River Belle Casino:
River Belle Casino is just one of the properties owned by the Belle Rock Gaming Group, and has been in operation for over 5 years. This makes it one of the oldest casinos available online, and over this time it has built up a solid reputation and a loyal following. As such, it was with high expectations that I visited the River Belle Casino website to begin a review of this Microgaming-powered online casino.
River Belle Casino is loosely themed on old Southern America, with the paddle steamers adorning River Belle's website being reminiscent of the ones seen on the Mississippi in the early 1900s. However, the quaint old-world theme should not mislead - this casino offers an up-to-date gaming experience.
As with most Microgaming-powered casinos, River Belle Online Casino offers the player a no-download flash version of their software and a bells-and-whistles download version. To experience the range of games River Belle Casino offers, it is advisable to play on the download version. The download does not actually take too long - the 5232k file size should take no longer than 30 minutes, even on a dial-up connection. The reason that the download is so small is because initially only a couple of games are available to play. Others are downloaded automatically in the background while a player gambles, or individual games can be 'forced' to download if a player wants to bet on a specific game.
The task of downloading proved easy enough, and after a few minutes of installation I was presented with a casino lobby screen. As I had not played before, I initially had to complete a quick form to register an account, but with this being a fairly painless task I was ready to gamble!
River Belle Casino accepts a variety of depositing options, but I opted to make a deposit through NEteller. River Belle accepts play in Dollars, Pounds and Euros, but as I had set up a Dollar account I purchased $50 to test out the casino. I then completed a simple form on the River Belle site to claim a 100% match on this amount! River Belle generously offers a 100% match up to 100 credits. Unfortunately, a player must then wager 20x deposit and bonus on slots before withdrawing - a very tight demand. While any game can be played, any non-slot game does not count towards wagering. However, for the purposes of the review it meant I had more money to test the games.
While I normally always play on table games first, for no particular reason I decided to initially try out some of River Belle's slot machines. To aid in locating specific games (there are many to chose from), River Belle breaks down games into their types - e.g. table, slots, video poker. A preview screen is also available, giving a brief overview of the game and its rules - meaning that a player can see what sort of a game something is before playing. This is a particularly good feature for slot players, as there are so many different types to choose from (number of reels, number of pay lines, wilds, scatters, features etc.)
I decided to opt for 5-Reel-Drive, a 5-line slot with a motor theme. Although a player can choose to bet a number of different amounts, I decided to opt for the lowest betting option while trying out this game. However, despite betting small amounts, I found that I was barely getting a hit - not even small wins were appearing. Thankfully, it was after a good few spins in the game that I was rewarded with 3 pink cars on the win line, as well as three scatter symbols. This paid back $15 and returned my bankroll to just under my initial $50 starting point (despite requesting the bonus, this can take 72 hours to appear). Deciding that this game seemed not to be on my side I made a quick exit!
Although I wanted to check out more of the slots available, I decided that a better way to approach this casino was to try and increase my balance on some table games and then to return to the slots. As such, I moved over to the table game menu and selected to play Bonus Blackjack. This is just one of a number of blackjack games offered by River Belle Casino, and it allows a player access to bonus payouts (if they chose to make a wager on this option). Unlike many bonus games, this is actually quite a fair bet, as a player only needs two suited card to receive a 5-to-2 payback. The bonus also pays 25-1 for a suited jack and an ace, and a very nice 50-1 if the jack and ace are both spades.
The actual game play itself for this game was superb - sharp graphics are accompanied by pleasing sounds and a nice speed of play. Similarly, I found myself with some nice winning hands, which further enhanced my gaming experience! In fact, I came out of this game a good few dollars up.
Since I seemed to be doing well on table games, I decided to play Red Dog Poker. In this game a player makes a wager and is dealt two cards. The aim of the game is to then have dealt a third card that falls between the first two (e.g. a 10 falls between a 9 and a King). A player can chose simply to carry on with their initial bet, or if he feels that he has a good chance of winning he can double his initial bet. The payoff is then decided between what the spread was between the cards (e.g. if you are dealt a 3 and a 5 and then get a 4 you get a high payoff because the chance of this happening is low). The only exception to these rules is if you are dealt three of a kind, which automatically pays off 11-1.
While the game sounds complicated, to play it is very simple - to maximize your return a player should always double with a spread of 7 or more. Unfortunately, despite knowing how best to bet I didn't find myself doing too well. The game play itself was again faultless, but too many tight spreads were dealt for my liking! I realize this was luck of the draw, but my winnings from BJ went straight back to the house with this game!
Next, I had a quick play of the River Belle Casino Scratch Card game. This is a really easy game to play, and simply demands a bet to be placed. Six symbols are then revealed and if three match, a player wins the revealed amount (ranging from 1 times the initial bet to 1900s). While this game played without problem, it really is dull - and seemed to have terrible odds. However, I suppose the presence of this game highlights River Belle's desire to please the customer with variety.
Before finally returning to the slots, I decided to have a quick play at one of the Video Poker games available. River Belle Casino offers a number of variations of this game, but I opted for the single-hand Deuces Wild game. Two nice features of this game (as with a number of the VP games) are the auto-play and strategy options. These basically let the player have the computer automatically play the game for them or suggest the best plays to make. This really is useful for both the seasoned gamer and novice alike.
Again, the recreation of this game in the online world was superb - fast game play and faultless graphics / sound made this a highly enjoyable experience. I also got dealt 4-of-a-kind which was nice. What made it even better was that I opted to double up, and with my Jack beating the dealer's 5 card, I left with a healthy bank balance.
Finally, I returned to the online slots to see if I could hit a jackpot. I did have some luck on some games (such as Jackpot Express) but finally found my $50 ran out. However, my gaming experience was good. I particularly enjoyed some games marked as 'Mega Spin' - upon loading I found this means it is like playing 4, 6 or 9 slot machines at once! This probably means most people lose quicker, but I really liked watching all the machines spinning!
Unfortunately, I had reached a zero balance now, so I had to sit and wait for my bonus. And this is where the problems began. Usually in my reviews I have to make up excuses to test support, but with River belle I needed their support for real!
I realized that the T&Cs of the bonus said I may have to wait a while, but after 24 hours nothing was in my account. I checked the support page and was impressed with the variety of contact methods available - and so decided to phone support to find out where my bonus was. Despite being told it would be credited in 5 hours, it was another 36 hours and a further two telephone calls before this was credited. As such, while support were courteous and easy to contact, I found the efficiency of River Belle somewhat lacking. What made it worse, was that after all the waiting my $50 bonus lasted less than 20 minutes - although I cannot really blame the casino for that!
In summary, it is quite easy to see why River Belle Casino is popular - big bonuses are available for people who like that, and for people who simply like to gamble, the range and quality of the games is exceptional. Similarly, support contact is made easy. It is just a shame that my query was not dealt with in a positive manner. However, despite this River Belle is still a quality casino, and there is no major reason why people should not test it for themselves.
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