This article was written by Dame de Couer.
For your convenience and peace of mind we have scrutinized, reviewed and evaluated the quality of the online casinos that are popular with players in order to allow you to play safely with the most reliable operators. If you find an online casino listed on this page it will be licensed, legal and committed to providing high-quality customer playing experiences.
You may wonder what qualifies us to help players navigate their way through the maze of the igaming industry. Well, collectively, we have over 30 years of experience of the gaming industry – both land-based and online. As players ourselves, we have experienced the good, bad and ugly of operators in the online gambling sector, and we know better than most how important it is for players to be able to trust the operator they are considering signing up with.
Our founder has the mathematical qualifications and skills to enable us to determine whether data is likely to highlight fair games and we have exposed cheating software on multiple occasions and providers offering fake versions of games previously.
The operators listed on this page are listed based on mertic. We do not offer, to any operator, improved exposure levels for any increase in advertising fee paid to us. This policy is fundamentally different to any other gambling operator review site online. If an operator is recommended by us, then it is because they have truly earned the right to be so through sheer quality of service.
In the past few years, online casino players have become more educated about the variety of playing experiences out there and they have come to expect high standards from online casinos. Some brands have big reputations and they are very popular with the online casino playing community, but which ones are the very best?
Read on and we will help you to find the top online casinos on the market and the ones that are fully regulated by a recognized license provider so that you can be confident that you are getting the best experience for your money.
We have reviewed and examined the standards of thousands of online casinos using our stringent and unique criteria so that you have honest and reliable information at your fingertips. We rank online casinos according to: trustworthiness, customer service, bonuses, software provision, licensor and withdrawal times, alongside other factors such as an online casino’s willingness to discuss complaints that customers bring to us about them - both in our capacity as an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) provider and beyond this.
We are committed to continually updating the online casinos listed on our site so that new properties are covered each month meaning that you have the most current and trusted list of regulated operators to choose from. You can be sure that our reviews are thorough, fair and authentic and that any online casinos we recommend will hold to the same high standards that we do.
If trustworthiness and reliability are qualities you prioritise in any online casino that you signup to, then our resource will prove to be invaluable to you.
The online casino industry is highly competitive and with hundreds of new venues popping up every year it can be difficult for a player to source an operator that shares their values and is head and shoulders above the others.
With bonus packages and website designs that are inherently similar, and a comparable range of software providers and game types, to the uneducated eye online casinos can seem to be identikits of each other; this is not totally the case. Some online casinos go the extra mile for customers and try and provide something a little different in terms of experience.
Above all else, player security and safe storage of players’ personal data should be the two aspects of an organization that are non-negotiable for discerning and educated players. At ThePOGG.com we are able to help you navigate your way to the best and fairest online operators.
Players can often spare themselves heartache down the line if they just take the time to do some quick background research on an operator that they are considering playing with.
To ensure that an online casino is dependable and genuine some easy and quick checks can be undertaken.
It is vital that players ensure that an online casino does in fact have the license it claims to. You should never take an operator’s word that they do have a license – all the recognized regulators expect their licensees to provide functioning links to the page that their license status is displayed on, and the most trusted and genuine operators are careful to do this.
Normally operators give license information and a link to their regulator in the footer of their site – a seal can often be found and when clicked on it should take the player to the page giving the relevant information on the regulator’s site. Occasionally the link to a licensor can be found in the Terms and Conditions section of the online casino’s website so it is wise to check in both places before deciding a casino is unlicensed. We believe that it is a good idea to consider an operator unlicensed if there is a seal displayed but does not redirect to a license page when clicked on.
Once a player has lost money with an unlicensed operator there is little that we can do to help recover their funds, though we are always keen to try to do so. It is always best to be too cautious rather than not cautious enough. Details of the various regulatory bodies can be found in the next section.
Another quick check that can be undertaken to ascertain the authenticity and security of an online casino is to source details of the ownership of the site. The best and most dependable operators list their ownership details and provide an address that they can be contacted at. If no contact details are given on site and no details of the owners are listed, we would strongly encourage you to find another more reputable operator – there are plenty out there to choose from – the ones listed here are a good place to start.
The UKGC was established in October 2005 as a result of the introduction of The Gambling Act 2005 which stipulated that a governing body should be set up in order to execute the contents of the Act. Holding a UKGC license is noteworthy – it highlights that an operator is considered to be in good enough standing that it is safe for players resident in the UK to play with them.
The UKGC holds its licensees to stringent standards in terms of business practice, data security, protection of player funds and responsible gambling practices. All guidance regarding licensing conditions and codes of practice are detailed in a document called the License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) that can be accessed by anyone at any time.
The UKGC is committed to protecting minors and gambling addicts and they work closely with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to introduce new protections and practices that aid UK citizens.
It is important to note that not all properties in possession of a UKGC license are equal and that is why we have taken the time to select the most reputable and secure on your behalf.
The MGA was founded in 2001 to regulate all types of gambling activity carried out in the jurisdiction of Malta. The Maltese regulator works tirelessly to ensure that players have access to safe and secure operators under the of Gaming Act, 2018 – Chapter 583 of the Laws of Malta. The MGA enacts the provisions laid out in the Act making sure that their licensees adhere to strict rules that are outlined in a series of published Directives, the most relevant to players being: Directive 2 of 2018 – Player Protection Directive and Directive 3 of 2018 – Gaming Authorisations and Compliance Directive. They also cooperate with the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authoritity (MCCAA) to ensure adherence with the Consumer Affairs Act.
The GGC was founded to enact the Gambling Act (Gibraltar), 2005 together with the Gambling Commissioner who has been given powers to ensure that licensees are engaging in continued good practice which affords players the highest levels of security. Licensees are expected to adhere to the standards set out for them in The Generic Code, the gambling code of practice for the jurisdiction of Gibraltar. The aims of the GGC are largely linked to providing gambling services that are, above all else: “[…]fair, secure and transparent[…]” (Item 1.3, page 5).
In the spring of 2000, the state of Alderney founded the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) to oversee all gambling operations taking place on the island, under the Gambling Law (Alderney), 1999. Supplementary rules and guidance for licensees comes from 2 further legislative documents – namely The Alderney eGambling Ordinance, 2009 and The Alderney eGambling Regulations, 2009.
