This article was written by Dame de Couer.
Here at ThePOGG we completely understand that the maze of the online casino market can be difficult to navigate through. We are here to help. With over 30 years of collective experience in the gambling industry, our team can take the hard work out of finding a reputable and honest online casino for you to play with. With over 2000 casino reviews published on our site; you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for here at ThePOGG. We use clear categories to organise our online casino reviews so that you can avoid the worst operators and play with only the best and safest. Our reviews are rigorous and detailed and most importantly, entirely independent. Unlike other review sites that use advertising to generate revenue, our site will not allow operators to ‘buy’ placement. Operators gain recommended status by ensuring they maintain a positive reputation and resolving any complaints that are brought to us. The top advertising spaces (homepage and sidebars) are reserved for those operators who have chosen to engage our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service for their Malta Gaming Authority license. This means that we have a legally binding contract in place ensuring our rulings are respected by the operator. No other affiliate-based review site can say this. Operators cannot approach us to pay for improved placement or ranking on our site – we will recommend only the very best online casinos – ones that we believe have earned a reputation for trustworthiness and dependability. To find out more about how our review process sorts the best from the rest then read on.
We understand that players want to play – they do not necessarily want to spend hours researching the reputations of online casinos before they actually have a chance to deposit. With this is mind we devised a system of review classification that allows transparency so that players can make informed choices about where they want to signup quickly, knowing that it will be a safe and player focused environment. We use four comprehensive statuses to organise our online casino reviews: Recommended, Needs Work, Not Recommended and Blacklisted.
Reviewing online casinos properly is not an easy process. Any review site can concoct a disingenuous review and dress it up to favour an operator that is paying them to recommend them or give them prime placement. It is much more arduous to really go through an operator’s website and investigate all of the pages on their site to be sure that everything is safe and player friendly. Players can be confident that our reviews are independently constructed by an experienced team. Below you will find the different areas that our reviews focus on with explanations of what we look for when we assign a score for each. Our reviews are unique in the fact that we also factor in bonus report scores. We are lucky enough to have a team member with the skillset necessary for deconstructing bonuses and calculating their worth for a range of different player preferences. More on that to come.
This is perhaps the most important section of our online casino reviews. Here players will find the score we have assigned an online casino for its overall reliability and integrity. For Blacklisted operators the score will be 0; for Not Recommended operators between 1 and 3; for Needs Work operators up to 7. Recommended operators score 8 and over.
Some online casino operators use our Auditing service at ThePOGG – this means they engage us to provide in depth feedback on the quality of service they provide to customers. We produce a highly detailed report on every section of the operator’s website and highlight issues that we find, alongside advice on how to improve things. If there are player unfriendly terms or other issues, we help the operator find a way to amend them so that they are compliant with all of the regulatory requirements for the license they hold. If the operator in question makes all of the changes we recommend so that there are no barriers to positive player treatment then we will boost their Trustworthiness score by 1 as a result of this.
The overall score is not the only important aspect of this category – many online casinos will have Terms and Conditions or Bonus Terms and Conditions that, whilst not unfair or dubious, may not be acceptable to all players. These will be highlighted in the Trustworthiness section of the review for your convenience. If an operator charges a dormancy fee after a certain period of inactivity that is higher than the average £/€5 then it will be pointed out here. If positive balances are transferred for holding with a regulator or confiscated after a certain period of inactivity, then this will be made clear in this section. If there is maximum win limit that players should be aware of before signing up it will also be laid out clearly in this part of the review. In short, any terms that cost players money or affect how much money they can win will be pointed out here.
For Blacklisted or Not Recommended properties we will also outline the reasons for the negative status so that you can see we have undertaken extensive checks before assigning a negative status to protect you and your hard-earned money.
High quality regulation is one of the markers of a safe and reliable operator. The most reputable regulators on our website provide detailed and extensive rules and regulations that their licensees must abide by in order to ensure secure playing environments. They are not afraid to enforce these rules or to hold their licensees accountable when they are found to be in breach of them.
Our online casino reviews factor in the range of game available to players into our rating. Players like to have as much choice as possible when it comes to providers and categories of games provided. Progressive jackpot games are always popular with players – some of the are worth millions of pounds – many providers now offer progressives as standard. The largest payout recorded on a progressive jackpot to date was on Mega Moolah – the Microgaming giant – the lucky player won €18,915,872.81 on September 28th 2018 – this progressive slot win exceeds Microgaming’s previous Guinness World Record which they won with the same slots game! With payouts running into the millions, it is easy to see why players value the presence of progressives at an online casino so highly.
