TL;DR – While online casinos can be trusted, not every review website offers honest casino reviews. In this post, I’ll explain why and show you how to spot and where to find honest casino reviews.
Once you’re familiar with online casinos, you can’t swing a digital stick without hitting a review website. Yet, it’s hard to find honest online casino reviews, because a remarkable lot of websites suck badly. In pursuit of link clicks and possible affiliate earnings, these websites will pretend like everything is awesome. As we’ve learned from the Lego Movie, it’s not.
Online casinos can be trusted. Once you know how to weed through the reviews, it is possible to find a trustworthy casino that treats their players right. In this blog post, I won’t bother with these casinos, but I’ll show you how (and where) to find honest casino reviews.
How casino review sites make money (and why it matters)
Casino review sites (and everyone else talking about online casinos) make money one way: referring you to an online casino, and getting a commission based on the money you lose – often a monthly commission based on monthly losses. Different casinos will offer different commissions and incentives, and both players and reviewers have plenty of choice when it comes to online casinos.
This dynamic of commission-based pay means reviewers have an incentive to reward casinos offering higher commissions. Reversely, it means that casinos can boost their image by rewarding higher commissions – and subsequently get a lot of positive attention from reviewers and their readers.
In short: readers aren’t paying for honest casino reviews, but casinos are paying for positive reviews. For a lot of websites, this turns into an easy mathematical equation. For scrupulous readers, that’s the reason it’s so hard to find honest casino reviews. Luckily, it’s not impossible.
Also read: why it’s important to select the right casino
How to spot a good casino review website
There are two different levels at which to judge a casino review website: their reviews and their level of scrutiny. When it comes to their reviews, make sure they mention the following:
- The license a casino uses – This is the first indication (not a guarantee) of whether or not a casino is reliable. You can safely disregard any casino with a license other than Malta and/or the UK.
- Terms and conditions – A good review will guide you through the terms and conditions for a casino. It doesn’t need to give you every single detail, but give you an indication of specific terms and conditions to look out for. Same goes for bonus terms.
Also read: terms and conditions to double-check
- Affiliated businesses – Most online casinos are managed by other companies, or simply part of a portfolio of casinos. The review should be clear about which ties a casino has.
When it comes to selecting a trustworthy source for online casino reviews, check for the following:
- Does the website ever not recommend a casino? As I’ve explained above, it’s tempting for a review website to talk up any casino and use a shotgun approach: you’re bound to sign up for a casino if they all look great (or, more likely, if you Googled the casino and landed on said website). A great review website will have casinos with a poor rating and/or a blacklist of casinos to avoid.
- Are all the highest-ranked casinos related? A lot of casinos have linked affiliate programs. This means that bundling several casinos from the same company can bring in higher bonuses. Or that a website has an agreement with a specific company, trading a good spot on the recommendations list for higher commissions. If all the top casinos stem from the same company, the website may be biased.
- Do they talk about the unfavorable side of online gambling? We’re all adults, and we know that the casino wins in the long run. Online gambling should be about (the dream of) beating the odds in the shorter run, or having the most possible fun in the meantime. But no website should pretend it’s all winnings and fun, or that winning is a normal part of playing. Found a website that promises winnings? Go elsewhere.
A list of places to find great and honest casino reviews:
I’ve found some places that have become my go-to for trustworthy casino reviews. If you feel I’ve missed one, let me know in the comments below.
- Casino Reviews: ThePogg.com is hands down the most reliable casino comparison site I’ve seen. They don’t hesitate to name and shame casinos, they’re involved in player complaints (as an ADR) daily, and offer mathematical analyses for bonus offers that give you a great insight into how good a deal you’re getting. They also helped develop a definite website blocker that helps problem gamblers: BetBlocker. The biggest downside is their exclusive guarantee, which can give casinos bonus credit in their trustworthiness that can skew results. Another downside is that it’s heavily geared towards the UK.
- Slot Reviews: Slotcatalog.com offers unique insights into the world of slots and live casino games. I take their rankings with a tiny grain of salt, but it’s still by far the best way to gauge interest in a particular game. I don’t like how their winnings and screenshots are not always showing the same bets, but that’s the only downside you will find.
- Live Casino Reviews: I really like the Youtube channel of Live Casino Comparer. You can find Youtube clips of people playing online casinos everywhere, but I’m very sure Neil pays for his own prudent bets (most streamers are sponsored by the casinos, so they’re essentially playing with Monopoly money).
- Miscellaneous: For background information, I like The Wizard of Odds. The website is no longer run by Michael Shackleford, but he’s involved and all the information is detailed and makes mathematical sense.
Do you have further questions? Are you missing any information or a resource? Let me know!