What to Look Out for to Ensure Your Casino Bonus is Legitimate
Most casino bonus offers are legitimate – you’ll have to play by the rules, and play through your deposit a set number of times – once you do that, the cash will be yours.
Unfortunately, there is a minority of casinos out there that hide ‘nasties’ in their terms and conditions. Players sign up, thinking they have a great bonus deal. When it comes time to cash out again, they find they violated something in the small print. The bonus is withdrawn, and the player ends up (rightly) feeling cheated.
This page gives you a quick overview of what to look for before signing up for a new casino bonus offer. If you stick to the better known names, then the chances of coming across this type of thing are very small. If you like to play at new, smaller or untested online casinos – then this guide could end up saving you a lot of money!
Bonus Tricks at Online Casinos – 7 Things to Watch For
#1 – Prohibited Games:
I am separating prohibited games from excluded ones here. If a game is excluded that simply means that playing it does not count towards clearing your bonus play-through requirement. Prohibited games are another matter completely. You will sometimes find terms that say you can’t play games like Roulette, Craps or even certain types of slot – and that doing so will void your bonus.
You’ll often only find out you played a prohibited game when you try to cash out, so it pays to check the terms for this type of phrasing upfront.
#2 – Super High Play Through Requirements
All bonuses will require you to wager the bonus and deposit amount a certain number of times. Anything from 20x to 35x combined play-through is within the standard range. You might find much higher requirements, which mean that it is almost impossible to clear the bonus. I have seen 100x combined before, with 50x combined more common. Keep in mind that some casinos will only count the deposit amount, which obviously means you’ll see a higher number.
Here is a simple example of a 50x combined deal:
- 100% bonus, $100 deposit = $200 base, this means you’ll need to make $10,000 in wagers before you clear your bonus… and that is before we get to #3 on this list ‘weightings’ !
#3 – Harsh Game Ratings
Some games have a lower edge in favor of the house than others. To protect themselves from players that target low edge games specifically to ‘hit and run’ with bonuses, most casinos put rules in place and give the lowest edge games weightings for bonus clearance.
These start from 0% (this is common for high table coverage roulette bets), with 5%, 10% and so on also common. If you enjoy table games then you need to check this carefully, aim for casinos which award at least 25% to the lowest edge game and 35%+ for games like casino poker variations.
As a separate note, some casinos will weight live dealer games separately from their virtual equivalents.
#4 – Capped Winnings
This applies more to free chip type bonuses than the deposit match welcome bonuses – though is still worth a note. You might find an offer which promises $20 in free play (for example). This sounds like an opportunity to gamble it up and see if you can win big. What you’ll often find is a ceiling on the winnings, for example $20 max. This is not a huge problem as long as you are aware of the terms, though it might come as a disappointment if you find that $1000 lucky streak on blackjack gets taken away!
#5 – Uncashable Bonuses
When you clear a deposit bonus, the idea is that you’ll be able to withdraw this money after you meet the play-through criteria. Some casinos do not operate their bonuses in this way. The terms you should look out for are ‘play only’ and similar. This means that the bonus money can be used for future play, though it can never be withdrawn.
On top of this withdrawal exclusion, you will usually find that the bonus money is removed from your account when you make your first regular withdrawal.
Some casinos balance having a ‘play only’ bonus with easier play-through requirements. I am not a big fan of this method, and suggest you look for online casino bonuses with a little more in the way of flexibility.
#6 – Excluded Deposit Methods
Some casinos actually increase your bonus (for example by 15% for using Skrill) for certain deposit methods. Others have hidden terms which mean that bonus or promotional offers are not available to users of certain eWallets or cards.
This is less common than some of the other bonus tricks and traps covered, though it is still worth looking out for.
#7 – No Jackpots
This is especially relevant to free play bonuses and free spins – casinos will sometimes specify that you are not entitled to any jackpot wins. Since the slot games themselves do not know who is entitled to win, they may pay out the multi-million prize anyway. For me this would be a crushing situation, and I strongly advise you to make sure that jackpots are permitted before you start to play through your bonus.
Casino Bonuses – Summing it up with Good News!
This page may feel a little gloomy, however the good news is that the vast majority of online casinos have fair terms and make it easy to know what is allowed and what is not before you start.
My advice (as always) is to stick to brands with a track record of looking after their customers (preferably over several years). That way the chances of getting stuck from a trick or trap in a casino bonus are very small.
Here are my picks for casinos which handle their bonuses really well – check them out for yourself!