♦ Payout Speed
As former players ourselves we understand that online players do not want to wait to have access to their money. Withdrawal speeds and processing times vary hugely in the online casino market. The good news is that operators are getting better at processing withdrawals to ewallets quickly – sometimes instantly. Payout speed will alter – in some cases considerably – according to the withdrawal method a player wishes to use - so we recommend familiarising yourself with these timeframes before you sign up – then there will be less room for disappointment. The general rule of thumb is that withdrawals by bank transfer take the longest – often as much 7 times longer than withdrawals made to an ewallet – It is worth keeping this in mind.
♠ Customer Support
If you choose the online casinos that you play with according to our review categories, then hopefully your interactions with customer support staff will be fleeting. We do not tolerate casinos forcing customers to open an account before they will answer their questions, and it is a clear zero rating for us in this category if we test a casino and this turns out to be the case. Perspective customers should be able to ask questions about casino policies and Terms and Conditions documents before they agree to open an account, for their own peace of mind. Customer Support should be highly trained so that customers receive accurate information during their interactions.
At ThePOGG we review and rate bonuses in a way that no other casino review site does. The rating a casino receives is in no way subjective – it all comes down to the real money value the bonus has for players. The value of a bonus will vary depending on the amount you deposit, the bet size you enjoy playing with, the games you select and the rules of the bonus. We run complex simulations over 4 different categories so that all players can see what real money value a specific bonus will have for them. We carry out simulations for low, mid, high and super high rollers so that whether you have £10 to deposit or £1000 you will find the information that applies to you before you risk your cash. If a casino has vague or confusing bonus terms, or indeed if they hide terms in different areas of their site you can be sure that we will find them and highlight them for you in the relevant Bonus Report. If you can’t tell the difference between, cashable, sticky, post wager or cashback bonuses then please do yourself a favour and read the Bonus Report that corresponds to the bonus you are considering claiming before you make your final decision to do so.
Without question, live casinos and live casino games have steadily grown in popularity over the last decade and this trend continues. Players seem to value the presence of a real live-streamed host, more and more highly. Live games tend to operate more slowly than their video game counterparts due to the time taken for the mechanics of the game, shuffling, bet placing and the natural delays that occur due to electronic communication of bets. Many allow in game chat to take place between players too, so it can be more of a social experience than simply playing a slots game on your own. Players are able to opt in or out of this feature, so it is very flexible – players like choice and adaptability. Live Games combine the traditional elements found in bricks and mortar casinos with the added convenience of virtual premises accessed from you very own front room. This hybrid form of entertainment seems to be very appealing to the online playing community.
Generally, Live Casinos make provision for players looking to play: roulette, blackjack, baccarat, table poker games and novelty games similar to the Big 6 wheel. New online casinos may offer a smaller range of live games than their larger and better-established counterparts because live games take longer to host and so make less profit in the same period of time than a slots game does. Larger operators are able to offer more of these games because their player base is so much larger that this profit deficit can be somewhat offset. Because of the high level of player interest in Live Casino games we ensure to provide a dedicated section of our site where players can find casino reviews of the best Live Casinos.
Online casino players like variety in all things. They like to have a great deal of choice about the type of casino they want to play at – they may be seeking out a casino that has invested time and money in gamification so that user experience reigns supreme – or they may be looking for the widest range of game types. No matter what a player is looking for in a new online casino we have it covered here at ThePOGG in our New Online Casinos section.
Our New Online Casinos section provides information about the best new online casinos in the market today. Playing at a new online casino can be associated with increased risk – some operators arrive from nowhere and there is nothing in the way of discussion around their brand available for players to consult – that is why we carry out such an in-depth reviewing procedure for every single casino. New casinos emerge all the time, but many are of dubious origin – for this reason – unless we have a proven history of trustworthiness and integrity by a sister property of this new venue to go by – we will delay promoting a new casino to Recommended status even if there are no concerning factors in their review and if we have no complaints listed against them. Our reputation is very important to us and we will not risk it by accelerating the progress of an unknown brand to Recommended status.
♠ How can I tell which online casinos are safe enough to play at?