Together these documents provide a framework that gives a stable and trustworthy licensing base for the island and its players. Whilst the AGCC believe the overall proportion of problem gamblers and minor gamblers present in the gambling cohort to be small, they recognize that these groups do require greater protections.
To this end they continue to work on developing more effective practices to prevent harm to these groups, alongside their licensees. By and large, players can expect fairness and respect from Alderney licensed online casinos.
In the autumn of 2010, as dictated by the Gambling Commission (Jersey) Law,2010, the Jersey Gambling Commission (JGC) was established to preside over all forms of gambling taking place in the jurisdiction. At the heart of its “Guiding Principles” a focus on safeguarding those vulnerable to problem gambling and those below the legal age required for gambling.
Alongside this, they endeavour to ensure standards and practices that prevent any criminality associated with gambling and that promote above all else, fair and safe services to players. They have published several documents and Codes of Practice pertaining to their standards and expectations for licensees – the most relevant for online casino players being, The Code of Practice for Responsible Gambling for Remote Operators.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) came into being in the summer of 1999 when Section 35 (online gambling) of the Kahnawake Gaming Law necessitated the appointment of an agency to oversee gambling activities occurring in the jurisdiction. The Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming were enacted in the same year. As with the majority of regulators Kahnawake’s regulator places a heavy focus on the safety of players – particularly any that are considered part of a vulnerable group – mainly children or those adults susceptible to problem gambling habits.
Their basic principles place emphasis on online casinos providing honest and fair gaming practices, alongside stringent data protection policies and anti-criminal behaviour and money laundering procedures.
The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission was established in 1962 to protect the rights of players in bricks and mortar casinos. It has subsequently had to adapt to the egaming sector and all of the challenges that online gambling brings - this saw the drawing up of the Online Gambling Regulation Act, 2001 to be enacted by the Commission.
The core objectives of the Commission include maintaining the focus of their licensees on fairness and honesty when dealing with gamblers, alongside the avoidance of allowing criminal organisations or individuals from benefitting from online gambling through money-laundering and other prohibited practices.
Finally, they highlight the duty of care licensees have to vulnerable elements in society that can find exposure to online gambling harmful, notably children or those exhibiting compulsive behaviours in connection with gambling.
The Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) was appointed to oversee land-based gambling activities in the jurisdiction in 1999 and subsequently their reach was extended to take in online gambling too. Curaçao operate on a system of “master licenses” which were awarded to various legal firms operating in the jurisdiction who then sub-license them out to operators. The master license holders we are aware of are as follows:
- AntillePhone (this group does not appear to offer any user facing website beyond its license verification pages)
The regulation in Curaçao holds little credibility in our eyes. There is little to nothing in the way of published standards that licensees are expected to adhere to and – in our experience - the master license holders show little willingness to intervene in player complaints.
Where they do our experience has been that they act in a manner that bears far more in common with a lawyer providing legal representation for a client than an independent regulatory body impartially reviewing a claim.
Having a Curaçao license on its own is not an indicator that an operator is safe and reliable. In fact, without a proven track record of several years, we would encourage all players to view any online gambling operator that holds only a Curaçao based license as a liability.
The Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) or Spelinspektionen was founded in 2018 to enforce the regulations laid out by the Gambling Act (2018:1138). Much of the information disseminated by the Swedish regulator regarding regulations and expected standards for online casinos is only available in the Swedish Language.
The document entitled Spellag is the one that details the practices casinos must abide by. Like many gambling regulators, the SGA are at pains to maintain licensing standards that prevent social harms that can sometimes occur as a result of gambling. They believe in the importance of providing legalized gambling services that put the safety and security of players first.
The Directorate of Offshore Gaming (DOG) was founded in 1994 as a sub-division of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC). Operators must adhere to the guidelines for operation as laid out in the Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations 2007. The number of online operators utilizing the regulatory services of the DOG is decreasing – possibly and indicator of the value operators assign to this license provider at the moment.
Since 2015, the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling has functioned as the gambling regulator in Spain. The Directorate exercise the power they were granted by the Spanish Gambling Act, like many regulators the main areas of focus for the Spanish Directorate are to prevent the dangers associated with illegal gambling, and to protect vulnerable gamblers so that they can be sure their gambling industry is regulated, safe and secure.
In Italy, gambling licenses issued by the state appointed Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS), translates as the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies, are the only legitimate and legal ones.
Much of the stipulations made for licensees focus on payment of AAMS fees and a need for high company turnover – there is not so much mention made of prioritising player safety, either in terms of data protection or responsible gambling. The number of licensees operating on an AAMS license is few and so it is unlikely you will encounter it often.
The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) enforces the actions of the Gaming and Betting Act of 7 May 1999. The BGC are very concerned about the addictive nature of certain game types, in particular what they refer to as “games of chance”, and their priority is preventing the financial harms these can cause to players. They have taken actions to ensure player safety that are more invasive than other licensors – the State Council vetoed the use of bonuses across the board in Belgium in early 2020.
They also set a strict deposit limit for players in the amount of €500 per player per week per gambling property. It appears that they intend to tighten this up further – possibly by limiting the amount to €500 per week per player at only one property, but they are working on creating a centrally held data resource before they are able enforce this successfully.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission work together to control gambling activities in the jurisdiction. The Gaming Control Board has existed in some form since 1955 when new legislation governing gambling practices came into existence.
This licensor recognises the economic contribution can make to their community but also that it must be a safe and secure industry for customers, and they work hard to maintain a balance that allows both to happen.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is a subsidiary of the Department of Law and Public Safety and it was established in 1977 to enforce the articles of the New Jersey Casino Control Act of the same year. The core principles of the organisation are to maintain a crime free industry that is living up to its economic potential. They do offer a basic self-exclusion system for the State of New Jersey which shows some commitment to player safety. New Jersey also has a dedicated helpline for problem gamblers called 800Gambler.
It is always prudent to be as thorough as possible before getting to the sign-up stage at a prospective online casino. Groundwork and research are the means by which players can verify that an operator is trustworthy and reputable. Beyond ascertaining that an operator has a legitimate regulator licensing them, and that they declare ownership and contact details freely, there are some other checks that can be undertaken.
