When you visit an online casino site, you may find a series of Seals of Approval on the bottom of its home page. Some of them will seem to be very official looking, but really aren鈥檛 worth the paper they could be printed on.
At TophotGames.net, we take our jobs very seriously. Our goal is to bring you only the most honest, up to date reviews of online gambling sites.
Regardless if what we find in our research is positive or negative, you will read it on the pages of our site.
You see, we believe in transparency, not just in the casinos we review but also in those that review them. When a site is awarded our Seal of Approval, you can be assured that the casino has met or surpassed all of our criteria.
Now, some casinos may have a small knock or two against them and will still receive our approval; not everyone is perfect, so if a casino has worked to rectify a problem that has had in the past and we deem them to be back on track, they deserve a second chance.
We want to be transparent with our readers about what we look for when we are reviewing a gambling site. Here is what our team of experienced reviewers take into consideration when completing any review.
First of all, we look for the details on who owns the site. In particular, we look for a couple of things:
In the online gaming industry, it is easy for owners to hide behind various shell companies; depending on where they are taking business from, this may be a necessary evil to avoid prosecution.
However, many companies these days are forthright about who owns these companies, especially those who are seeking to license from jurisdictions like the UK.
Also, there are ownership groups who manage multiple brands in the space; coming across a site that is owned by a company we have already seen and reviewed helps us immediately put them into a positive or negative light depending on that company鈥檚 history.
In the initial days of the industry, licensing your gaming site didn鈥檛 seem to matter; many countries didn鈥檛 have any laws that would apply to online gambling (as there was no Internet to regulate when they were written) so it was really up to the companies to self-police.
You can just imagine how that ended up; many rogue operators treating players poorly with little or no retribution.
It didn鈥檛 take too long for many countries to make a decision about their stance on online gambling; countries like the U.S. chose the very conservative route of banning the operators, while countries with a long history of land-based gaming were more open to the idea of accepting these types of operations.
When we review a gambling site, we quickly scan to find out if they are licensed.
Countries with detailed regulation and due diligence such as Malta or the United Kingdom require companies to be far more transparent when applying for a license; if we see one of those seals we know the owners have had to open their doors wide to the regulators.
Other countries, such as Curacao and Panama, have gaming licenses but truthfully those organizations don鈥檛 do much to help players who have complaints with sites in their jurisdictions. These days, there are very few sites that operate without a gaming license of any kind; those sites are usually met with a red flag in our reviews.
The next step of our review process is to research the site to see if there are any player complaints posted online.
This process is a bit tricky; many times a player who has just gone on a cold streak will get angry and decide to take it out on the site by posting mean comments about their experience.
Usually, a site will try to be polite about those complaints while refuting their position. However, many review sites don鈥檛 do enough research on the topic to determine whether this is just trolling or not.
We also look to see how many of these complaints have been marked as resolved. A site that is open about trying to fix any issues (legitimate issues do arise from time to time) get a check mark from us; we like to see a casino taking care of its clients in public.
Most complaints come in three forms:
The payment concern is the most import to us; most software is now certified by a third party auditing firm, so you know it is set up correctly, and in the days of Live Chat customer service, lack of communication is near impossible.
However, if there are repeated complaints about players not getting paid, this is another red flag in our opinion.
There are dozens of software options available to online gambling sites; the choices they make for their games has a direct impact on the player experience.
These days, a casino can spend a little or a lot on their software license; we are comfortable with either, as what we are looking for is a good selection of games including slots titles, a full complement of Table Games and these days the addition of new products like Live Dealer Games.
The shift is definitely on from PC gaming to mobile gaming, so a software company needs to have formatted their games for use on mobile browsers and much smaller screens.
In some jurisdictions, gaming companies are allowed to build native apps to be distributed through the app stores of the mobile service providers; if a site has a mobile app that will further advance the enjoyment factor for the player.
There is really no excuse for an online gambling site not to have customer service available 24/7. Their games are available for play all day and night, so there should always be someone available to address any concerns a player has, no matter the time of day.
When we check a company鈥檚 customer service, we are looking to see how many of these options are available:
We then select one method and test it, usually with a relatively simple question to see how quickly a service representative responds and if they provide us a solution or answer that is satisfactory.
When we have all the corporate pieces reviewed, it is time to move on to what reason you should have to make a deposit and play at a particular site. With so much competition, the offers that a gaming site presents their players is often the difference between acquiring a new player or not.
We look for the following types of promotions when reviewing the casino, and we often give you some detailed examples of unique promotions that may be of interest to you.
A site that offers a good mix of the above offers usually gets the highest marks from our team. The lifespan of an online gamer has many peaks and valleys; a site that recognizes that and provides offers that match, where a player is in that lifecycle, shows us that they understand and care about nurturing that relationship.
As you can see, we do not take these reviews lightly. Each one usually takes several days to complete, as the research, testing of games, and due diligence are all critical in making a final determination as to whether or not a site meets our standards.
As we mentioned off the top, we don鈥檛 expect a site to have a perfect score; we appreciate that things happen, and as long as a casino is transparent about any issues, we consider it all part of the learning curve.
If a site has lived up to our high standards across all the categories we discussed in this article, then they are awarded our Seal of Approval, which we encourage them to display proudly on their site.