You’ve probably seen that most online casino ads usually offer some kind of bonus or FREE money to get you started playing there. Like most things in the world, nothing really comes for free, so before you start claiming this free money and then get mad that you’ve been scammed, I suggest you keep reading and see how this all works.
First of all, you may ask; why do online casinos even offer this “free” money?
It is part of their marketing and differentiation strategy. In a nutshell, online casinos are generally “skins” from a specific software vendor, so really behind the various owners, graphics, licenses, etc., under the hood, there isn’t much difference between let’s say all Playtech powered casinos, or all of them. Microgaming powered casinos.
What are Online Casino Bonuses?
So if they are largely the same under the hood, there must be some sort of difference that will convince you to play at “X” online casino and not “Y”. Besides the graphics, licensing, support and reputation, another way to pitch potential players is by giving them something, in this case a bonus.
Once you’ve got that out of the way, the next question you might ask yourself is OK, so Casino X is offering $5,000 for free, maybe I’ll sign up, take my $5,000, play them out and move on to Casino Y.
Again, the answer is quite simple. To claim bonuses at an online casino you usually have to make a deposit unless it is specifically stated that you don’t, but we’ll get to that later.
Before we delve deeper into the different types of bonuses offered at online casinos, here are a few additional terms and conditions to look out for so you can clarify with a support representative before claiming a bonus so you know where you stand and what you claim.
- Wagering Requirements: Most bonuses have wagering or wagering requirements, which means that you must play a certain amount before you can withdraw winnings from your account. On average, the wagering requirements are usually between 15 and 40 times, but pay attention to what you have to wager. In some cases it is only the bonus times X and in other cases you have to wager the bonus + your deposit amount X times. The latter is more common, by the way.
Another tidbit to keep in mind regarding the wagering requirements is that at most online casinos, if you request a withdrawal before meeting the wagering requirements, all of your winnings thus far will be voided. Not entirely fair, but this is the reality.
- Games played: Make sure you read the T&Cs in this case. Since slots are generally the most profitable games for online casinos, many bonuses are usually only valid for slots games. Usually scratch cards and keno will follow this rule.
In other cases, you may play your bonus on all games; however, not all games count 100% towards the wagering requirements. For example, playing slots counts 100%, but roulette counts only 30%, meaning you’ll need to bet more than three times more to meet the wagering requirements and withdraw your winnings.
- Minimum Deposit Requirement: In most cases, in order to claim a bonus, you must make a minimum deposit, which again can vary. It is generally a small amount that you will probably deposit anyway. It’s usually no more than $50.
Now that we’re all on the same page and speaking the same language, it’s time we went through the main types of bonuses available at most online casinos.
- A Match bonus is the most common type of bonus. For every $ you deposit, you get X% of what you deposited through the casino. So, for example, if casino Z offers a 100% match bonus, deposit $100 and the casino will give you an extra $100 in bonus money. This means that you actually start playing at the casino with $200. Match bonuses are almost always limited to a certain maximum bonus amount that you can claim. A match bonus can be a standalone bonus as part of a promotion (more common at US online casinos) and/or as part of the welcome bonus
- A welcome bonus is generally offered by most, if not all, online casinos to new players who sign up and make their first deposit at the casino. The welcome bonus is the sum of all possible match bonuses that you can collect as a new player at the casino over a certain period of time, or within your first X deposits, or a combination of both; so if a casino advertises a $3000 welcome bonus, it is actually the maximum you can get with the first deposit bonus, second deposit bonus, monthly bonus etc. If you deposit the maximum amount of each match bonus you can reach the advertised welcome bonus. If you deposit less than is required for the maximum bonus at any stage, you will not reach the amount advertised in the welcome bonus. So actually
- A no deposit bonus speaks for itself. It is a bonus that you receive from an online casino that allows you to play real money games without making a deposit. This is a great tool for online casinos to recruit new players as they can try out the casino without having to make a deposit. In some countries, it helps solve the “trust” problem that casino players have with online casinos. Many players who feel comfortable depositing and playing at an online casino will be wary of trying another casino they have never played before. Other players don’t want to make a deposit without trying the software and games, so a no deposit bonus can definitely help here. Some online casinos s give no deposit bonuses as part of their standard offer and others avoid such bonuses because they claim they tend to attract the wrong type of players, i.e. players who don’t intend to play for real money in the first place. and that it just burdens the support team with no actual result. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle and people don’t claim deposit bonuses for a variety of reasons. i.e. players who have no intention of playing for real money in the first place and that it just burdens the support team with no actual result. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle and people don’t claim deposit bonuses for a variety of reasons. i.e. players who have no intention of playing for real money in the first place and that it just burdens the support team with no actual result. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle and people don’t claim deposit bonuses for a variety of reasons.
No deposit bonuses are generally for a fairly small amount, usually $10-$15 and they are offered to potential customers either directly by the casino or through its affiliate websites. No deposit bonuses also have wagering requirements that you must complete before you can withdraw your winnings if you are lucky.
- Sticky/Play only bonuses are bonuses that you cannot withdraw from your account. If you are lucky and win and request a withdrawal, the bonus amount you received will be deducted from your winnings. Let’s say you claimed a $50 sticky bonus and were lucky enough to bring your account balance to $500. Now you would like to withdraw your winnings and celebrate with friends. The online casino will only allow you to withdraw $550 from your player account and $50 which is the sticky bonus amount will be void. Play alone bonuses are usually larger than match bonuses and the wagering requirements are lower.
- Payment Method Bonus: This was something that was initially common among Playtech powered casinos and has spread to many others over the years as well. In addition to depositing at an online casino with your credit or debit card, there are many electronic options, most of which offer instant transfers without the hassle and expense. Many of these alternative payment methods, as they are commonly called, offer their services to people without a credit check and you can transfer money from your bank account discreetly. Some are even prepaid cards that you can buy at a newsstand. Just for using these alternative payment methods, you can receive an additional 10-15% bonus on every deposit you make, in addition to any other bonus you claim.
- Most online casinos have a Loyalty/VIP Club scheme where you can redeem bonuses in exchange for points accumulated while playing. The more you play, the more points you earn and the better the points bonus conversion rate gets.
It is always important to check the specific terms and conditions at the online casino where you play or plan to play, as often you will not be able to withdraw the bonus amount or the bonus amount may be deducted from your winnings.
Common mistakes players make with online casino bonuses
Okay, so I’m pretty sure you’re now thinking about how to take advantage of all this good, so here’s the flip side of the card. Online casinos are extremely prone to bonus abuse, also known as bonus whoring, by players. Just as you can be kicked out of a land-based casino for card counting, for example, you can also have your player account blocked at an online casino at the first suspicion that they have bonus abuse. You must remember that gambling is entertainment at the end of the day and should be fun and exciting. It’s not a day job and you can’t really make money at the casino. Bonuses add to the fun and excitement and are ultimately just a marketing tool. Claim them, have fun with them, increase your excitement but don’t expect logout to be richer.
Ron M. Faulkner is the leader of the group of online casino professionals behind CasinoPromoGuide. The group strives to provide up-to-date information about bonuses and ongoing promotions to online casino players from all over the world. The name of the game is to help players stretch their online gambling budget just a little bit more in these days of relative recession.