Once you have carried out the quick checks we suggested to determine whether an online casino can be played at with confidence, and you have found an operator you would like to register with – how do you go about doing so? Thankfully most reputable online casinos have efficient website designs that make it easy for customers to sign up, and luckily the majority require the same steps to be taken throughout the registration process.
Locate the Registration button
The most common location for the registration button to be found is in the top right of the header of the website and it is usually a different colour from anything else on the page so that it is easy for new players to spot. It will normally say: Sign Up/ Join Now/ Play/ Register or Join Here.
Fill out the Registration Form
The Registration Form then normally pops up and you have to fill it out before you can go any further. Regulated operators are well versed in the GDPR and will ask for personal details in order to allow them to get you verified successfully.
We urge you again to make sure that you have read these documents because should you complain about something included in them later, the operator will highlight the fact that you accepted them at point of sign up.
Select the Welcome Bonus
Many of the best online casinos offer a Welcome Bonus or Welcome Package to brand new customers. Some operators like to offer more than one Welcome Bonus for new customers to choose from. Once you have created an account you are likely to be asked which Welcome Bonus you would like to receive – or if you would like to go ahead and make a deposit without accepting any Welcome Bonus at all.
A great number of Welcome Bonus reports can be found on our website should you wish to compare them. Be mindful that most Welcome Bonuses can be claimed only if a customer deposits a certain amount or more – you should be sure to meet the requirements of the minimum deposit if you intend on claiming such a bonus.
Make your Deposit
Choose the means by which you would like to make your deposit. Most operators will accept deposits made via ewallet (Neteller, Skrill etc), bank transfer, PayPal, prepaid cards, Cryptocurrencies, debit card or credit card – though credit card deposits cannot be made by UK residents to UK licensed casinos and it is not legal any operator who does not hold a UK license to accept UK players.
UK Customers and Customers Ruled by the GDPR - Additional Documentation May be Required to Withdraw Funds
The UKGC demand the highest standards of protection for customer funds held by their licensees. They must be segregated for the security of customers and this means that operators are very stringent when performing KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures on those making withdrawals.
You may, at this stage, be required to acknowledge that the operator may ask you to submit further documentation (in line with their license requirements) in order to enable them to complete KYC procedures successfully. UK Government guidelines on submissible and officially recognized Identification documents can be found online here.
Not only UK licensees require such high standards – under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) other jurisdictions insist that their licensees are equally thorough. Additional document requests may include the submission of:
|Proof of Identity||Proof of Address||Proof of income||Proof of Identity ownership|
|National Identity Card sporting customer’s photograph||Utility bill (gas, electric, satellite television, landline phone bill) issued within the last three months||Wage Slip or Payslip||Selfie of account holder holding the specified document.|
|A signed and current passport||Council Tax Bill dated for the current year as issued by your Local Authority||Pension documentation|
|An Original Birth Certificate (United Kingdom full certificate issued within 12 months of D.O.B. - in full form - including those issued by UK overseas authorities like Embassies, HM Forces etc)||A valid United Kingdom Driving Licence – normally if this has been used as proof of identity it will not be accepted as proof of address too.||Proof of sale of assets|
|EEA member state identity card (also submissible as proof of address if borne upon it)||Bank, Building Society or Credit Union statement or passbook dated within a period of the last 3 months||Proof of inheritance|
|A photocard driver’s license that is current and awarded by the UK or EEA member state government.||Your Annual Mortgage Statement, as issued by the lender, in its original form only|
|Full old-style driver’s licence (the long paper copy)||Solicitors letter within the last three months confirming recent house purchase or land registry confirmation of address|
|Photocards for those self-employed individuals working in the construction industry - namely the CIS4 card||Council or housing association rent card or tenancy agreement for the current year|
|Letter of award from government Benefits Agency or your Benefits Book||Benefit book or original notification letter from Benefits Agency (but not if used as proof of name)|
|A valid and current firearms certificate||HMRC issued Notice of Tax Due or Self-assessment Tax Due letter for the current financial year.|
|Home Office issued Residence Certificate as issued to EEA nationals on production of home country passport||Valid and Current entry on the Electoral Register|
|National identity photocard||Letter from your GP’s Practice denoting registration at said practice or a valid NHS issued Medical Card.|
It must be noted that this is a very broad overview of some of the documents that may be accepted as proof of: identity, address, income or identity ownership, but it does not mean that every operator will be happy to accept every document in this table. This is given for guidance only – it does not give assurances that the submission of any or all of these documents will be considered enough to complete KYC at any given operator.
Select a Game and Play
Choose a game – you may have a favourite software provider, Net Entertainment and Microgaming prove to be perennially popular and high quality if you are unsure of where to start – more information on software providers can be found in the dedicated section below. You may also wish to play a game with a certain theme – many of the leading operators provide filtering functions to allow players to find a slots game that is to their taste. Themes are diverse and there is sure to be something of interest to individual players – popular themes are Egypt, Vampires, Steam Punk, underwater and Popular TV/films. If you wish to make your money go as far as possible, then it is sensible to select a game with a RTP (Return to Player) that is favourable.
There has never been a better time to be an online casino player. So many excellent and high-quality casino software developers and platform providers are now present in the dynamic online casino market. Lots of players are well informed about the different brands out there and what they can offer in terms of quality of design, trustworthiness and fairness – for those of you that are eager to learn more, then read on. We will give a general overview of the biggest and most reputable brands on the market for your convenience.
Founded in 1994, and operating out of the ultra-modern and imposing five-level, Sixty Two building, Microgaming are based on the Isle of Man. They have always been at the forefront of innovation in igaming and their game Cash Splash was the original progressive jackpot game – a format that was soon rolled out by all of the industry’s major players. Microgaming claim the accolade of having the world’s biggest network of progressives and they highlight that it has paid players out an amount now exceeding 1.3 billion euros.
When it comes to slots games, Microgaming offer over 1500 to date, across the Microgaming original games and those falling under the Quickfire umbrella, and this number grows monthly, with the addition of multiple new titles each month of the year. They boast the largest number of games from a single provider in the industry and are continually striving to improve and expand their products.
