Welcome to Top of the Shop Bingo – The #1 Home for Online Bingo Sites
Are you tired of websites that have more casinos than bingo? Well here you’ll only find the best online bingo sites there currently are. We focus on finding the best offers and deals so you don’t have too, plus we have a tonne of useful info as well. Keep on scrolling to find some of our favourites, or use the menu tabs to find something that little more specific.
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As well as listing all our recommended bingo sites above, we’ve looked to put together a guide on how to gamble safely online. Below we’ve put together lots of useful information on what to look out for when gambling online. From licensing to making a deposit, we’ve got it covered. Player safety is at the forefront of our commitment and this can only be done if a player is well informed of all the details. That is why our guide below is comprehensive enough to help even the most experienced bingo player.
So What is it That Makes an Online Bingo Site Safe?
There is not one thing in particular that makes bingo sites safe, but instead there are a number of different factors to consider. These are things like where the gambling license has been obtained from, the sites track record of paying out for winnings, the security and encryption used for processing its payment methods. All of these things began to mount up and therefore it is never a one word answer, but instead many words.
All You Need to Know About Licencing and Jurisdiction
Whenever we review a site, we always ensure that it is a reputable site, so that you can be sure that the games are run in a fair way, and that it is safe to play. But how can we be sure?
Basically, gaming within the United Kingdom is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. This Government body ensures that any organisation which wishes to gain a licence to provide gambling services to UK based players is fully investigated before they are permitted to begin operations. The institution was established under the terms of the 2005 Gambling Act. It finally took over from the Gaming Board, which had previously been responsible for regulating the gambling industry, in 2007. It was at that point tasked with regulating online gaming, plus real world amusement arcades, bingo halls, casinos and lotteries. In 2013, it also took responsibility for the regulation of the National Lottery, replacing the functions of the National Lottery Commission.
It is worth remembering that the UK Gambling Commission does not have responsibility for overseeing the regulation of spread betting, however. The responsibility for this specialised form of gambling, where wins and losses are effectively unknown and unlimited, resides with the Financial Conduct Authority.
The overall function of the UK Gambling Commission can be described as having three separate overall objectives: to ensure that the criminals cannot become involved in the gambling industry, nor to access funding derived from gambling activities; to ensure gambling is fair (i.e. not “fixed” or skewed in any way) and transparent; and also to ensure that children or other vulnerable people are protected from gambling and its consequences.
It does this by thoroughly investigating the trustworthiness, financial rectitude (both in terms of resources and competence) and criminal background of everyone who wishes to apply for a licence. It also acts as the regulatory body once a licence is granted.
Other bodies can also play a part in maintaining the fairness and reputation of the industry. For online gaming, a vital role is played by eCOGRA. A self-regulating body set up by the industry, e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance ensures that the Random Number Generator (RNG) technology essential for the operation of fair gaming is valid for its members. It also fulfils other essential self-regulatory functions such as providing an initial appeal service in cases of dispute, and other functions focused on maintaining the reputation of the gaming industry.
So What Exactly is Whitelisting and Why Should I Care?
“Whitelisting” is in effect the opposite of “blacklisting”, where proscribed organisations are banned from an activity. If a person or organisation is whitelisted, it is specifically permitted access to do or take part in an activity. This is important with regard to the gaming industry, because the UK Gambling Commission operates a “whitelist” with regard to issuing licences for gaming operators to offer gambling services to the UK market.
In addition to regulating gaming operators based within the United Kingdom, the UK Gambling Commission also assumes a role in regulating operators located in certain overseas territories. This regulatory role only applies insofar as it affects the operations of these companies within the United Kingdom market.
This role is particularly important, because so many (the vast majority in fact) of the major players in the UK gaming industry are located overseas, for tax purposes. These territories are all places which have an established link with the United Kingdom, both for current political reasons, or past historical factors. This includes (for the time being at least), all members of the European Economic Area (EEA). Other territories are mostly UK overseas territories, Crown Dependencies and ex-colonial territories. These include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands of Alderney, Jersey and Guernsey: the Mediterranean overseas territory of Gibraltar, the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, and Tasmania. Malta is also often included, but this island is a member anyway by virtue of its membership of the EEA.
Any corporation which is registered on these territories and wishes to take part in providing gambling services to the United Kingdom based market is also allowed to apply for a gaming licence. If granted, they also consent to be fully regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, thereby falling within its jurisdiction, despite being nominally based outside the UK.
The UK Gambling Commission closed its whitelist to new applicants in 2009, so no further territories are being permitted to apply.
For residents of the United Kingdom, any online bingo site which is licenced and registered on these territories can also apply to be fully regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. This means that they can be regarded as safe to play for players based within the United Kingdom. This will always be indicated by the licencing and registration information on each site, which can normally be found toward the bottom of the home page. The U&K Gambling Commission logo will also often be displayed.
We always check this information before we review any site, so you can be sure that any title featured here is fully regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and safe for you to play.
So Why is the License Important?
When looking at different bingo sites, the licensing and jurisdiction is an incredibly important factor, yet it is often over looked. The main governing body is known as the UK Gambling Authority, as discussed above. This government body has the power to fine any bingo site owner who is up to no good. Essentially these guys stop the owners from running off with a customers money and spending it on an expensive holiday in Baharmas. But joking aside it is more than that.
