Guide to Online Casino Bonuses
If you are looking for the ultimate tutorial on how online casino bonuses work and how to make the most of them, you have come to the right place. In this comprehensive bonus guide we explain all different kinds of offers and wagering requirements, so you can make the most of any promotion you come across. Welcome bonuses, in particular, are the main way operators compete with each other, often promising anywhere from 20 to 1,500 €/£/$, but sometimes much more. However, wagering requirements plus a range of other terms and conditions, are making casino bonuses increasingly complex. Fortunately, we’re here to decipher all of this.
Deposit casino bonuses are the most common type of promotions on offer. It simply means that the casino gives you some kind of extra reward when you deposit money with them. Normally there will be a minimum amount you have to deposit to trigger the reward.
Our research shows that the amount varies hugely between even the best online casinos. Often bonuses are spread across deposits – for example, they match 100% on your first deposit, 50% on the second, 25% on the third, and so on. This makes online signup deposit bonuses good value for money if you intend to make several instalments.
Below some of the most popular welcome bonuses have been collated, from free money bonus codes to free spins on slot games.
Deposit Match Bonuses
By far the most common type of deposit bonus is the “deposit match bonus”, where the casino will match a certain amount of your deposit and add that to your account. For example, lots of casinos promise to match 100% of your deposit. So if you deposit £100, the casino will add another £100 into your account. Having said that, match bonuses normally vary between 50% to 400% among the best casinos.
There will always be a minimum and maximum amount they will match, which should be stated clearly in the terms and conditions. The max amount and percentages vary greatly, but the minimum amount to be eligible for a bonus is usually in the $/€/£ 10 vicinity. Also, there will always be wagering requirements to fulfil before you can withdraw any winnings derived from a bonus.
Here are some examples of the deposit bonus you will receive depending on the offer and size of your deposit:
|200% up to $100||$25||$50||$75
|200% up to $100||$50||$100||$150
|200% up to $100||$100||$100||$200
|200% up to $100||$200||$100||$300
|100% up to $100||$50||$50||$100
|100% up to $100||$100||$100||$200
|100% up to $100||$200||$100||$300
|50% up to $100||$50||$25||$75
|50% up to $100||$100||$50||$150
|50% up to $100||$200||$100||$300
|50% up to $100||$300||$100||$400
With a sticky bonus, you cannot withdraw the bonus value. So once you reach the play-through requirements, you can withdraw any funds above the initial bonus value.
For example, if your online account balance is £500, but you received £300 in sticky bonuses, you could only withdraw £200.
This makes sticky bonuses fantastic for enhancing your bankroll, but restrictive since you can’t actually get your hands on the bonus cash amount.
Reload bonuses are for those who have already made their first instalment and collected their welcome bonus. So while welcome bonuses are claimed just once, reload bonuses are a recurring deal.
Essentially, you benefit from a deposit reward each time you add credits to your account. So reload deals let you claim a percentage, normally between 50% to 150% of your initial deposit as a bonus.
Most of the top 5 online casino bonuses will offer a reload promotion plus free spins once your payment has successfully gone through.
Qualifying for a Reload Bonus
When you qualify for a reload bonus will depend on your player status. Normally, the more frequently you play, the more generous the reload rewards.
However, some casinos reach out to players via email, inviting them to capitalise on these bonuses. This is usually to motivate players who have started playing less. Some online casinos also offer weekly and monthly reload bonuses. With this system, you would get a bonus after you’ve made your first instalment each week or month.
A useful tip is to contact customer support if you don’t think you’re being offered enough reload bonuses.
As with most promotions, you will also have to meet play-through requirements before you can withdraw winnings. Those wagering requirements are often approximately 30 to 40 times the value of the bonus. So it’s always worth reading the terms and conditions before you accept a reload bonus.
No Deposit Bonus
Free online casino bonuses where no deposit is needed are popular in the UK, Sweden, Canada, and most other countries. They essentially allow you to trial a casino before you buy, with minimal risk. For example, casinos such as 32Red have been known to offer free £10 bonuses when you signup. In addition, some live welcome bets with no deposit requirements offer you the chance to win real cash.
Normally, free no deposit promotions for mobile and online casinos allow you to get a flavour for specific games, such as slots, poker or roulette. Of course, keeping your winnings isn’t always straightforward.