Quickfire is the arm of the Microgaming company that represents small independent igaming studios, helping them to bring their games to a highly competitive market.
Immortal Romance is one of Microgaming’s seemingly universally appealing slot games. It focuses on the dark, passionate, time defying love life of vampires, full of the expected secrets and intrigues. In terms of imagery all of the typically gothically themed favorites make an appearance: sensual blood red rubies, creepy watchful stone gargoyles and columns of carved granite - all set against a dark background coloured by foreboding music which contributes significantly to the creepy atmosphere. Part of the game’s appeal must surely be its high-quality graphics – it is a visually stunning game. The RTP for Immortal Romance is 96.86%.
Thunderstruck 2 also looks to mythology of a sort for its theme – this time classic Norse mythology. This game features a who’s who of Norse gods: Odin, Thor and Loki all make an appearance, as do Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir), and Freya’s Valkyries.
Like all Microgaming games, the level of detail in the graphics is dazzling – no wonder players love it. The RTP for Thunderstruck 2 is 96.65%.
Founded in 1996 by Pontus Lindwall, with its headquarters in Sweden, NetEnt (formerly Net Entertainment – name changed 2015) are pioneers in the igaming industry. They are renowned for the superior quality of their graphics and the creativity of their in-game bonus features – for many players they are setting the standards that others in the igaming industry can only aspire to.
With a reputation for creating well-loved classics such as Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest, NetEnt continually strive to add new, premium quality games to their catalogue which currently exceeds 200 games.
Starburst is one of the most popular slots games of all time and if only one word could be chosen to describe it, it would be colourful. This space themed game utilizes the eponymous starbust as the wild symbol.
Other symbols are represented by a glut of different precious stones that sparkle and shine as the reels spin. A quirky electronica style soundtrack plays peppered with other sounds as features are activated. The RTP for Starburst is 96.1%.
Gonzo’s Quest, as the name suggests is an adventure style game which follows the eponymous hero, Gonzo, as he ceaselessly searches for the lost city of gold (Eldorado). Graphically stunning and endlessly engaging it is no surprise at all that players love this game.
Features are activated frequently so that it keeps players entertained. The symbols in the game are Mayan themed and the sound effects are varied and extensive from coin showers to war drums, tribal music to battlefield groans, it has it all. The RTP for Gonzo’s Quest is 96%.
Founded by Teddy Sagi in 1999 in Estonia, specifically Tartu, Playtech are one of the most innovative igaming software providers on the market today. Their headquarters can be found located in London, England but they have corporate offices around the world. Playtech offer over 600 casino games for the enjoyment of players and they have a reputation for providing what they themselves refer to as “best-of-breed” gaming experiences.
PlayTech have many excellent quality games in their catalogue of the most popular being Age of the Gods and Gladiator.
Age of the Gods is another mythology themed game – this time we find ourselves in the world of Ancient Greece - and all the likely characters make their presence known. No Greek mythological line up would be complete without an appearance by the supreme leader of them all – god of the sky – Zeus one of the original 12 Olympians.
He is joined in the game by his daughter, goddess of agriculture, Athena. It is something of a family affair with Poseidon, god of the sea and Hades, god of the underworld, Zeus’ brothers also featuring. Of course, no game based on Greek mythology would be complete without the sultry presence of the goddess of love, Aphrodite.
The gods and goddesses appear as symbols in the game, alongside laurel or myrtle wreath symbols, and some letter symbols. An anthem style soundtrack and additional sounds make this game an all-round crowd pleaser. The RTP for Age of the Gods is 95.02%.
Gladiator, as the name indicates, is based upon the blockbuster movie of the same name. In 2020, one lucky player smashed the highest progressive jackpot win record for Gladiator by bagging £2,374,847.22. Symbols include characters from the movie (though Maximus, the lead, appears only in shadowy form), gladiator helmets and the Coliseum.
The graphics are outstanding, and all is overlaid by a martial sounding soundtrack full of gravity. The wealth of bonus features make this game such a longstanding success. The RTP for Gladiator is 94.09%.
IGT has undergone several incarnations and name revisions over the years, the company in its present form came together in 2015, though it has existed in some form since 1990. The company headquarters are located in the United Kingdom but like many of the largest software companies, it has offices worldwide. For IGT their product is all about providing an enjoyable and engaging gaming experience for players that also takes a responsible approach to player safety.
Offering in excess of 250 games, IGT offer something for everyone and their software is widely available at the leading online casinos.
The ultimate IGT player favourite, ancient Egyptian themed Cleopatra, which initially was created as a real slot for use in land-based casinos is enduringly popular. The games features expected Egyptian symbols, including the eponymous queen, sphinxes, golden ingots, scarab beetles, the Eye of Horus and the crook and flail synonymous with Egyptian royalty.
This game is more of the classic slot style – probably because it started life as an actual physical old style slot game – it has a charm as a result of that. The soundtrack is not as dynamic as some of the newer slots but nonetheless it does enhance the playing experience as it adds to the Egyptian feel. The RTP for Cleopatra is 95.02%.
Da Vinci Diamonds is clearly an art and culture themed slots game based on the accomplishments and creations of the fifteenth century Italian polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci. The game features some of Da Vinci’s most highly regarded works including the Mona Lisa, Lady with an Ermine and Portrait of a Musician.
Precious gems and ornate gold picture frames also appear on the reels. Sounds typical of those found in slots games are used and, in my opinion, they are the weak point of the game. The RTP for Da Vinci Diamonds is 94.93%.
Like Cleopatra, Pixies of the Forest started life as a slots machine in Las Vegas and was so popular it made the transition to the online market too. It is one of few slots games incorporating the tumbling reels feature. Themed around the world of magical, mythical pixies, this game is very pretty visually. Ethereal pixies surrounded by forest foliage abound.
The graphics rely heavily on the colours: violet, magenta, gold and green making the game glow like jewel bright neon lights. Sound wise there is nothing groundbreaking here – a light bubbly musical theme is interspersed with the sorts of sounds synonymous with slots play.
The draw for players is surely the sparkling, spellbinding graphics. The RTP for Pixies of the Forest is 94.9%.
