Best casino bonuses for UK players
Nowadays, nearly every online casino offers some kind of bonus incentive to new players. This page will present you with the latest and greatest casino bonuses, followed by a comprehensive casino bonus guide explaining all the casino bonus jargon.
Discover the best casino bonuses valid May 2021
Below you will find a list of the best bonuses available for UK players. Compare these casino bonuses and find which ones suit you best.
Online Casino Bonus Guide
Below you will find the following:
- Why do online casinos offer bonuses?
- What types of bonuses are there?
- Claiming your bonuses
- Understanding the terms and conditions
- Casino bonus scams
- Bonus abuse
- Casino bonus conclusion
1. Why do online casinos offer bonuses?
Online casino bonuses are awarded to players in order to incentivise them to join and then return to the casino. In almost all cases, bonuses have a positive expected value for the house. However, some casino bonuses come with more favourable conditions to the player than others.
There are now many hundreds of casinos on the internet, and they’re all jostling for your patronage. They want to get you through their virtual casino doors and onto the tables. The best way of doing so? Offering you ‘free’ bonus cash!
2. What types of casino bonuses are there?
Free spins casino bonus
The free spins casino bonus offer has now evolved as the main ‘bonus of choice’, articularly with fledgling online casinos. It gets you playing straight away, and casinos can afford to be more generous because the house edge is greater on slots games. You’re offered a number of free spins on a certain online slot, or a small selection of slots. Any winnings you accrue whilst playing become bonus cash. Some casinos award you free spins upon registration (no deposit is required), whilst others stagger them across a specified number of deposits.
Casino welcome bonus
These welcome bonuses are usually in the form of a ‘100% first deposit bonus up to £100’. This means that the online casino making the offer will match every penny of the first deposit that you make, up to a maximum of £100. The casino awards you this cash as bonus funds. Some bonus offers are more generous than others, offering matching rates of between 200 and 400 percent, and high maximum limits.
Match deposit bonus
Match deposit bonuses, sometimes referred to as first deposit casino bonuses, are the bread and butter of online casino promotions. They are a casino’s pledge to match a real money deposit with bonus funds, up to a certain amount.
No deposit casino bonus
A no deposit casino bonus is an amount of cash awarded to you for free, once you’ve completed the sign-up process. You usually have to wager this cash several times over before you can withdraw it. As the name implies, this bonus type can be claimed without the player having to deposit any cash.
Casino reload bonuses
These work in an identical fashion to first deposit bonuses. The only difference is they are bonuses applied to deposits that follow your first deposit. Usually, the terms of casino reload bonuses are not as good as welcome bonuses. Reload bonuses are used to top up your account after registering. They are always smaller than the casino’s first deposit bonus but are otherwise very similar (being a type of match bonus). For example, a 50% reload bonus on a £100 transfer would yield £50 extra, resulting in a £150 bankroll.
VIP and high roller casino bonus
These are bonuses designed for people with the cash to splash. You usually have to deposit a large amount of money to obtain them and the matched terms are not as good as first deposit or reload bonuses. The requirements you have to meet in order to turn high roller casino bonus into real cash are generally easier to meet though, plus you usually get extra benefits.
While not technically a bonus type, online casino VIP schemes are often categorised as such on casino websites. Many casinos will reward loyal customers with entry to a VIP programme, meaning the player will enjoy better bonuses, faster withdrawals and other perks. Casinos don’t tend to specify the exact requirements for attaining VIP status. However, if you play for long enough at the same website or wager a certain amount of money, you will eventually be invited to their VIP programme.
Online casino cash-back
These casino cashback offers are a way of getting more bang for your buck. At the end of a set period of time, you get a certain percentage of the amount of money you’ve spent wagering at the casino paid back into your account.
3. Claiming your bonuses
The process for claiming bonus is slightly different for every casino, but the steps below should give you an idea of how to use your extra cash.
Register, deposit funds and claim
After you create a new player account, you will often be invited to claim a bonus at the cashier. If you are an existing player, you will probably receive emails encouraging you to claim bonuses. Regardless, all of a casino’s promotional offers should be accessible from a central promotions page.
Once you’ve signed up, complete any requirements for crediting a bonus (depositing and entering a code, informing customer support, etc.) and bonus funds should be credited to your account.
Meet wagering conditions
After crediting bonus funds to your balance, you must meet the bonus wagering requirements before you can withdraw any cash.
If you do not achieve this within the time limit set by the casino, you will lose any bonus funds plus winnings accumulated with those funds.
Before cashing out, you will usually be asked to produce ID to prove you meet the legal requirements for online gambling in you jurisdiction.
Playing with bonus funds
Remember, casino bonuses are ‘goodwill gestures’, meaning you are not expected to profit from them.
Think of bonus funds time-limited free-play, letting you enjoy online gambling without having to risk any of your own cash.
Bonuses usually come in the form of a cash-packet or percentage of your deposit, but can also be free bets or spins for online slots games.
