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Gaming Guru

David Newstead

The difficulty in reviewing the best casinos

21 May 2010

I'm webmaster of an affiliate website – the admittedly ambitiously named It's not simply a name or a good search term. I genuinely go out and review online casinos, giving my verdict onsite and list what are, in my opinion, the best casinos. However, having done this for some time I came to a startling conclusion: it's getting really quite hard to separate the good from the bad.

Long gone are the days of rogue casino after rogue casino riding into town – black hat donned – pillaging innocent players and disappearing into the cyber sunset with the loot. These days most operators know there's more money in running a good, solid operation than robbing people blind from some faraway Central American country, complete with some crackpot dictator issuing gaming "licenses". Now there isn't such a big divide between good and bad. Most operators know which casino software manufacturers produce the best games and subsequently all sport the same array of games. Most casino game manufactures know which games and themes are popular and emulate them. Most casino operators know the optimum welcome and retention bonuses and all offer the same sort of promotions. As such, we see a kind of parity forming...The result has made me wonder whether casinos are all the same but with different skins? Is a "best casino" now simply one that is prettier than the others?

It had me worried, to be frank. I could see less and less point of affiliates like me genuinely reviewing casinos and protecting the public – together we have made for a pretty tough posse and have ridden the rogues out of town, leaving lots of honest casinos in our wake. Kudos to us...However, after a bit of self reflection, I realised that I have nothing to worry about. There is still scope to critique casinos, just the criteria and gap between the good and the bad (and sometimes the darn right ugly) has narrowed. So yes, has all but disappeared, but there are still a number of benchmarks that the really good casino operators do that the average ones don't. now reflects the industry for what it is: fair, regulated and fun. The casinos listed are those that have raised the bar further; I don't feel the need to have a casino blacklist now there are so few out there – plus other sites handle all this far better than I could. There are no scary warnings about which casinos will run off with your money or tie you to wagering requirements of x8946 on your £10 deposit, because, on the whole, no one does that anymore. Instead I focus on the things that will make a player's experience that little bit better, such as support response times, genuinely good value sign up deposits (I particularly like those that have a high percentage and a low amount. Sounds daft as an affiliate, I know, but I consider the fixation on "the bigger the better" in bonuses odd. After all, the bonuses are deducted from your earnings even before the player's starts to wager and big bonuses require larger deposits, which I think turns people off from even joining. Okay, totally irrelevant rant over, but it could make for an interesting debate…), quality of games and the banking systems in place.

The result is that I can quite happily give 2 stars to a pretty good casino and 5 to one that really does take it to the next level. I can praise new casinos for looking fantastic, like the new Jackpot Games casino, and I can wax lyrical over 32Red's support team getting back to me a whole 2 minutes quicker than Virgin, for example. This is all good. A sign of the impact the GPWA, Casinomeister, the AGD and, let's face it, all us affiliates have had on transforming this amazing industry into what it is today.

Check out my Best Online Casino website and if you don't agree with my choices then drop me a line and tell me which you promote and why. I look forward to hearing from you.
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