It's almost that time of year again, and that means it's time to find out which bookmakers, casinos and online gaming sites have behaved themselves... and which haven't. There might not be an actual present for those who make the 'nice' list but making the top three is certainly a reward in itself!
Let's start with the good. These are some of the companies that have offered great service, made their mark, or stood out in some other way over the course of 2017:
Experienced online punters and poker players will already know that PartyCasino also operate partypoker, an equally successful poker site. They show that in the world of online gambling, bigger is better – they've got well over 200 games, many of which offer great jackpots. This year a US player won over $500,000 on one of their slots. The Gold Mega Jackpot can be won on a variety of their games and is one of the fairest jackpots available, given it's totally random and can trigger from any bet level.
888poker have consistently offered one of the best online poker experiences available, and that extends to their live games as well. They've always had a rich variety of tournaments that are open to anyone, attracting some of the best players in the world, both amateur and professional. They've been trying to open the game up, especially to women, and this year was no exception. With a number of successful live events this year focused on women players, we applaud them for championing diversity in the game while also keeping tournaments and competitions welcoming to all levels.
Fairly new to the world of the online sportsbooks, Black Type is already causing something of a shake up thanks to a very unique approach – they're adamant they won't ban players that win. That's quite a big claim, but one that has punters very excited indeed. It's common knowledge that the majority of bookmakers (online or otherwise) will start to limit your access or ban you outright if you start winning too much. This has been the case since time immemorial, but if Black Type can find a way to make it work for them and the punters, then they could change the face of gambling. They make the nice list just for trying.
Time to roll out this year's villains. This misbehaving lot have been up to all kinds of nefarious deeds the likes of which would make your even your local theatre's panto villain question their ethics:
Rehab Bingo has recently been fined £100,000 by the Gambling Commission for false advertising. In June of last year, the company ran a campaign that claimed new players could deposit £10 and play with £35. The advert failed to mention the huge amount of conditions and caveats attached to the promotion. To be fair to Rehab Bingo, they were fully co-operative with the investigation and have promised to change their practices.
While there's always been a bit of tussle between advertising standards in the UK and gambling sites, this year has seen a few companies go that one step too far in trying to entice (or fleece, depending on your point of view) potential new customers. bgo Entertainment Ltd join Rehab Bingo on our naughty list for using misleading adverts on its affiliate sites. This lead the Gambling Commission to fine them a hefty £300,000. It's something of a historic decision too, being the first fine issued for misleading advertising by the commission. It's unlikely to be the last.
In what is described as a tantrum by some, Betfred make our naughty list for throwing their toys out the pram and ending their sponsorship of UK horse racing. The company decided to close all of its track offices (apart from Ascot and Chelmsford) in response to 54 British courses choosing to open their own pools, due to start operating next year. The move will cost UK horse racing around £6 million a year in sponsorship, but more financial impacts are expected. Having said that, it's very likely new sponsors will come on board. Betfred have had a stormy relationship with British racing over the years, refusing to join the authorised betting partnership programme, among other things.
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