- You will be asked to provide proof of ID if you attempt to claim two bonuses through separate accounts.
- If you are suspected of abusing a casino’s bonuses, you may have your account closed and funds confiscated.
4. Understanding the terms and conditions
A casino’s terms and conditions page may contain general rules that apply to all standard bonuses. However, some casinos have a unique terms and conditions page for every active promotion. You should always read these closely before attempting to claim a bonus.
When you receive a casino bonus you cannot just simply cash it out. It’s important to comply and understand with the terms and conditions that can be associated with your bonus cash. These can include:
Before you can convert your bonus cash into real cash, you need to wager a certain amount of your own money. A typical wagering requirement (WR) is ’35x bonus + deposit’. For a 100%/£100 bonus, this amount would be ((35 x (£100 + £100) =) £7,000. This is the amount you need to wager at the casino, not the amount you need to spend. For example, you could play 7,000 x £1 spins on an online slots game. On some spins you will lose money, and others you will win. Once you’ve played all 7,000 spins, your £100 bonus turns into real money you can cash out or spend.
It is better to select a bonus where wagering requirements apply ONLY to the bonus, rather than bonus + deposit. This keeps your deposited funds intact, should you wish to withdraw them.
Some games (such as online slots) contribute 100% to WRs, and others much less – typically blackjack contributes only 10%. This means that if you meet your wagering requirements purely by playing blackjack, you’d need to wager ten times the amount as you would using slots. Check out our wagering requirements calculator that will help you in calculating the value of a casino bonus.
Merged bonuses and non-merged bonuses
A merged bonus is one where your deposit is tied in with your bonus. You cannot withdraw your deposit (or any winnings you make from it) until wagering requirements have been met or else you lose everything aside from your original deposit.
Non-merged bonuses are where your deposit and bonus funds are kept separate, so you can cash out your deposit and any winnings before you meet wagering requirements, although you are likely to lose your bonus. This is useful if you secure a big win while using your deposit, and you no longer wish to meet wagering requirements.
‘No cash-out’ bonuses
Some bonuses are in the form of bonus money you can never cash out. Once a certain time period is up, your bonus cash will disappear. Any winnings you make using this kind of bonus cash are yours to keep though, although you may need to meet WRs before your winnings become real cash.
Single wager limits
There is usually an upper limit to the amount of cash you can bet on any single wager, such as one spin of an online slots game or one hand of baccarat. If you go above this limit even once, then you usually forfeit all your bonus cash.
Low or zero-risk bets
You cannot meet WRs if you only indulge in ‘low-risk’ betting such as betting on red and black on the same spin of a roulette wheel. If you are found to be doing this you will lose your bonus.
Some casinos will set a maximum upper limit of cash you can win while you are meeting WRs. If the max limit is set at £200, then you can win no more. If you win a £1,000 jackpot on an online slot, you lose £800 of it when you try and cash it out.
Online casinos expect you to play fair. If they examine your track record once you’ve met your WRs and they feel you haven’t been playing in line with their interpretation of ‘fair’, then you may see your bonus confiscated.
What does a casino deem to be unfair? Registering multiple accounts to claim bonuses is a cardinal sin. Stopping gambling altogether once you have redeemed your bonus can also constitute abuse.
You will only have a certain period of time in which to meet your WRs. If you haven’t met them by the time your limit is up, then you lose all your bonus cash, and any winnings you made from it.
One account per home address, email address, ip address …
You can only ever gain a specific bonus once. If you try and dupe the casino in any way by opening multiple accounts and your duplicity is found out, then you will both lose any bonuses and find yourself banned and possibly even blacklisted.
5. Casino bonus scams
Learn to spot the rip-offs that are designed to hook you in then leave you high and dry. While most casino bonuses come with no expected value or a negative expected value, this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily unfair. Ideally, they should be a low-risk means for players to experience the fun of casino gambling.
What makes a good bonus?
Whatever your view of casino bonuses, a fair incentive should:
- Come with clear, consistent terms and conditions so that players know where they stand.
- Not have a significant negative expected value for the player (no more than the value of the bonus itself).
- Never incur a substantially high risk of losing money.
A highly negative EV
Imagine a casino was offering a bonus of 300% up to £300 with a 40x rollover. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? If you deposit £100, you will receive £300 of bonus cash and a £400 bankroll to play with. However, this actually amounts to a negative expectation of £306.67 for the player (presuming a 96% pay-out percentage), meaning you stand to lose three times the value of your deposit after claiming this bonus. Click here to read more about calculating the EV of a casino bonus.
Another trick some casinos pull is to limit the completion of bonus wagering requirements to certain games, typically those with a very high house edge. The majority of casinos make wagers on slot games contribute fully to wagering conditions. However, imagine if a casino said that only bingo counted fully towards wagering requirements … Given that the edge in bingo can be as high as eleven percent, if you were to take the example above, then the expected value would drop from -£306.67 to -£1,426.67. This is clearly a terrible deal for the player would have to turn over the value of their deposit nearly fifteen times before being able to cash out.
