Just as games are an essential part of online gambling, online casino bonuses have carved out a niche in the structure of gambling sites. These days it would be difficult and maybe even downright impossible to find an online casino without bonus offers.
Although it started out as a marketing strategy geared at pooling players to the then unpopular online gambling community, bonuses and promotions are now a casino standard. Operators continuously compete for players’ attention, and bonuses are the go-to method to trump the competition. And who wouldn’t love to get extra money to play their favourite games and increase their chances of winning more? In fact, players are known to follow the trails of an enticing bonus offer doggedly.
Through the years, these offers have gotten bigger and better. There are now numerous types of bonuses in different shapes and sizes and available for everyone to benefit from. However, the level of profitability of these offers is a point that’s constantly debated. Would a profit-oriented business like the casino just met out free cash rewards? Or are there pitfalls to online casino bonuses?
There are indeed several restrictions that accompany these bonuses. In this article, we’ll give a comprehensive explanation of what they are and how to work around them for a profitable gaming experience in the end.
Types of Casino Bonuses
First off, we’ll be looking at the numerous kinds of bonuses that are available for players at the casino. While some are reserved for first-timers, others are provided to retain the engagement of already existing customers. These bonuses boost your bankroll, allowing you to play more of your favourite games and enhance your online gambling experience.
The deposit bonus is a cash reward that matches your deposit to a certain percentage. For example, if you were to deposit $100, you would receive an extra $100 in bonus funds. If you were to deposit $200, you’d receive an extra $200, and so forth. The offer caps at $500.
While 100% is the standard, it’s not uncommon to get a 200% match or higher. In this case, you get to play with triple your starting bankroll.
No Deposit Bonus
The no deposit bonus is the opposite of the deposit bonus offer. If a casino offers it, this bonus is awarded to players for free (no monetary commitment). It can be in the form of a cash bonus or bonus spins to play on slots.
New players are the main recipients of this offer, as it is usually a sign-up bonus awarded upon registration. The amounts are much smaller than the deposit offer, but considering that it’s risk-free, it would be just as valuable.
The welcome bonus is a promotional offer for new players, and this is often a bonus match on the first deposit. Nowadays, it’s common for casinos to extend the bonus over the 2nd, 3rd, and even up to the 5th deposits. The amounts are some of the largest you’ll find at the casino, e.g., 100% match up to $2000 or higher.
These are a special kind of bonus because they are specific to slots games. Generous free spins offers can afford you up to 200, 300 or 400 free spins. While free spins can stand alone, they could also be included in the new player promo alongside the deposit offer. In which case, you would be getting a “welcome package.”
This is a reimbursement of a percentage of a player’s losses in a given time. For instance, a 10% Weekend Cashback will give you 10% of the amount wagered in unsuccessful bets during the week.
You need to be active at the casino to place a significant amount of bets every week from which you can earn cashback on your losses. Hence, only loyal existing players will be eligible to get such an offer.
With this offer, you get a reward whenever you pay money into your account. It is only available after you’ve claimed the welcome bonus and is essentially a deposit bonus for existing players.
It generally has a lower rate than the deposit bonus. While the latter may be a 100% match, reload offers might be around 10-50%.
Loyalty (VIP) Bonuses
These offers are usually part of a loyalty or VIP program at the casino, and these reward programs feature different tiers. You have to play and earn points that can be redeemed for special rewards. In addition, every new level unlocked comes with several perks, which include free spins and cash prizes. On attaining the highest levels, you get higher betting limits, higher cashback percentages, dedicated account managers, etc.
There are other bonuses like the refer-a-friend promo, where you get cash rewards for inviting other players to join the site. Game promos are also available where you are rewarded for making achievements on slots, blackjack, poker, etc. Many casinos will also feature Birthday bonuses and Christmas, Easter or other seasonal promos.