Founded by Johann Graf in 1980, with its headquarters in Gumpoldskirchen, Austria, Novomatic is an igaming industry giant boasting many firsts – including being the original touch screen gaming manufacturer. Offering around 350 games, Novomatic ceaselessly work to bring new and original products to a very dynamic and fast-paced market.
Their progressives – both stand-alone and networked - are popular with online casino players. Much beloved of players is the enduringly popular Book of Ra slot which has spawned many an imitation.
Book of Ra is another slots game set in the mysterious world of ancient Egypt. Based on the legend of the Golden Book of Amun-Ra, a reportedly solid gold book containing powerful spells and incantations, the slots game takes up the story.
The game incorporates symbols such as the scarab beetle, moon goddess Isis, the mythical book of Ra itself and an Egyptian tomb. Though this game cannot be described as having cutting-edge graphics, players seem to find its classic style irresistible.
The Book of Ra’s RTP may change slightly from operator to operator since the game is configurable but it is in the region on 94.26%.
Yggdrasil Gaming Ltd was founded in 2013 by former NetEnt Acting CEO, Fredrik Elmqvist. Despite having a much shorter history than many of the leading igaming developers, Yggdrasil has garnered a solid reputation for high quality software, quickly.
Yggdrasil state that entertainment provision is at the forefront of their development of new games, but not at the cost of players being able to play responsibly. Having brought around 70 high quality games to the market since their inception, Yggdrasil are a company that is still growing, and players seem to like the direction their games are going.
Vikings go Berzerk, Vikings go to Hell and Valley of the Gods are some of their most popular games.
Vikings go to Hell is a lively slots game filled with the fearsome Norsemen of old. The games utilises all of the icons of a civilization known for its fearsome warriors: swords, shields, axes and hammers for its symbols, alongside scenes from the thick of the battle. A glowing skull watches over proceedings and as symbols are activated they abound with flames.
The soundtrack is suitably epic and sound details from the battlefield are overlaid to add more authenticity. The RTP for Vikings go to Hell is 96.1%.
Vikings go Berzerk is a lighter representation of the Viking civilization than its hellish counterpart. The graphics are rendered less realistically than in Vikings go to Hell and the symbols are gold, silver and bronze coins alongside the heads of Viking men and women and treasure filled chests.
The game interface sits snuggly inside a beautiful Viking longship with the head and tail of a scaley dragon arching either side. The accompanying music is still of the epic sort associated with themes such as the one in this game, but it is less complex and somewhat lighter in style than in Vikings go to Hell. The RTP for Vikings go Berzerk is 96.1%
Valley of the Gods is another slots game set in the world of ancient Egypt – the sheer number of games on this theme highlights the fascination players have with it. The graphics are not as detailed or complex as those in some games, but they are still polished, and the game looks good.
The reels display scarab beetles, the Eye of Horus, ankhs, cats, snakes and ibises together with representations of Anubis, Ra and other deities. The music accompanying this game is a triumph – it is regal and dignified and full of the flourishes one expects to find in an ancient land dripping with gold and precious stones.
The sounds that play when features are activated are light and add to the overall playing experience greatly. Valley of the Gods has an RTP of 96.2%.
Play’n Go was founded in 2005 and claim the accolade of being at the forefront of capitalizing on the mobile igaming market and recognizing the potential rapid growth of this sector. With a proliferation of award-winning games already in their stable, and a steep upwards trajectory, Play’n Go are widely recognized by many as a revolutionary presence in igaming.
Games like Book of Dead and Moon Princess are firm player favourites and new games are being developed and released all the time. Currently this software provider has around 300 games in their catalogue.
Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead is – you have guessed it – set in the intriguing and beguiling world of ancient Egypt. The game takes place inside one of the ancient structures, most likely a granite and limestone pyramid, impressive carved pillars frame the reels.
Players follow in the footsteps of the heroic adventurer, Rich Wilde as he traverses the hostile landscape on his quest for artifacts. Anubis, the jackal headed god of mummification appears in the reels alongside what appears to be Horus, and of course, Rich Wilde himself.
This game is such a classic that it has spawned many imitations but for many players this cannot be bettered – its quality graphics, animation and soundscape come together to create something exciting and special. The RTP for Book of Dead is 96.21%.
Moon Princess is a cutsie slots game that was designed and launched to celebrate the quarter century anniversary of the much-loved cartoon, Sailor Moon. Three princesses feature in this game Princess Star, Princess Love and Princess Storm.
The princesses appear as symbols in the game alongside other symbols featuring stars, moons, hearts and lightning strikes. As slots go this one is particularly volatile – big wins are possible but so are big losing streaks. The soundtrack for this game is quite bubbly and energetic as are the accompanying feature sounds. The RTP for Moon Princess is 96%.
Many casinos, and indeed testing labs, like to promote their average RTP figures. While these figures may be interesting, players should be aware that they are of little to no value in assessing the best casinos.
The RTP of a casino is the percentage of all wagers placed that are returned to players in the form of winnings. To give a very simplified example of this, if €100,000 of bets were placed by players and €95,000 was paid out to players in the form of winnings, the RTP would be 95,000/100,000 x100 = 95%
The higher the RTP the more that the operator has paid out to players in the form of winnings and the less they have retained for themselves as profit. So, for players, a higher RTP figure is better.
RTP figures are useful to players. But only the right type of RTP figure.
Average RTP figures – those that the casino gives for a whole group of games, or indeed the entire casino – are of no value to players. They make figures that intuitively sound positive, and therefore are used in advertising, especially by affiliate marketeers, but they don’t help players much at all. We will talk about why in a moment.
Individual game RTP figures are a very useful piece of information for players to have. These figures give you specific information on the cost of a specific game.
The problem with Average RTP figures is that they are just that, an average. While they do tell you that a casino on average returns more of the funds bet to players, they are made irrelevant by your game selection. You could find a casino that has an Average RTP of 99.7% (this is unrealistically high), but if you choose a game that has an Individual game RTP of 90%, the 90% is the RTP you will be subject to not the 99.7% that is the average across all players.
The point here is that the important factor in getting yourself the most value for your gambling buck is choosing games that give you better odds. If you choose a casino because it has an Average RTP figure that is higher than their competition but then randomly select the game you play, you might be slightly more likely to randomly choose a high RTP game, but you could still end up playing a low RTP game.
