32 Red Casino Vs. Party CasinoThis month we pit 32 Red against Party Casino, two of the big guns in the online gambling world. Party in particular have been a colossus of the gaming world for years. But 32 Red are no shrinking violets either. This is no David versus Goliath-style match-up. One has pedigree and reputation; the other has a point to prove. So who will come out on top as they go head-to-head?
Powered by Microgaming, the software at 32 Red is as efficient and elegant as you would expect. Once you’ve downloaded the casino, which took a few minutes, you’re presented with a drop-down menu format for choosing what game you want to play. This rather stuffy way of presenting the options is offset by some nice loungey music playing in the background while all the regular ‘Blings’ and ‘Dings’ of a real casino chime away in the background. It creates a nice gaming ambience. We particularly like how accurately the clunky, old-school video poker machines have been perfectly replicated. You can play one game while others download in the background too, which means you don’t have to spend time waiting around—you can constantly be involved.
There’s lots of choice here, but some of the options are a little on the samey side. We went to a few old faves and were not especially blown away. For example, Cyberstud Poker was slightly cumbersome—even when you fold your cards, you still have to watch the dealer’s hand overturn on the table one card at a time. Surely this is the online gambling equivalent of when they used to wheel out the speedboat on Bull’s Eye along with the immortal line from Jim Bowen: “Let’s see what you could have won.” Who cares what the dealer had? We’ve folded and we’re already twitching over the ‘Deal’ button for the next hand.
In among the overall uninspiring options, we did find a couple of things we really liked. The Hitman slot has a real atmosphere to it—a sense of eerie anticipation and lurking menace. It felt like the sort of game that needed to be played in a darkened room—and there are regular bonus features to ensure things don’t become monotonous or overly bleak. Online scratchcards were fun for a while too.
Incentives are pretty generous at 32 Red. Slot and fruit machine junkies can double their money up to £250 with a Welcome Bonus matching their first deposit. While casino games enthusiasts can see their initial deposit of between £25 and £50 matched. Then there’s a free £5 bet on roulette—where you bet on the ball landing where else but on 32 and Red—as well as 10 free spins on the Tomb Raider 2 slot, a free £10 when you play on 32 Red’s Mobile Casino and even a $10 Poker Bonus for those of you with a hankering for Texas hold ‘em.
Customer Service (3.5)
32 Red pride themselves on customer service being their ‘number one priority’, and there’s certainly an impressive array of options for getting in touch. You can use instant chat with a customer service operative, phone for free, email various departments, Skype them and even send a snail mail to Gibraltar if you’re so inclined. Being an impatient sort, GOM went for the instant chat option. We were soon talking to ‘Suzanne’ who answered all our questions in turn. Her first answer seemed like it might have been cut and pasted from a pre-prepared document so we fired in some more specific queries. There was a five-minute pause as Suzanne considered how to respond, before replying in a far more human and personal manner and leaving us satisfied with the information provided.
Alderney-based Party Casino make their own software, which counts for a lot when you’re one of the big players as you’ll always be different enough to your main competitors; visiting your casino is always going to have that bespoke cachet for the punter who likes to shop around. This was GOM’s first major road test of Party’s casino offerings and we were not disappointed.
The first thing you notice once you’ve completed the speedy download of Party Casino is how quick and easy everything is. Unnecessary faffing around and waiting for fancy bell and whistles to load has been cut to a minimum to maximise your playing time. That’s not to say the graphics aren’t good—they really are—it’s just that they’ve found a way of making everything happen pretty much instantaneously. Even the smart-looking virtual horse racing software downloaded in a jiffy, with our only slight complaint being that you had to wait until a particular time until your virtual race started. You couldn’t just click ‘Go’. Other than that, everything was slick, smooth and wholly moreish.
So many games, so little room. We’ll concentrate on our favourites. The Mission Impossible slot is great. There are lots of ways to win and—maybe it was just our lucky day—we kept on getting generous clumps of free spins: six, then another six, followed by another eight, all in the space of five minutes. We were well up after that bonus bonanza. Progressive Caribbean Poker was very polished too, and the rapid speed of the gameplay is most satisfying given that it’s not the world’s most mentally taxing game—more one that you play for a quick hit of fun. Safecracker Keno was enjoyably retro, with a satisfying ‘clunk’ every time one of our numbers came up.
There’s good incentives at Party, with up to $200 extra available when you open an account. First, you get a 100 percent bonus, up to $100, on your first deposit. Then, new players get a 50 percent bonus, up to $100, on their second deposit. You can also rack up Party Points. The more you accumulate, the faster you’ll rise up the Loyalty scheme rankings. Once you reach the Holy Grail level of ‘Deuce’ you’ll be earning Party Points eight times as quickly as you were in your days as a lowly Jack.
Customer Service (3)
Party Casino marginally falls down for not having live help available for lazy, phone-shy types. However, help is available 24/7 via phone and email, and the phone number is free to call. All games are tested by iTech to ensure they are fair and operating correctly, while 128-bit encryption is supplied by Thawte Security for added protection.
While 32 Red has plenty of appeal, and some readers might even say they prefer it to Party Casino in certain aspects, there was only one winner for us. 32 Red impressed with its customer service and brilliantly sinister Hitman slot, but Party Casino, with their fantastic in-house software and some of the most playable casino games around were a worthy winner in the end. Party’s games manage to avoid that repetitive feel that is the curse of many an online casino. There’s a lot of choice but not too much recurrence of identical themes. You could easily spend all day on Party Casino without getting bored, as there’s so much to do here. Variety is the spice of life and all that.