Terms and Conditions Will Reveal the Truth
Players tend to get carried away by the prospect of earning huge bonuses and doubling or even tripling their bankroll. However, the real worth of a bonus is determined by its terms and conditions. T&c’s will reveal how generous a casino bonus is and whether you stand a chance to benefit using the offer.
From wagering requirements to max bet limits, max payouts, prohibited games and other restrictions, you should be wary of these thorns hidden beneath the rosy appeal of a bonus offer.
A wagering requirement is also known as playthrough or rollover and is the number of times you have to bet the bonus amount before making a withdrawal.
For example, a 30x wagering applied to a bonus of $100 will require you to place $3000 in bets.
Casinos will always have their own profit in mind, but there is a deeper history behind wagering conditions. When bonuses were first introduced, they were wager-free. Some bonus hunters would sign up at the casino, get the extra cash, withdraw their funds and be on their way. This would leave casinos at a loss since these bonus abusers didn’t create any business for the site.
Wagering requirements were born out of the casino’s need to protect itself from individuals with such malicious intent. Since then, players were bound by these conditions, which obligates them to wager a certain amount of money at the casino before getting a payout.
However, as is evident in recent times, some equally fraudulent casinos have taken advantage of this. They implement ridiculously high playthrough requirements, which leave players struggling, and the majority unable to fulfil.
Max Possible Win on Bonus Offers
Just like the bonus itself is capped at a specific max limit, there is also a limit on how much you can win from such an incentive. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. With casino games being predominantly games of chance, players could get lucky and land a massive win on the slots reels. Or maybe a bit of strategy could take your card gambling to very profitable heights, leaving the operator scrambling for funds to fulfil the payout or stay afloat afterwards. Casinos don’t want that, which is why these limits exist.
However, as online sites differ from each other, so do the max win each one allows. It is imperative to look through the terms and conditions to find this limit, so you know what you stand to gain in the end. A $500 max win may be reasonable for a low bonus offer. But the same limit for a large starting deposit would most likely be a loss to players, especially when accompanied by a high wagering requirement.
Max Bet while Wagering a Bonus
The max bet rule is another restriction on bonuses and one that players easily fall prey to. Many casino games come with a max bet button, but the maximum stake for the game may surpass the max bet for bonus claiming. A careless tap or thoughtless usage of this game feature will instantly jeopardize your chances of cashing out the offer.
Some casinos may be generous enough to overlook one or two bets in excess of the max limit, whereas others are quick to penalize players for any violation of the bonus t&cs. The max bet value depends on the specific gambling site you play at, but from our experience, $5 is the standard.
Prohibited Games and Slots to Wager a Bonus
It’s crucial to realize that not all games are eligible for playing through a bonus. And out of those that are, not all have the same worth. You have to beware of the restricted/prohibited games and go for those that have the greatest contribution to wagering.
The tricky part here is that there isn’t a handbook for this. The casino does provide a list of restricted games, but they are as random as it gets. You have to check each time to ensure that the game you wish to play isn’t on the list.
It’s slightly easier with the game contribution percentages. These indicate the portion of your bet that counts towards wagering. Slots are at the top of the chain at 100%, while table games and other games may count at 50% or less, depending on the casino.
IP Address Restrictions
Bonuses are claimable at one offer per player, and this is one rule that is often displayed on the front page of the promotional banner. Some players try to abuse bonuses by creating duplicate accounts to claim the same offer multiple times, and casinos strive to prevent this.
Effectively, this is a reasonable effort and nothing out of the ordinary, but the problem lies in the fact that online casinos detect players through IP addresses. Anyone that shares the same network as you would pose a problem if they also happen to play at the same casino. This includes friends, family, and colleagues.
The bonus will only be claimable by one user on that IP address, and a second user trying to get the same offer will be unable to claim it. For this reason, it isn’t advisable to access the casino with Wi-Fi networks at public places like hotels, cafes, airports, etc. At these locations, mobile data would be the safer bet to avoid clashing with other random players on the network, not to mention it is more secure.