If you simply ignore the casino’s Average RTP and simply select a game with a high RTP, regardless of where you choose to play you will be giving yourself the best chance of a better return.
We would caution all of our readers against putting faith in any ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ source that is placing significant value on a casino’s published Average RTP figures.
In order to be considered one of the best online casinos, it is vital that an operator takes their responsible gaming responsibilities seriously. Players obviously play online casino games because they enjoy doing so – but for some the process can become problematic – when this becomes the case it is vital that players understand their options for taking back control of their habits.
All of the top operators offer self-help tools in the first instance that can help players track their habits and prevent them from becoming damaging. The UKGC and MGA and other high-quality licensors specify that control tools must be available to all players playing with their licensees.
It is generally accepted that a player will be able to: take a time out, set a period of self-exclusion, ask for reality checks to take place, set deposit, loss and session time limits. Online casinos are becoming better and better at training their frontline support staff to identify players who may be experiencing difficulties managing their gambling.
Beyond on-site tools, online casinos that are committed to providing support to the most vulnerable players can be trusted to show their integrity through the promotion of responsible gambling agencies and blocking softwares on their sites.
Fully regulated online casinos tend to have a dedicated Responsible Gaming section that can be accessed from the footer of the particular site, but often they will also display the logos of the organisations in their footers, which are functioning links to these sites.
The most listed organisations providing help and support to problem gamblers are: Gamblers Anonymous, GambleAware, Gambling Therapy, Gordon Moody Association, GamCare, GAMSTOP and the Responsible Gambling Trust.
Blocking softwares designed to prevent online players accessing gambling websites from internet enabled devices are also available, these include the entirely free to use charity service BetBlocker which was founded by ThePOGG.com.
♠ Gamblers Anonymous
One of the oldest support organisations for problem gamblers, Gamblers Anonymous came into being in America in 1957 and it held its first meetings in the autumn of the same year. Interestingly, its founder was not a problem gambler, but a habitual drinker who had found Alcoholics Anonymous and made use of its support mechanisms to turn his life around – he saw the need for similar services for those who found gambling compulsive, and the organisation was born.
Now available to people worldwide, Gamblers Anonymous are proponents of undertaking counseling alongside attendance of their meetings as this is demonstrably more effective in allowing members to maintain long-term abstinence.
Meetings are free to attend – their sole objective to help members stop gambling to prevent further harm to themselves and their families. Gambers Anonymous do not provide residential services but during the recent global pandemic they took their meetings online via platforms such as Zoom, and found that more meetings were taking place than ever before.
Formerly known as BeGambleAware, GambleAware became the new title for the UK charity and gambling support organisation in 2018. GambleAware provide information to those experiencing problem gambling or indeed anyone connected to someone engaged in problem gambling, that enables them to find the help that they need. They take a research-based approach to deploying strategies that can help alleviate the harms gambling can cause to an individual and their support network.
♣ Gambling Therapy
English and Welsh registered charity, Gambling Therapy was established to provide advice and practical support for those susceptible to problem gambling behaviours. The services provided by this organisation are accessible by those that do not speak English meaning that foreign nationals can seek the help they may not be able to access from other domestic support groups. From downloadable self-help documents and worksheets, to support forums and online group meetings for problem gamblers and their families, a diverse range of solutions are available free to anyone requiring them. Diagnostics are also in place to allow gamblers to self-assess in order to ensure their gambling habits do not place them in the at-risk category.
♦ Gordon Moody Association
Established in 1971 to assist those most severely afflicted by problem gambling habits, the Gordon Moody Association has considerable experience in this sector. They are the only UK charity that provide any sort of residential facility that is solely dedicated to compulsive gambling habits rather than acting as a panacea for addiction generally. They are also unique in providing a half-way house option for those residents requiring additional support before moving back into their lives completely independently. Outreach services for those requiring less structured support to stay on track than the half-way house provides are offered too. As with other problem gambling support organisations, Gordon Moddy Association provides online support to those in need of it.
UK registered charity, GamCare, was founded in 1997 to try and counteract the damage problem gambling could do to vulnerable members of the population – and their families. Notably, GamCare are responsible for the operation of the National Gambling Helpline, as well as offering advice and counselling services to gambling addicts, at no cost.
It must be noted that as a service, GAMSTOP is only available to UK customers, it only targets online casinos that operate on a UKGC license. The National Online Self-exclusion Scheme Limited is the company behind the creation of GAMSTOP, as appointed by the UKGC. Players must take the initiative to signup to GAMSTOP and it is advised that they give full and complete information regarding alternative email addresses, postcodes and telephone numbers that may be historic to them. Once a player adds their details to the GAMSTOP system it becomes the responsibility of online casino operators to cross-check new signups to make sure that they should not be excluding them.
The idea behind the centralised resource is that players need take only one action to safeguard themselves against problem gambling habits rather than having to set exclusions with over 200 online casinos licensed in the UK, individually. Exclusions can be set for 6 months, 1 year or 5 years and will remain in place until a player communicated to GAMSTOP that they wish the exclusion to removed – this cannot happen before the originally selected length of exclusion has lapsed. GAMSTOP is free to players.
BetBlocker offers a free app - available on Windows, Apple, Linux, Android, iOS and Fire OS - that blocks the device from accessing tens of thousands of online gambling websites. The app offers a range of restriction periods between 24 hours and 5 years or alternatively offers a calendaring service, allowing you to select specific days or times that you feel you may be more vulnerable to gambling too much for the block to activate.
As the name suggests, NetNanny is designed to allow parents to exercise control over the access minor children have to unsuitable online content. NetNanny is not specifically directed towards reducing access to gambling sites – it also serves to block pornography sites and other online content suitable only for those aged 18 and over. NetNanny is designed to make time spent online safe for children. NetNanny is not a free service – family passes and single device licenses are available at annual fees ranging from $49.99 for one device, to $129.99 for licenses for 20 devices. (as of February 2021)
GamBlock is a company providing online gambling blocking services to customers worldwide. It is a subscription service meaning that it is not free to users. Users have to select the number of devices and the number of months they wish to purchase a license for – individual licenses are also required for different platforms. For example, an annual license for 1 device on the non-Samsung Android – GamBlock Divergence costs $161.15; an annual license for 2 devices on the same package is $322.33. Since the average user has access to several devices, as many as 10 according to recent data by the insurer, Aviva, this could work out a rather expensive way to prevent oneself from accessing gambling content when there are free services out there. (as of February 2021)
The primary function of testing agencies, as the name suggests, is to test casino games for fairness. Games just out of development are tested, and a testing certificate is issued to reflect the fact that the lab has confirmed that the RNG (random number generator) has functioned fairly and that the game itself uses the RNG results fairly.