However, if you’re looking for test-money then no deposit registration bonuses can prove invaluable. Essentially the free play allows you to test different games and casinos, while also honing your skills for when you’re risking real capital.
But while some of the best online gambling and new slot sites offer free bonuses with no deposit required, game selection does change frequently. Therefore, don’t wait around if a game piques your interest.
Free Money Bonuses
One of the most attractive welcome promotions offered by online and mobile casinos is a free money bonus with no deposit required. They are essentially a free lump sum of credit that can be used for playing on specific games, such as roulette or slots. Unsurprisingly, some of the best online casino offers promise the biggest no deposit bonus codes.
However, free money casino bonuses are dependant on your minimum deposit requirements. For example, if you have £3200 but you’re only getting the same free £25 cash as a player depositing £10 or even nothing, then it may not be the best bonus for you.
So do your homework before selecting codes for free casino money, different sites will list different requirements and offer varying amounts.
Some online casinos offer free spins as a no deposit bonus. Essentially, this allows you to test casinos and slot games, while also potentially winning real cash. So a five free spins bonus allows you to spin a certain slot machine five times without charge, while any profit returns to your bankroll.
A bonus code is similar to a voucher code that lets you redeem some kind of special deal – you can use it to get access to exclusive bonus offers that are unavailable to others. It’s a great way for an operator to offer special promotions to reward a limited number of players, and to allow players to choose their personal favourite among multiple offers.
Slot machines are the most popular games at any casino, and offers that pertain to slots are the most common of all. In fact, unless the rules for a bonus says otherwise, you can pretty much assume it applies to slots. Players that also want to use their bonus on other games should double check that it does apply to those too, and what the wagering requirement contribution is.
Live Casino Bonuses
Live dealer games allow you to play in real-time via a video link with genuine croupiers and other players. As technology improves, these live games are becoming increasingly interactive and new players get a wider choice of both games and bonuses. Not to mention, the fact many casinos exclude live games from wagering requirements is adding to their popularity. Having said that, the majority of casino bonuses do not include live games, although you can find specific live casino no deposit bonuses.
The problem is, if the casino does include the live dealer bonuses for wagering requirements, it can be challenging to withdraw your profits. For example, roulette can contribute between 8% to 20%, while slots are usually 100%. This means if you were to bet £10 on a roulette table, only 80p to £2 would contribute towards the playthrough rules. Furthermore, if you had £100 with a 30 times requirement, you’d need to bet anywhere from £15,000 to £37,500 before you could claim your profits.
Many online and mobile casinos now offer free sports bonuses and matched betting. These can be for betting on specific sports events or they can be used to spend on casino games once you’ve placed sports bets. For example, once you’ve signed up and deposited the required capital, say £10, you often get a free £5 for wagering on sports or casino games. Another common sports promotion is receiving a £20 casino bonus 24 hours after your initial sports bet is settled.
Essentially then, free sports bonuses can encourage you to bet on sports and/or casino games. It’s also worth noting sports bonuses often come with varying wagering requirements, among other conditions.
Some online casinos promise exclusive casino bonus offers if you sign up via particular websites. These offers could be anything from free slots with no deposit requirements to cash back and match bonuses, depending on the deal that was struck. Promotions vary in amount and conditions, so it’s always worth checking the terms first.
Payment Method Bonuses
New players often focus on finding the latest no deposit bonuses or signup promotions. As a result, they can miss out on other enticing offers. For example, some casinos offer generous rewards for using certain payment methods.
In fact, if you use certain e-wallets, such as Skrill, some casinos will award you an extra 10% to 15%. That may seem like a small amount, but for high-rollers and frequent players, that can soon add up.
In addition, there are other operators that will offer you a £30 bonus to your main casino wallet just for making your first deposit via PayPal. Other prepaid cards, including the Paysafecard, can also help you bag additional capital.
From our own experience and through conducting extensive casino reviews, we’ve also realised some welcome bonuses and promotions exclude particular payment methods. For example, some of the latest casino bonuses and deposit codes may not be eligible for payments via Neteller. So you must check bonus terms and conditions prior to depositing funds.
For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, it’s also worth noting there are a growing number of Bitcoin casinos offering deposit bonuses. These online and mobile casinos offer Bitcoin as their sole currency or along with other more standard currencies, such as the British Pound, Euro, and US Dollar.