They also strongly govern the advertising of bonus offers that you see plastered all over the internet. In past it was all to easy for a online bingo site owner to display its welcome bonus without advising of the customer about the most important thing – the wagering requirement. Often hidden away in the terms and conditions, the wagering requirement would determine how easily a bingo player could withdraw their winnings from any bonus funds. Often the number one reason for complaint, as they were not easily found. But now the UK Gambling Commission is so hot on how a bonus offer is displayed that will fine the website owner should it be misleading in anyway shape or form. This means the days of false advertising by dodgy bingo sites are over.
The UK Gambling Commission also oversees all the different jurisdictions. It can be a difficult to understand how a company with a license from Malta is considered safe if its not actually based in the UK. Well, there are a number of territories outside of the UK which are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. These are what’s known as ‘whitelisted’ and are allowed to advertise within the UK. These countries include Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Alderney. These are the most common countries will see. Any bingo site that you see with its license in these countries is immediately classed as safe. There are very strict rules and measures in place to be able to advertise in the UK and the UK Gambling Commission comes down very heavily on anyone who is not sticking to the rules. In fact in one case, one gambling company was recently fined £225,000 for breaking the rules.
But All That Matters is Receiving My Winnings!
There is no question that the most number of complaints and customer dis-satisfaction comes in the form of a bingo player not receiving their winnings. There are so many cases where some has deposited, accepted a bonus, won and then gone to withdraw their winnings. Then the crushing news of ‘you’ve not met your wagering requirement’ has been met. In the past this was the number one complaint, but as advertising standards have improved so have the number of complaints reduced. So there are actually now other things to consider rather than just meeting the wagering requirements.
One area to consider is how easily can a player withdraw their winnings? There are a number of things to consider here. What are the withdrawal limits for example. The majority of bingo sites will require at least a minimum of £30 to have been deposited before any withdrawals can be made. This is a fairly standard amount. Naturally some are lower, but if there are a number of sites with a higher amount you make want to consider if you really want to join them.
Leading on from this, and actually lesser known is the maximum amount that can be withdrawn. There are always daily, weekly and monthly limits. It is in fact this that leads to a lot of frustration for the winner. Imagine winning £1,200 only to then find out the maximum weekly withdrawal limit is £300. If this is the case it’ll take you four weeks to get all of your winnings. Not only this, but you’ll also have to request a withdrawal each week which is time consuming and frustrating. Naturally the bingo site owner is hoping you’ll get fed up of waiting and then putting your money back into playing bingo or slot games. Sadly this is quite a common cause and there is nothing that can be done about it. Its not that the site in question is not safe, it means that the restrictions around the withdrawal process are a lot tighter. To avoid confusion, disappointment and anger it is always a good idea to double check the withdrawal limits. If a particular site has very low weekly and monthly limits it is worth asking yourself if you really want to join a site that essentially wants to hold on to your money and makes your life harder. It doesn’t make it unsafe, but it is definitely an area that will need consideration.
In fact the days of meeting wagering requirements may in fact be coming to an end soon. A number of new bingo sites are launching with no wagering requirements attached to there bonuses. On example is the new Dragonfish network. Here bingo sites that are on this network offer free bingo tickets and free spins instead of a traditional deposit bonus. In return, no wagering requirements are applied and winnings are paid as real cash. Although don’t get too excited as the free spins winnings are capped to just £1. However it is a sign of the times, no deposit bonuses are starting to become a thing of the past as are larger deposit bonuses. Soon the days of receiving any form of deposit bonus are likely to be the ting of a past. This is due to new tax laws which will see the bingo operator paying tax on the ‘free money’. Therefore it is no surprised that free bonuses will soon become a thing of the past.
I Don’t Understand What These SSL Certificates Mean When Making A Deposit!
We’ve all seen it. Whether we are buying clothes or joining an online bingo site, when entering our credit cards we’re told about the ‘SSL Certificate’ and the little lock symbol. What does this mean and does it actually make all the different bingo sites any safer?
Before talking about all the technical jargon it is worth noting this. If you go to enter your debit or credit details when joining a bingo site and the address is http instead of https then do not make a deposit! Avoid at all costs. If a site is not encrypted with a SSL certificate there is the potential for your bank card details to be stolen, and stolen very easily! The ‘S’ in the https stands for ‘secure’. It means that any information you enter into your brower on that website is encrypted. Which essentially makes it very diiffcult for hackers to get at your personal details. Therefore if a bingo site and the payment screen is only http your personal details are not encrypted and therefore it is not safe to join.
So why is the SSL important? Well without getting to technical it means that the connection is secure between your website and the bingo sites server. There are different layers of encryption, but essentially this makes it virtually impossible for your personal details to be hacked. A cryptographic key is generated and therefore increases the level of security. That is why if you see a padlock when making a payment at a bingo site you know it is safe to do so.
It is also worth noting that each SSL certificate is guaranteed by the company that provides it. Lets use the following example to explain this. You’ve decided you want to join a particular bingo site and you go ahead and make a deposit. You later find out that as a result your bank details have been hacked and your bank has been emptied of its funds. The company who provided the SSL ceritifcate to the bingo owner will cover its losses, usually up to £250,000. It is a form of insurance that protects all parties. This means you are 100% safe to join up with bingo sites that have an SSL certificate, or the little padlock symbol when you make your deposit. As they will be covered in the event of fraud on your account if the SSL certificate is hacked or fails in anyway