Online Casino Bonuses: What You Need To Know

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casino bonus Vegas casinos hook their players with lots of comps (“complimentaries”), such as free drinks, food, show tickets, and rooms.  Online casinos can’t compete with that, can they?  What can an online casino offer to keep its players coming back regularly?  Besides the many positive reasons for playing at an online casino, the biggest attractions online casinos use to bring back their customers are bonuses.  You choose to play at a certain online casino after evaluating many factors, such as reputation, variety of games offered, video and audio quality and appeal, betting minimums and maximums, and, of course, the bonuses that they offer.  Once you choose your preferred online casino, it’s usually the bonuses that keep you loyal to that casino.  The various bonuses are so important to online casinos that entire Internet businesses are built solely on reviewing casinos in terms of the bonuses they offer.

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Different forms of bonuses are used to compensate players of different styles.  A common bonus is where the online casino gives you a certain percentage of your deposit up to a maximum amount.  For example, suppose a casino gives you 50% of your deposit up to a maximum of $500.  In this example, if you deposit $100, then the casino gives you a $50 bonus.  However, if you deposit $2,000, then the maximum bonus you receive is $500.  Just because the casino “gives” you the bonus doesn’t mean the cash is yours to take.  You have to “clear the casino bonus” before you can get your hands on it.  “Clear the casino bonus” basically means you have to earn the bonus by meeting specified requirements as defined in the casino’s Terms and Conditions Statement, which can be significantly different among casinos.  These conditions are typically called “wager requirements” or “bonus rollovers” or “play-through requirements.”  There are a few types of bonuses with no wager requirements, but these are minimal bonus amounts just to pique your interest.  The types of bonuses and associated rules can have a major influence on which online casino you choose to play.  You should do your homework and research not only the types of bonuses your potential casino choices offer, but also the Terms and Conditions of those bonuses.  Don’t be lazy.  Take the time to read and pay attention to the Terms and Conditions.

The Terms and Conditions contain the rules for what you need to do to get your bonus.  The rules specify which games apply to the bonus (i.e., at some online casinos, you can’t just play any game and expect it to apply to the bonus), how much you have to bet before the bonus is cleared, and the time frame you have to achieve the required wager requirement.  Let’s look at an example.

Suppose the only online game you play is craps, and suppose you like the reputation, the look, and the feel of Joe’s Online Casino (a fictitious name), so you decide to open an account at Joe’s.  One of the main reasons why you chose Joe’s Casino is that the competition doesn’t count craps wagers toward the bonus.  You chose Joe’s because their bonus program is a weighted system that lets you bet on any game the casino offers, including craps, so your time and wagers apply to clearing the bonus.  In a weighted system, each game has a different factor used in calculating how much of your time and bet amount gets counted toward clearing the bonus.  The factor varies based on the house advantage for each game.  For example, the house advantage for online slot machines is much greater than for online craps.  Therefore, the factor for their slot games might be 100%, whereas the factor for their craps games might only be 50%.  In this example, let’s assume Joe’s has a 30x (i.e., 30 times) wager requirement.  Suppose you play slots.  With 100% of your slot wagers counting toward clearing the bonus, to clear a $25 bonus you must wager $750 playing slots to get the $25 bonus (i.e., ($25 x 30) / 100% = $750).  Now, suppose you play craps.  With only 50% of your wagers counting towards clearing the bonus, to clear a $25 bonus you must wager $1,500 playing craps to get the $25 bonus (i.e., ($25 x 30) / 50% = $1,500).  Obviously, the casino’s intent with these Terms and Conditions is to reward you more for playing the games that have the biggest house advantage.  If you play games with a relatively low house advantage, such as craps, then your reward won’t be as great or you’ll have to wager more to get the bonus.

Note that the bonus factor is indicated by the multiplication sign “x” beside the multiplier, such as “40x” or “50x.”  For example, for a $150 bonus with a 50x rollover where 100% of your wagers count toward the bonus, you must wager at least $7,500 to clear the bonus and then be able to access the money.  IMPORTANT: This does not mean you need to lose $7,500 before they give you the $150 bonus.  It’s simply the amount you need to bet, regardless of whether you win or lose those bets.  For example, you could achieve the $7,500 wager objective and end up breaking even.  In this case, you break even with your wins and losses, but you meet your wager requirement, so the $150 bonus is released to you.

Another example is the familiar “welcome bonus” where the casino matches a specified percentage of your initial deposit or initial purchase of virtual chips.  For example, the casino might offer $100 as a bonus if you purchase $100 in virtual chips.  It’s critically important for you to understand the rules and requirements for clearing that $100 bonus so you don’t inadvertently forfeit it.  A common requirement is that you can only play certain specified games toward clearing the bonus and, if you make one single bet on a game that’s not specified, then you forfeit the bonus.  Another common requirement you should fully understand is if there’s a time limit for meeting the bonus wager requirement, and whether the bonus is forfeited after that time limit expires.  Also, if the online casino offers a coupon for a bonus or freebie, ensure you redeem the coupon before playing; otherwise, your wagers may not count towards clearing the bonus.

