Online casino bonuses

Online casinos offer a range of bonuses, each of which can come with a different name and different conditions. It’s important to understand the terminology (Welcome Bonus, First Bonus, Start-Up Bonus – are they all the same?) so that you’re not confused. You’ll see impressive percentages and numbers at online casinos – 200%, $800 etc. But how do you make sense of all this? What does it really give you?

NB: Nearly all casino bonuses will come with wagering requirements. Do your homework before taking advantage of the latest online casino offers


How to claim a casino bonus
Wagering requirements explained
Which games are included?
Types of casino bonus
Pay attention when evaluating bonus offers
Real life example of a casino bonus offer
Bonus tips
Bonuses – glossary

How to claim a casino bonus offer

Step 1: Choose a casino bonus: This is probably the hardest requirement when finding an online casino bonus. Do they accept players from your country? Is the bonus active in your country? Are the wagering requirements palatable? These are just some of the questions you must ask yourself when joining an online casino. Read our guide to the best online casinos to find a site suitable for you.

Step 2: Signing up at the casino: This can be important when claiming a casino bonus because you may need to opt-in for a bonus offer, while others will just assume you want it when you make your first deposit. Important things to note during this stage is you must use your own name and be able to prove your identity, either immediately or in the future. Or your account may be voided and your balance taken by the casino.

Step 3: Understanding bonus clearance requirements: This is critical because you can play games that don’t clear the wagering requirements at all – these are usually table games. Having said this there are exceptions where a bonus caters to table game players. Generally a sign-up bonus amount will relate to slots games and playing them will be the quickest way to convert your bonus into real money.

Step 4: Knowing when wagering requirements are cleared: Basically this is the point you can actually withdraw your funds from the casino. As a general rule of thumb your bonus balance and how close it is to converting to cash will be displayed in the account section of your online casino.

Step 5: Winning with a bonus: Once you have cleared any wagering requirements the money will be converted to cash. This means you can withdraw the money or play any games without play-through requirements hanging over you.

Wagering requirements on casino bonuses

The principle is that you have to risk (gamble) the money you are given a certain number of times before you can cash out (take the money back). One of the first questions is: does the play through refer to your bankroll amount or to the bonus amount alone? The difference is significant.

Bankroll play through: The requirement refers to your deposit plus your bonus, which must be wagered 20 times before cashing out (the number varies from casino to casino). Let’s say you deposit $100 and get another $100 in bonus. That gives you a bankroll of $200 to play with. Before you can withdraw your winnings, you will have to make $4000 worth of bets – i.e $200 x 20.

Bonus play through: In this case, the requirement refers to your bonus alone. Using the same example, from your $200 bankroll, $100 is the bonus. Before you can withdraw your winnings, you will have to make $2000 worth of bets – i.e $100 x 20.

What games clear wagering requirements?

It’s important to check which casino games are excluded from the play-through conditions. If Blackjack is your preferred game and you haven’t bothered to check the conditions, you can find yourself: a) making $10,000 worth of bets; b) finding that your overall play through still stands at zero; and c) not being able to withdraw your money.

Different types of casino bonuses

It’s remarkable really how many different names and variations of casino bonuses have emerged over the years, with most of them surrounding sign-up offers and inducements to get you to play at a specific casino.

No-Deposit Bonus

The idea here is to offer people a convenient introduction to start playing for real money and getting a feeling for the games at an online casino. You register your details and have a small amount (such as $25) deposited in your casino account. Some casinos may ask you to give them your credit card details before letting you claim your free cash. This is a security measure to avoid bonus abuse as well as players who try to open multiple accounts. The money may be automatically credited to your account, or you may need to claim it via an email confirmation or a submission form on the casino site.

A No-Deposit Bonus always comes with certain conditions attached. You will be required to play through the bonus amount a certain number of times before withdrawing money. Also some games may not allow no-deposit terms. When it is time to get cash, there may be a maximum amount that you can withdraw using this bonus. In addition, you may be required to make a small deposit into your account before cashing out your winnings from a No-Deposit offer.

Matched Deposit Bonus

Whether the bonus is called 1st, Sign-Up, 2nd, Loyalty or whatever, the principle is the same. When you make a deposit, the casino responds with its own money – thereby enlarging your total bankroll. This is a bonus you receive when you make a deposit at a casino. What matters are the percentages you get and the limits you have on playing.

Percentage: 100% bonus means that you deposit $100 and the casino gives you another $100 (total bankroll of $200). If it is a 200% bonus, you get $200 for your $100 (total bankroll of $300). Bonuses generally range from 10% to 250%.

