The X and whys of UK casinos online

Online casinos are huge in the UK. According the Gambling Commission, 17% of Brits visit such a site every month, whether to play poker, blackjack, roulette or slots. The allure is obvious: it’s good fun, it’s convenient, and the winnings can easily match, or even surpass, those of a physical casino.

Before you get started, there are a few things you need to think about:

Check out the lay of the land before you begin

Players are now faced with a seemingly infinite choice of UK online casinos, and some are more reputable than others. Different sites have different payout probabilities too; you can play precisely the same slots game, for example, on two different sites and be more likely to win on one than the other. So do your research.

Once you’ve found one that suits you, check the site’s reviews on forums (search for “UK casino online forum”) and on TrustPilot. Ensure that it pays promptly and in full, that customer support will be on hand if you need it, and that it’s regulated by the either the Financial Services Authority or the Independent Betting Adjudication Service.

You also need to be sure that the casino is keeping your personal information safe. They’re legally required to do so – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it always happens. You can tell if the site’s data is encrypted by whether the URL begins with https:// or http:// (the former being secure).

It’s also worth checking which payout options are available. Some online casinos might only support PayPal withdrawals, for example, which can cause delays of several days before the funds appear in your account.

There’s no pressure – so have fun!

If you’re new to gaming, approaching the table in a land-based casino can be a daunting prospect – particularly for games like blackjack and poker, in which it’s not clear what’s happening unless you understand the game. It can seem like all eyes are on you – the croupier, the other players – and that makes it difficult to focus on learning. It increases the pressure to look like you know what you’re doing, and it’s easy to lose face if something goes wrong.

Online betting mitigates that pressure. Lots of sites allow you to practice for free, as much as you like, so you can really get to grips with the games before you actually wager your hard-earned cash. If you get something wrong, then that’s OK – there’s nobody watching. You can also watch other tables for as long as you like, without anybody nudging you to buy a drink or make a wager.

So sit back, relax, and take it at your own pace.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t look your best

Rolled out of the wrong side of bed this morning? You can still play online, whatever you look like. In a physical casino, meanwhile, you’ll be surrounded by people who are dressed to impress, and that’s just not fun if you’re not feeling it. Of course, online gaming is more convenient too, especially if you live in a rural area away from the UK’s 148 physical casinos.

Remember that it’s not a sustainable way to make money

Unless you’re a genuine poker whizz – and let’s be honest, very few of us are – the cards aren’t stacked in your favour. Casinos, whether online or physical, don’t exist in order to make money for the punters. Be sure, therefore, not to get ahead of yourself after a big winning streak. Take the money and run!

Place a limit on your betting

Unfortunately, losing streaks sometimes happen, and it can be difficult to stop chasing your losses and haul yourself away from a table. Physical casinos are unlikely to stop you from making them more money, so you end up losing even more. But with an online casino, you can work out what you can afford to lose and set your limits before you even begin, so there’s no encouragement to play on when you really shouldn’t be doing so.

The same goes for time limits. Even if you aren’t losing, hunching over a computer for ten hours at a time isn’t good for you, either mentally or physically. So place a limit on the amount of time you can spend gaming too.

Play when you’re already feeling good, not to feel better

If a friend or family member was feeling down, you’d advise them to delay any decisions until they had a clearer head – right? The same goes for gaming. You struggle to make rational decisions when you’re having a bad day – and your judgement is particularly badly impaired if you’re also drunk – which can lead to big losses at the tables. Just hold off – they’ll still be there tomorrow.

Stay on the lookout for free stuff

We’re all in it to make some money, right? Unlike physical casinos, UK casino sites seek to make it worth your while to stay by giving you free plays and cash bonuses which, if you’re winning, can boost your earnings. So be vigilant for any forthcoming freebies.

Use the free plays

Free plays exist for a reason: take advantage of them before you deposit any real funds. Then you can get a feel for the site and the kinds of games on offer, check the software works on your computer and ascertain it’s the right site for you.