Online Casino Bonuses: How They Work
So what's all this talk about casino welcome bonuses? We keep hearing about those things everywhere, but what the heck are they?
To put it quite plainly, a casino welcome bonus is free money casinos give to new players in order to motivate them to gamble more. Welcome bonuses come in many different types and sizes. Let's cover a few of them here:
No deposit bonus: This is a bonus you can get without making a deposit. All you have to do is to sign up for a real players account at the casino. Sometimes you will need to wait until you receive an email from the casino in order to claim the bonus; other times, the casino will just automatically credit your account with the bonus. However, the no deposit bonus can come with some limitations (such as a limited amount of money you can withdraw), so make sure you read their terms and conditions before signing up.
Match bonus: To receive a match bonus, you will need to make a deposit at a casino and they will take a certain percentage of your deposit and match it. Casinos usually give this type of bonus to first-time players.
Free money bonus: This is when a casino offers a set amount of free money if you make a deposit that is over a certain amount of money. For example, a casino can offer you a free $50 if you deposit at least $25.
Sticky bonus: A casino will give you some money to play with, but you can't withdraw anything unless you reach the playthrough requirement (more on this later). Only then will you be able to withdraw any winnings that are over the initial bonus amount.
Loyalty bonus: This is pretty much self-explanatory. If you reach a certain status at a casino, they might offer you a loyalty bonus. Most loyalty bonuses will require a token requirement (such as a playthrough) in order to be cashed out.
When you accept a welcome bonus on top of a deposit, some casinos will require you to make a certain amount of bets, wagers, or spins in order to cash out your bonus. It's to keep you from withdrawing the free money without playing anything.
Playthrough requirements are usually determined by multiplying the bonus amount (and sometimes the deposit amount) by a number anywhere between 10 and 50.
Let's do an example using standard welcome bonus playthrough requirements. So let's say a casino is offering a 100 per cent match on your first deposit up to $100 with a playthrough requirement of x20 on the bonus only. You deposit $100, and the casino gives you $100. You now have $200 to play with. In order to cash out your bonus, you will have to place bets to the value of $2,000 (20x the $100 bonus).
To further complicate things, some online casinos assign percentages to certain games. For example, slots may be worth 100 per cent, which means 100 per cent of your bet will go towards your playthrough requirements. Table games like poker usually have lower percentages. If the percentage is 40 per cent, then only $40 of every $100 bet will go towards the target.
This is why it's important for you to find out what the playthrough requirements are before signing up at a casino. The lower the requirements, the better. You should steer clear of casinos that set the requirements to at least 30x.
Why casino bonuses vary
A welcome bonus will vary from casino to casino. Some (usually less reputable) casinos use the welcome bonus to make some extra cash off their players; other casinos simply want to attract more players by offering them a chance to walk away with some extra cash.
How to identify good welcome bonuses and steer clear of the bad ones
Some casinos get greedy and set up their bonuses up in such a way to screw the players out of their money. You need to know how to identify a bad welcome bonus when you see one. We're here to help you with that.
Of course, you have to review the playthrough requirements before signing up at a casino. This is when you can determine whether or not the welcome bonus is actually a good one. If you can't find the casino bonus terms and conditions at an online casino, keep hunting. By law, online casinos are required to publicise the terms and conditions on their website, and some less reputable online casinos choose to rebel by hiding the information in unlikely places.
No matter how hard it might be to find the terms and conditions, you should never, ever sign up at an online casino without finding the information and reading it thoroughly.
Keep in mind that casino bonuses are always weighed heavily in the casino's favour, so you have to be careful. You can still earn money with a welcome bonus, but only if you choose a good welcome bonus and play games with the lowest house edge.
You need to compare the house edge with what you have to wager. If you take the bonus and play a game that offers a high house edge, you'll end up losing the bonus anyway. That's how casinos trick you.
An Example Of A Welcome Bonus
Let's say a casino offers a $100 welcome bonus with 30x playthrough requirements on the bonus and the deposit. So that means you'll have to wager ($100 + $100) x 30 = $6,000 before you can cash out the bonus.
So the bonus is $100, right? You'll lose that money anyway if you play a game with a house edge of over 1.7 per cent. If you have to wager $6,000 and if the house edge is over 1.7 per cent, the casino will keep that $100 bonus anyway, because that's how much money will be deducted for the house edge only.
To avoid being scammed by the casino like this, you have to do some math first in order to determine whether or not you'd be able to make money with a casino bonus. To do this, you have to take the following steps:
- Figure out how much money you would have with the bonus. (Example: $100 bonus + $100 deposit = $200)
- Look at the playthrough requirements and figure out how much money you will have to wager before you're able to cash out your bonus. (Example: 30x playthrough requirements on the bonus plus the deposit = $6,000)
- Take the value of the bonus and divide it by the amount of money you will have to wager before you can cash out your bonus. (Example: $100 / $6,000)
- The result is the house edge percentage you have to stay under in order to earn money with a casino bonus. (Example: $100 / $6,000 = 0.017 – that's 1.17 per cent). If the house edge percentage is too low, then you might end up not being able to keep much of that bonus.
- Find a game you want to play, and then find out its house edge percentage. Multiply it with the amount of money you will have to wager. (Example: with a 2 per cent house edge: .02 x $6,000 = $120). That's how much money the casino will end up keeping. If it's an amount that's equal to or higher than your bonus, then the bonus is useless. Avoid it at all costs. If it's an amount that's lower than your bonus, then figure out the difference (how much money you'll end up being able to keep at the end). It's up to you whether or not you want to take the risk.