How Casino Bonuses Work
Casino bonuses award new and experienced players alike the chance to earn some free cash.
While free money sounds great, there's one catch: players have to play a certain number of games in a set timeframe to access their money.
Bonuses are available in a bewildering array of flavours and colours, and all sites offer them. What sites don't offer is a consistent quality of bonus. It's up to the player to work out what's being offered, what games are eligible, and how much has to be gambled to claim the money.
What Are Casino Bonuses?
Most bonuses consist of match deposit bonuses. That is, you load your account with a set amount of money, and - providing you meet the wagering commitment - your deposit will be "matched" by the casino.
The terms of the match bonus are usually clearly displayed in big, bright numbers: 100% up to £1000; 200% up to £2000!!
And while the numbers sound great, players need to do background research to see if the bonuses are all they're cracked up to be.
Types of Casino Bonus
Let's look at the common forms of bonus available at big UK casinos:
Welcome Bonus: A welcome bonus is available to new players only. An initial deposit will usually have the most generous bonus attached to it to attract new custom.
No Deposit Bonus: Some casinos let you play real-money games without depositing a penny. Just play enough games in the timeframe and you'll be awarded bonus credits to play elsewhere on the site.
Reload Bonus: It's not just new players who can benefit from a bonus. Monthly and weekly reload bonuses award regular players who make a normal bonus. Just load up your account with some GBP, and 'play through' the requirement and your deposit will be matched.
Free Spins: When new slots are released they will sometimes be accompanied by a free spins bonus for players. Some welcome bonuses have free spins attached too. 50 or 100 spins will be dished out for a particular slot. Winning profits (minus the cost of the spins) are kept by the player, and usually must be wagered elsewhere on the site.
A match bonus is activated by "playing through" slots, table games or video poker with real money. Some games will be eligible (see below) while others won't. In fact, some games will "contribute" much more than others.
All bonuses have a "wagering requirement" attached. These are clearly listed in the Ts & Cs on the site, so check them before you commit. Most wagering requirements range between 25x and 50x your deposit amount.
- You find a welcome bonus worth 100% up to £1,000.
What Does That Mean?
- The casino will match your first deposit 100% up to a maximum of £1,000.
What Do I Do?
- You opt to deposit the full £1,000 and start playing slots which contribute 100% towards your bonus.
What's a Wagering Requirement?
- Checking the terms, you notice the wagering requirement is 30x. That means you will need to gamble 30x the deposit amount PLUS the bonus amount, which comes to £60,000 (£2,000 x 30).
Losses and Profits Don't Matter
- While £60,000 of wagers to win £2,000 free cash sounds a lot, bear in mind that you only need to wager that amount. Losses and profits are just extra, so you could well end up well in profit AND receive a hefty bonus.
How to Redeem a Bonus
Once you've played through enough games to activate a bonus, the cash will be released by the casino, usually in instalments. Remember as well that the more you play, the more comp points or player points you will be earning on the site. For those working their way up the Loyalty Programme tiers, points are essential.
Pitfalls and Problems
It's important to know what the requirements are for your bonus before you 'opt in'.
It's not uncommon to find a bonus that rewards 100% of slots play while roulette and blackjack only contribute 10%. A rival casino, meanwhile, might allow 50% of slots play and 50% of roulette/blackjack to contribute. Whatever online casino welcome bonus you go for, always check the Terms and Conditions first.
Avoid trying to access multiple bonuses at the same time. Online casinos come down hard on bonus abuse where players set up multiple accounts, activate a bonus, then disappear with their winnings before the casino has had a chance to work out what's going on. Bonus abuse is quickly stamped out and you'll find yourself banned.
Best Ways to Beat The Casinos
All online casinos offer bonuses. From generous first-deposit promotions for new players, to reload bonuses that reward regular real-money play, casinos want to entice gamblers in - and keep them there.
With so much competition, it's good to shop around. Find a casino offering a big bonus, but check the timeframe and games eligibility.
While a bonus offering £500 with a 60-day deadline sounds good, if you're a slots player and the bonus only counts 50% of slots play, the bonus suddenly doesn't look so healthy.
Start off small, deposit £50, and stick to games that will give you the best chance of regular profits. That means high-RTP slots, outside bets on roulette, and blackjack. If those types of games are eligible in your bonus, that's the site to play on.