Online casino bonuses
The first few online casinos, created back in the 1990s, never had to beg for customers. But by the turn of the century, competition had increased. Casinos started to woo punters with promises of ‘free’ money in the form of a bonus.
Now, nearly every online casino offers some kind of cash incentive to new players. This page will present you with the latest and greatest casino bonuses, and explain jargon such as wagering requirements and game weightings.
Casino bonuses learning material
Novices should start from the beginning, but feel free to jump in to any of our lessons.
When claiming bonuses, it pays to read the fine print. Don't get caught out.
Some players believe they have ways of making bonuses pay and pay well.
The process of claiming bonus is slightly different for every casino, learn more here.
Learn how to spot the best match deposit bonuses at online casinos.
Learn how to spot top no-deposit bonuses at leading online casinos.
Learn to spot the rip-offs that are designed to hook you in then leave you high and dry.
Understand how to get the most from your online casino experience and enjoy the perks of a VIP.
Why do online casinos offer bonuses?
There are now many hundreds of online 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!
What types of online casino bonuses are there?
Free spins casino bonuses
This offer has now evolved as the main 'bonus of choice', particularly with fledgling online casinos. It gets you playing straightaway, 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 (usually Netent titles). Any winnings you accrue whilst playing become bonus cash. Some casinos award you free spins upon registration (no deposit is required), whilst others, such as Redbet, stagger them across your first three deposits.
Casino welcome bonuses
There 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.
No deposit casino bonuses
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.
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 reload bonuses are not as good as welcome bonuses.
VIP and high roller casino bonuses
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 VIP bonuses into real cash are generally easier to meet though, plus you usually get extra benefits.
Online casino cashback
These 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.
Bonus terms and conditions
When you receive a casino bonus you cannot just simply cash it out. There are plenty of possible terms and conditions associated with your bonus cash:
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.
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, 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.
Online casino bonuses conclusion
Not all online casinos implement all the T&Cs 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 T&Cs.
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