In addition, some online casinos offer exclusive bonuses for payments made via Bitcoin. For example, new players could pocket up to a 400% bitcoin bonus on their first three deposits. So as the prevalence of Bitcoin and other digital currencies continues to increase, we’re seeing a growing number of casinos that offer Bitcoin bonuses.
Bonuses for Existing Customers
Casino bonuses aren’t just aimed at new players. In fact, today’s bonus lists for existing customers are continuously improving as casinos grapple to retain customers. In fact, loyalty bonuses can include:
- Prize draws
- Live game gifts
- Slot tournaments
- Monthly bonuses
- Additional deposit rewards
- Enhanced expected bonus values
- Seasonal Halloween and Xmas bonuses
- Daily blackjack and roulette promotions
In addition, there are specific VIP and loyalty schemes on offer for frequent players. Players can earn points which they can swap for free cash or additional bonus funds. These VIP clubs can also offer other rewards to bolster your payroll, as well as:
- Personal account managers
- Generous loyalty point conversation rates
- Access to exclusive free online casino games with no deposit requirements
Note rewards and on-going bonuses will vary between casinos and change over time.
Wagering requirements, also known as play-through, rollover, or turnover requirements, are the primary restriction placed on casino bonuses. Essentially, these rules stipulate how much and on what games you have to play a bonus before you can withdraw any funds.
For example, if you receive a £10 bonus with a five times wagering requirement, you would need to play £50 before you could withdraw those funds. However, five is towards the lower end of the scale. In fact, it is not uncommon for casinos to enforce wagering requirements of 55.
The purpose of wagering requirements is to prevent immediate cash-outs. In the past, casino bonuses were abused by those who would only place bets on low-risk games. For example, in some blackjack games, the perfect strategy can reduce the house edge to just 0.5%. So now requirements ensure just a small percentage of capital wagered on low-risk games will contribute towards play-through requirements. Whereas in games with lower RTP (return to player) rates, such as slots, 100% will usually count towards wagering requirements.
Below are some examples of how much different games contribute towards wagering requirements. Note that these differ between casinos.
|Progressive Jackpot Slots||0%
|Sportsbook||100% with odds of 1.80 or higher
|Non-live Table Games||0-10%
There are several crucial points to keep in mind when it comes to wagering requirements:
- If you cannot find game-specific deals, it is usually the lower the house edge, the lower the wagering contribution.
- No deposit bonuses often have the highest wagering requirements and the shortest time period.
- Playing slots may not contribute towards requirements for card game bonuses.
- Wagering requirements vary between games and online casinos.
- Some casino bonuses come with no wagering requirements.
So to prevent disagreements further down the line, it may be worth looking for casino bonuses with no or low play-through requirements. However, such deals can be hard to find. In fact, even the best casinos and bonuses don’t offer as low wagering requirements as one would like. Therefore, the most useful tip is to read the terms and conditions carefully before you sign up for a bonus.
Here are some examples of how much must be wagered in total depending on the play-through multiple and game contribution, for a €100 bonus:
|Wagering Requirement||Game Contribution||Must Wager|
There is a long list of other restrictions new players need to be aware of:
- Minimum initial deposits – Casinos and bonuses will demand differing initial deposits. Normally, the greater the deposit, the larger the bonus or reward.
- Maximum limits – A maximum limit of £100 prevents you from getting more than £100, even if you were to deposit £1000. Therefore, those depositing larger amounts should shop around for higher maximums. Bear in mind five times is around the norm, but any lower and you might want to keep looking.
- Time restrictions – The time you get to use your bonus varies between promotions. Some casinos will require you to use your free spins in just three days while others will give you a full month to meet play-through requirements.
- One bonus per player – Registration bonuses can only be claimed once. In fact, you will need to verify your identification before you receive funds and casinos will not pay if they learn you have tried to find loopholes and open numerous accounts.
- Free spin conditions – Many players don’t realise when they register how many times you have to play through winnings from free spins before you can keep what you win. Even some of the best online casino bonuses in the UK, for example, can require you play through winnings 25 times.
- Location restrictions – The volume and generosity of casino bonuses varies depending on where you are from. Those from Western countries, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and EU nations, normally have a choice of bonuses. However, those from countries famous for bonus abusing, such as Russia, will struggle. In addition, countries such as Peru, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic are introducing legislation to reduce access to online casinos. As a result, getting hold of casino bonuses may prove challenging.