Limits: Often a casino will limit the money it offers up to a set limit – for example, enjoying 100% match bonus up to $200. This means that you get 100% in free money up to a maximum deposit of $200, but not beyond that.

Restrictions: Note that bonuses like these almost always require you to play through your bankroll a certain number of times before you can withdraw your winnings. Note which games are included in the wagering requirement.

Free Money Bonus: Online casinos offer this as a special kind of first deposit bonus: you know what you get without regard to the amount of money you deposit. For example, a casino may offer $80 free if you deposit at least $20 (so you get a $100 bankroll). But you’ll still get only $80 even if you deposit $70. In some cases a Free Money Bonus may be worth more to you than getting a Match Bonus from another casino. Do your comparisons based on the minimum deposit required.

Loyalty Bonus: All bonuses beyond the 1st/Welcome/Start-Up Bonus can fall into this category. Rewards for loyalty are awarded to players who have reached a certain status at an online casino. Typically players who spend increasingly large amounts are offered Loyalty bonuses. The amounts and types of bonus will vary from one casino to another; some casinos will not require a play through on these. To cash out these bonuses, you will usually need a token requirement.

Sticky Bonus: This bonus is a device to ensure that, when you are winning, you always keep some money in your account. ‘Sticky’ means that the amount you are awarded cannot be withdrawn. It remains in your account when you withdraw your winnings. This can be good for you as a player because a) you have more money to play with; b) you increase your chances of getting to a jackpot, and c) You can have a higher payout ratio when you hit the big wins. Online casinos are often generous with their sticky bonuses, offering $300 and more. These are not as common these days though.

Pay attention when evaluating bonus offers

Wagering terms/requirements: Look for this term in the conditions. The tendency today at online casinos is to increase the wagering requirement – so you have to wager many more times (perhaps up to 20 times) your deposit and bonus amount before cashing out. The reason is that bonuses are expensive promotions and some people try to abuse their bonus rights. If you find a casino with Sticky Bonus, this can be a good solution because they generally don’t carry wagering requirements.

Withdrawing the initial deposit: Treat all first deposits with care. Check out to what extent you may have your initial, say, $100 locked when you’re offered an additional $50 bonus (see example above)?

Minimum hand limit: Casinos can insist that you wager a minimum amount (i.e $20 per hand in Blackjack) when playing a game in which a bonus of 100% or over has been offered.

Restricting games: Check the bonus-paying conditions for each game you play. Some games, such as craps and roulette, are often not included in many bonus arrangements. This limitation is in addition to being prevented from withdrawing your bonus until you have accumulated an aggregated total amount of money betted. So read all bonus terms and conditions.

Sorting out multiple offers for bonuses: Casinos can offer many bonuses within the month, but often you cannot benefit from more than one bonus. A typical situation is when you are offered a bonus for using an alternative deposit method such as NETeller. Our suggestion is to evaluate the conditions of each bonus so that you can make the best choice.

A real life example of how casino bonuses work

Example: You’re invited to make a first deposit of $500, at which time the casino will add $500 to your account to give you an overall bankroll of $1000, which is a 100% matched deposit bonus. That’s a nice sum to play with – but at what point can you get your money? In this example, the answer is: once you’ve gambled (risked) at least $12,000, ie, 12 times the total initial bankroll.

Tips and advice when claiming casino bonuses

In online gambling and betting, study the many different kinds of bonuses before you make a serious financial commitment. Get to know the wagering requirements, games restrictions and other terms and playing conditions.

Remember that you have to be comfortable with the requirements of a bonus offer. If you’re not, move to another online casino to play, or deposit your money without claiming a bonus. There are many casinos online and most of them offer better odds and payouts than real-life casinos.

Online casino bonuses glossary

Bankroll: Total sum of money (yours + bonus) that you have available for gambling purposes.
Betting limits: The minimum-maximum scale that can be wagered by one player at a card or table game (example: Beginners’ Slots with $0.50 to $50 limit).
Bonus: Credit added to a player’s account for various reasons – such as being a new player, a loyal or VIP player.
Deposit: Any payment that you make to an online casino in order to play. Your deposit, plus any bonus you get, is your bankroll.
Free (or ‘no-deposit’) bonus: This bonus offered by online casinos does not require your deposit in order to receive it.
Match bonus: The percentage number is important. A 100% match bonus means that for your $100, the casino will add another $100.
Referral bonus: Get another person to sign up with the casino as a cash player and you’ll receive a ‘thank you’ bonus from the casino.
Wagering requirement: Indicates how many times a bonus amount must be bet before you can cash out your winnings.
Withdrawal: Your formal request to receive your payouts from an online casino.

Casino bonus guides – by country