Given the immense number of online casinos that have sprung into existence in the past decade, players are now presented with a wider choice than they had ever had before. While this reflects positively on the players, online gambling operators are now in a heavy competition with one another, with each casino devising clever ways to attract new customers and retain the old ones.
One way to achieve this is to shower players with a bunch of promotional incentives and bonus offers and do it on a regular basis. These pose as a nice way for casino fans to extend the duration of their playing sessions and possibly boost their profits since bonuses are, in fact, free casino credits one gets to use for betting on the games, with the added benefit of keeping what they have won.
However, one important thing to bear in mind is that such promotional incentives are an investment for online gaming operators, much like the junkets and comps, offered by brick-and-mortar gambling establishments. The idea behind these generous offers is to provide players with an incentive to return to the casino, make deposits, and invest some of their own funds in the available games.
Various restrictions and requirements are in place and these need to be complied with if one wishes to cash out their bonus winnings. Despite that, when used cleverly, online casino bonuses can add more value to your gaming session. One simply needs to know which offers are worthwhile and which ones to skip on. In this article, we will go over the most common types of casino deposit bonuses, how to claim them, and what conditions need to be met in order to withdraw the profits.
The Distinction between Cash Bonuses and Play Bonuses
Before we proceed with the different types of bonuses your deposits at an online casino can earn you, we shall draw one very important distinction – that between cash bonuses and play bonuses. This is something many casino players neglect, unfortunately to their own disadvantage.
The cash bonus is generally considered the better option and is more beneficial to online casino players because it can be withdrawn once the respective wagering requirements (also called playthrough) have been covered.
This is how cash bonuses work – once players have covered the necessary wagering requirements, stated in the bonus terms and conditions, they are allowed to cash out any amount that is left in their casino accounts, including the remaining bonus credits, if there are any left. What this means is that even if players lose some of their own funds while covering the playthrough, they will still be enabled to turn a small profit by cashing out the remainder of their bonus. Such bonuses are often available upon completing your registration and depositing for the first time. In the majority of cases, cash bonus range between 50% and 100% of the deposited sum.
The second type of deposit bonus is called “play” bonus because it can be used solely for wagering purposes. What this means is that players are not allowed to withdraw the bonus credits as cash after covering their playthrough. The remaining bonus credits are automatically removed from the player’s casino account as soon as they request a withdrawal. The winnings generated with the bonus will be released from the account when the wagering requirements are covered. Also, if the player happens to be unlucky and loses some money in the process of covering the playthrough, the lost sum would be from the deposited amount. If the entire deposit is lost, subsequent losses would be deducted from the bonus amount.
Such offers are also called “sticky” or “phantom” bonuses. Note that online casinos are not in the habit of advertising their play bonuses as such. Despite that, players can easily distinguish these offers by the wording in the terms and conditions, which in such cases read “for wagering only”. The free credits can be used to place bets but can never be withdrawn as cash.
Another way to recognise a play bonus is by its ceiling amount. Such bonuses are usually quite generous as the deposited amount may be matched up to 400% or sometimes even more. For example, if a player decides to participate in one such offer with a deposit of £150, they will receive the additional sum of £600 to play with.
Some players prefer the play bonuses because they are more generous. The downside of these offers is that the wagering requirements attached to them are more difficult to cover, which also means withdrawing your winnings would be harder. Many online gambling operators have set forth various restrictions on play bonuses and limit their players to certain types of bets on specific qualifying games.
This is not to say play bonuses do not have any positives. Players are granted a much greater amount in bonus credits and having more money to play with increases their chances of hitting it big. A larger bonus also means that one will be able to play more for the amount they have deposited.
Widespread Deposit Bonuses to Claim at Online Casinos
The wild variety of bonuses is precisely what makes online casinos appealing in the eyes of many gambling enthusiasts. There are many different offers you can qualify for with a deposit, but do keep in mind their names often vary from one online casino to another. Below is a list of some of the most common deposit bonuses you can opt in for at the majority of reputable online casinos.
The Welcome Bonus Package
Welcome Bonuses are a great way to introduce new customers to a given online casino – if the newcomers are impressed enough with the games and the quality of the service, they would readily return for more and continue to deposit at the casino. Welcome Bonuses are also called “New Player” or “Sign-Up” bonuses because they are granted to players who have just registered with a real-money account at a given website.
Once the players sign up and process their first deposit, the bonus is paid directly into their new accounts. Depending on the online casino, the newcomer may be required to enter a valid bonus code or use a coupon. In most cases, Welcome Bonuses on first deposits are set at 100% up to a specific amount. For example, if your casino of choice offers you a 100% Welcome Bonus up to £300, you are eligible to receive £300 if your deposit is £300, which is to say you will then have a total of £600 to play with.
Note that the sum you can receive is capped as becomes clear by the terms’ phrasing itself – “up to”. That is to say, if you deposit £350 the first time, you still get only £300 and the remaining £50 will not count towards the bonus.
