As you get your feet wet with online casinos, you will most probably choose to play in an already established brand of your market. However, all these restrictions of licensed casinos (deposit/betting limits, pause between spins, reality checks, self-exclusion, etc.) might wear you out as you become a seasoned gamer. In some markets, like the UK all this ‘do this, don’t do that’ spoil the most important thing while playing: having fun. Online casinos don’t always have the luxury of defying unreasonable guidelines, but you do. To your rescue come independent casino sites that cannot afford or dislike the responsibility that those regulations bring.
Best Independent Casinos UK
One of the tightest governed markets with harsh penalties on casinos that don’t respect safe gambling is the UK. In this scenario, the ‘bad guy’ is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, which always seems ready to slap ‘naughty’ casinos that won’t conform to the legislation. That’s why Independent casinos UK avoid getting under the umbrella of UKGC and instead, choose to offer their services to players without an operating license. As a result, they have more juicy and diversified bonuses as well as fewer restrictions on transaction limits and gameplay than UKGC-approved casinos. In other words, less stuff to bother your mind with. If you got intrigued, have a look at the list that comes after.
What is an Independent Online Casino?
In short, independent online casinos are gambling sites that run on their unique, in-house platform and have no operating license from a specific jurisdiction. Let’s explain the term ‘in-house’ we just used. An ‘in-house platform’ is a platform built by the owner company of the casino, that’s why the design is unique. It can be used for multiple brands just like white label solutions, so you may come across casinos that look like each other. Typically, independent casinos rely heavily on cryptocurrencies, some of them are even exclusively crypto gambling sites.
How do we rank Independent casino sites?
When we evaluate independent casino sites, our experience has shown that we need to take into account plenty of factors. There must be multiple reasons why so many players, especially in markets like the UK or Sweden, are actively searching for these sites. We have listed the most important ones:
Limited Country Restrictions
Licenses aren’t recognized everywhere; for example, if a casino holds a European or offshore license, it cannot operate in the UK. On the other hand, independent casino sites have very few restrictions on the restricted countries and usually can host British players too.
Not part of Exclusion Schemes
Independent Casinos avoid self-exclusion schemes such as GAMSTOP and give a second chance to players that have shown problematic gambling behavior in the past. Whether you have been excluded or not by GAMSTOP, you are still welcome to independent casinos UK.
Licensed casinos don’t always offer credit cards as a payment option due to regulations. Especially in Germany and the UK, their use is outright forbidden. On the contrary, standalone casinos are flexible in the payment methods they offer, including credit cards.
No session or gaming limits
Independent casino sites don’t ask you to set limits on deposit or betting amounts. In addition, there is usually no ‘Reality Check’ control during the hours you spend at the casino.
Play for fun games
Independent online casinos offer demo games that you can play without investing any money. To activate demo mode, depending on the casino’s mechanics, tap on the game you want to try out and select the option ‘play for free’ / ‘play for fun’ or use the switcher real money/ demo mode.
Over 18 worldwide
Most countries apply an over 18 gambling age limit, but in some territories, you cannot play if you are under 21 (e.g. Greece, Estonia, Belgium), 20 (Nigeria, Japan) or 19 (Canada, South Korea). Since independent casinos don’t have to abide by local legislation, they usually accept over 18-year-old players no matter their residence.
More than one bonus
In some countries like Sweden, there are bonus limitations. For example, you cannot claim any promotion other than the welcome bonus. On the contrary isn’t such a restriction in independent casinos targeting Swedish players.
Since independent casinos don’t need to conform to any bonus regulations, they offer better and larger casino deals to players. From no deposit goodies to inexplicably huge welcome bonuses, standalone casinos do their best to attract players.
What are the disadvantages of an independent casino?
We would be lying if we claimed that the grass is always greener on the side of independent casinos. There are significant areas in which these sites are lacking and we will address them right away:
There are cases of independent casinos that the name of the owner company or their address aren’t even mentioned on the site. The fact that they have no license doesn’t help either.
Limited Banking Options
There are banking options like Paypal or Pay by Phone that deny partnership with such casino platforms because of their lack of license and compliance to online gambling regulations. In general, local payments and independent casinos aren’t regular matches. You can rely mostly on traditional international payments like VISA, Mastercard, Bank Transfer, Skrill and ecoPayz or pay in crypto.
A site without a license basically implies that there is no control over it by an established authority. In other words, if you find yourself in conflict with the casino, you will have to trust the good will of their management to resolve the issue as there is no assigned third-party that would oversee your situation.
Restricted gaming providers
Like casinos, providers obtain licenses to operate. Since independent online casinos come without a license, it’s logical that there will be game studios that wouldn’t like to associate their names with them and offer their software to territories that they haven’t the right to do so. That’s why, for example, you will never see titles of Playtech or Evolution Gaming in an ‘anonymous’ casino unless they are fake or rigged.
