The popularity of online casinos shows no sign of slowing down. This is best illustrated by the Irish market. In the 2019, for the first time, the famously horse racing-obsessed public spent more on the online casino vertical than they did on sports betting. Which casinos should customers in countries like Ireland join to get the best value? And which offer the safest and most responsible experience. The 5 steps below will help any casino fan navigate the sometimes-bewildering choice available.
- Is the casino licensed and secure?
Playing at an online casino is only advisable if the website is secure, and the operator holds a license from a reputable authority. You can check the security of the website itself by looking for the padlock sign on your browser. If you can’t see one, we advise you not to play there. A licensed casino will always prominently feature the logo of the gaming authority on their site – usually you will find this on the footer of the website. Examples of reputable authorities are the UKGC (Great Britain) and MGA (Malta). Soon Ireland will also have their own authority up and running, but in the meantime, Irish casino players should look for the GBGC and MGA logos.
- Does the casino offer a welcome bonus?
Online casinos tend to differentiate themselves from each other by offering welcome bonuses to new customers. In fact, a decent welcome bonus can make or break your experience at a casino. The most common form of these offers is the deposit bonus, which typically involve the casino matching your first deposit with a top up of cash, up to a certain percentage. An example of this would be the classic “100% up to 200 euros” offer, where the casino will double their deposit, all the way up to a maximum of 200 euros. Sometimes this offer will be spread across the first 3 or 4 deposits, and they will often come with some free spins too. In previous years, no deposit bonuses were common, where you could play with the house money without risking a cent of your own funds. Sadly, those deals are rarer than hen’s teeth nowadays – but if you find one, we recommend you go for it!
- Are there ongoing promotions?
As well as the welcome bonus, decent casinos will seek to hold onto their customers long-term by offering a set of ongoing promotions, which are available to all. Examples of this include free spins, happy hours, bonus points which can be used in a loyalty scheme, and cash raffles. We like to look for such promotions not only because they represent good value, but also because it shows the casino seeks to hold onto customers over the longer-term and are not ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ operations.
- Is there a good mix of casino games?
These days, online casinos tend to offer two set of games – slots and live casino titles. Slots are similar to those you will see in the front of a land-based casino floor in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but the virtual versions tend to pay out a lot more. Live casino on the other hand takes advantage of high definition streaming over the internet to bring you the best casino games, including poker, blackjack, roulette and baccarat. We have even seen live casino versions of popular games such as Monopoly and Deal or No Deal. Any decent online casino which is worth its salt will have a good selection of slots (300+ is a fair number) and a couple of dozen live dealer titles.
- What about the banking methods?
It might be boring when set aside the bonuses and games, but you also need to think about how you can deposit and withdraw your funds. Practically all online casinos accept bank transfer, VISA and Mastercard (and if they don’t, you should run a mile from them). But the most responsible and respected casinos will also allow you to use payment wallets, with PayPal of course the gold standard. The ease and speed of these electronic wallets means Irish casino fans treasure those operators who have access to them.
So there you have it. These 5 steps above are an excellent starting point for choosing between the many online casinos which have proliferated in recent years, and if you stick to them, you will greatly enhance your online casino experience. Good luck!