At some online casinos, newcomers benefit from more generous Welcome packages where they receive such match bonuses upon their second, third, fourth, and fifth deposits. The deposit bonuses in these instances may range between 50% and 500% but the rule of thumb states players should be leery of offers that exceed 200% because these typically have greater restrictions in terms of eligible games and playthrough. Normally, there is a minimum deposit amount to become eligible for the bonus.
Some Welcome Bonus packages consist of match deposit bonus plus a certain number of Free Spins, which can usually be used on qualifying, selected slots from the casino’s collection. Free Spins offers pose as a fantastic way for players to spin the reels of select slots without actually having to pay for them. The number of Free Spins one can receive as part of a Welcome Bonus depends on the online casino they have registered with.
Sometimes the bonus spins are released in increments. For example, if a player is rewarded with a Welcome Package that consists of a 100% Welcome bonus of up to £200 and 100 Free Spins, they will receive the entire deposit match immediately. However, if the promotional terms and conditions state that the Free Spins are released in increments of 20, the player will initially get only 20 spins. Then, each of the following four days, when the player logs into their account, they will see 20 more bonus spins until the total of 100 is reached.
Similarly to match deposit bonuses, the Free Spins come with specific wagering requirements which need to be met in order for the profits to be released from the players’ accounts. The winnings you have accumulated with the bonus spins must be wagered a specified number of times in accordance with the casino’s terms. Also, note that the amount you can win with this bonus is also capped. For instance, if you win £50 with your Free Spins but the offer’s conditions stipulate that winnings are capped at £25, the remaining £25 of your profits will be removed from your account when you request a withdrawal.
Deposit Method Bonuses
Some online casinos have adopted the practice of rewarding their loyal players each time they process a deposit into their accounts. These offers are also referred to as “Payment Method” or “Reload” bonuses. Their purpose is to maintain the interest on behalf of existing members and have them return, deposit, and play more regularly.
Each deposit players make via a specific payment method will award them additional casino credits that amount to 5% to 15% of the overall deposited sum. For example, a deposit of £100 via Neteller can earn you £15 extra, provided that your preferred casino offers a 15% Reload deposit bonus. Of course, wagering requirements and different restrictions apply to this type of bonus as well. For instance, some gambling operators do not allow their players to opt in for such offers if withdrawals are pending in their accounts.
There are also monthly bonuses on players’ first deposits for the month. These are more generous than Deposit Method bonuses but in many cases, players are eligible for the offer only if their accounts’ balance has dropped below a certain amount.
Cash Back Bonuses
Cash Back bonuses provide players with the opportunity to reclaim some of the money they have deposited and subsequently lost in the course of their betting session. The refund players are entitled to is percentage-based and calculated on the basis of their overall losses for a given period of time or on a given qualifying game. The percentage of the refund normally varies between casinos but usually ranges anywhere between 5% and 25%.
An example would be a casino offering players a 25% Cash Back for American roulette to motivate more fans of the Devil’s wheel to bet on that particular game. Let’s say a given player has deposited £100 and has ended up experiencing a pretty bad run which has caused them to lose their entire deposit. If the player has opted in for this Cash Back bonus, they will be entitled to a refund of about £25 or 25% of the lost amount. However, if the said player has been luckier and has won a gross profit of £150, they will not qualify for any refund simply because Cash Back bonuses cover losses only.
Similarly, if a player opts in for a 25% Cash Back of up to £100 and they end up losing double the amount or £200, they will receive a refund of £100 only. Of course, in order to be able to withdraw the money they were rewarded back, players are again required to meet certain wagering requirements.
Sometimes depositing members of online casinos can benefit from the so-called Cash Giveaways. Players are eligible when they deposit the minimum amount specified in the promotion’s terms and conditions and play the qualifying games during the promotional period. More often than not, participants need to opt in for the giveaway by responding to an email, sent by the casino. Once the promotional period ends, there is a prize draw to determine who the winner of the giveaway is. Sometimes the overall amount is divided among several draw winners.
Qualifying players who have not been successful in the prize draw sometimes are treated to various consolation prizes. Some casinos are known to offer Free Spins on selected slots to such participants in the Cash Giveaway.
Certain players prefer to splurge themselves on more sizeable bets. Such high rollers are very valuable customers from the perspective of online gambling operators, which is why they are generously rewarded for their extravagance and boldness with more generous bonuses. Many online casinos offer separate Welcome bonuses, designed specifically for high rollers. These lavish bonuses often start at the amount of £1,000 but it all depends on which online casino you have signed up with.
It makes sense the minimum deposit, required to qualify for these lucrative offers, is also of a considerable size. For example, there are online casinos where more daring players get to claim £1,000 as long as they make a deposit of no less than £2,000. Wagering requirements are, of course, still at hand, only the high rollers are expected to stake truly significant amounts of their own funds to meet the casinos’ conditions and withdraw their winnings.
