When reviewing online casinos and betting sites, The Independent betting team adhere to strict editorial guidelines to offer you the most comprehensible and trustworthy review of online gambling sites.
Below, we detail that process in terms of how we test, rate and score using rigorous criteria to ensure accurate and impartial evaluations.
How we test
Before being approved and recommended, our experts spend multiple days as a new user at each casino or bookmaker conducting first hand original research.
- We verify our identity, we deposit real money, we collect bonuses, and we place bets.
- We test out their customer service representatives either via online chat or by phone.
- We check their mobile site, app and desktop site. We look into their site security and their licenses.
- And finally, we withdraw our money.
We go through each step of the online betting process to give you the most in-depth review possible.
How we rate
Choosing the right platform for betting online is crucial to ensure a secure, fair and enjoyable gaming experience. Before we rate any casino or betting site, we will conduct first hand research.
Here are some key factors that our experts use when rating a casino or betting site as one of the best.
1. Licensing and regulation
Casino and betting sites must be licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). This ensures that the site operates under strict regulations for fairness and security.
The Independent will only recommend a site if it is licenced and is regulated in the UK. We also seek certifications of game fairness from independent auditors.
2. Security measures
Top betting and casino sites employ advanced security measures such as SSL encryption to protect players' personal and financial information. We ensure that any casino or betting site that we recommend practices top security encryptions to protect your data and funds.
3. Game variety
Casino and betting sites should offer a variety of games, including different Blackjack variants. This allows you to choose a game that suits your preferences and keeps gameplay interesting.
4. Software quality
The software used by the platform can significantly affect your gaming experience. High-quality software provides smooth gameplay, excellent graphics, and a user-friendly interface.
5. Live dealer options
Live dealer games offer a more authentic and immersive experience.
6. Mobile compatibility
As more and more players prefer gaming on the go, quality sites should be compatible with various devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Some sites offer dedicated betting apps, while others have mobile-optimised websites.
Being mobile first is one thing, but for a casino or betting site to get a maximum score, it must load instantly, have little to no glitches and also have a good design as well as user navigation.
8. Customer support
Reliable customer support is essential. The best sites offer 24/7 support through various channels, including live chat, phone and email.
9. Bonuses and promotions
We only list operators who offer generous and fair bonuses. Welcome bonuses, deposit matches and loyalty programs can provide extra value. We only include bonuses that apply to all UK player types and to multiple game categories.
10. Payout speed and banking options
Fast and hassle-free withdrawals are a sign of a quality site. A range of banking options, including e-wallets and mobile payment methods, adds convenience.
How we score online gambling sites
Each site is evaluated and assigned a score out of five, offering a quick and comprehensive insight into its overall quality.
We use specific criteria for different types of gambling products, such as sports betting sites, online casinos, bingo sites and poker sites.
Each category is assessed based on factors relevant to its specific nature. Below is a breakdown of what we review based on the different gambling products.
Sports Betting Sites
- Range of Sports: Diversity of sports available
- Betting Markets: Variety of betting markets
- Bonuses: Quality of bonuses and promotions
- Features: Availability of features like cash-out and in-play betting
- User Experience: Ease of use and navigation of the site
- Game Variety: Range of games including slots and table games
- Live Casino Offerings: Quality of live dealer games
- Bonuses: Attractiveness of casino bonuses
- Jackpots: Availability and size of jackpots
- Software Providers: Diversity and reputation of software providers
- Bingo Variations: Types of bingo games
- Slots and Games: Variety of slots and side games
- Bonuses: Bingo-specific bonuses
- Community: Presence of an active player community
- Mobile Experience: Quality of mobile play
- Game Varieties: Range of poker games
- Tournaments: Quality and variety of tournaments
- Player Base: Size and skill level of players
- Software: Usability and reliability of poker software
- Promotions: Poker-specific promotions and bonuses
This comprehensive approach ensures that each site is rated on factors that are most important to its particular type of gambling experience, providing you - the reader - with a clear and thorough understanding of each site's strengths and weaknesses and not just based on our opinion.
Why we only list UKGC-approved sites
In our commitment to promoting safe and responsible gambling, we exclusively feature online casinos licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The UKGC's licensing criteria is stringent, ensuring only operators that demonstrate trustworthiness and adherence to player protection rules are accredited.
To receive and retain a UKGC license, a gambling site must not only advocate for responsible gambling but also support players facing difficulties.
They are required to offer clear terms, fair games, secure transactions and robust protection of player data, among other critical factors.
The Commission conducts regular audits to verify compliance with these standards. Consequently, a UKGC license serves as an assurance of legitimacy and safety, ensuring our readers can trust the integrity of these gambling establishments.
Jamie Casey is a former sports journalist who now provides editorial expertise in the betting industry. His work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Sky Sports, The Irish Times, RTE, FourFourTwo and many more.