UK players are lucky in that they can access an extraordinary range of different casino sites. Generally though, these sites all have to be licenced with the UKGC for players to play at them. However, there are independent casinos UK players can access too, which operate outside of UK laws and licencing. As such, these sites offer a myriad of exciting features for players to enjoy.
A lot of the casinos not covered by Gamstop are so called independent casinos, with licenses offshore. This means they do not have to obey the restrictions made by the UK Gambling Commission. It gives them a bigger freedom in all aspects, but also less security for players. Not being covered is one thing, but as the most strict gambling licenses, there could be safety features you’re missing out on when choosing an independent online casino.
However, as with other online casinos, there are a lot of them. It can be hard for players to know which of these sites are reputable and which are not. With this in mind, we have taken the time to go through all the independent casinos and create comprehensive reviews focusing on the most important aspects that players should consider before signing up.
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How we rate independent casinos
When it comes to offering our players the very best in terms of what new independent casinos UK can offer, we undertake some serious research covering a range of different casino features. We do this in order to provide players with the very best in terms of what these independent sites have to offer, making sure that players are not visiting fraudulent sites online.
There are a number of features to look at on indepentent online casinos UK. Some of the main ones include the security and licensing in place, the game selection available to players as well as the bonuses and accessibility. We cover all of these in our reviews of these independent sites, although players can also go out and search for themselves using these criteria.
Security and trust
By their very definition, independent sites do not come under the UKGC jurisdiction. However, just because they don’t have a licence from the UKGC doesn’t mean they should be unlicenced entirely. We always make sure that any independent casino holds a licence from some gaming jurisdiction, as this ensures a better level of player safety is to be had. There are a number of jurisdictions available.
Just the fact that many of these casinos not are covered by Gamstop brings less security. It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean that you can’t self-exclude. The difference is that you have to do like in old times – contact each casino separately. If you have a history of compulsive gambling, it will however give you a total safety – both from Gamstop and manual exclusion. So use this list wisely and for your best!
But why even bother choosing a casino that holds a licence? These licences make sure that casinos are following specific rules and regulations when it comes to fair and responsible gaming. They also ensure that casinos follow specific data protection rules such as having SSL encryption protocols in place so that player data is not accessible to unwanted third party companies, who may abuse it.
While the UKGC is the best licence out there, independent casinos can be licensed with a number of other jurisdictions. However, not all of these jurisdictions offer strong player protection. Some licences, such as the MGA licence, do offer a similar level of security as the UKGC licence, but others, such as Gibraltar and Curacao, should be treated with a little more caution for those looking to stay safe.
- Malta Gaming Authority
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
- Curacao eGaming
While a lot of this information is usually available on casino websites, it’s always a good idea to take a look further to see if the information is correct. It doesn’t take long to go on the UK Gambling Commission’s licence search page to check that the reference number, brand and company names all match up, thus ensuring the casino is licenced where it says it is.
For non-Gamstop casinos, Curacao is the most common by far. Sometimes you can find Malta-based casinos open to UK-players, but most common is the Curacao EGaming License.
We also take a look at the reputation of the company as a whole when suggesting the best independent casinos for player consumption. This can be very rewarding in terms of finding a good casino experience as older, more established companies will have a better understanding of what players want. They will also already have an extensive base of players that have joined their site.
A major part of being able to access an independent casino relates to the games that are offered. UKGC licenced sites offer plenty of games but are often limited due to the fact that the software providers they use also need to be licenced by the UKGC. Not so for independent casinos. These sites often have a huge wealth of games available, frequently numbering in the thousands.
We don’t just check out the number of games though, we also take a look at the variety that is offered. The best independent sites will offer a ton of different types of games as well as a large quantity. While the majority of these sites do tend to be a little slots heavy, there are other options available to players, including games like:
- Virtual table games
- Lotto and scratchcards
- Live dealer games
One of the big draws is that these sites, because they use other software providers, will offer more unusual games. UK players searching for something different might find these sites appealing as there are often a number of slot games, for instance, that cannot be found on UK licenced sites. This adds to the excitement of the gaming experience. On top of this, some sites will have exclusive games.
