There are hundreds and hundreds of online and mobile casinos out there, and it can really make your head spin. But they aren't all created equal and have different strengths and weaknesses that must be considered before you commit to any one of them. That's why I've drawn on the years of experience I have playing mobile slots and created this simple guide to choosing a mobile casino that's perfect for you. Now, let's look for the casino you should be playing at – a match made in gambling heavens!
This blog is quite long, so if anything peaks your interest, click on it to jump to a particular section:
- The reputation of the casino and the safety of your money
- Compatibility with your devices
- The ability of using your chosen payment method to deposit and withdraw
- The presence (and size) of promotions and bonuses
- The availability of games you want to play
- Customer services
Top Six Things You Should Look For In Your Perfect Online Casino
I briefly touched upon choosing which mobile casino to play at in the introductory article on playing mobile slots of this blog, but here is the ultimate check-list based on which you can find and play at the best online casino for you.
1. The reputation of the casino and the safety of your money
Righteously the first thing on the list, the overall reputation of the mobile casino and the safety of the funds that you'd potentially spend at it should be the first thing you check. But how does one check on the abstract concept of reputation? Well, there are multiple governmental measures in place that make it easy to ensure that the casino is legitimate and will take care to separate your money from theirs, just in case they'd become bankrupt.
The organisation that oversees the entire gambling industry in the UK is called the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and all online operators that want to legally do business in the UK must be licensed by UKGC.
Also, casinos are obligated by the UKGC to have their own money and the money of the users in separate accounts, thus offering a level of fund protection. However, it's then up to the casino itself which level it wishes to offer, so you can evaluate the level of risk that's acceptable to you:
- Basic – your money is separate, but there is no guarantee that you'd get your money back if the casino goes bust
- Medium – you'd at least get a part of your money back in case of insolvency
- High – customer money is legally separate from the casino and you'd get everything back
Another thing you could take a look at is how seriously the mobile casino takes responsible gambling. Do they have a GamCare (UK's largest organisation to prevent and treat gambling addiction) icon on their site, do they offer self-exclusion in case your gambling gets out of hand, do they have time or spending limits that you can place on yourself? All of those would indicate that the casino is socially responsible and thus add to their reputation.
2. Compatibility with your devices
After you're convinced that the casino is the real-deal and it's safe to play there, you've got to make sure that all of the devices that you intend to gamble on are compatible with that particular casino. There are many variables to this, starting with operating system compatibility, to downloadable casino clients and everything in between.
Your first point of reference should be the casino site itself. You could try and locate the information on device compatibility somewhere on the home page, in the About Us page or even in Terms and Conditions, but keep in mind that sometimes casinos don't bother updating the information online and it could be outdated.
Thus, the easiest way to check would be to get in touch with the casino's customer services, ideally via Live Chat if they've got one, and inquire. Some of the questions you'll want to ask are:
- Can I play on an iOS mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad? If so, which versions of my iOS device are supported?
- Can I play on an Android mobile device? If so, which versions of Android are supported?
- Can I play on a Windows mobile device? If so, which versions of Windows are supported?
- Must I download a casino client if I want to play on mobile?
- Must I download every game I want to play onto my mobile device or is instant-play available?
And, of course, the most prudent thing would be to actually switch on your device, visit the casino and give it a test run. You don't have to register just yet. Simply browse through the casino and notice if the interface is running smoothly, there are no glitches, lags or massive freezes. Also, play a few games in demo mode. Does the game randomly switch off every other spin? Then, it might be the best indicator of device incompatibility, prompting you to look at other mobile casinos.
3. The ability of using your chosen payment method to deposit and withdraw
Once you can trust the gambling site and wouldn't mind to let it have your money, you actually need a payment method that can add money into your casino account. So, if you want to complete all of your transactions with a credit card, you must check if it's accepted. That's quite easily done by locating the depositing and withdrawing information on the casino's site, either in their separate, dedicated Banking page or their Terms and Conditions.
And don't just locate the payment method logos at the bottom of the casino's page. You need to check which methods are accepted to deposit, which ones are accepted to withdraw, how much each of these transactions would cost you, what are the minimum and the maximum amounts I can deposit/withdraw and how quickly (or slowly) are the transactions processed. Ask yourself hypothetical questions throughout: how many deposits would you plan to make a month? Would a £5 fee put you off from ever withdrawing? Would you sign up for a new e-wallet account to avoid waiting times and fees? Would a cheque being sent to you via regular mail be acceptable?
If you're more of a sofa-dweller, then going to the bank, depositing the cheque and waiting for the funds too clear might be too much of a hassle. Why take it upon yourself when there are plenty of casinos that can have a withdrawal in your e-wallet account in mere hours? And again, just like with the information on compatibility, don't trust the payment details that you find on the site blindly. Check with their customer support that the information you found is 100% true and only then you can be certain that you won't run into any issues when you try to deposit and withdraw at a particular mobile casino.
