“888 Casino” may seem like an unusual brand, but 888 is actually one of the largest online gambling companies in the world. In addition to their own NJ casino offering, they also supply the software for Harrahs casino in New Jersey, and all three of the online casinos in Delaware.
This review is focused on their self-branded site at us.888casino.com.
Offering only one-fifth as many games as the leader in the NJ market, 888 Casino is not exactly at the forefront of the technology. The slot inventory include games from only two developers, Williams and 888, and some of the 888 slots are showing their age. For table games, they offer only blackjack and roulette. The highlight for me is the Ultimate Genie progressive slot, offering a $1 million+ jackpot. In recent months, they have finally added a few new games. Let's hope that continues!
With their years of experience in the market, I expected to see a really compelling product from 888, but that wasn’t always the case. The table games are quite well done, but the slot games are not as polished as those of their competitors in the NJ market. And they offer far fewer games overall than the competition.
I have a lot to say about the 888 casino product, so let’s get started…
Attractive and Functional Casino Lobby
Unlike many of the other casinos, 888 launches the casino in a separate browser window. After logging in, you get to the casino lobby, which is attractive and easy to use. You can also customize it by putting your favorite games on the front screen for easy access. But with so few games to scroll through anyway, this seems like overkill.
(Click images to enlarge.)
One useful hint… On my Windows laptop, the taskbar at the bottom covered up part of the game screens. To fix that, right-click on the taskbar, choose Properties, and check “Auto-hide the taskbar”.
Only Two Game Developer Brands
888 offers games from only two developers: their own 888 games, and slots from Williams. Because of that, the total game count for 888 Casino and its sister site Harrahs Casino are the lowest in NJ, and by a large margin.
In my opinion, variety is the key to a good online casino. The minimal variety available at 888 is a big handicap, and their rating at NJOC continues to suffer as a result.
I’ve been spoiled by the latest generation of online slots from makers such as IGT and High5 Games. The newest games feature rich and smooth graphics during game play, appealing sound effects and music, and interesting and varied bonus rounds and features. Many of 888’s in-house slots were developed years ago, and they are really starting to show their age. The Williams games compare much more favorably, and were a welcome addition at the site. In addition, since our review last year, 888 has introduced a handful of new slots that aren’t available elsewhere, and they look like a definite step in the right direction. Check out the new games like Pirates Millions and Saved by the Bells.
Although the new games were fun, my favorite game at 888 NJ has not changed:
Slot Highlight: Ultimate Genie
On a positive note, I really liked their flagship game Ultimate Genie, with attractive graphic design and interesting features.
This game features a randomly awarded mega-jackpot of $1 million or more, but that also means that the base game likely returns less than the other slots. With a minimum bet of $0.75 (and a maximum of $75 per spin), this game could be entertaining but expensive.
When you get three scatter symbols, free spins are triggered and the genie appears to add additional fixed wild symbols and occasionally move them around.
Three bonus symbols trigger the Genie’s Palace bonus round.
Among the other slots that I found fun were Dino Stampede and Sugar Doggie with its expanding wilds.
Table Games: Good quality, but poor rules and variety
Creating a comfortable user interface for online table games is a tricky business, but 888’s years in the business finally show up here. Their developers have done a fine job on making a pleasant experience at their tables. The game play is quick and responsive, the sounds are just what we expect, and the action buttons are well placed and user-friendly.
The games are polished, but there simply are not many of them. You get blackjack, and 4 versions of roulette. That’s it. Nada más.
Well, at least the roulette is good…
Roulette: An excellent version of a classic game
Roulette is exactly what you would expect, with both single zero and double zero versions. Personally, I don’t play much roulette because even the European version has a higher house edge than I like in table games. But if you enjoy roulette, this implementation is quite good. In fact, I would say that roulette is the highest quality game among the 888 casino offerings. Here is a screenshot of their Premium European Roulette:
The blackjack game is dealt from 6 decks. The dealer stands on all 17s, but you can split only once. You can play up to five hands at once. The result is a game that returns 99.54% with correct basic strategy play.
You can customize several things about the blackjack game, and the controls are easy to use.
Video Poker, Last and Least
So far we have a small selection of slots, with only a few standout offerings, plus a limited selection of table games. I’ll finish up the game survey with video poker, and I am afraid I did not save the best for last. 888 offers only one version of video poker, and I couldn’t stand to play it for more than a few hands.
Don’t be fooled by the “9/6” paytable for their Jacks or Higher game. Look closely and you will notice that it pays only 100 coins for a 5-coin bet when you get a Four-of-a-Kind. (Normally 125 coins.) It also shorts the straight flush payout to 200 instead of 250. The short pay for quads and straight flushes reduce the payout on the game to just 98.25%. That may be a good return when compared to slots, but with other NJ online casinos offering full-pay Jacks at 99.54%, it’s not competitive.
The low payout rate is just one of the problems. The game itself is also quite unpleasant to play. Look at the screen shot and you will see one of the reasons. The cards are very small. The most important item on the screen is the hand you are dealt, yet the developers chose to make the cards occupy only about 5% of the screen size. Then, to hold the cards you want, you have to accurately click with your mouse on the tiny hold buttons. Add an annoying payout sound each time you win a hand, and this game is just plain awful.
Normally, I would complain about any casino that offers only one version of video poker… Where are the Bonus Poker games, or the Deuces Wild games? But in this case, I will make the opposite complaint. 888’s one version of video poker is really one too many!
Deposits and Withdrawals, Now with PayPal!
You can deposit into your 888 account with ACH (recommended), Neteller (also a good option), Visa or Mastercard (if your bank will approve the transaction), or cash at some of the Caesars-owned casinos in Atlantic City. They also offer the PayNearMe option which allows you to buy credits with cash at 7-Eleven stores. Odd yes, but also maybe convenient for some players.
One very nice development since last year’s review is the addition of PayPal as a banking method. PayPal may be the quickest and easiest method to deposit your playing bankroll, and also to withdraw your winnings! This is great news.
Signup Bonus and Promotions
Upon signing up at 888, you get a free $10 to try out the games. There are very few restrictions on that money. Play through it once, and any winnings can be withdrawn.
If you make a deposit, you are eligible for a 100% match up to $300. Be aware that the wagering requirements on the bonus is fairly high at 30x on slots. If you play blackjack or video poker, the requirements are ten times higher at 300x, making the bonus a good value only if you plan to play a lot anyway.
Perhaps the best feature of 888 is the consistent availability of ongoing promotions. At the moment, they have different promotions running nearly every day of the week. Read about them in our post detailing the promotions available at 888 casino.
I am also hopeful that the recent games added at 888 are a sign of more to come. The promotions are appealing already. If they had a more competitive game inventory, the overall offering would be a lot more compelling.Click here to visit 888 casino.