The Third Degree: What Matters Most in Online Casinos

Online Casino Qualities in Order of Importance: Stature, Games, Bonuses

Online Casino Qualities in Order of Importance: Stature, Games, BonusesThe internet has been around for more than 25 years now. That statement will have more of an impact and those who grew up in a pre-internet era; a time before computers, mobile devices, and apps gave us infinite access to seemingly boundless knowledge at the tap of a finger. In the early days of the information highway, there was far less to do; mostly chatting with people around the world or playing select games that took ages to download. Online casino games, with real money bets and real cash winnings, were among them.

A lot has changed in all those years. Chat rooms evolved into social media. We have access to far more internet gambling sites, with far more games and wagers on their menus. There are many more ways to make a deposit and collect cash payouts. What hasn’t changed much is the impetus of uncertainty in which the internet exists.

What is safe and what is not? Which websites are worthy of our hard-earned dollars? How do we know if we’re getting the best games, with the best odds, and the most valuable promotions? Which online casinos afford the best bang for our buck, without laying risk to our personal and financial data?

Online Casino Qualities in Order of Importance

There are a lot of qualities we can examine in an effort to rank gambling websites. The three that draw the most attention are the games on tap, free promotional bonuses, and the reputation of the website itself.

The game variety directly impacts the level of entertainment we, as players, can expect to experience. Gambling is all about entertainment. After all, probabilities state our experience is most likely going to be a losing one. And if you’re going to spend money on something, you should at least have a great time doing it.

Bonuses are a big draw, for iGamers. Just as discounts apply to retail shopping, bonuses add value to our gambling endeavors. No one purposely chooses to pay more for something, but many of us consciously seek out coupons and discounts to get the best deal.

Reputation, as they say, goes a very long way. And yet, it is so often the most undervalued and overlooked feature. If you’ve ever read user reviews for a product before buying it, you understand where we’re coming from. The reputation of any business is the bedrock of its success, especially with social media being what it is today. Treat your customers right, and they’ll rave about it while coming back for more. Treat them wrong, and they’ll shout their rage from the virtual rooftops!

This is where our journey into meaningful knowledge begins…

#0 License & Legitimate Operator

Before you start weighing certain brands for their qualities, it is crucial to ensure that they are licensed and operate legitimately. This step is essential for your safety and to guarantee fair play. A licensed casino is regulated by a recognized authority. You can verify the legitimacy of a casino by checking for licenses from reputable regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, and iGo in Canada. 

#1 Reputation – The Foundational Building Blocks of Trusted Online Casinos

Reputation Likes and DislikesIn today’s tech-driven age, it’s so easy to let your guard down; so easy to assume the websites and apps we use are safe, secure, and worthy of our trust. Some of them certainly are, but others – not by a long shot. User data is a valuable commodity, and if you’re not careful who you’re sharing yours with, they may not be careful who they share it with – or sell it to – either.

It is for this reason that we rank the reputation and stature of an online gambling operator in the #1 position. Reputation is often associated with familiarity, but it’s far more important than recognition alone. It’s not just about knowing a name. It’s about associating that name with good business practices; knowing you’re in good hands, not just because the business says you are, but because those who came before you had positive experiences.

An online casino’s reputation comes not from boasting, but from proving its worth. Such proof takes time. A new business has no reputation. It is not until consumers deem the quality of a product or service positive or negative that it earns a reputation. Thus, a newly launched online casino is impossible to rank among the industry’s best. Stick to the well-established operators with the best, genuine user reviews.

#2 Variety – All the Games and Activities You Want to Bet On

Game VarietyThe second most important thing to look at when choosing a gambling site is what types of wagers you’ll be able to place. There are many different ways to place a bet over the internet.

Maybe you like old-school casino games like blackjack, roulette, or Double-O-Seven’s personal favorite, baccarat. Or maybe you prefer the thrill of penny slots, or progressive jackpot games with life-altering prize potential. Perhaps casino games aren’t your niche at all. The internet also caters to poker players, sports bettors, bingo fanatics, and more.

Think about what you want – all of it, not just the most prominent favorites on your list. If you’re a casino fan, make sure all your favorite games are on the menu. If you like a specific type of slot machine in the real world, you may be able to find it online, as well. For example, world-famous Wheel of Fortune license-branded slots are as accessible on IGT-powered online casinos as they are on the Las Vegas Strip. In this case, you’d look for casinos powered by IGT software.

