Everyone who enjoys casino games should know what qualities make for the highest-rated online casino. Below, we lay out how the expert team at Bonus.com rates the gambling apps on the site. By knowing how we rank these platforms, you’re better positioned to find the best online casinos specific to what you love to play. You’ll also have more confidence when selecting an app that doesn’t fall within the highest-rated online casinos, as many of those sites are still worth joining, even if they don’t rank in our best of the best.
The Bare Minimum – 6 Things Every Online Casino Needs
To become a top rated online casino, apps need to meet several criteria. But before they’re even considered, they need to have each of the following:
- Legitimate Local License: We don’t recommend illegal, offshore online casinos or sportsbooks to American or Canadian players. All sites must hold a license with a state regulator to prove player protection and legitimacy.
- Top-Tier Security: You can’t be among the highest rated unless you have the highest levels of security. The best real money online casinos need to have the most up-to-date SSL encryption, keep players’ money in a completely separate bank account (which is required by law), and follow all privacy laws. They should also offer two-step authentication for players who want to add an extra layer of security. If anything of this is missing or the online casino has a reputation for violating these concerns, they get a strong thumbs down.
- Customer Support: Any company that handles money should have an immediately-accessible support channel. Ideally, a company has multiple options as well, such as online chat support, email, and a phone number. Unfortunately, COVID shut down a good number of call centers, but chat support and email are essential.
- Strong Reputation: If a casino has a bad reputation, per player reviews, they’re automatically omitted from Bonus.com. It’s possible for an online casino to turn around their reputation later on for inclusion, but that has yet to happen.
- Data Protection: Illegal online casinos located outside of the US will often have little to no data protection, meaning they’ll sell their users’ data without a second thought. Legally-licensed online casinos are heavily regulated and restricted from sharing private data in accordance with state and federal law.
- Easy Deposit & Cashout: You don’t necessarily have to be an instant withdrawal casino, but can’t be a top-rated online casino app unless you give players several options for making a deposit and cashing out. The best payment methods include online bank transfer, Venmo, and PayPal. But, really, the best are simply whatever you prefer. If an online casino’s payment methods force you to create a new web wallet, that’s some serious points against them.
Game Selection – 4 Reasons Variety Is Key
You might think game selection simply means offering a long list of games, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. A top-rated online casino should have:
- Games From Many Different Software Companies: The design studios that make slots and table games can offer a fantastic variety, but they’re limited by their (relatively small) teams. The more software companies an online casino hosts, the more variety players can expect across the board.
- Several Progressive Jackpot Slots: The most popular casino game are progressive jackpot slots. Needless to say, an online casino that doesn’t offer several of them isn’t taking player enjoyment seriously. That disqualifies it from becoming a top rated online casino.
- Live Dealer Games: We don’t expect a brand-new online casino to offer live dealer games. But after the first couple months of launch, it better have a live casino section. It’s among the most exciting and innovative options for online casino players, so not having it means the casino is a step or two behind its competitors.
- Hundreds of Slots & Table Games: It’s not like these online casinos are limited by floor space like their brick-and-mortar counterparts. So there’s no good reason why a player wouldn’t have access to a near endless selection of slots and table games, including several different versions of blackjack and roulette.
Bonus Codes – Bigger Is (Usually) Better
- No Deposit Bonus Codes: Online casino no deposit bonus codes are among the best ways for casinos to welcome new users. It’s as simple as it seems – the chance to turn free money into withdrawable cash without ever making a deposit. The options can also vary by state, with the same apps offer different deals depending on the market.
- Deposit-Match Bonus Codes: The deposit-match casino bonus usually gets players the most bonus money. The online casino will normally match your first deposit by 100%, essentially doubling the betting credits you start out with. For example, if you deposit $500, you’d have $1,000 in your account, $500 in real-money funds and $500 in bonus money.
- Free Spins: A free spins bonus gets players free chances to play a slot for real-money wins. Free spins bonuses are usually valued at $0.10 per spin and restricted to specific slots. Select games vary by the free spins promotion, but they’re almost always a popular slot that most players enjoy.
- Risk-Free Play: A true risk-free offer is relatively uncommon but is available at a few online casinos in New Jersey. A risk-free welcome bonus refunds a player’s net losses after their first day or week of playing in cash. That means the money is immediately available for cashout, a true risk-free deal.
- Second-Chance Insurance: A second-chance or play-it-again offer refunds players net losses in bonus money rather than cash. That bonus money must be wagered one time to turn it into real money available for withdrawal. So it’s not so much a risk-free offer as it is insurance.
- Ongoing Promotions: What kind of company would leave their most loyal customers in the lurch? Ongoing promotions are crucial. At Bonus, we focus mainly on helping new players find the best sites and apps. But we also cover the best online casino bonus codes for existing users, ensuring that all the sites we recommend continue to offer the best possible experience.
- Fair Playthrough Requirements: A playthrough requirement is the number of times bonus money has to be wagered before it’s turned into withdrawable cash. For example, $100 in bonus money with a 10x playthrough requirement means players must wager $1,000 before they can withdraw associated winnings. We take extra special care to let our players know exactly what the playthrough requirements are and whether it makes the online casino bonus code worth it or not.
Features – Easy, Fun, & Stress-Free
- Loyalty Program: Another example of rewarding existing members, an online casino loyalty program is pretty close to essential. Unfortunately, they mostly benefit the high-roller players, but brands like Caesars Casino (attached to Caesars Rewards and WSOP.com) reward all levels of players. Another good example is BetMGM Rewards, which has players earning points playing casino games, online poker, and betting on sports, all under one roof.
- Demo Practice Mode: It’s a personal pet peeve when online casinos don’t let all website visitors try their games for free. While BetMGM Casino is among the best options in the US, it doesn’t let players demo the games until they create an account. Meanwhile, Golden Nugget Casino and DraftKings Casino allow all website visitors, regardless of whether they have an account, to try their games in demo practice mode. That’s a level of transparency we value highly.
- Filter Options: Another big pet peeve is when an online casino just lists all their slots in one giant list with no regard for navigation. Maybe some players like to just go based on the look of the cover image, but we prefer to filter slots by genre, max payout, rating, and beyond. That makes it easy to find the slots we like while also giving us the freedom to discover something new.
- App Store Rankings: No one knows an online casino better than its long-time users, which is why App Store rankings can be so valuable. The top rated online casinos strive to have the highest possible App Store ranking, bringing in tens of thousands of reviews and boasting a 4.5 out of 5.0 or better. That’s exactly the case with top brands like DraftKings Casino, BetMGM, and more.