Cashable vs Non-Cashable Bonuses
Although often overlooked, it’s important players understand there are two distinct types of casino bonuses:
- Cashable bonuses – You can withdraw a free no deposit cash bonus once you have met the play-through requirements.
- Non-cashable bonuses – You cannot withdraw these bonuses even after you have met play-through requirements.
You may be thinking what is the point in a casino bonus that can’t be withdrawn. But they can actually be used to significantly bolster your bankroll, allowing you to play for higher stakes and potentially larger winnings. For this reason, they are normally found in table games, such as blackjack and roulette.
Casino bonuses have been around since the 1990s. However, in recent years new regulations in the UK, and soon additional markets, have sought to clamp down on how promotions are advertised. So in 2018 online casinos had to make bonus terms and conditions easily accessible. In addition, “free spins” and no deposit bonuses cannot be called free unless they have no wagering requirements. So at the very least mobile and online bonus hunters should now have a better understanding of what it will take to keep what you win.
Online vs Land-Based Bonus
Journey to Las Vegas and for your registration bonus, you may get a couple of free drinks and some type of loyalty programme. But because online casinos have far fewer labour costs and other overheads, they can offer much more appealing bonuses than land-based casinos. Furthermore, the increasing competition means online casinos have to be more competitive with their welcome bonuses and promotions.
As a result, bagging a £400 deposit bonus on an online UK casino isn’t particularly rare. But receiving that sort of money as a promotion in land-based casinos is much more unlikely.
Do You Have to Accept a Bonus?
As a result of strict play-through requirements and other tough terms and conditions, some new players may understandably decide casino bonuses simply aren’t worth it. Fortunately, you do not have to accept bonuses.
However, some online and mobile casinos will automatically opt you in. Therefore, you may want to find a provider that allows you to manually opt-in to collect a reward. Alternatively, you can contact customer support before you make a deposit.
How Do You Claim a Casino Bonus?
Whether you’re claiming a £200 deposit bonus in the UK or a free sign up no deposit bonus, the process for claiming your promotion is likely to be the same. Firstly, you’ll need to choose login credentials. You may then be asked for a bonus code. You will then receive an email with a verification link. Once you verify your account and (sometimes) register a payment card to make a deposit, you will get access to any casino bonuses.
How to Find the Right Bonus For You
Different bonuses work for different people. For example, new players seeking to test new games and casinos with less risk may want to consider free no deposit bonuses. There is even the chance of bagging real cash with some of these offers.
For players looking simply for the largest amounts, you may want to consider welcome deposit bonuses. Whether you collect bonuses in your first deposit or over a number of instalments, this is typically where you will find the greatest bonuses.
For frequent players, you may want to search for casinos offering loyalty bonuses. For example, one huge no deposit poker joining bonus may appear great, but if that’s all you get you may be better off elsewhere. In fact, some providers may offer free betting casino money every month to frequent players.
But before you sign up for free casino money or any other sort of casino bonuses, you need to look for three main factors:
- Wagering requirements – If you’re just concerned with a specific game, say slots, check the weighting of that game will contribute towards any play-through requirements. In addition, look for casinos offering exclusive deals for the games you’re interested in.
- The time frame of the promotion – Will you have just a few days to meet any rules or will you get a whole month?
- Other terms and conditions – You may get 30 days before you first bonus expires, but only 7 days for any reload bonuses. Also, are there maximum win and withdrawal amounts for non-deposit bonuses?
Hunting for the best casino bonuses can feel like a minefield. So it can help to add a few tips and tricks to your ‘whoring’ strategy. The most important of which are:
- Test drive – Use bonuses to test a game of interest.
- Size matters – Select casinos with the largest bonuses.
- Expiry times – If your casino bonus comes with a time limit, be sure to use it all.
- Think ahead – Exploit bonuses by using them to learn how to play the games you’ll later want to play with real money.
- Reputation – Consider the size, age, and reputation of an online casino. Is even a huge bonus worth it if the casino gets poor ratings and offers minimal customer service?
- Risk – Don’t be fooled into thinking casino bonuses are a guaranteed way to make money. Keeping any winnings can be particularly challenging due to strict wagering requirements.
The Final Draw
We have explored all the different types of online and mobile casino bonuses on offer, from free play to no deposit bonuses and loyalty promotions. We have also explained all the risks and wagering requirements that catch out the long list of aggrieved players on casino blogs, forums, and threads. So now you can use the above tips to find the right casino bonuses for you, as an individual player.