In a crowded market place, competition for attention is huge. There are hundreds of online casinos to play at, many of which offer a similar product experience – the same games from the same game providers. The casino bonus, in its many forms, is the lure to grab your attention and persuade you that this casino is the place where you want to play.
Whether it’s free spins, free cash, or match bonuses, every casino will have a welcome offer to draw you in. You might be thinking, ‘surely there’s no such thing as free cash?’! Well, you’d be right. There is a lot of small print behind the offers, and it is worth understanding it before you part with your money.
So here then is our guide to the world of the casino bonus.
The Casino Deposit Bonus
The staple of all online casinos, this form of bonus offer is a simple percentage match on your deposit. So, for example, you may be offered a 100% match bonus on your deposit. So, should you deposit £20, you receive £20 in bonus money to play with.
These bonuses may range from 100% up to anything as high as 500%. In all cases there will be a minimum deposit value requirement to qualify to receive the bonus, and a maximum bonus that you can receive. It’s important to read the terms and conditions to find out what these limits are so that you don’t miss out on your casino bonus.
The most common use for the casino deposit bonus is as a welcome offer and this is where the most generous examples are found. Casinos also regularly use the deposit bonus as an incentive to keep existing customers, but these are usually less generous. They can be as low as 25%, but are rarely higher than 100%. The really big offers are usually reserved for the purposes of attracting new customers.
Terms and Conditions and the Casino Bonus
So, after learning all about the different types of bonuses on offer at online casinos, let’s take a look at the important stuff – those bits in the small print that put restrictions and limits on what you can do with all this ‘free’ money.
The biggest, and perhaps trickiest, area to understand here, is the restrictions imposed by wagering requirements. All casinos will implement these rules in order to protect themselves against losses from customers playing with bonus money.
In short, every time you receive bonus money, you will be required to wager a multiple of the value of the bonus, and sometimes the deposit as well, before you can withdraw the bonus, or any winnings you generate from the bonus or the deposit you made to acquire it. Clear? Good!
NOTE: In some cases, the bonus money is NEVER withdrawable, it simply exists to be wagered, and will remain in your ‘bonus balance’ until it is spent. In all other cases, the bonus money will ‘turn into’ real cash once the wagering requirements are met.
Beware! Sometimes your deposit, as well as the bonus, will be non-withdrawable until you wager the required amount. Should you decide that you wish to take back the money you deposited before meeting the wagering requirements you will not be able to do so without first making your case to a customer services agent, who may or may not be understanding!
So let’s look at an example.
At a casino, I’m offered a first deposit match bonus of 100% up to £500. The wagering requirement is 25x the bonus amount, and the minimum deposit required to qualify for the bonus is £20.
I decide to make a deposit of £50, and immediately receive a bonus of £50, giving me a total balance of £100. In this case, I must wager 25x £50 (the value of the bonus) before I can make any withdrawal. Therefore, I must wager £1,250 before any winnings I make, or the bonus money itself, can be withdrawn.
Here, because the wagering requirement is only tied to the bonus, should I decide to withdraw all, or part of my deposit, at any time before I fulfil the requirements, I can.
Game Weightings and Wagering Requirements
Another important point in many terms and conditions is that not all games contribute to wagering requirements in equal measure. You will find that games with a narrow house edge, Blackjack for example, will contribute less, and sometimes not at all.
This is called game weighting.
Typically, slots games, with a house edge somewhere around 5%, will contribute 100% to wagering requirements, whereas Video Poker, for example, will only count for 30%, and Blackjack only 10%. This would mean that £30 of wagering on a Video Poker game is worth the same as £100 of wagering on a slots game when counting towards the wagering requirements of a bonus.