Gala is an online casino from the Gala Coral group and it has just (as of May 2012) undergone a major facelift. We’ll go into more depth later in this review as to all the shiny things that you can find on the site, but if you’re from the UK, chances are you will already be well aware of the Gala brand of casinos and bingo halls (however they have announced (again in May 2012) that they have agreed to sell their land based casinos to the Rank group – operator of the Grosvenor Casino and Blue Square Casino amongst others).
Licencing and Security
The owner of Gala Casino is Gala Coral, a company formed from the 2005 merger of two of the UK’s leading gambling operators – Gala (as noted above, famous for their real world bingo halls and casinos) and Coral (one of the top betting shop chains in the country).
We find that having a familiar brand adds a huge amount of credibility to an online casino – being a sign that it’s not just a phantom wisp of 1’s and 0’s but that there’s a visible, identifiable company that’s put it’s weight behind it. Although in this day and age, the security offered by large companies and even banks isn’t guaranteed, that doesn’t really matter from a player’s point of view as your deposits will be protected in accordance with the regulator’s guidance. What it does do, is give you some sense that they know what they are doing and can be held accountable.
Speaking of regulators and accountability, Gala is licenced in Gibraltar, regarded as one of the top gambling jurisdictions out there and one which is considered to offer a good level of protection for players.
They also show a badge of certification from TST, however, this relates to the Playtech software’s fairness (see later in the review for more on the software) rather than certifying Gala itself, but it is reassuring nevertheless.
Gala’s main software is from Playtech. This is used to power their Instant Play, Download and Mobile Casinos. Gala also have Live Dealers and Poker on offer through their site. Added to that is the now almost standard ‘Games’ tab with instant play games, scratchcards, arcade games and virtual racing.
If you’re a slots fan, they’ve also got several games from other software providers which include favourites such as DaVinci Diamonds, Cleopatra and Rainbow Riches. However, there aren’t any of the Microgaming heavy hitters that you often find at non-Microgaming casinos like Tombraider or Thunderstruck.
Gala Casino accepts most of the major payment methods. At the time of writing, these include:- Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Skrill (Moneybookers), NETeller, PayPal, UKash, Click2Pay, ClickandBuy, PaySafe Card, ECO and a good old fashioned bank transfer.
Withdrawal times are also clearly set out in the help menu, these include details for each method of minimum withdrawal amounts, time taken to credit your account, charges and the maximum that can be withdrawn in one go. The last item seems to be something imposed by the system as there’s a note that states “Where a withdrawal request exceeds the maximum amount for a payment method, the withdrawal will be split into two smaller amounts to accommodate the maximum withdrawal amount” Nice.
Also important to note is that the times quoted are from when the payment request has been processed by the accounts team rather than from when you make the withdrawal request. If you’ve done your ID checks, the team are in the office 7 days a week, though not for 24 hours a day, so it shouldn’t be too much of a delay.
Customer support is available through several channels. First port of call is the comprehensive FAQ section, which appears when you click on the ‘help’ link at the top right of the site. This has answers to all sorts of queries and also has lots of useful information. If that’s no use to you, then you can contact the team via Live Chat, e-mail, telephone (freephone number) and fax. If you’re logged in, there’s also an internal message system that you can use within the site.
However, the team are only available from 7am to 11pm. This shouldn’t be a problem for most players unless you’re planning a late night session.
An excellent casino from a very reputable operator. The redesign is also good, with the site being easy on the eye and well thought out (surprising how many casinos aren’t!). Some minor flaws (e.g. no late night support), but nothing that should really have a significant impact on your play time. Well worth trying out.