Low Withdrawal Limits
We’ve seen payout limits and max bet limits, so it’s not farfetched that casinos impose withdrawal limits too. You could be smiling at the fact that you’ve hit a lucky run on a slot machine and won $10,000. Then you realize that the casino has a weekly withdrawal limit of $2000. This means it would take five weeks before you get all your winnings paid out. Nothing could be more demoralizing.
Such low withdrawal limits are also a sign that the casino isn’t buoyant enough to make hefty payments. It is not uncommon that these sites eventually drag on payouts for long, and in the worst-case scenario, renege on their part of the bargain and not pay at all.
Once again, low-stakes players may not have much of a problem with this, but high rollers could find themselves as scapegoats.
Bonuses do not last forever. In fact, they can be likened to a ticking time bomb. While you’re wondering about meeting wagering conditions, the countdown to the bonus expiry keeps running. After the validity period, the offer will expire, and the bonus amount will be voided along with any winnings you’ve accrued so far.
The validity period is usually anywhere between 7 days to 30 days, with the bulk of online casinos sticking to the lower threshold.
Free spins and existing player bonuses have even tighter restrictions. Sometimes you’ll have barely 24 hours. Or you could experience a sort of Cinderella effect, where you have till the stroke of midnight before the magic wears off.
“Casino Can Void Your Winnings Anytime”
If the casino were a legal state, it certainly wouldn’t be a democracy. A rather harsh bonus condition applicable at all sites is that the casino can void your winnings at any time.
It’s common knowledge that disputes between the casino and a player will often favour the former. This puts players in a weak spot, especially when playing at offshore sites where there is no protection from the local authorities.
Other Things to Consider
Although these aren’t as vital as the ones we already highlighted, it’ll be beneficial to keep them in mind.
- The minimum deposit for bonus claiming: The min bonus deposit isn’t the same as the minimum deposit for the casino in general. While a casino could process a $5 payment, you may need to pay at least $10 to activate the welcome bonus.You can only have one “first deposit”. So, if you don’t get it right the first time, you lose your chance at the offer for good.
- Real money before bonus funds: After activating a bonus offer, you don’t start playing with bonus money until you’ve spent your own funds. So you can’t request a withdrawal on your initial deposit either unless you’ve played games.
Common Mistakes Players Make When Claiming Bonuses
We’ve seen that there are numerous drawbacks to casino bonuses. So, it’s easy to imagine that players falter more often than not, especially when gambling for the first time. Below are some of the mistakes players make with bonus claiming, which you should avoid like a plague:
- Going for bonuses with the largest cash offer;
- Trying to claim the same bonus offer more than once;
- Attempting to withdraw funds before completing the bonus requirements;
- Not reading the terms and conditions beforehand.
5 Tips to Use Your Bonus and Make Profits
Moving on from the mistakes to be avoided, and based on the pitfalls we discussed earlier, these are useful tip to help you make the most of your bonus:
- Calculate the bonus percentage and the wagering requirement for your deposit in advance. This way, you can decide whether or not you can fulfil it even before you commit.
- Stick to playing slots if you wish to clear the bonus requirements in the shortest time possible.
- Play low and medium variance slots for frequent small returns, so you won’t have to bother about exceeding the max possible win.
- Look out for no deposit bonuses. Since you don’t have to make an initial deposit, the risk factor is lessened.
- Play for the game and not just for the bonus. Enjoying a fun gaming experience is an advantage on its own.
On player forums, a predominant complaint among players is getting payouts. And a substantial number of times, bonus funds are somewhere in the mix. It turns out one or more terms weren’t adhered to, and the bonus is voided along with any winnings accrued from it. These problems could easily be avoided if players simply take the time to read through the terms and conditions.
These pitfalls still remain irrespective of where you play, but the best sites will lay out all the terms in plain language and with transparency. Also, licensed and reputable casinos won’t take unfair advantage of players who are clearly in a weaker position. We’ve had both positive and negative experiences, but bonuses are definitely worth claiming when you play at the right casino.