Casino bonuses explained

Casino bonus graphic with a computer screen with 777 on it and two phones and some casino chips
Casino bonuses are very tempting, but it is good to understand them first

Casino bonuses are synonymous with signing up with an online casino that there are very few examples of where you won’t be offered one, or many in some cases.

They are an incentive to get you to sign up and play and they can be useful to the player, who will get some extra credit to play with. However, they can also be a burden and lead to frustration and confusion.

This article looks to pick apart the different types of bonuses and what you should look out for as a player so that you enjoy any casino bonuses you take and get the most out of them.

Understanding Different Types of Casino Bonuses

A casino bonus can come in many different shapes and forms. You will also find that casino bonuses may be introduced at various stages in your playing cycle. For example: welcome bonuses are normally introduced before you have even started to play. Whereas, loyalty bonuses tend to be offered after a period of time, especially if you have been playing at a casino for a while.

Understanding the different types of casino bonuses is quite important, so let’s look at the different types.

  • Welcome Bonus (Matched): A matched welcome bonus is where the online casino will match your deposit amount up to a certain limit and at a certain percentage.A typical matched welcome bonus would be 100% matched up to £/$/€100. If the player deposits $100, the casino matches that with an additional $100.There would be wagering requirements to be met with this casino bonus (more on wagering requirements later in this article). Also worth noting is that it’s not always 100%, this percentage can vary.
  • Welcome Bonus (No deposit): A no deposit bonus is exactly as it sounds. It is typically a small sum of money that a player can access without actually having to deposit themselves.An example might be that you are offered $10 free play money to join a casino. This ‘free money’ will almost always have wagering requirements and there are normally restrictions on which games you can play with this casino bonus money.
  • Reload Bonuses: A reload bonus is normally offered to a player after a certain period of time of playing at a casino. More often than not it is a matched bonus, meaning the casino will match a future deposit you make up to a fixed amount and at a fixed percentage.Reload bonuses are a good way of encouraging loyalty with a casino, so you will often be offered them if you make a new deposit. An example might look like this; get 50% matched up to $200 on your 2nd deposit, and get 25% matched up to $500 on your 3rd deposit.
  • Free Spins: A free spins bonus is one of the most popular types of casino bonuses you will find. It involves an online casino offering free spins on slot games as an incentive to either join as a new player or is used to retain customers or reactivate them. There are usually restrictions on the slot games you can get the free spins on and there are usually wagering requirements before you can withdraw any winnings.
  • Cash back: This casino bonus is not as common as other types of casino bonuses, but they are offered. A casino may offer the player cash back in their account based on what they might spend. The amount of cash back may be based on how much the player has deposited and lost or how much they have wagered.
  • Loyalty Rewards: As the name suggests, players may be offered a loyalty bonus or other rewards for being a loyal customer. This can sometimes be in the form of merchandise, but is more typically bonus money, free spins or other financial incentives. New players are expensive to acquire, so retaining good loyal customers is something that online casinos tend to focus on.
  • VIP Programs: These casino bonuses are generally only offered to a certain proportion of players who tend to be big spenders (high rollers). These players are normally the most profitable for an online casino and are typically well looked after. They may be offered luxury gifts, experiences, and tickets to concerts or sporting events. They may get lump sums of play money added to their account.In recent times VIP programs have attracted the attention of gambling regulators over concerns that they may be predatory. In certain markets these types of casino bonuses are heavily restricted.

Evaluating casino bonuses

We all know that free money is never quite ‘free money’, there are always some strings attached or a bunch of conditions that need to be met to access it or withdraw it. Casino bonuses almost always come with restrictions, conditions, and requirements. Therefore, it is important to understand what these to avoid feeling cheated or let down, or worse still, losing money.

  • Wagering Requirements: These are sometimes abbreviated to WR on websites and casino sites discussing them. Wagering requirements are the number of times the bonus money, or winnings from bonus money needs to be played through before it can be withdrawn. On a welcome bonus, you will normally be offered between 30 – 50x wagering requirements. The x stands for times, so you need to play through the money 30 times before withdrawal. The larger the number the more challenging it will be for the player to make anything from the bonus money.
  • Game Restrictions: If a casino bonus comes with game restrictions, then this will need to be made clear in the terms of the bonus. Typically, there are only a select number of games that can be played with bonus money or free spins.
  • Time Limits: Most casino bonuses come with a time limit or expiration date. This is something that can catch players out, so its important that you check carefully before accepting a bonus.
  • Maximum Bet Limits: When it comes to bonus money, there is nearly always limits on the maximum bet you can stake. This is to prevent the casino getting wiped out if a player hits a big win on a particular game using their bonus funds.

Common pitfalls with casino bonuses

Bad experiences can occur with casino bonuses due to certain factors. They usually fall into the following categories:

  • Not reading the Terms and Conditions: A common occurrence for casino bonuses to become an issue is when a player has not read the Terms and Conditions of a bonus properly. They will usually get caught out by something they were not aware of, such as restrictions on games or betting limits on the bonus money. This can be highly frustrating and is easily prevented by carefully reading through the T and C’s before taking a bonus.
  • Expired casino bonuses: This is a category all on its own and it’s one of the biggest frustrations for both players and casinos alike. Sometimes players will find old promotions on the internet on third-party websites and sign up thinking that a casino bonus is available, only to find out that it has expired. Once again, it pays to check the terms of the casino bonus at the online casino you are joining before signing up.
  • Bonus abuse: There are a certain number of players that do their best to sign up to every casino bonus they can find to abuse it in some way. The idea is to turn the bonus into free money. From what I have seen, this doesn’t work very well and just ends up with players getting banned. My advice to is to avoid this sort of behaviour.

Is a casino bonus worth taking?

A casino bonus can make your experience more enjoyable, but its not always right in every circumstance. Generally, it is more enjoyable if you have fully understood the terms and conditions of the bonus and you know what you are letting yourself in for by signing up to take it.

Casino bonuses should not be seeked out if you are having problems with gambling and are chasing losses. This will only make things worse and you will find yourself in a worse position then you were before you took it.

Casino bonuses with high wagering requirements should be avoided, as should bonuses with overly complicated terms and conditions. You should always feel that a casino bonus is complimenting your play, not something that is working against you.

Enjoy casino bonuses responsibly.