Beyond this certification for games for software providers, testing is carried out for operators, usually on a monthly basis. Sampling is carried out on random games each testing period – on the actual results that have been returned to players - to ensure that the game performance falls inside mathematically expected results.
We should make clear that this provides only a snapshot of overall “fairness” at any one time but the presence of these agencies makes it highly unlikely that any software provider is likely to manipulate games to act non-randomly, the overall consequence is that games are safer and more secure than before these agencies existed.
Recognised as a credible testing agency by the world’s most reputable licensors, including the UKGC and MGA, iTechLabs have served the testing requirements of online gaming industry since 2004. They were also heavily involved in the evolution of the Australian Internet Gaming Standards now utilized by licensors and regulators across the world.
Gaming Labs International (GLI) have over 30 years of testing services to the igaming industry behind them. They are one of the testing labs appearing on the UKGC’s list of approved testers, meaning their brand is considered reputable and competent to carry out independent checks.
eCOGRA is based in the United Kingdom, was founded in 2003 as a collaborative project between 888 and Microgaming to address a lack of consumer confidence in the industry. eCOGRA subsequently broke its ownership away from these businesses but retains a close relationship with them, serving as the primary testing lab and ADR service for all the projects that these businesses are involved in.
It is recognized as one of the industry leading testing providers for online gaming.
eCOGRA provide their services globally, meaning the most secure and reputable licensed operators and igaming software developers can seek their experience and expertise in certifying their products as fair.
For almost 40 years BMM have provided the igaming sector with facilities allowing them to state that they operate fair and tested games. BMM operate globally and offer a variety of testing options to igaming providers so that they can stay up to date with standards in a dynamic and fast-paced industry.
♠ Which is the best online Casino?
This is a question we are asked a lot and we wish it was as simple as it sounds to answer – it isn’t! The best online casino may differ from day to day as a variety of influencing factors also change. In fact, the 'best' online casino will differ from person to person depending on what specifically you prioritise.
On the face of it most online casinos appear to be the same, but an experienced eye can separate the best from the rest. Our casino reviews are designed to help online gamblers find the most trusted and reliable online casinos, so in the first instance we would direct you to look at our Best Online Casinos page.
Many things are factored into the judgement of what makes the best online casino. Different players prioritise different aspects of service and provision and so what one player thinks is best will not even feature in the top 10 list of another player.
To try and eliminate something of this subjectivity we focus on the same quality indicators at every online casino we review. We are entirely objective. We consider the quality and reputation of the license(s) that an online casino operates on – they are not all equal.
The payout speed players experience when playing with an operator can vary hugely from instant payments to varying lengths of pending periods before payouts are completed – sometimes in excess of two weeks in all – this must also be considered when narrowing the field to focus on the best operators.
We spend a great deal of time reading through Terms and Conditions documents and in the Trustworthiness section of our casino reviews our customers will find any problematic and player unfriendly Terms and Conditions, so that they are not caught out by them at a later date.
Honest and trustworthy operators are rewarded for being so and this is reflected in the Trustworthiness score they achieve.
Customer Service departments vary considerably in the quality of the support they provide for players and this too is taken into account when we settle on whether a casino makes it to our Recommended Casino status.
♥ Which online casino offers the best odds?
Again, it is impossible to pick a single casino in answer to this question. Rationally, it is obvious that all casinos offering the same games will have the same odds for those games. The RTP of Starburst does not vary from operator to operator, it is set by the software provider and this is true of most games and software providers – not the casino offering the game.
However, there are some things that can alter the odds for players – for example bonuses on offer may impact on the odds.
Bonuses, cashback and comp points can, depending on the rules associated with them, offer players a rare opportunity to improve their chances beyond the RTPs set by the software provider. Beware though, these offers can make things worse for you if they have the wrong terms attached to them. We give thorough mathematically based breakdowns of the first deposit bonuses at every casino we review.
♣ Which online Casino has the best payouts?
The easy answer to this is to look at the Average RTP figures for each casino and see which is highest. However, as with many things in life, the easy answer is not always the best answer.
As discussed above, the payouts for a casino are generally not determined by the casino. Each game has an RTP setting put in place by the software provider. The games are, with only a few exceptions, identically at every casino you see them at.
So if you are looking to give yourself the best chance of losing less – remember never to look at gambling as a way to profit, the house always has an advantage over you – choose a game with a high RTP.
Alongside this you should look to choose bonuses with favorable terms and condition. We discuss this in our Welcome Bonuses section.
♦ Can you win money by playing in an online casino?
Tentatively the answer here is yes – many players do win – it is possible – it may be as little as a few pounds - to tens of thousands of pounds - but players do win. However, it is more likely that they will lose. It must be accepted that gambling is a form of entertainment and as with all forms of entertainment this comes at a cost – gambling should never be viewed as a way to make money.
Casinos are operating at a profit – the house edge is such that the majority of players will be losing ones. Just because a casino is honest and licensed it does not guarantee that players will win if they signup and play there.
♠ What are the most popular online casino games?
Many of the most popular slots games are those you will find incorporated into bonus packages. The best online casinos are very familiar with the slots games most popular with their customers and they often offer Free Spins for these games as part of a Welcome Bonus.
Games like Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest, Thunderstruck II, Bonanza, Dead or Alive, Book of Dead, Immortal Romance and Cleopatra will be found frequently in such instances. Beyond slots – the table game Roulette is massively popular with online casino players.
It is an easy game to play – the rules are straightforward and there are few strategic choices to make – this may be why players feel so comfortable playing it.
♥ What Casino game has the best chance of winning?
