In 2018 the UK online casino industry is expected to once again experience new all-time highs, especially with regards to yearly revenues and consumer demand. The entire UK gambling landscape has transitioned from a rigid arena that primarily catered to the high-street horse racing and greyhound punter to a digital space with a new online casino opening almost weekly that allows people to gamble at the touch of a button. One particular area that operators are concentrating on are new and exciting slot games. This covers basic three-line slots, bonus slots and of course jackpot slots too.
What is happening in the UK casino landscape in 2019?
2018 has been an eventful year in the UK gambling industry, with fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) taking much of the media lime-light. In a nut shell, FOBT’s are touch-screen electronic gaming terminals that can be found in over 8,000 high-street betting shops. Under UK regulations, each betting shop is allowed to install a maximum of 4 machines per shop. This is often the reason that you find clusters of betting shops within the same street. The machines host a variety of traditional casino games, including roulette and blackjack, as well as a variety of slots.
However, FOBT machines have dominated the UK gambling scene for some time now, with various public figures arguing that the maximum gaming stake of £100 a spin should be reduced. In May 2018, in response to a full governmental enquiry, the UK treasury made the decision to reduce the maximum FOBT stake from £100, down to just £2. With a total yearly churn (the amount of money inserted in to the FOBT) amounting £55 billion in 2017, there will soon be a significant amount of revenue entering an alternative sector of the UK gambling industry.
If prominent commenters are correct, it is believed that these FOBT customers will transition over to the online casino sector. This does seem the most logical outcome, as players will be able to play the exact same games in the comfort of their own home, or on the road using their mobile phone. Moreover, they will not be restricted to the amounts they can gamble, nor will they be limited to a small range of games.
In other news concerning the UK casino industry, the recent enactment of the UK Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLR2017), which was installed in response to the European Union’s Fourth Money Laundering Directive, has provided additional protections to the player. Much like its predecessor, the MLR2017 requires each and every player to identify themselves prior to making a withdrawal. This most commonly requires the player to upload copies of their ID and proof of address, which prevents bad actors from attempting to fraudulently gamble using somebody else’s details.
UK regulations also provide the Gambling Commission with additional powers over the operators they license. As part of their Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP), online casinos operating in the UK must keep player funds in a separate account. This provides players with the ultimate safeguard in the event that the casino decides to close their doors. Although this is a rare occurrence in the UK space, it is comforting to know that if the worse happens, the player won’t lose their funds.
In response to the UK’s appetite for digital gambling, more and more operators are now entering the market. These casino platforms each have their own advantages and disadvantages, however consumer choice is generally a positive thing for the player. Here we take a look at the current state of play in the UK’s online casino sector, followed by some of the characteristics that you should consider when joining a new platform.
What to expect in the future from new online casinos
With UK players now becoming comfortable with the many benefits of online gambling, new casinos are setting up shop at an unprecedented rate. In response, one of the key areas that regulators are looking to get a grip on is transparency. This starts with the way that new operators promote their bonus packages. Quite often, online casinos do not make it clear how a particular bonus can be used, especially with regards to minimum wagering requirements. The issue revolves around a player making a deposit, using their bonus funds and when it comes to making a withdrawal, they are surprised to learn that they need to go through multiple hoops.
Although it is highly reasonable for casinos to install these minimum requirements, they must make it crystal clear to the player. A further expectation for the future of online casinos is providing transparent data to the player on how much they are actually gambling. Regulators hope that this will allow the player to understand just how much they are winning and losing, which is something that some casinos do not provide with ease.
On a technological front, an area that is now becoming more and more prominent within the online casino industry is the facilitation of cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals. Although digital currency is still in its infancy, operators have recognised that the underlying technology provides benefits not only to themselves, but also the player. For example, when withdrawing funds in the form of cryptocurrencies, the time it takes to reach the player is usually in the minutes. On the contrary, using a traditional payment methods such as a UK debit or credit card can take days before the issuer credits the funds.
From an operator’s perspective, cryptocurrencies afford the casino additional protections, such as a restriction on the ability for a player to request a credit card charge back. Furthermore, by accepting cryptocurrencies instead of real-world fiat money, online casinos can avoid expensive banking fees. Ordinarily, operators must take a hit on card processing fees, knowing that otherwise, it will likely encourage the player to look elsewhere.
