Wherever you go online, you’ll inevitably stumble upon online casino and betting ads. It’s unavoidable, a lot like taxes. Most casino ads today try to attract new players – you – through bonuses upon bonuses, anything to convince you to play (and spend) with them. Many of these bonuses sound great on paper, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.
If you don’t want to get lost between percentages, requirements, and terms, read our guide to online casino bonuses below.
What are casino bonuses?
The age-old saying “It’s our way to say Thank you” gets a new meaning in the world of casino bonuses. They are, in short, methods online casinos use to attract and retain players. These can be of many types, from free spins on slot games or extra cash on deposits to cashbacks, loyalty points, and everything in between.
Casino bonuses enhance the gaming experience, offering players more chances to play and maybe even win without risking their own money in the process. Read more about bonuses here.
What types of casino bonuses are there?
Bonuses are, in general, the most eye-catching thing an online casino throws at its potential players. They are designed to convince you to open an account with them. The bonuses you can redeem are of several types:
Welcome bonuses and packages
Welcome bonuses deserve their own definition because they are usually the first thing you notice about an online casino. They can be as simple as a match on your first deposit or as complex as a combination of deposit matches, free spins, and loyalty points that apply to several of them.
Welcome bonuses are usually more flashy and eye-catching than other bonuses.
A deposit match is a bonus where the casino matches a portion of the money you deposit into your account. It is usually a percentage of your deposit. Deposit matches are offered to both new players and existing ones (in this case, they are called “reload bonuses”). They are expressed as a percentage, with the maximum amount also specified.
A common deposit match at casinos looks something like “100%, up to $1000”. This means that you’ll get a 100% match on your deposit (bonus funds equal to the amount you deposited) up to a limit of $1,000.
Free spins are a beloved form of bonus because they give players the chance to play the slots and win “free money”. Of course, there’s no such thing – but more on that later. These are bonus spins that can be played at specific slot machines or sometimes the games of a specific provider.
Free spins are usually low-value rounds on popular games. The spins themselves are offered completely free – but any winnings generated while using them are subject to terms and conditions.
Cashbacks are a type of consolation prize. They are calculated based on the amount you spent (lost) at a casino, often at a specific game type, in a set time period. For example, some casinos offer their players a cashback worth 10% of all the money they lost on live dealer roulette in a week.
Like all other casino bonuses, cashbacks are also subject to terms and requirements.
These are perhaps the most straightforward bonuses at online casinos. Loyalty points are offered based on your activity at an online casino. For example, for every $10 or $100 you play through (not necessarily lose!), you’ll get one loyalty point.
Depending on how many loyalty points you generate in a month, most casinos put you in different tiers. These tiers come with extra benefits, ranging from faster withdrawals to a personal account manager or invitations to exclusive events.
Raffle and tournament entries
Raffle and tournament entries are often part of loyalty schemes and bonus packages at online casinos.
Raffles work pretty much as they do outside the casino world: depending on your spending, you get a number of entries (tickets), and there’s a big draw at the end. The prizes range from free spins to big lumps of cash or even real-life prizes like cars.
Casino tournaments are a form of gamification, where players compete in who’s the luckiest. This is hard to quantify, so it’s usually “who wins the most with a set maximum bet per round”. Tournaments usually have prizes in bonus cash or free spins.
Terms, conditions, and playthrough requirements
Every casino bonus comes with terms, conditions, and playthrough requirements. These can be of different types, with some common ones that are used across the industry.
Minimum and maximum amount
As a general rule, casino bonuses have a minimum and maximum amount specified in their terms:
- The minimum amount is the smallest amount you get a bonus for
- The maximum amount is the upper limit on how much bonus you can redeem.
For example, the above-mentioned “100%, up to $1,000” bonus probably has a line in its Terms that requires a minimum deposit of $10 or $20 for the bonus to apply.
When you get a bonus, you’ll have to play through it a number of times to “unlock” it – turn it into cash that you can withdraw. The playthrough requirements can be multiples of the bonus amount or the deposit + bonus amount.
For example, you can have a 40x playthrough for the bonus amount or a 30x playthrough for the deposit + bonus amount. Although at first sight, the second option may seem more attractive, the math says otherwise:
- For a $100 deposit with a 100% match and a 40x playthrough on the bonus amount, you have to play through ($100×40=) $4,000 to clear your bonus.
- For the same deposit with a 30x playthrough on the deposit + bonus amount, you need to play through ($200×30=) $6,000
Make sure you read and understand the Terms before redeeming a casino bonus!
You can complete the requirements on any game (unless specifically excluded in the Terms). But different games contribute differently to the amount. For example, slot machines usually contribute 100% to the requirements, while games like roulette and blackjack, around 10% to 20%.
Mind the different policies
These examples apply to the majority of online casinos, but some of them have different policies – sometimes to your advantage. Be sure to do your homework and check them out before choosing one casino or another.
Are casino bonuses worth it?
Casino bonuses are certainly tempting – but are they worth it? There’s no universal answer to this question. The best we can do is “It depends”.
On the one hand, you have risk-free playtime and an opportunity to check out the games without worrying about losing more of your own money. On the other hand, there’s the possibility of winnings and grinding through the requirements to get your cash, possibly losing it all.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your own preferences. If you feel that a casino bonus is not something you’d like to spend time with, most casinos allow you to simply opt out, and play with your own funds only.
What does the ideal casino bonus look like?
If you choose to redeem a casino bonus, though, make sure it’s as close to the ideal as possible:
- First of all, make sure it is realistic and common sense – if it sounds “too good to be true”, it usually isn’t.
- Check the terms and requirements, and make sure they are realistic and achievable.
- Make sure the terms are transparent and clear, free from any possible interpretation
- Make sure the bonus terms and the requirements are fair.
When you look for a new online casino, learn to look behind the flashy bonuses. While some of them may look attractive, there can be fine print that makes it not worth your time. Be sure to only redeem bonuses where the terms are clear, fair, and achievable. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to opt out of any bonus the casino may throw at you.