Red flags when choosing an online casino

Red flags when choosing an online casino - Banner
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

The British gambling industry is fiercely competitive, with many casinos vying for the attention of players, especially newcomers. However, not all casinos are created equal. In fact, there are some which should be avoided completely – but these can sometimes be difficult to spot at first glance

When choosing a casino, there are often so many specific features and qualities that we are looking for it can be easy to overlook red flags. Newcomers and first time players should familiarise themselves with the warning signs, while experienced players should make sure they’re keeping on the ball – that they're up-to-date with how casinos are presenting themselves. And of course, everyone should be keeping a close eye on the small print!


This is always the place to start. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is a world leader in gaming regulation, and it does a lot of great work to protect British gamblers. Much of this work revolves around issuing licences, or revoking them when necessary. 

Respectable casinos treat their UKGC licence as a badge of honour. It indicates several things, including that players’ funds are responsibly stored, that the games are fair, that the terms are transparent, and that they are operating legally.

There are other regulators, such as the Malta Gaming Authority and The Curaçao Gaming Control Board, but these aren’t going to help British players in the event something goes wrong. 

Look for a casino's licence number, typically at the bottom of their homepage, and check it against the UKGC’s records. In the case of legitimate and licensed sites, there’s often a link to make this easy for the player.

Heavy-handed marketing 

Reliable sites adhere to considerate marketing methods. This means not filling up your inbox with spam, and offering an easy unsubscribe option. You should not be receiving promo or marketing emails from anyone you haven’t heard of, or subscribed to. If you do, you may wish to blacklist any site which uses these ham-fisted strategies.

Certain illegal sites have even been guilty of specifically targeting self-excluded players. This is obviously an indication that the operator has very little in the way of moral fibre, and could be devastating to certain individuals. A big red flag!

Also, when you're looking, choose a site whose ads align with British gambling advertisement law. There are restrictions which stipulate who and what can appear in a gambling advert, as well as when and where it can be shown. If a site violates these rules, which exist to protect young and vulnerable people, avoid it – they're flouting their disregard their current, and potential future, customers.

Unrealistic bonuses

Having bonuses that are enticing to players yet financially viable for casinos is a tricky balance to strike. We love no wagering and low wagering bonuses, but it’s crucial that players avoid anything that seems suspiciously generous.

For instance, if a site offers you 1,000x your deposit, or 1,000 free spins with no wagering, consider how they could afford to be doing this. Weigh up the overall value of the bonus, including per-spin values, minimum deposits, eligible games, wagering and the full T&Cs, then decide if it seems too good to be true.

Weak or illegal banking terms

This is another area where the UKGC excels in ensuring that payments remain above board and responsible. A few years ago, making payments to gambling sites using a credit card was made illegal, so don’t go near a site which accepts credit cards. 

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Etherium remain somewhat unregulated, occupying a legal grey area. The UKGC has additional licensing and anti-money laundering measures for operators who wish to accept crypto, and the majority of legitimate casinos still won’t accept it. But tread carefully.

There’s some discussion about whether or not crypto will be addressed in the near future. But, for the time being, acceptance of cryptocurrencies could indicate that a casino operates within the black or grey gambling markets.

Sluggish payments should also throw up red flags. Good casinos will publish their typical payment processing times, and anything more than a couple of days should be considered slow. Note that it will take longer than this for the payment to hit your account. The processing time is what matters, and it’s best to avoid sites which drag their feet in this respect.

Poor customer support

This is a big one. Reliable casinos, like all great companies, know the importance of good customer service. If you find that it’s difficult to get in contact with a real person, or if you can’t get past that awful chatbot, take note. Equally, if the people you do reach are rude, unhelpful or slow to respond, take a step back and do some digging. 

The quality of customer support can vary quite a bit, even between legitimate sites, so don’t expect perfection every time. That said, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and if there’s no live chat or email, or if the person at the other end seems unprofessional, you might want to give that casino a miss.

Inadequate T&Cs

The UKGC is strict about fairness and transparency, and all licensed casinos are required to ensure that the terms it offers are easily understood. If they’re too dense, or too vague, tough to wrap your head around or even just badly written, this may be a sign that something’s wrong. 

Pay attention to the content of the terms too. Some less-than-trustworthy sites use them to catch players out, with unreasonable limits, requirements and restrictions. Reading bonus terms and conditions isn’t anybody’s idea of fun, but it’s well worth the time it takes, especially when signing up to a new casino. Pay attention to those longer paragraphs where something important may have been 'buried'.

Obscure games and unknown developers

You don’t have to spend much time browsing casinos to notice patterns in what they offer. There are certain games which crop up again and again. It’s worth checking to see which you recognise. A few of the most popular slot games include StarburstBook of Dead and Gonzo’s Quest. These are just examples, but you may wish to use them to test new casinos you're considering.

Similarly, avoid sites which aren’t partnered with any of the major developers. Smaller developers are great, but if you don’t see any names you recognise, you’ll want to steer clear of the site. Pragmatic Play, NetEnt, Blueprint and Games Global are some of the biggest names in slots development, so these might be a good place to start.

This isn’t to suggest that unfamiliar games and developers are a bad thing. However, if a site has absolutely no recognisable names on it, this could suggest that they shouldn't be operating in your area. 

If in doubt...

We’re here to help! At No Wagering, we only vouch for sites which are properly licenced, above-board and trustworthy. 

Our purpose is to direct players to the best sites, bonuses and games, and we take it seriously. And should you come across something dodgy we'd like to hear about it.

So, if you’re in the market for a new casino, and you’re struggling to identify which ticks the boxes, just pick one from our list of the best. Not only will this ensure that your funds and private details are safe, but also that you’re getting the best bonuses with the most agreeable terms and the lowest wagering requirements!

Resdearch your new casino carefully, then get playingh!