It is also predicted that the overall gaming experience will only continue to improve, with those failing to grow alongside the perils of technological innovation expected to lose out. This includes new and exciting slot games that offer a wide variety of bonus features and jackpot payouts.
The key issue facing new operators entering the market is how to entice UK players away from established platforms. The likes of William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Paddy Power and Betfred – often referred to as the ‘Big 5’, hold a significant chunk of the UK gambling space. These providers have a sizable high-street and TV presence, which automatically presents a sense of trust and credibility. However, the gaming experiences offered by less-known online casinos are quite often far more beneficial in comparison to the leading platforms.
As a result, new online casinos must engage in highly aggressive marketing practices, which most commonly involves the offering of sizeable welcome packages. To illustrate this desire to attract customers, newly formed slot casinos now offer 200% sign up bonuses that run in to the thousands of pounds. As the past few years have proven, the amounts on offer are growing at an exponential rate. This makes sense, especially when one considers the positive effects of enticing players with highly favorable promotions.
How to compare these new casinos
If it wasn’t hard enough to figure out which casino to register an account with, not least because there are now more than a thousand entities operating in the UK market, how do you know how best to compare new casinos? There are certain specificities that we feel you should consider at an absolute minimum and then others that depend on what you prioritize personally. To make things easier for you, we have detailed the important aspects below.
At an absolute minimum, you should only ever use an online casino that is fully regulated by the UK’s Gambling Commission. The Commission are responsible for policing the operators that they license, with their oversight covering betting shops, land-based casinos, horse racing trackside bookies and of course, the online sector. Under domestic regulations, any company offering gambling services to those residing in the UK must be in receipt of a gambling license. This is also true for bookmakers registered outside of the UK, but who intend on allowing UK players to join.
We at Slotbettors only consider reviewing and then subsequently recommending an online casino if they are regulated by the Gambling Commission. In doing so, the player is afforded a range of legislative protections. Would you open up a bank account with a bank that wasn’t regulated by the FCA? Absolutely not, so don’t make the mistake of using an unregulated casino! Ultimately, any casino that offers their services to UK players without a license is operating in an illegal manner anyway, which should immediately ring alarm bells.
Random Number Generators
A further viewpoint that you must consider when choosing a new UK slot casino is with regards to their gameplay accountability. In a nutshell, how do you know that the casino is playing fair? Wouldn’t it be easy for them to guarantee that you always lose, by rigging the outcome of a particular game? Well in short, if they have something called a random number generator (RNG) protocol installed, then you as the player can comfortably ascertain that everything is above board.
The way that RNG works is every single gaming outcome – for example a hand of blackjack or a spin of a slot machine, is guaranteed to be randomly generated. The underlying technology is based on the art of cryptography, which is a highly complex discipline of mathematics. The cryptographically supported RNG generates a unique code prior to the generation of a gaming outcome, which cannot be overridden or manipulated by the casino. Essentially, this also means that the casino has no way of determining what the outcome is going to be, until it actually happens.
Interestingly, there is often a misconception that RNG software is random in the same way that tossing a coin is random. What we mean by this is that statistically speaking, there is just as much chance of a coin landing on heads once than there is of it landing on heads a thousand times in a row. This is because every time you toss a coin, the outcome is independent from the previous toss. Just because a coin hasn’t landed on tails for over a thousand tosses, doesn’t mean that there is more of a chance it will land on tails on the following toss.
This is highly relevant to understanding how RNG software works, because in the long-run, the casino guarantees their advantage through house-edge. For example, when you play online slots, each individual game will have their own pre-defined pay-out ratio. If the pay-out ratio is 96%, then this means that over the course of time, the casino has a 4% long-term advantage over the player. As a result, the RNG protocol is cryptographically guaranteed to give the player a 96% chance of winning in the long-term.
A further necessity to only choosing a new casino that has RNG technology installed within their platform is that this gaming data can be independently audited by the UK Gambling Commission. Under the terms of the Commission’s LCCP, the regulator is entitled to make both pre-arranged and random audits of the online casinos practices. Without a shadow of a doubt, this audit will always include a full inspection of the casino’s RNG data. As a result, UK players can rest comfortably in the fact that if the casino they use has an RNG protocol, they are fully protected against the threats of both internal and external malpractice.
