There is no shortage of casino bonus offers. In fact, there are so many it would be physically impossible for a single player to benefit from all of them. The key here is not simply finding a bonus – it is finding the right bonus. This can involve making sure you are playing at a trusted casino, that the terms of the bonus are fair, and that there are plenty of extras and ongoing rewards in addition to the initial match to your first deposit.
This page will clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding online casino bonuses – taking you step by step through the process of identifying the right offers and double-checking that the deal is as good as it seems. First below I have looked at how different types of players need to look for different things in casino bonus deals. After that you’ll find the terms and conditions explained, along with some common traps to look out for.
Casino Bonus Deals – What Works for You?
Many of the deals you will see advertised at online casinos are too big for the average players. I’m sure that we would all like to be able to deposit $5000 and claim a matching bonus – though that is out of reach to most of us. If you are a big bankroll player, then you are in a great position to take your pick from many of the big offers out there. Average bankroll players can instead look for bonuses which spread the initial rewards over several deposits.
For example, the initial bonus offer at the US friendly Bovada casino allows up to 4 deposits for slots gaming and 2 for table games. This means you do not have to come up with the full $5k in one go.
While slots players generally have the pick of the best bonuses, if you enjoy table games more it can pay to be a little more selective. Different casinos add ‘weightings’ to their table games, which dictate how much your bets contribute to the play-through requirements of your bonus.
For example, one casino might count blackjack at 25% towards play-through, while another counts this at only 10%. If you enjoy these games, then it is definitely worth your time checking this information upfront. You’ll usually find it in the terms and conditions of the bonus offers. Note that many casinos now offer extra bonuses for their live dealer table games too.
Players with smaller bankrolls will appreciate free spins which come alongside many deposit offers. While the no-deposit free spins are usually loaded with terms and conditions to prevent too many hit-and-runs, those that come with your deposit can be very generous. I recommend checking the play-through requirement, and also whether your winnings are cashable or for play purposes only.
Is Your Bonus as Good as it Seems?
Casino bonus offers which seem identical when you first see them can often be very different when you check the terms and conditions. I recommend that you get into the habit of checking the terms of every bonus you are interested in. The important things to look out for – along with some of the common traps for unwary players – are covered in this section.
The single most important concept is that of play-through or wager-through requirements. This shows how many times you need to gamble the bonus amount before it is considered ‘cleared’ (yours to keep). A simple example is a bonus with a 40x play-through requirement and a deposit of $100. Here you would need to bet a total of $4000 in the games to clear the bonus.
A potential source of confusion is that some casinos record their wagering requirement based on the bonus part only, while others add the bonus and your deposit and apply their wagering requirement to that.
Going back to the simple example. If that casino counted the deposit + bonus (assuming a 100% bonus) and still applied a 40x wager-through, then you would need to bet $8000 before the bonus was cleared – twice as much as the original version of the offer. Some casinos will offer you 200% (or even more) on your first deposit, which also needs to be factored in to your total playing requirement.
In the terms of casino bonuses, you will find a table or list which shows the weightings for different games. Typically, slots, keno and scratchcards have a 100% contribution to your play-through requirement. What you will find is that table games have a decreasing contribution, which is usually based on the house-edge of the game. Games with bigger edges in favor of the casino will contribute more (for example casino poker games). Games with low house edges, for example blackjack, will contribute less.
Going back to the example above. If you have a 40x (bonus only) play through and find that blackjack is ‘weighted’ at 25% – then you would need to bet $16,000 on that game before your bonus is cleared.
Some casinos have special table games bonuses. These might have a bigger wager-through requirement, though not use weightings. Keep in mind that some games might not count at all. roulette, where it is possible to cover a lot of the board (for example by betting on red and black at the same time), will often be excluded or subject to special rules.
Cashable vs. Play-Only Bonuses
The majority of casinos will allow you to withdraw your bonus once it has been cleared by playing-through the required number of times. What you need to look out for is casinos which state that your bonus is for playing purposes only. You will never be able to withdraw that type of bonus – and if you withdraw any winnings over and above this, the bonus cash will usually be removed.
Play-only bonuses are not always bad – many will have more generous play-through requirements. If you try to withdraw and find your bonus gone it can be frustrating – so it pays to check the terms for this (and any ‘banned’ games which might also void your bonus) before you get started.
How Long Does Your Bonus Last?
For welcome bonuses, the final piece of information to look out for is the length of time that you have to complete the wagering requirements. This can range from 14 days through to around 60. If you have a lot of betting to get through, then the shorter bonuses can be difficult to benefit from.
Extras on Top of Your Welcome Offer
Look out for extras alongside your initial bonus offer. Free spins on popular slots are a common incentive to attract new players, and you might also find tournament entries. Rebates on your play for an initial period are also offered on occasion.
Ongoing Deals and Promotions
Most players focus on the initial deals, though if you were to calculate the benefits of different offers then it is the ongoing promotions and loyalty schemes which would have a bigger effect on your bankroll. I recommend that you compare how well a casino looks after their loyal players before you check the welcome offer!
Loyalty or comp schemes are a standard way of rewarding loyalty. Many of these schemes come in tiered format, where you move up levels (and unlock more rewards) the more you play. The bigger casinos have special VIP levels for high-rollers.
You will also find the best casinos have plenty of promotions. These are often spread throughout the week, with different games or categories each day. One-off promotions are also popular – these can include new slot game promos, reloads and specials tied into the seasonal holidays.
Whether you are a big bankroll player or small, there are some serious benefits waiting for you at various real money casinos. Make sure you know what to look out for and find yourself a great deal before you sit down to play.