Casino Welcome Bonus Offers are a Minefield
– This Casino Bonus Guide Explains Deposit Bonuses in Depth
Compared to poker bonuses, those offered by online casinos have a lot of rules and conditions attached to them. These can include weightings, banned games, uncashable offers (play only), play-through requirements and other seemingly minor terms which can trip up the unwary.
This casino bonus guide will help you clear away the uncertainty, and quickly see which are the best bonuses and which ones have the ‘red flags’ that mean they should be avoided.
The information below is broken up into 3 parts.
Below you will see a table which shows the latest clean offers for your location. There are links to the reviews for each of the casinos in case you are not familiar with them.
After that you will find a guide explaining the common pitfalls and traps that casinos hide in the small print of their welcome bonus offers. I get more positive after that, with some of the extras and good things to look out for from the top operators.
Tricks and Traps in Online Casino Bonus Deals
Here are the top 5 ways in which you can end up getting caught out by what looks to be a great online casino bonus deal.
#1 – Excessive Play-Through Requirements
All casino bonuses will require you to play through your deposit and bonus amount a certain number of times before the bonus is yours to withdraw. There are two things you need to look out for here. The first is whether the play-through (also called wager-through or wagering requirement) is for your deposit amount only, or the deposit + bonus amount. You can only compare two casinos once you know what they ‘count’ with this.
The best casinos have bonuses which have 20x to 30x play-through terms. This means you will need to wager that deposit + bonus 20 to 30 times before your bonus is completed. The worst have terms of 50x or even higher.
Remember that a casino with a 50x requirement that is only counting your deposit (and not the bonus) is actually giving a very good deal.
#2 – Too Many Game Restrictions
It is common for casinos to weight their games in terms of what counts towards your play-through requirements (see below for more on this). What you need to look out for are those operators which ban certain games. Terms will sometimes state that your bonus will be voided if you play on restricted games. This means something as simple as a spin on a roulette wheel or wrong type of online slot can see your entire bonus removed. These are predatory terms, and the major casinos are generally clear of them – though it always pays to check first.
#3 – Excessively Small Weightings
Here is another thing to check, when it comes to your bonus play through requirements, casinos give weightings to certain games. These are generally table games with a low house edge. The idea is that the casinos protect themselves from skilled players clearing their bonus with very little risk, and then withdrawing the profits.
Examples might include Blackjack at 25% and Roulette at 10% (if allowed at all). This means that only 25% of your wager counts towards your play-through goals.
Some less reputable casinos have extremely low weightings for their games – for example Blackjack counting at only 5% or 10% and video poker not counting at all.
With roulette in particular, a common system is to allow higher risk bets though not the even money chances or coverage of more than half of the table. If you enjoy roulette then I recommend making extra sure that you understand the weightings terms before you take a new bonus.
#4 – Uncashable Bonuses
This is a particularly ugly one. The bonus seems to check out fine on all fronts, with a reasonable play-through, fair weightings and no restricted games. You clear it, go to the cashier, and find that your balance can’t be withdrawn.
What you might have missed is a ‘play only’ bonus, or uncashable bonus. The money is there to play with (and profits can be withdrawn), however the bonus sum can never be yours, and you’ll essentially need to keep getting lucky in order to have any benefits at all.
#5 – How Long Have You Got?
When you add up the wager through terms of casino bonuses, and then account for the weightings – there can be a fair amount of play required. For some of us, sparing the hours to clear the bonuses fully might be difficult.
Casinos know this of course, and will sometimes have short time spans to complete your bonus offer. If you only have 30 days, this can be tough, with 60 to 90 the minimum I look for.
One of the key factors with casino bonus offers is that people put a lot of emphasis on these short-term deals, while the biggest benefits over the long run actually come from ongoing offers. More on that below.
Summarizing the ‘Fair Casino Bonuses’ Part:
The best casino bonuses have combined play through terms of 25 times, do not exclude your favorite games, have fair weightings on table games especially, offer cashable bonuses (that you can withdraw at the end) and give you at least 60 days to complete the deal.
Here is an example of a casino which does exactly that!
US – Bovada.lv
The biggest and best US friendly casino offer games from 3 different software houses and are well known for their player promos. The welcome bonus is generous too, with $3000 over up to 6 deposits clearing at 25x combined. Check out the huge list of games and latest offers at www.bovada.lv now!