Many independent sites will also give players the chance to experience additional gamification features, such as having on-site bonuses or adventure features through which players can claim prizes or win spins on other games. These features serve to make these sites even more fun to play at. We always check out all these different gaming options before recommending such a site to our readers.
As we’ve mentioned, these sites often use a wider range of software providers than those licenced with the UKGC. This comes with some pros and cons. On the one hand, this means these sites have access to more than fifty different providers so that they can offer a huge number of games. However, not all of the top providers will allow their games to be played on these sites.
This can lead to problems if some of these independent sites offer pirated versions of the game. On top of this, some of the software providers they use are not necessarily as reputable as those found at UKGC-licensed sites. This means they are not subject to the UKGC’s specific fair gaming requirements and may be offering biased games that do not help players to win.
Bonuses at independent casinos
One of the other big draws to playing at independent casinos is the bonuses that are offered. Players will often see that these types of casinos will offer massive bonuses, much bigger than those found at UK based sites. This is partly because these sites do not have to pay such high licence fees and can, therefore, spend more on bringing in new players.
However, not all the bonuses are good ones – bigger does not always mean better – so we take the time to sift through all the different bonus options to see which sites are the best. There are a number of different bonus types available too, although the most popular and common of these is the welcome bonus, which can come in a number of different forms.
This is often made up of either a match deposit bonus or a no deposit bonus. The match deposit options can be generous, often anywhere from 50% to 400%, but the specific amount will vary between sites. Claiming this bonus requires players to sign up to the site and make an initial deposit. There is often a minimum deposit requirement that must be met in order to get this prize.
These bonuses are often accompanied by bonus spins, which again can vary in number. Players need to pay attention to which slot games these spins are eligible for though. Alternatively, welcome bonuses can simply be a no deposit bonus. This means that players signing up to the site will automatically get given a small bonus to use on any games within the site – no need to deposit.
While this all might sound great, these sites, like any other, tend to include wagering requirements. Often these are overlooked by players, but not by us. We take the time to check out the wagering requirements when we recommend the best bonuses out there. While a bonus may look big, it can be counteracted by the wagering requirements attached, which is why players should check our independent casino list.
To help players understand why wagering requirements are so important to take note of, this is what wagering requirements are all about. Essentially they are the number of times a bonus amount must be played through before a player can retrieve any winnings. The higher the requirement is, the harder it is to reach. We generally look for sites offering requirements of 30x or less.
Making an account
Once players have found an independent site that meets their needs, it’s then time to make an account. Again, this is where things may differ slightly from UK casinos. For independent sites, players will find that the sign up process may well be significantly faster than what they are used to on other sites. This is quite often because there is no verification required at these sites.
This means that players are not required to provide any form of ID when signing up or withdrawing funds. The verification process can often be time consuming at UK casinos, so bypassing this means players can get on with playing a lot faster. With no need to wait for approval from the casino, players at independent sites can just make a deposit and start playing.
The lack of verification also brings another aspect into play – anonymous gaming. Many players like to keep their anonymity when playing online, something that is relatively impossible to achieve when playing at licenced UKGC sites. However, at independent casinos, this is a definite option. Players are able to make accounts without even adding any personal data to the site, which is perfect for many.
However, this does have its own pitfalls. If anything does go wrong, or the casino behaves in a fraudulent manner, players who have signed up in this way will have zero protection as these sites are not covered under UKGC regulations. It’s also worth pointing out at this juncture, that this means that payment options and transactions might be affected. We’ll take a closer look at these aspects.
Payment options at independent casinos
A major point in favour of independent casinos is the sheer range of payment options afforded to players. Players can usually choose between many of the normal options such as debit and credit cards, bank transfers and eWallets. However, the difference is that often there are more options within each category. Again though, there are some drawbacks to this, as not all casinos will offer locally popular payment options.