Changing terms and conditions
There are two reasons why a casino might abruptly halt a bonus or alter its terms and conditions:
1. The casino deliberately dangles an unbelievable offer to hook in new players, then changes the terms of the bonus to make them much less favourable.
2. A promotion has gone wrong and proven too costly for the casino, leading them to hastily backtrack. An infamous example of this is Betfair’s ‘happy hour’ promotion in 2010, in which the casino changed its wagering requirements from 10x to 20x without warning after players started accumulating more cash than expected.
You can avoid both of these scenarios by sticking with the brands listed on RightCasino.
Bonus terms and conditions
When claiming bonuses, it pays to read the fine print.
Have you ever claimed a bonus but were then unable to cash out? Ever wagered away on roulette for hours but found your bonus funds don’t appear? Perhaps you’ve tried to claim two bonuses using two different accounts and received a scary email from the casino management?
All of these headaches can be avoided if you read the terms and conditions attached to bonuses. These can usually be found on a casino’s bonus section or may be listed under the website’s general terms and conditions.
Almost every casino bonus will come with wagering requirements. These are conditions that must be met before you can cash out any funds won with bonus money.
Remember, you may also have to deposit a minimum amount to qualify for a bonus in the first place. Read our comprehensive guide; ‘What are wagering requirements’ for a better understanding on this topic.
6. Bonus Abuse
While some online players will tell you that it is possible to make a packet from exploiting bonus loopholes, you’re liable to get in trouble if you attempt this. Casinos set a number of measures in place to prevent gamblers from abusing promotional offers:
- Most casinos only permit one bonus per household, not just one per account or device.
- You will only be allowed to have one bonus active at a time.
- You will be unable to withdraw any funds until wagering requirements for active bonuses have been completed.
- Some casinos actually separate bonus cash into a separate balance, called ‘bonus funds’.
- The vast majority of bonuses come with a time limit for completing bonus wagering requirements and will cancel any bonus cash plus winnings made with bonus cash after this time limit has elapsed.
- Some casinos also have a shorter time limit on inactivity, after which they will cancel active bonuses and confiscate funds.
Bonus Whoring – What does this term mean?
Some players believe they have ways of making bonuses pay and pay well. All casino bonuses are considered ‘good faith’ gestures and are not intended to be profitable. Nonetheless, some players partake in so-called ‘bonus whoring’ – the process of exploiting multiple bonuses at various casinos to turn a consistent profit, but does it actually work?
Bonus ‘whores’ never spend a penny at online casinos. Instead, they only opt for no-deposit bonuses or bonuses wherein you do not have to roll-over the value of your deposit. These bonuses incur no risk and hold (at worst) zero expected value for the punter. A favoured technique is to play online blackjack with very low-value stakes and gradually accumulate money by minimising the house edge using basic strategy. Alternatively, players can opt for online poker if they are sufficiently skilled.
No-deposit bonuses are usually very low value and therefore it is seen as relatively easy to complete the wagering requirements attached to them. Therefore, many players feel it is theoretically possible to turn consistent, small profits by playing for a long time at multiple casinos with nothing but bonus funds.
Some bonus whores recommend a gradient, increasing bets incrementally as their bankroll increases (£1 bets to start, then £2 bets at £100, £3 at £200 and so on).
Does ‘bonus whoring’ work?
At online casinos, the short answer is no, for a number of reasons. Firstly, gambling companies have become wise to ‘bonus whoring’ and tend to make the wagering requirements for no-deposits very high (play-throughs of 50x or more are not uncommon). When you also factor in the time limit on most no-deposit bonuses, it is still extremely hard to meet their requirements.
Also, most bonuses ensure that wagers on low house-edge games contribute a comparatively small percentage to overall wagering requirements. Even bets usually do not count at all.
Secondly, ‘bonus whoring’ takes an extremely long time, giving the casino ample opportunity to see if players appear to be exploiting their bonuses. While many players would dispute that using bonuses tactically is exploitative, casinos rarely see it that way and will likely block your account if you play for an extended period of time without depositing.
Bonuses are a ‘goodwill’ gesture
All this might seem like a lot of fine print to keep you from your cash. It is important to remember that casinos consider bonuses to be a ‘goodwill’ gesture and players are not supposed to profit from them. In fact, casinos will often come down hard on customers they suspect of exploiting bonuses for advantage play.
7. Casino bonus conclusion
Not all online casinos implement all the terms and conditions listed above, and no online casino wants to gain a bad reputation through offering bonuses and then continually finding reasons not to pay them.
At the very least, bonuses are a little extra cash you can use when gambling online, and hopefully to use to your advantage. Just make sure that when you join an online casino that you’ve done your homework and you fully understand the bonus terms and conditions.
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