Casinos I Have Played This Year (Retrospective)

So Christmas is approaching and I’m ramping down my gambling for a few days so I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at some of the online casinos I have played over the course of the year and summarise those that have disappointed and those that have done a good job.

Sky Vegas CasinoI started the year playing exclusively slot games and finished it playing exclusively slot games. OK – with some video poker thrown in to be fair but only because Microgaming make such good multi-hand VP games. Coming into the year, my most regular haunt was Jackpot Party casino, WMS Gaming’s excellent slots-based offering.

But early in the year, Scientific Games having already bought Barcrest and more recently WMS during the previous year, they decided B2C was not their bag and they sold the casino to EGO who subsequently re-badged it as Slots Magic and then cloned it as Red Kings.

It wasn’t the same. The platform was slow, the cashouts became slower, reverse times became longer and the excellent WMS games became a bit lost among some other average games. To be honest, I’m not even convinced the RTPs stayed the same although this maybe because WMS had them set higher than advertised when I look back: I had amazing luck there. So you can’t blame that on EGO. But the interface was clunky and awkward and …… the excellent chat facility at Jackpot Party disappeared. I stuck around for a few months but increasingly betting less until around September, I switched to Sky Vegas who had the WMS slots with much higher bet limits, very fast cashouts and a solid platform. Plus a load of Novomatic and IGT games too!

I’m still playing at Sky today and I love it. It could use a bit more variety: better video poker, some Microgaming and Playtech games too but overall it’s a great casino.

32Red CasinoAnother one of my favourites going into the year was 32Red and I’ve come out the other end still playing there. It’s still a great casino – for those of us who have been there a long time at least but new players don’t get quite the same experience anymore. This year, the 4 hour reverse time has become a disappointing 24 hours, manual flushing has been dropped and weekend cashouts are a thing of the past. What has helped is some very good new slot games from Microgaming: Jurassic Park, Game Of Thrones and the continued success of the Immortal Romance slot, along with some old favourites like Thunderstruck, Avalon and Spring Break still mean 32Red and it’s sisters Nedplay and Dash Casino are on my regulars list.

One thing that did happen during the year was I finally got a bit disillusioned with Playtech games. I’ve always been a massive fan of high variance games like Great Blue and the Marvel slots but I had the misfortune to try out 2 Playtech casinos that just left me feeling cold: Sky Kings and William Hill Casino Club. Both left me feeling as if they were just interested in my money with nagging support, automated bonuses with huge wagering requirements, slow cashouts and painful conversations about why I should keep depositing.

On top of that, the Playtech games just seemed to get colder and colder as time wore on. Coupled with my growing love of WMS and Microgaming’s new titles, I sit here now saying I haven’t played a Playtech game in months and don’t really feel like I want to. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined saying that.  I know a lot of this is down to the casino experience and there are some good Playtech casinos out there like Omni Casino and Paddy Power but even their new games – with the exception of Full Moon Fortunes – left me disappointed. The icing on the cake was finding that the free-play version of Avengers which got me totally addicted to the slot was set up to pay out a lot better than the real-money version. It just left a bad taste in the mouth.

Hippodrome CasinoTowards the end of the Summer, I tried out two UK facing Microgaming casinos. Aware of the pending UK Gambling regulation updates due in October (then November!), I decided to try Hippodrome Casino and Betway. Both have been pretty good to me but while Hippodrome have less games (no download client) their cashouts are faster by way of flushing. Betway have a 48 hour reverse period which, with weekend interruptions means your cashouts are winking at you for up to 4 days and I hate that. Add on the cashout processing and transfer times and it can be 2 weeks before you get your money in the worst case.

So I don’t play play there so much now: 32Red have all the same games and while Betway have more bonuses, I don’t really play with those anyway. Faster cashouts are the key for me. Hippodrome still gets some money regularly from me though and I visit their Leicester Square casino from time to time.

That covers the main places I sank decent wedges of money into but in between there were a few smaller casinos I dabbled with. I say smaller: mainly I mean they are either independents or give the impression of being smaller through lower bet limits and restrictions on cashouts. Trada casino is one such example: good service, fast cashouts but lower bet limits and a 20k maximum withdrawal. Very good for lower rollers who like slots: not so good for higher rollers and card game players.

Tivoli Casino was another that grabbed my attention being inextricably linked to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. This turned out to be a good experience too but the platform when I tried it was a little lacking in games. Having just had another look, that seems to have improved a bit now so I’d say that was worth a look if they still accept UK players.

Leo Vegas CasinoI also dabbled at the excellent Leo Vegas. Well, I say excellent: the games, cashouts and general gameplay was good (I played some really good Viaden games here) but I had a major cookie issue meaning I couldn’t log in and eventually had to drop the account. The games choice is excellent and their CS was decent too but what good is that when you can’t log in?

It’s also worth mentioning here that Leo Vegas have received some notable acclaim for their mobile casino. I confess, I haven’t played it as I prefer the ‘Big Screen’ experience when I am spinning the slots but it might be worth checking if you like to play on a tablets or phone!

Overall, like every year, I ended up down but I don’t mind that as long as I feel I am getting a good experience. 32Red, Sky Vegas and Hippodrome Casinos have all given me that and these are where I play now. I’ll probably dabble at one or two of the others but those 3 cover all the bases I need, pay out fast and still take UK players so I’ve no need to really change right now.