Understanding the Bonus Terms and Conditions
If you think online gambling operators like to throw free money right and left just to attract more players, you better think again. When it comes to virtual casinos, there is no such thing as a free meal. Various restrictions and promotional conditions are always at hand, aiming to prevent players from abusing the terms of the bonuses they claim. If these restrictions were not enforced, players would be able to simply claim a Welcome Bonus, use the free credits to turn a profit in a risk-free manner, withdraw their winnings, and move to the next online casino.
That being said, it is also players’ responsibility to carefully read the promotional terms and conditions before they proceed to deposit and opt in for any casino offers. Established operators value their customers enough to avoid any forms of false advertising and are known for their transparency, which is why the terms and conditions of their bonuses are always written in a straightforward and comprehensive manner to prevent misunderstanding on behalf of players.
Such operators provide efficient and quick customer support. If you struggle with understanding any bonus conditions, please do contact the support agents for further clarification. Remember that bonuses are not mandatory and if a gambling operator accidentally gives you a bonus you do not want to use, you can contact their support and demand the free credits to be removed from your account.
The Wagering Requirements
Wagering requirements apply to the majority of bonuses one can receive in online casinos. The term refers to the amount players are required to bet using their own money so that they can release their bonus winnings into their cash balance and then request a withdrawal. With most bonuses, players are forbidden to withdraw the bonus, the deposit and the profits related to it before they cover the specified playthrough.
Sometimes, the wagering requirements apply only to the bonus amount but some online casino operators require their players to turn over collectively both the bonus amount and the deposit amount. For instance, imagine you have claimed a 100% deposit bonus of £30 and have received the same amount in free casino credits for a total of £60.
Provided that the wagering requirement for this offer is 25x the bonus plus deposit amount, you will have to stake £1,500 of your own money before your winnings become withdrawable. The same offer would give you a far greater value if the 25x playthrough condition applies only to the bonus amount, in which case, you will need to bet only £750 of your funds before you are permitted to cash out the profits.
Another important thing to consider when claiming deposit bonuses is the time limit you need to comply with. In the majority of cases, players are expected to complete the wagering requirements within a time-frame that is specified by the casino. Those who fail to do so will have their winnings forfeited along with any remaining bonus credits.
Do keep in mind that limitations sometimes apply to the amount of winnings players are allowed to claim when playing with bonus funds. This typically is the case with games where players can bag a substantial amount relative to the bets they make.
The Games’ Contribution towards the Wagering Requirements
The games’ contribution (also called game weighting) is of fundamental importance when it comes to covering the wagering requirements within the specified period of time. This is so because normally different game categories have a different contribution towards clearing the playthrough. What this means is a bet placed on blackjack, for example, would not contribute as much towards the playthrough as a bet made on any of the video slots.
For further clarification, let us assume you are playing roulette which has a 20% weighting. Therefore, only £20 out of every £100 you bet on this game will be deducted from your bonus’ wagering requirements. It goes without saying it would take you a long time to cover the entire playthrough and you would also have to bet more of your own money. In comparison, slots normally have the highest weighting of 100%.
Sometimes when tighter restrictions are imposed, certain casino games will be altogether excluded and therefore, will not contribute towards the wagering requirements at all. Usually, players are still allowed to bet on restricted games, but there are instances where this leads to the bonus being removed from one’s account. It all depends on the policies of the respective casino.
Stake Size Restrictions
Another condition players need to comply with is the restriction related to the size of the stakes they are allowed to make when playing with bonus credits. For instance, the casino’s terms may stipulate that players are prohibited from staking more than 20% of their overall bonus amount on a single bet. Therefore, those who have claimed a bonus of £200, for example, would not be allowed to make bets exceeding the amount of £40. Players who abuse this rule would have their bonus along with the bonus winnings forfeited.
Pros and Cons of Playing with Deposit Bonuses
Participating in promotional offers and taking advantage of deposit bonuses adds value to players’ betting sessions and can greatly extend their play time, but there are some pitfalls one needs to beware of.
The biggest positive of these bonuses is that you are given more money to play with than what you have actually deposited. More money to play with is equal to more chances to win a nice amount. Then again, one also gets to test the new games that are added to their favourite casino’s collection for free, without putting their own money at risk.
The drawback that prevents many casino players from opting in for deposit bonuses is that there are strings attached to these offers and the bonus money one plays with are not entirely theirs, so to speak. The wagering requirements need to be met and sometimes these are rather high. Some players do not like the idea of being restricted as certain bonuses are valid only on select games from the casino’s library.
In conclusion, deposit bonuses can be a great thing for players who wish to extend their gameplay, provided that the requirements attached to the offers are reasonable enough. Obviously, a bonus with a 99x playthrough does not fall in this category. All in all, if you want more money to play your favourite casino games with, then, by all means, claim a deposit bonus. However, if you do not like to be restricted by wagering requirements, time limits, and low stakes, you can always decide to opt out of the bonus, when offered one. The bottom line is the decision is yours to make.