker games normally follow the rules of five-card draw.
In most versions, players compete against the computer to make the best possible hand out of five cards.
Other online casino games
You may find that online casinos have a selection of lesser-known games to try out.
Baccarat is a classic card game that often appears, while number-based games such as Keno and Bingo are common. Virtual scratch cards, too, offer quick games, although there normally isn't much gameplay involved.
A quick look at online casino bonuses
Casino bonuses are one of the things that set the online casino industry apart from land-based venues. If used correctly, they can be a nice little extra for a player to have.
Receiving a bonus is normally easy. The casino will often automatically add the credit or spins to your account, or you just enter a code when you sign up to activate the offer. You may have to write to the casino to claim the bonus, but this is rare.
Then, you'll have the bonus to play with. But watch out. Online casinos are businesses, and a bonus is never completely 'free'. As such, there are several restrictions to be aware of when you claim one, which are normally the following:
- Wagering Requirements (WR)
- Maximum bet or win
- Game restrictions
Note: You can find out more about these in our bonus guide article, which covers everything you need to know about prepaid credit and spins.
Remember, too, that it's always important to read through the bonus's terms and conditions to avoid any nasty surprises!
Are online casinos safer than land-based venues?
If you’d asked this question 10 years ago, we may have said real-life casinos are safer, but online casino safety measures have improved so much in that time.
All the casinos you see on this page hold a Gambling Commission (GC) license, as mentioned earlier, which holds each site to certain safety standards. Security measures like KYC verification also protect against fraudulent behaviour.
Remember: we’ve put many hours’ work into rating the casinos on this page, so if you choose one with a good Casino Meter rating, then you should be safe!
How do I make a deposit in an online casino?
You can transfer funds into a casino account within minutes providing that site accepts your chosen payment method.
The process is normally straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
- Go to the deposit section of the casino you’ve opened your account at.
- Choose your payment method from the list of providers
- Follow the on-screen instructions
- Confirm your details once you’ve double-checked everything is correct.
Depending on the payment method you use, the transfer can take anything between a few seconds to a few days, so make sure you’re aware of this before you start.
What do I do if an online casino treats me unfairly?
While the GC license holds casinos to certain standards, it’s still possible that you receive poor customer service from a casino on this page.
While this is never fun, there are steps you can take. If you feel that you are getting nowhere after complaining to the casino, contact the GC’s resolution service. The staff there will ask the casino to explain its conduct and hopefully sort the situation out.