At some casinos, players might find that options such as PayPal are unavailable. This is partly because some providers will only offer their services to sites that are fully safe and secure. On top of this, it is possible that some of these sites will not accept GBP so players will need to deposit and withdraw in other currencies and have to endure currency conversion fees.
However, there is another big draw when it comes to independent casino payment options, and this comes in the form of cryptocurrencies. Independent casinos were some of the first sites to offer this payment option, although it is becoming more commonly found. This option is perfect for players who want to avoid conversion fees and also want to stay anonymous when making deposits online.
Cryptocurrencies enable players to make very speedy transactions, the only issue is that the currency is not stabilised and can fluctuate in value. Additionally, not all sites will offer this as an option. However, those that do will often go a bit further offering specific bonuses for using this payment option as well as having specific games dedicated to those depositing with this type of payment.
Accessibility of independent casinos
An often overlooked aspect of choosing an online independent casino (and indeed any casino), is how accessible it is. We take a look at the general layout and setup of the site. We look to see that it’s not too overloaded with graphics that take it a long time to load, and that it’s not too cluttered making it hard for players to navigate around the site.
We also take a look at the setup of the games, making sure that everything is clearly set out. This is particularly pertinent as these sites often have a massive selection of games to choose from. With no convenient filters, categories or search functions, wading through thousands of games to find the perfect one can be a bit of a pain, not to mention time consuming.
A final aspect here is whether the site is mobile compatible. In this day and age, most players are accessing sites via their mobile device so that they can play on the go. With this in mind, some sites offer dedicated mobile apps, while others ensure that their mobile browser site is fully compatible and scalable with a range of different phone operating software including iOS and Android.
Can UK players join an independent casino?
When it comes to independent casinos, the main thing is that they are not part of the UKGC system. This means that while it is not illegal for UK players to join these sites, UK players aren’t always actually allowed to play. It really comes down to the licencing of the site – for instance, Curacao licences ensure sites are open to players across the world.
While this is, in theory, a good thing, not all of these sites will actually allow UK players. Players can of course get around any restrictions that have been put in place by independent casinos, but this is not recommended. Even if a VPN gets around the block, as soon as the casino discovers the player’s location, they can be banned and blocked from the site.
- Some independent sites allow UK players
- Not all sites do
- Check the licences
Further to this, while UK players can join some sites, there are often additional restrictions to their play. Some sites will not offer bonuses to UK players, certain games might not be available and not all payment options are provided. This is why we take great care in searching out and recommending only the very best independent casino sites for our readers to join and enjoy.
Final thoughts on independent casinos
Independent casinos have a lot going for them. For players that take our advice and choose one of the listed options, there are hours of fun and games to be had. These sites give players access to bigger bonuses and tons of games, all in a legal setting. Another one of the biggest attractions of these sites is the number of payment options available to players.
Independent sites will offer a wide selection of payment options including the more anonymous one of using cryptocurrencies. However, players should always be aware that sites outside the UK can be fraudulent, which is why we suggest checking out our recommended sites before making any decisions on which casino sites to play at. In general, EU-based independent sites offer UK players a good gaming platform.
Why play at an independent casino?
As we have touched upon throughout this article, there are many reasons why players should join an independent site. From the sheer number of games available, the often large bonuses and even the selection of payment options, these sites have a lot going for them. As long as players choose their sites carefully, independent casinos can offer an extremely fun and rewarding online experience.
Independent casinos FAQ
Check out our list of recommended independent casinos to find out.
Yes, if you choose one that has a reputable licence and good reviews.
Correct. Most independent have licenses somewhere else than the UK and they are not included to the Gamstop scheme.
Yes, many, but not all, will allow UK players to join. The casinos are normally not directed to UK customers, but can be open for them to join.
If they have a licence they are regulated by that authority.
Generally yes, but it’s all luck-based so players can still lose.