This is really a question about minimising house edge. In order to have the best chance of winning, players have to minimise the edge that the house has. For this reason, games with definite strategies, incorporating all of the optimum plays for any given situation, are the best option. Blackjack, when played properly, that is using perfect basic strategy, has the lowest house edge, alongside some types of Video Poker.
Blackjack, if played completely accurately, has a lower variance than slots games, whilst video poker has a higher variance than blackjack and is more comparable slots games, so players can go through long losing streaks before they win making it seem like they do not have a better chance of winning, when in fact they do in the long term.
♣ Which online slots pay out the best?
The answer to this question depends on what you mean by 'pay out'. Let's look at the 3 potential meanings and which games are best in each case:
i) If you mean which games have the highest jackpots, you are going to want to look at the progressive jackpot games. As progressive jackpots change constantly as more funds are added to the progressive jackpot pool or someone hits the jackpot, it's not possible to give a list of games with the highest jackpots that will always be correct. The biggest jackpots change contantly. What we can do is give a list of games with the highest average jackpot payout:
It should be noted that progressive jackpot game both have a high variance - meaning that there are likely to be long losing streaks - and generally carry a low RTP - meaning that they cost the player more to play on average.
ii) If you mean which games will cost you the least to play, you need to look at the RTP figures for each software provider. Below we will provide some tables showing the best games for each of the major software providers:
[Note - these tables are given in House Edge which is 100-RTP. The lower the House Edge the better for the player ;)]
*3 Reel Hold-Up requires an optimum strategy to reach the lowest House Edge. This can be found in the game help file.
* Max Damage Alien Attack is a skill based arcade game. It’s presumed that you need to play at optimum levels to reach the quoted House Edge figure and that weaker play will result in a higher House Edge.
* We have included a far longer list of games for Microgaming as many of the above games are only available at download Microgaming casinos and we wanted to ensure that players could find information on the best games to play at instant play Microgaming casinos as well.
* These games are likely to involve a strategy to reach the stated House Edge.
** Fishy Fortunes operates a progressive jackpot explaining the range of possible House Edges
* These games involve some degree of skill or strategy to reach the optimum House Edge.
** Cinerama involves a Progressive Jackpot so presumably this House Edge figure is only accurate for the highest Progressive Jackpot levels.
*** Golden Tour has the ‘Dollar Ball’ side bet. Players should avoid this bet as it’s very expensive.
iii) If you mean 'which games pay out a good-sized win most frequently?', this is an impossible question to answer. What one player considers a 'good-sized win' will be uninteresting to another. This entirely relates to your own individual preferences.
This question relates to the variance of the game. Low variance games will pay out small amounts frequently with less in the way of losses in between. High variance games will payout big wins infrequently, but these will be balanced by the potential for long periods of losses in between. Several software providers are now giving a low/mid/high rating for the variance of a game which may be useful in determining what your preference is. However, each software provider will have its own criteria for each rating, so these variance ratings will not necessarily transfer between software providers.
♦ Can you play at an online casino for free?
The answer to this question is yes but different jurisdictions have different requirements before free play can be undertaken. The UKGC has recently made the decision to ban UK residents from being able to play demo versions of games at an online casino until after they have been age verified, meaning that players now have to open an account before they can even access game demos on an operator’s site.
This is largely to protect children from accessing the content and forming harmful gambling habits as minors. Playing in demo mode can help players acquaint themselves with the different themes and in game bonus features available in slots games; similarly it can enable players to practice strategies, for example, with games such as Blackjack which has an optimal strategy that can reduce the house edge when played perfectly all the time.
♠ What is the best online gambling site?
Like many others, the answer to this question could be considered somewhat subjective. For many casino review sites the answer will be simple: the casino that pays them the most to say they are the best online gambling site. At ThePOGG that is not the case – we will not accept overtures from online gambling sites that wish to buy placement on our site regardless of their poor treatment of players and questionable business practices.
We are a completely independent service, reviewing and recommending casinos entirely on our own terms. If a casino appears in our Best Online Casinos list, then it has earned its right to be there through its commitment to honesty, superior licensing, supporting the most vulnerable players in the gambling sector and placing player safety and security at the forefront of its day-to-day business.
♥ What online casino gives the best bonuses?
Different type of online casino bonus will appeal to different types of players and so the best bonus for the individual will be dictated by a variety of parameters:
♣ What online casinos offer the best loyalty programs?
Believe it not, not all casinos offer loyalty programs for their customers. Sometimes loyalty programs are referred to as VIP programs or rewards programs by operators. Normally these loyalty programs are multi-level and take into account the amount of real money wagering that a player has completed in the preceding month – points are awarded according to the type of game played and in some cases they can be exchanged for real money.
The more a player wagers, the more points are accumulated and the higher the level of VIP program that can be accessed. The higher the level of program awarded, the greater the rewards and benefits associated with it. Levels normally vary according to monthly activity.
It is difficult to say categorically that one loyalty program is the best since they all come with different features. It all comes down to what type of rewards a player finds most gratifying.
♦ Are online casinos rigged?
While players often worry that they are being cheated - this is a reasonably normal psychological response to losing more than your comfortable losing - if you are playing with a well-regulated casino it is extremely unlikely that you have been cheated.
There have been cases of operators offering unfair and non-random games, but for the most part they have been weakly or unlicensed operator and it has been several years since we last identified a cheating casino. We have put together a detailed guide to answer this question that can be found here - Are Online Casinos Rigged.
That said, there has been a proliferation of weakly or unlicensed operator offering fake versions of games created by the big software providers in recent years. We have zero faith in these games operating in any way that could be described as "fair" and would caution players to avoid any operator who has been identified running fake games.
♠ Is it safe to play with brand new online casinos?
As long as you take the advice given in this Independent Guide to Finding and Playing at the Safest, Most Reliable Online Casinos regarding the processes to apply to ensure your safety and security with an online casino then yes.
If the new online casino is licensed and regulated by one of our top tier regulators, gives clear ownership details (including a contact address), shows a strong commitment to responsible gambling responsibilities (including linking to support agencies), has a favorable review with a reputable online gambling portal such as ThePOGG, and has no player unfriendly terms, then it should be as safe as long-standing operators to play with. We all have to start somewhere.
Often new online casinos try to make a big impression by providing a better service than those already out there, so this may even go in your favour.