Questionable Game Fairness
Without a regulator having approved the casino, nobody can guarantee you that the games’ payout will agree with the RTP percentage as defined by the providers. Some scam casinos go even further and integrate pirate software, copies of well-known games, which of course don’t hold an official license nor their RTP percentage is true.
Not Part of Exclusion Program
We may have mentioned it already as a positive element, but there is a second reading to it. These casinos bypass schemes that are designed for keeping players safe. For example, new independent casinos in the UK don’t register themselves with the national self-exclusion organization, GAMSTOP ,and sometimes they don’t even implement the bare minimum Responsible Gambling tools such as setting deposit limits. They might state otherwise on their respective websites, however they rarely inform players about the total wagered amount or the time they spent on the site. This treatment can be detrimental for the mental health of the players and lead them to problematic gambling behaviors.
Delayed or Denied Withdrawals
What about withdrawal procedures in those places? Again, you are subject to the casino’s mood and intentions. Some of the problems you might face are sudden, additional verifications, big delays in processing and delivering the money to your pocket, or even denial to allow you to cashout the money because ‘you have breached the terms and conditions of the site’. Never forget that things can turn out ugly in these places and you won’t be able to do much.
No Guarantee or Money Protection
For example, in the UK casinos are obligated by the UKGC to implement player fund segregation. In short, this means that the money is kept in a separate bank account and isn’t used in the day-to-day running of the business. If the casino goes bust, there is a great chance that your funds will be returned. On the other hand, nobody knows how exactly independent online casinos take care of their businesses when it comes to player funds protection as they aren’t audited by any regulator.
No Gamban or GamCare support
In case these names don’t ring a bell to you, Gamban software blocks access to online gambling sites for a series of operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android), thus protecting vulnerable players. GamCare is the leading UK provider of free information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling. Since independent casinos aren’t registered with UKGC, they are ignored by Gamban and GamCare. The same stands for most organizations that promote safe gambling in other regions.
Are Independent Casinos Safe and Secure?
Now that you have read about the negatives, you might have been shaken and don’t feel comfortable registering at a new independent casino. The fact that there is no operating license is probably your primary concern and although it is valid, it shouldn’t keep you away from signing up with such a casino.
Online gambling community provides insights
One of the great things about the online gambling community is that it’s very active and loud. If a casino mistreats them, they can take it to player forums to share their experience. On top of that, casino portals like us try to clear the smoke and guide you to the best choices. By evaluating several sources, you will realize that there are safe, independent casino sites and you will avoid shady ones.
New casinos, but old establishments
When a new casino arises, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the team behind it are rookies who are getting the knack of the market. There are casino management groups with years of experience and an established casino network with proven value. That’s why some new independent casinos in the UK and elsewhere begin their journey with a head start.
How does an independent casino differ from a regular one?
As we have mentioned earlier, the major difference between an independent casino and a regular casino is the license thing. Ιndependent casinos simply don’t have one and operate on their merit. Due to this fact, country restrictions are very limited or non-existent as they accept players worldwide.
Independent casinos concentrate more on the fun part of gambling, stripping away all these strict regulations that affect your gameplay, such as obligatory time pause between spins or constant reality checks. In addition, there are no limitations in the shapes and sizes of casino bonuses, which come with much larger amounts than the ones in licensed casinos. Specifically, welcome bonuses in independent casino sites are usually multi-tiered and can reach thousands of euros/dollars.
Best and Brand New Independent Casinos
All online casinos aren’t equal. And that’s why you should take your time to find the best independent casino sites when you’re fed up with the old-looking white label casino that you’re currently at. This isn’t an easy task because the conventional evaluation criteria don’t always apply to independent casinos. Let alone the number of brand new independent casinos that appear every now and then, expanding our options.
How often do new independent casinos open?
Taxes, death and independent casinos emerging all the time- especially in the UK- are the three certainties of this life. Literally, dozens of new independent casinos make their appearance felt every month and choosing among them becomes a tricky task..
Many players are registering at these types of casinos for a number of reasons. You might be sick of casino sites that have nothing new to offer and, in practice, copy more successful brands, you might have been banned from licensed casinos, or they might just have been searching for a new thrill. Whatever the reason is, we advise you to give standalone casinos a go.
Should I join new independent gambling sites
These sites indeed are unproven and the danger of losing your money to a scam casino is real. Our two cents of advice would be to be patient. Once a new independent casino arrives, we recommend staying low while waiting for the first reviews by casino portals and, most importantly, for the first players’ comments. If the feedback is positive, the next step is to visit the site, read the General Terms and Conditions, and note any ambiguous or weird rules. Don’t go all-in with your first deposit; just place the minimum amount and test the waters. Only after some wins and successful withdrawals you could argue that the casino is safe and is worth your time.