Also, do keep in mind that payment methods come and go. Thus, if an e-wallet that you're using is available to use one week, it might not be the next. That could be due to many things and one of the more common ones are fees that the casino could be charged by the payment method operator. So, we'd advise to stick to major payment systems, such as globally recognized debit and credit cards, well-known e-wallets like Neteller, Skrill and Paypal, and widely accepted pre-paid voucher systems such as Ukash.
Lastly, there is also another convenient method of mobile phone billing that's available at select casinos. This method allows you to deposit up to £30 a day without any extra accounts, long numbers or security codes to remember by simply putting the amount on your monthly phone bill. Super easy and simple to use, once this method is available at a mobile casino, it's highly unlikely to go away.
4. The presence (and size) of promotions and bonuses
This one is a great indication as to how the casino treats their customers: do they lure you in with a huge, flashy welcome bonus package? Do they offer regular weekly, monthly or special promotions too? If so, you know you've got a winner! It's almost like love, falling for someone based on the right first impressions and then it's up to them to keep you interested and wanting more if the feelings are mutual.
Some of the industry standard offerings are welcome bonuses that will match or exceed your first, second and third deposits to give you more money to play with, extra spins that you could use on particular games or even bonuses that are given to you upon registration without ever depositing! And then there are so many types of promotions too: from game-specific promotions, to leader-board races and giveaways, to tournaments and raffles…The list goes on and the mobile casinos are only limited by their own imaginations.
But there are also some other things to consider when it comes to the bonuses and promotions at mobile casinos. Of course casinos would rather not let you have all that free money and/or extra spins, and keep more cash for themselves. That's why the majority of them tangle up their bonuses and promotions in wagering requirements, which effectively prevent you from withdrawing the bonuses unless you wager the sum given to you a set number of times.
For example, if you are handed a sweet 100% deposit match welcome bonus of £200 with 50x wagering requirements, then the reality of this bonus is pretty grim and you shouldn't be that happy at all. That makes your total sum to wager £10,000 and assuming the luck is absolutely on your side, it'd be very hard to achieve. Plus, they often have time constraints on your bonuses too, so you'd have to wager all that in a week, say! The good news is that you can always refuse a welcome bonus or opt out by contacting customer support to avoid wagering requirements.
Another thing to complicate matters is the fact that there is a trend among mobile casinos to disallow certain bonuses and promotions to be claimed via mobile devices. I personally think that this is backwards and a horrible practice in an industry that's moving towards total mobile domination, so read the fine print if you get excited about that massive welcome bonus – perhaps it's not even possible for you to receive it on your humble iPhone 5s?
5. The availability of games you want to play
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Once you know which games interest you and which ones you wish to play, then checking if the casino offers them would be a smart idea before you register. Otherwise, you might end up dismayed, looking at all the ‘classic' game titles and dreading the hours that you'll have to spend playing them to spend the money you deposited.
The game portfolios at casinos vary hugely: from just 9 or so mobile game titles to 700+ mobile slots at your service. Is it quality or quantity that you want? Do you have a favourite developer that simply must be featured at your perfect mobile casino? Is it important that the casino has got all the newest and trendiest slots as soon as they come out or do you enjoy goodies, but oldies?
You can often answer those questions by simply looking at the casino lobby and their games section. Some casinos also allow you to filter and categorise games by developer, the presence of a progressive jackpot, newness and other factors, so you can easily find what you're looking for. Mobile casinos often specialise in a certain type of slot, but the big-brand casinos with vast porfolios tend to harbour all shapes and sizes of mobile slots.
Furthermore, you should check if there are a wide variety of games available that fall within your preferred betting range. If there are only high variance slots with high bets available and you want to budget for £20 of gambling each month, then you might not be playing for long at all. In this case, you should look for the so-called penny slots that take just 1p to spin or go for a smaller bets in low variance machines.
6. Customer services
After all the hard work that you've done seeking for your perfectly matching mobile casino, customer services are unlikely to become a deal-breaker, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. We've really gone a full circle in terms of mobile casinos, because customer services contribute a great deal to the bigger image of the casino in the industry and it's reputation is measured in part by the excellence of the help that they provide their customers.
So, look up what sort of help is available to you if you were to run into any issues, be it with making a deposit, playing a game or trying to cash out. My personal preference lies with Live Chat, a quick and free way of getting in touch with a customer service rep and solve whatever issue is at hand. Of course, sometimes you must wait for a rep to be available, but that's not likely to be more than a few minutes.
Then, there is also help via e-mail and telephone, arguably slower yet sometimes preferable and equally as effective. I'd recommend everyone to give the customer services of a casino a run for their money. Get in touch about a real or supposed issue and see how they handle it. Are they polite and thorough, or they can't wait to shrug you off? We all know that it takes brilliant customer service to keep the casino players happy.