One of the perks to gambling online versus a brick and mortar casino are all the promotions online casinos offer.
The most common promotion is the bonus. These come in many shapes and forms, and they can add thousands of dollars to your bankroll just by making a deposit – something you were going to do anyway.
So lets take a closer look at casino bonuses with an emphasis of what kinds are out there and how they work for slots players. If you want to get started with a casino and a casino bonus right away, you can check our top 3 bonuses for slots players right here.
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What Are Casino Bonuses?
Casino bonuses are ‘free’ money offers made to players. Most times they’re used as an incentive for new players to create an account and make a deposit.
The most common bonus is the deposit bonus. This is offered to players making their first deposit. The most common type is the match bonus.
A match bonus is an offer to match a percentage of your deposit. For example, if a casino offers to match your deposit 100%, and you deposit $500, the casino will give you an additional $500. Your total bankroll will be $1,000.
Almost all offers will have a cap – the casino will only match so much of your deposit. So in my example above, the offer might be a 100% match up to $1,500. So the max amount you can receive is $1,500 – deposit any more than that and you won’t get anything.
The matches vary too. Many of them are 100%, but you’ll also come across offers ranging from 10% to 400%. A 400% match means that you’re getting $4 for every $1 you deposit. This is a great way to get tons of free money to play with, especially if you have a smaller budget.
(Just an FYI – slots players always get larger matches and larger bonus amounts.)
There are other types of bonuses too. You have the reload bonus, which is an incentive for existing players to come back and make another deposit.
Then you have cash offers. These are usually small, like $10-$50, but are given to you just for creating a real money account. There’s no deposit required. But you can usually use these for playing slots only – you won’t be able to withdraw the free money or your winnings.
Then you have things like referral or refer a friend bonuses. The casinos will give you a small cut for every ‘friend’ you send that creates a real money account, deposits and plays.
How Do Casino Bonuses Work?
Bonuses aren’t as simple as you getting the money and you doing whatever you want with it. That’s too easy. No, most casinos have terms and conditions that tell you how you can use the money and what you can withdraw, if anything.
Most offers I’ve come across will deposit the match into your account as credits. So you’ll have the full amount to play slots with.
From here the casino will assign you a ‘play through’ requirement. This is a number of times you have to wager the deposit plus bonus before you can make a withdrawal. For example, the casino might say that you need to wager the total amount 30x. If after the deposit and bonus you have $1,000, you’d have to wager $30,000 before you can cash out (your winnings).
If you try to cash out any sooner, you’ll forfeit the bonus money and anything you’ve won with it. You’ll also forfeit the money/winnings if you play a non-slots game, unless the terms say you can.
The good news is that slots players get the smallest play through requirements (compared to blackjack or video poker games). My guess is that the reason why is because slots have one of the worst house edges. It’s up to you to determine if that trade off is worth it.
Whatever you decide, it’s important that you read the terms and conditions before you accept a bonus offer. If you have any questions you should email support BEFORE you make your deposit. Otherwise you run the risk of losing any bonus money or winnings you receive.
A Few Things to Look For
Not all bonuses are created equal. There are things you should look for or beware of before you blindly sign up to a casino and enter your credit card details.
- Low Play Through – You should try to look for low play through requirements whenever possible. Some casinos have ridiculous terms – they require you to wager $50,000+ dollars to receive a tiny 3-4 figure bonus.
- High Percentage Match – My opinion is that most players are better off signing up for bonuses with high matches. So instead of a 50% or 100% match offer, you want to find a 200% or 400% offer. You can deposit a smaller amount of money, but get loads more to play with. This is great for players on a budget.
No Opt In Required – Many casinos let you know up front that you’ll either have to opt in to the bonus or contact support and request it. But some casinos will opt you in as soon as you create an account. This is a shady tactic. Here’s why:
Once you’re opted in you have to comply with the play through requirements. Failure to do so means losing out on your winnings. The casinos do this so that you can’t cash out right away (say, after a large win), otherwise they can take your winnings. They force you to play with the winnings in hopes that you’ll lose it back to the casino.
Sometimes they’ll let you withdraw your deposit, just as a way for the casino to wash their hands of the situation. Rarely ever will you get your bonus money. But these are from sketchy casinos, which you should be avoiding at all costs anyway.
I recommend reading our casino reviews to find the best and safest slots casinos.