Here at ThePOGG we do our very best to make it as simple as possible for players to find only the very best and most highly rated online casinos. We do this by instituting a comprehensive categorisation system. All of our online casino reviews fall into 4 categories: Recommended, Needs Work, Not Recommended and Blacklisted. We think the names of these categories speak for themselves.
Recommended casinos are very highly regarded by us. We do not hesitate to send players their way because they have proven to be safe and secure; they are committed to giving high quality service across all areas of their business.
Needs Work casinos are not necessarily unsafe to play with but we prefer not to take any chances when it comes to the quality of online casino our customers play with. Needs Work properties may be very new to the market – there may be nothing in the way of customer treatment to base a review on because the online casino has just started up. In cases such as these we will not recommend a casino right away – even if everything looks good and player friendly when we carry out our in-depth review process – instead we hold them in a pending phase to allow any issues to come to the fore. Some casinos will never make it beyond the Needs Work category because they are unable to maintain incident free periods of sufficient duration to convince us that they are reliable and honest and that players will receive only the very best treatment at their hands.
Not Recommended casinos are ones that we feel have consistent low-level issues that would prevent us from feeling comfortable sending players through to them. Often they refuse to engage in dialogue relating to player complaints we have received. If we cannot be of service to a player that feels aggrieved because an operator will not talk about their complaint with us we cannot in good faith send more players to them and risk the same thing happening to them.
Blacklisted casinos are the ones that willfully engage in practices that are damaging to players - or are flat-out fraudulent. They may well operate without a license which means that they are at liberty to do pretty much as they like since there are no formal rules set out for them. Keeping player balances unfairly is common with casinos falling into this category. They are not to be trusted and you should never risk depositing funds there – the chances are you will never see them again!
♥ How will your reviews help me find the best online casinos?
Our online casino reviews at ThePOGG are premium quality. Our ratings system has been carefully constructed to give the most weight to factors that we consider vital in ensuring fair and ethical treatment of players. We will not bend on quality – only those casinos operating legally and securely – those at the top of their field in all areas that we assess will feature on our Best Online Casinos list. Only by holding to these high standards can we be sure that players will be happy with the service they receive.
♣ Will you have reviews to help me find the best new online casinos?
Yes! We are constantly adding new online casino reviews to our site – we have over 2000 reviews listed and we add hundreds more every year. We promise that you will find them easy to use – they give you access to as much or as little information on new operators as you’d like and our comprehensive listing categories: Recommended, Needs Work, Not Recommended and Blacklisted are a very strong guide to help you make the best choices. Select an operator from our Recommended section and you should be in safe hands. You are sure to find the best new online casinos listed at ThePOGG and better still you can be sure that if they are listed as Recommended, then they are safe, fair and fully licensed and regulated for your peace of mind. Our New Casino Reviews section covers this topic in more detail.
♦ How can I be sure that your online casino reviews are independent and trustworthy?
First and foremost, unlike other sites, ThePOGG has engaged with multiple regulatory authorities who have subsequently approved our service to manage disputes been players and operators. This means that following a review of the structure of our business, these regulatory agencies felt that ThePOGG was independent of bias and demonstrated sufficient expertise to manage complaints on their behalf. No other review site has received this type of accolade from any regulator, nevermind multiple regulators.
You can be sure that our online casino reviews are independent and trustworthy because we are not beholden to anyone to give premium placement or enhanced review scores - at our site these things cannot be bought. We will not alter an operator’s status or bend the truth about the quality of their service because they offer us money to do so. This is not the case for many review sites – it pays to do your homework. If we state that an operator has a good reputation for high standards of player treatment, then you can be assured that this is the case. Only superior quality online casinos appear in our Best Online Casinos section. When we categorise an online casino as the best we really mean it - we take our responsibility to players seriously – we are committed to providing authentic and original reviews that are all our own work.
♠ What areas do your online casino reviews cover?