For sporting fans, you’ll want an online bookmaker that offers bets on all the sports you follow. Most sports betting sites focus on primary athletics; things like basketball, baseball and football. They may offer up to a dozen different types of popular sports. But if you keep digging, you’ll find operators that cater to everything from major league sports, to amateur and minor leagues, to the Olympic Games, reality TV, politics, and more.

Single Vertical vs. Omni-Channel Gambling

Another thing to consider is whether you’d prefer an omnichannel gambling site that offers a little bit of everything – casino, poker, sports, etc. – or an operator with a singular focus on all the best features of just one type of gambling.

Omni-channel domains tend to offer only the most popular titles, but in a wider arrangement of betting verticals. Single-sites offer a more diverse selection within their focused market.

Casual gamers may prefer the omnichannel route, while hard-core bettors might choose one casino, and one sportsbook, and one poker room, etc. In this manner, an avid iGamer can get the best of each world in separate formats.

#3 Promotions – More Bank for Your Buck

Online Gambling BonusesEverybody loves a good freebie promotion. Why just buy one, when you can buy one and get another for free? That’s how most online casino bonuses work these days. You deposit an amount of money, maybe $50, and receive a 100% match. That extra $50 doubles your total to $100 in credits to play with. The more you deposit, the more free credits you get; (within limited terms, of course).

It’s not just the ‘new player’ bonus that deserves observation. There should be a complete promotional line-up that includes regular weekly and/or monthly bonuses, alternative deposit method bonuses, select game-type promotions (slots bonus, table games bonus, video poker bonus, etc.), as well as a generous VIP program.

Every casino on the terrestrial planet has a loyalty rewards program to keep their players coming back. Likewise, every good online casino should offer the same. And it should offer rewards tiers to benefit all types of players, not just the most affluent variety. A good VIP program will deliver comp points that translate into bigger bonuses, cashback on casino losses, rakeback for poker players, and free bets for sports bettors; some even support rewards that convert to real-world comps like free meals and hotel stays.

Pros and Cons of Wager-Specific Bonuses

Another thing to watch out for, particularly with omnichannel gambling sites, is the presence of a good bonus for your favorite gaming verticals. Too often we see omnichannel gambling sites with a bevy of online sportsbook promotions, but nothing beyond the basic new player bonus for their casino gamers. Or it might offer a solid casino promo line-up, but weak promos for poker players.

This is another reason avid players tend to choose single-focus gambling sites, rather than bundling their wagering activities into one website.

Note: Bonuses Rank Last for a Reason

Why is something as appealing as a free bonus so low on the list of important qualities, you wonder? It’s because promotions are so loudly advertised, they tend to overshadow any negative qualities the operator doesn’t want you to see. A gambling site with a bad reputation and/or unfavorable game variety can still attract a large number of patrons simply because it boasts a seemingly valuable bonus.

In truth, the value of the bonus should have far less to do with the number of dollar signs it boasts, and far more to do with the site’s reputation and availability of products you want to use. What good is a free chunk of credits if you can’t trust the operator, or there’s nothing worth betting them on? Thus, the promotional aspect simply must come last in your quest for the perfect online casino.

Is Evaluating Online Casinos Really Worth the Effort?

Yes, all the time and effort you put into seeking out the best gambling website or mobile app for your needs will pay off. Those who take the other route – the classic, if at first you fail, try, try again” – tend to regret each and every failure they encounter. It could be a bad experience with game odds that results in inordinately high losses, or worse; a rogue casino that takes your deposit and vanishes into thin air, or collects your identity and financial info and sells it to the highest bidder.

The point is, you should never settle for anything less than what you consider a perfect choice. There are more than 4,400 gambling sites on the web today. Many are reputable, but some are not. Your ideal gambling site, one with all the positive online casino qualities you’re looking for, does exist. Once you find it, you’ll be glad you took the time to evaluate your options.


  • Donna Dorsa

    Donna Dorsa is a veteran practitioner of the linguistic arts. As an independent writing and editing professional, she's spent more than 15 years researching and playing an active role in the world's ever-evolving iGaming industry. The daughter of a novelist and electrical engineer, her passions include creative literature, mathematics, game theory, and sitting around the table with her family for a good old-fashioned card or board game. In her spare time she runs a 3D printer business from home. Here is her Patreon. You can read her bio on Muckrack and find her socials on our meet the team page.

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