With it becoming increasingly difficult to find casinos that still permit players from the US, when I come across such a venue that still accepts American players I feel compelled to give it a review. This time around it's Slots Plus; an RTG powered casino run by the MainStreet Vegas group, who also operate Las Vegas USA, Sun Palace and Vegas Casino online.
The Web site did a decent job of explaining what to expect as a player at Slots Plus, though the game previews weren't terribly practical when trying to find out what games were available, and some more information on how to get started with the no-download version would have been good. The customer support area has live chat available, a support e-mail address, and telephone numbers listed; Toll-Free in Canada and the U.S., but with a long distance number posted for the rest of the world (something more online casinos should do, but for some reason don't.)
At the time of my review the promotions page listed a 125% deposit bonus for new players on first deposits between $25 and $100. Playthrough requirements were listed at 40x the deposit+bonus on slot machines, or 100x if any Blackjack, 21, Pontoon, or Video Poker is played. Craps, Baccarat, Roulette and Sic Bo were ineligible towards any playthrough requirements. While I don't normally take bonuses (and this time would be no exception), I thought it was worth noting for those that do, since this is a 'slots focused' casino and the 40x slots playthrough may be acceptable to some as such (be careful not to stray over to the table games or video poker though to avoid having it turn into a 100x requirement).
After running through the Web site it was time to get started, and I opted for the download version of the casino. The initial installation file was a little under 500k, which downloaded quickly and proceeded to download more files from the casino server once run. In a couple of minutes the base casino installation was completed, and I registered a real money account nice and quickly through the form that was provided.
With my account registered and the software downloaded I was ready to make my first deposit through the cashier, which I did using my credit card without issue. I popped $100 into my account and was off to the games!
First up was the always popular game of Blackjack, which was available in it's classic form as well as some variations; Perfect Pairs, Face Up 21, Super 21 and Match Play 21 for those of you looking for something a little different (Pontoon is also available, but listed separate of the other "21" games.). I tried out each of them one by one and lost a few bucks initially, but then got it back when a side bet on Perfect Pairs hit. Each of the games looked good - not the best I've ever seen - but more than adequate for the job. What I did like was the speed of the games, the hands were dealt very quickly and I got a lot bets on the table in a short amount of time (though I suppose not everybody prefers the fast-pace like I do).
Next up was the Baccarat table, which looked pretty good and again played fairly well. I liked that it showed a quick hand history with one click on a tab (collapsing when you're not looking at it), and the low table limit of just $1 a bet was a refreshing change from the $5 or $10 minimums imposed at many online venues. On the flip side, the $250 maximum is arguably not that high for true 'high rollers', though I suspect higher limit tables could be arranged for the right VIP's.
Before moving on to some of the 'staple' games I normally comment on in my reviews, I decided to try out some of the 'other' table games offered. Red Dog, Pai Gow, Let 'em Ride, Sic Bo, Caribbean Stud, Casino War and quite a few other 'alternative' games were available, each of which looked pretty similar to one another (not to say that's a bad thing - the graphics are not without their charm, and the familiarity between each games layout makes it easy to switch between one game and another without any confusion). Most of the table games had low minimums of just a buck, though some started at $5 a bet. Most of the tables had a respectable maximum of $250 - though that's a little lower than I'm normally used to seeing elsewhere.
I had lost a few bucks from my original bankroll before deciding to move on to the Craps table. The craps table itself looked fine, but as I've complained about at more than one RTG casino by now - I don't really care for the look of the dice (they are 'jagged') and the close up of the table/dice when they're finished rolling (both jagged and blurry). Still, it's a minor grievance at best, and doesn't affect the game play (other than aesthetically).
My comments on the Roulette table are pretty similar to what I had to say about the Craps; the table looked good, the game played well, but the inside of the wheel and the close up on the ball had a jagged look to them. If you're not super-picky about how things look it shouldn't bother you. (I guess after commenting on it again, I myself am a little picky :) While I didn't play particularly long on either the Craps or Roulette tables, I managed to break even overall on the bets I did make.
The Video Poker selection was pretty impressive; there were 17 different types in all listed in the menu (though some would argue that European Slot Poker isn't really 'Video Poker' in the traditional sense of the word). All but 3 of the games (including the aforementioned European Slot Poker) were available in single hand, 3 hand, 10 hand, 52 hand or 100 hand versions as well, making for plenty of different options for Video Poker fans. While the variety was great, some of the games were arguably weren't too easy on the eyes - especially the multi-hand machines. Once again though, that aside everything played and paid just fine.
Before moving onto the slots, I checked out a couple of the 'other' games available, Keno and Bonus Bingo. I'm not a huge fan of either Keno or Bingo no matter where I'm playing; but both of them seemed to hold up as well as anything similar I've seen elsewhere. Most of you are probably familiar with Keno already, and Bonus Bingo played pretty similarly to what you'd expect - although with 4 cards at a time and a bonus round available after playing enough to collect 5 'Bonus Balls'.
The slot machine variety was pretty impressive, with 16 different classic slots to choose from and nearly 3 times as many video slots available. These included a dozen progressive jackpot machines and lots of different bonus game of all themes and colors, and while some of the older games may have seemed a little dated by today's standards - there were plenty of newer additions that were well done and I genuinely enjoyed playing. It didn't hurt that I got quite a few decent payouts on more that one machine I played at, and after a couple hours of trying out the one armed bandits I managed to defy the house edge this time around by logging a win.
When it was all said and done, a few nice hits on the slot machines allowed me to cash out a respectable $300 off of my initial deposit of $100 (at one point it was closer to $400 - but I got a little greedy :).
Cashing out required me to fill out and send in some documents, which I did using an upload form that's available on their site. If you've got a scanner handy this makes the process a little easier than having to photocopy and/or fax them in, (and of course, a LOT easier if you don't have a fax machine handy :).
Now, I'll preface this by saying that these days you can expect longer delays cashing out at most online casinos, due largely to recent financial regulations making money transfers to some jurisdictions much trickier. That said, it took nearly 2 months to finally get a check in the mail, a fair bit longer than I would have expected under the circumstances. (For the record there weren't any issues with customer support over the withdrawal - just the delay.)
Would I recommend Slots Plus to my readers? For those outside of the U.S. it probably wouldn't be one of my first picks, namely because of the delay in receiving my cashout this time around. That said, while it took a little longer than I would have liked to receive payment, and some of the games weren't the best looking of the bunch - there was a good selection of entertainment to choose from, good support options available, and quite a few other redeeming qualities at Slots Plus, so I while it won't get my recommendation exactly, I wouldn't recommend against giving it a try either if you're so inclined.
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