Our online casino reviews are in-depth – there is no denying that. We rate online casinos across 6 main categories: Trustworthiness, Licensing, Software, Payout Speed, Customer Support and Bonuses. Within each of these categories there are multiple areas that we scrutinize before an operator is assigned a score for each. Each category has a different weighting – it seems fairly sensible to place the value of a casino’s Trustworthiness above the value of its Welcome Bonus; there is little point in gaining a higher percentage match bonus if the casino cannot be relied upon to pay out your winnings anyway. As former players and experienced industry complaints handlers we understand what should and should not be prioritized in our reviews. We have created a system that satisfies the needs of all players. Some players simply want to be guided to the best online casinos – our overall scoring system allows them to do this; some players prefer to read about the nuances of different operators and the products they offer – there is more in-depth information available for those that do in the written sections of each review. In short, you can do as little or as much reading about a group as you wish as a result of the way our casino reviews are constructed – just be sure to only select those operators listed as Recommended.
♥ Do your online casino reviews factor in the value of a Welcome Bonus at a casino?
Absolutely! We understand that different players have different needs and different comfort zones when it comes to spending limits and we cater to them all. If an operator offers a Welcome Bonus, then its value factored into our corresponding online casino review. We take a unique approach to bonuses in that we only score on the basis of the bonus’ real money value to players. One of our team is a mathematics graduate with the necessary skills to simulate bonuses and decode what the casino’s offers translate to in cold hard cash. Players want value for money and place this high on their list of wants and so we base our bonus score on this factor. Offering a six step Welcome Package may seem like something of higher of value to some review sites but we understand that if the value of that six-step package is lower than the single Welcome Bonus offered by another operator, then as former players we know which one we would be most interested in receiving – this is reflected in the scores assigned for this section. We recognise that different bonuses are better for different categories of player – the same bonus can be worth considerably more or less to a player depending on how much they can afford to deposit and how much they are comfortable betting in a single round of play. Other review sites see a bonus as a bonus presuming it is worth the same to all who play it – this is simply not the case. We simulate all bonuses for low, mid, high and super high rollers so that all players have an honest and accurate appraisal of what a bonus is actually worth. You will find all of the information you need with regards to an online casino’s Welcome Bonus in the corresponding Bonus Report we have listed for it.
♣ I like playing the best live casino games – will your online casino reviews help me to find casinos that offer them?
Yes! We understand how popular Live Games are with players and they seem to grow more so every year. Most online casinos offer Live Games but some only a few of each type, whilst others offer hundreds. For more and more players the act of being involved in real-time game play is exhilarating and online casinos are aware of how Live Games can be a real draw, so they are getting better at providing a better selection. You can find more information Live Casino review section.
♦ What can I do if one of the operators listed in your online casino reviews has mistreated me?
It is pretty rare for a player who has signed-up through this site to bring a complaint to us against an online casino the has made it to Recommended status at ThePOGG – these operators are very dependable and take the safety of their customers seriously, so they are committed to providing excellent Customer Support – usually they can solve any issues players might have themselves – and normally these issues are very small. Players that go ahead and play at casinos appearing in the Not Recommended or Blacklisted categories are more likely to experience issues. The worse a casino’s Trustworthiness score is in their online casino review – the higher the chance of player issues and correspondingly the less likely we are to be able to have constructive discussions with the operator that lead to player satisfaction. We really wish that players would check our review statuses before going ahead and playing with an online casino. We still receive hundreds of complaints about Blacklisted and Not Recommended casinos every year despite the fact that we clearly highlight for players the likelihood of them finding unfair or underhanded treatment at operators with these listing statuses. Players can save themselves a world of heartache by just taking a few minutes to make sure that the reputation of the operator they are considering playing at is a good one. However, if a player has made an error of judgement, they are most welcome to submit a complaint to us. You can find information on How to Submit a Complaint in our detailed article on our complaint system.
♠ According to your online casino reviews you act as an ADR for some online casinos – what does this mean and how is good for players?
♥ Are all of the operators in the online casino reviews you have listed, licensed?
Not necessarily! All of the operators that have Recommended status at ThePOGG and the ones appearing in our Best Online Casinos list most definitely will hold a gambling license with a regulatory authority that we consider credible. Many of the Blacklisted properties may be targeting some markets illegally and operating without any license at all! More information regarding Blacklisted casinos can be accessed here. If this is the case this information will be found in the Trustworthiness section of their review. We strongly believe that a substantial part of the benefit we deliver to our users resides in warning them where not to play. More information on the different standards of licensors can be found in our Regulator section. Remember – not all licenses are worth the same because not all licensors take their responsibilities to players as seriously as others. For high quality, ethical regulation our top-tier licensors should be your first port of call. Playing with UKGC or MGA licensed properties is indicative of security and dependability.