In a note of clarity, we at Slotbettors will not consider reviewing and subsequently recommending any online slot casino that does not have an RNG protocol installed within their platform.
So now that you know the two minimum requirements to consider when exploring a new online casinos, let’s take a look at some of the other characteristics that will help you make a comparison.
Deposit and withdrawal methods and their respective fees
Although online gambling within the UK is now a multi-billion pound industry, it is uncanny that certain providers still fall short when it comes to funding an account and withdrawing your winnings. First and foremost, new casinos recognise the importance of including a vast range of options for the player. Most commonly, players opt for a debit or credit card deposit, however the growth of digitalization has extended to everyday banking, meaning that alternative funding methods are becoming more and more popular.
This includes a variety of e-wallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller, as well as pre-paid payment cards such as EntroPay. Other options also exist for UK players, such as the Paysafe Card, which allows you to top up at your nearest convenience store. Depending on your needs, it is always best to choose a new casino that facilitates one of your preferred payment methods.
It is also important to understand what withdrawal methods are available to the player. Whilst a particular casino may accept a certain deposit option, they might not allow you to withdraw back to the same payment method. For example, some operators allow you to deposit using a MasterCard credit card, however for some unknown reason they do not allow you to withdraw your winnings back to it.
You should also consider any time frames that are attributable to your preferred withdrawal method. For example, withdrawing via a debit or credit card can take up to three working days for the funds to reach your account. On the contrary, withdrawing via an e-wallet like PayPal can take just a couple of hours. Cryptocurrencies are even more efficient, with some operators allowing you to receive your winnings in less than ten minutes.
Fees also play an important role in determining which new slot casino to choose. Various operators charge a transaction fee on certain payment methods. This is especially true when using a credit card, with some casinos charging a percentage of the total deposit amount. We are strong opponents of operators who charge unnecessary fees to deposit funds, which is why we strive to avoid them.
In the vast majority of cases, in an attempt to entice new customers, new casinos will most commonly offer the player free deposits and withdrawals, across a vast range of payment methods.
Range of games
When choosing an online casino for the first time, it is always worth exploring the type of games on offer. Whilst you might be registering an account to play slots, wouldn’t it be great if they also offered other games such as blackjack, roulette or poker? Moreover, if you are opting for a slot-specific casino, then make sure that they have a significant number of machines on offer. It is not uncommon for a new slot casino to have thousands of different games, ensuring that the player is spoilt for choice.
It is also worth checking what software providers the casino in question uses. In our experience, new operators often decide to use dozens of different software developers, who each have their own advantages. Whilst some developers specialize in traditional three and five-line slots, others expand on this by focusing on highly interactive slots with a range of bonuses and jackpots.
Regarding Jackpot slots, it is worth considering the size of the jackpots on offer. In most cases, competing casinos join forces on a particular slot so that the cash price is highly significant. The gameplay data goes through the software developer, which makes sure that every player has a legitimate chance of winning.
Lucrative sign up packages
As we mentioned earlier, one of the most common marketing practices employed by new online casinos is to entice players with bigger and better bonuses. This initially begins with a sign up offer that normally centres on a matched bonus. We have been pleasantly surprised by the surge in packages being offered by new casinos, with 200% matched bonuses in to the thousands of pounds now a common sight. In reality, if two casinos offer the same gaming experience, but one of the casinos offers a more attractive package, then it is highly likely that the player is going to choose the casino with the higher bonus.
On top of the initial sign up bonus, it is also a good idea to find out what types of promotions are available for existing players. This could include weekly deposit reloads, free spins or a VIP program. Remember, if your plan is to stay with a slot casino long-term, it is always worth choosing one that rewards a player’s loyalty.
To conclude our guide on new slot casinos, we thought we would present to you five of the best no deposit bonuses of 2018! This type of bonus is a fantastic way to test out a new platform without needing to deposit any funds. By the end of consuming your free bonus, you should have a really good idea of whether or not the casino is the right platform for you. We also hope that you manage to turn your no deposit bonus in to withdrawable winnings!
Don’t forget – always check the terms and conditions to make sure that you understand the minimum wagering requirements, as this will determine when you are able to withdraw your bonus funds.