Before depositing money into an online casino account, find and read the Terms and Conditions and General Rules so you fully understand all rules and requirements about their bonuses.  If you don’t understand something, take the time to contact the casino and ask questions.  Also, it’s wise for future reference to either print the Terms and Conditions or make screen shots and save them to your computer.

The most common online casino bonuses are described below.  As you read them, keep in mind that all bonuses have some sort of restrictions that you must meet before you can touch the money.  It’s important to emphasize that you must read and understand all Terms and Conditions before playing so you don’t inadvertently void or forfeit any bonus available to you.

Welcome Bonus

Also known as a “First Time Bonus,” this is typically a bigger bonus than the other types because the casino is trying to get you to sign up.  Just because one online casino may have a huge welcome bonus compared to the competition doesn’t mean you should automatically sign up.  If you do your homework and find that the casino is acceptable in all other aspects (e.g., reputation, look, feel, etc.), then check to see if it offers other recurring bonuses.  If it doesn’t, then the big Welcome Bonus won’t seem as attractive if you know they’ll never offer you more freebies.  Personally, I prefer an online casino that offers an average Welcome Bonus and really great Recurring Bonuses over one that offers a big Welcome Bonus but just average Recurring Bonuses.  The Percentage Bonus, Matching Bonus, and No-Deposit Bonus are the most common forms of the Welcome Bonus.

Percentage Deposit Bonus

This is my least favorite of the three types of Welcome Bonuses.  The online casino will make available to you a specified percentage of your initial deposit.  For example, if the bonus is 50% and you make a $50 initial deposit, then you receive a $25 bonus.

Matching Deposit Bonus

The online casino will match your initial deposit amount (typically 100%), but only up to a specified maximum.  For example, if their maximum bonus is $200 and your initial deposit is $300, then you receive a $200 bonus.

No-Deposit Bonus

This is my favorite type of Welcome Bonus.  The casino will let you try their games using the bonus amount without making any deposit at all.  If you win while playing with the bonus money, you typically can keep the winnings but not any of the bonus money (remember, you must meet the specified requirements).  For example, suppose the casino gives you a $100 No-Deposit Bonus and you play a game that’s applicable to the bonus in accordance with all the requirements.  Suppose you meet the wager requirements and you’ve accumulated $50 in winnings.  The casino keeps any remaining bonus money, but you get to keep the $50 in winnings.  So, in this case, you get $50 for free without depositing any of your own money.  This concept is also called a “Sticky Bonus,” and some casinos don’t limit Sticky Bonuses to their Welcome Bonus (i.e., they may offer a Sticky Bonus at any time after you’ve become a regular player).

High Roller Bonus

Vegas isn’t the only place with high rollers.  Online casinos have them, too, but the dollar amount to be considered a high roller usually isn’t as high as in Vegas.  Depending on the casino, if you deposit, for example, $500, $750, or $1,000, then you might qualify for an added Percentage Bonus.

Loyalty Bonus

This is like any store’s or company’s loyalty program.  Just as the Vegas casinos have “player’s clubs,” the online casino has a similar program.  The more bet, the more points you earn.  Loyalty Bonuses are offered based on your point total.  As you achieve new levels, the bonus amount usually increases.

Reload Bonus

This is like a Welcome Bonus but applies to subsequent deposits in accordance with the rules of the bonus.  This bonus is an incentive for players to continue playing (and continue depositing more money) at that casino.

Recurring Bonus

Some online casinos offer Recurring Bonuses at certain time periods, such as weekly or monthly.

Cash Back Bonus

This is to help take the sting out of a losing session and persuade the player not to leave and play at another casino.  It’s usually a percentage of a losing session.  For example, suppose the casino’s Cash Back Bonus is 10%.  In this case, if you had an unlucky session and lost $150, then your bonus would be $15.  Obviously, if you win a particular session, the Cash Back Bonus does not apply.

Refer-A-Friend Bonus

This is like any other refer-a-friend discount or bonus.  For each player you’re credited with signing up, you get a bonus.

Payment Method Bonus

Online casinos typically have a variety of options for making payments or withdrawals.  Sometimes you can get a bonus for choosing a particular option over another.

A Free-Trial No-Deposit Bonus

This is like a No-Deposit Bonus but you don’t get to keep any of the money, including the winnings.  You use the free money only to review the games that the casino offers so you can experience the look and feel of their games before signing up and making a deposit.

Always remember, online casino bonuses have requirements defined in the Terms and Conditions that you must meet before the bonus is cleared and you can access the money.  Read the Terms and Conditions!  Don’t forfeit free money because you were too lazy to read.