Unibet Casino has a staggering 660 games, including slots from most of the biggest software houses. Their welcome bonus is one of the fastest clearing around at 25x the bonus amount only. You’ll plenty of extras, including frequent bonuses when you try out their live dealer and mobile games. See the latest deals at www.unibet.com.
Extras to Look Out for – The Best Casino Welcome Bonuses
After all that doom and gloom about the tricks and traps, the section below takes a more positive look at things!
This is a list of some of the extra benefits you should be looking out for before you sign up. The first part focuses on extras which go along side your welcome bonus offer, the second part (which is in many ways more important) covers the ongoing benefits and rewards.
It is no coincidence that many of the casinos that have the ‘traps’ in their welcome bonuses also miss out on many of the factors below.
Extra Benefits with your Casino Welcome Bonuses
#1 – Multiple Deposits
Some casinos let you take a big welcome bonus offer, and break it into more manageable chunks. For example a $5000 bonus (100% matched) might be broken into 6 parts of $500 each – making it way more accessible to regular players.
#2 – Table Game Specials
The casinos often offer big bonuses for their slots, with restrictions for table games players (using the weightings described above). You will sometimes find way better terms in special bonuses aimed at fans of table games – for example better weightings.
#3 – Free Spins
A very common extra alongside regular welcome bonus offers is to add some spins on a popular or new slot. These spins will sometimes come with restrictions such as a maximum win or play-through requirement attached separately to any winnings. This can still be a profitable extra, with between 10 and 100 free spins common.
#4 – Live Dealer or Mobile Casino Extras
With technology moving fast, casinos will often give new players incentives to try out the different areas of innovation. This might be a no-lose bet on a live casino table game, or an extra bonus for trying out mobile slots. If your casino also has sportsbetting or poker on offer you might also find extras which let you check those out for free.
#5 – Cash Back Offers
In order to provide a safety net for newer players, you will sometimes see offers where you get a percentage of any losses back for a set period (first day for example). This can be up to 50%, though you will find terms and conditions attached to the money that comes back.
This is far from a comprehensive list of casino deposit bonus extras – though it does cover the main types you will receive.
Casino Welcome Bonuses are just the Start – Ongoing Offers and Rewards
I’ll repeat this message until I am blue in the face:
Ongoing rewards are way more important to the majority of casino players than the welcome bonuses.
The (simple) reason for this is time. Casino deposit offers are gone in 60 days, while the ongoing rewards can be with you for years if you find a casino that you enjoy playing at.
Here are some of the key things to look out for in terms of the ongoing offers for online casino players.
#1 – Reload Bonuses
We all need to reload our accounts now and again, and it is always good to know that your favorite casino will offer you another bonus similar to the welcome offer for this extra deposit. Reload bonuses tend to be smaller (think 50% instead of a 100% match), though the terms and conditions for play-through are much the same.
#2 – Comp Point Schemes
The idea for online casino comp point schemes came from brick and mortar casinos, which started them to reward their loyal players with free rooms and buffets. Online the rewards are usually in the form of cash or extra bonuses. Look out for tiered loyalty schemes, where you move through different levels attracting bigger and better rewards the more that you play.
#3 – Free Spins / Free Play
Similar to the welcome bonus offers, many casinos give loyal players free spins on new slots, or extra bonuses to play on live casinos, mobile casinos or brand new games. Once again this can cross over into other gambling verticals too.
#4 – Tournament Entries
Slot tournaments are essentially games of chance. You compete with other players to win the most from a certain slot within a time limit. If you get lucky then you can walk away with a nice cash prize. Blackjack tournaments have a skill element, as you have to end each round with more chips than your opponents by switching up your betting strategy. Free entry to either can be rewarding as well as entertaining.
#5 – One off and Special Promotions
Seasonal promotions, specials which come with big sporting events, the chance to win a vacation (holiday) and so on. Many online casinos have long lists of special and one-off promotions, though many others skip these altogether. Before you sign up, check the promotions page to make sure there are plenty of offers to keep you entertained and your bankroll topped up.
Casino Welcome Bonuses – Summing Up
I have repeated the table of welcome bonuses from online casinos below. Hopefully you can now see why the brands featured have been chosen – and understand the play-through and how the long term rewards factor into your decision.
Remember, casinos are highly competitive with each other to attract new players. You can take advantage best by understanding the different bonus offers and not getting caught in any of the big traps.