What better way to end a registration process than with a big, juicy, welcome bonus, granted by the operator on your first deposit, or simply as a token of appreciation for powering through the account set up? Nowadays, casino bonuses are an indispensable part of any gambling site looking to draw and retain the members, but what happens when the players miscalculate the offer and forget to read the terms of claiming the reward?
To avoid any unnecessary heartache and make sure your online gambling adventure is not ruined by something as banal as the bonus terms and conditions, a bit of clarification may be in order. Not only will it help you understand exactly what you are agreeing to when accepting the bonus, but it will also assist you in selecting the offer that’s in line with your own budget and needs. And, last but not least, it will prevent any potentials dispute between the casino and the players, which could easily be avoided by either being transparent with the terms of the offer (we are looking at you, operators), or by being less hasty and paying attention to the fine print (players, that’s you!).
Before going any further, we must first get acquainted with the basic classification of the casino bonuses and offers.
Main Types of Casino Offers
Casino offers are usually classified as No-deposit and Deposit bonuses, the latter being much more generous, and therefore preferred by many players.
No Deposit Bonuses
No deposit bonuses are often called sign-up bonuses, as the player is only required to go through the account set-up in order to become eligible for the promotion. As soon as the registration process is successfully completed, the new account holders will receive a verification link, with an option to claim the bonus. The offer usually consists of a non-withdrawable, modest cash amount or a free spins session. The no-deposit and deposit bonuses are not mutually exclusive and new players are free to claim both (or neither).
Deposit Match Bonuses
Deposit bonuses are triggered after the members fund their casino cashier for the first time. In most cases, the first deposit is doubled, boosting the account holder’s balance by 100%. The offer may also extend to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and sometimes even 5th deposit, and more often than not, the operator bundles the welcome package with Free Spins. The example below represents a typical welcome package (the percentages and amounts are illustrative):
- 1st Deposit – up to £100 + 100% match + 50 Free Spins
- 2nd Deposit – up to £100 + 50% match + 25 Free Spins
- 3rd Deposit – up to £200 + 50% match + 25 Free Spins
The values above can, of course, fluctuate, depending on the operator, player’s location, payment method or some other parameter.
Welcome packages should usually be claimed in the first few days after setting up your account or they will expire. Sometimes, an unused welcome offer may even prevent the player from redeeming other promotions. The most reputable new UK slot sites will always present the terms in a transparent manner, leaving no room for interpretations.
One of the most important things to consider before opting-in for the welcome package is the wagering requirement, attached to almost every bonus available at online casinos. The wagering requirements (also known as the rollover or playthrough requirements) are the total amount that you will need to wager before the casino releases your winnings.
Sometimes, the amount that the operators expect their players to spend before claiming the winnings can be ridiculously high, making the welcome bonus a bad investment and the operator’s intentions questionable. The purpose of the wagering requirements is to protect the casino from the bonus hunters and not to squeeze the players dry, which is why one should think twice before redeeming the welcome offer that requires you to gamble over x50 or x60 your bonus. For the sake of illustration, let us assume that the casino wants you to bet x50 your bonus before withdrawing. That would mean that you will need to spend exactly x50 of your deposit amount + the bonus cash before becoming eligible for claiming your winnings.
If a casino offers a 100% deposit match with x50 rollover, the total amount that you will have to spend (on the minimum deposit of L10) is L1,000.
- £10 (deposit) + £10 (bonus cash that the casino adds to your balance) = £20
- £20(deposit and bonus total) x 50 (wagering requirements) = £1,000
Compared to casinos that set the wagering requirement to x10 – x30, this seems a bit excessive especially since you will have a limited time to meet the requirements. Also, it should be mentioned that the no-deposit bonuses usually come at a higher wagering requirements rate which is their main disadvantage.
All the details regarding the guidelines and rules attached to the bonuses are displayed under a separate casino section – Bonus Terms and Conditions. This is where the players will be able to find the wagering requirements linked to the welcome bonus cash, free spins, and all other promotions offered by the casino – ongoing deals, short-term campaigns, etc.
Every now and then, the casino will launch a promotion that does not have any wagering requirements. This usually refers to the cash prize pools or tournaments, where the players compete for real cash that the operator releases on the player’s account as a monetary prize (not bonus cash that can only be used for wagering).
Excluded Categories of Games
One other thing to keep in mind is that not all categories will contribute to meeting the wagering requirements. Video Slots is the safest group and the fastest way to complete your end of the bargain.
Table (casino) games and live dealer tables usually do not contribute at all or come at a very low contribution percentage rate – 10%. The same goes for video poker category – it will either contribute a small percentage or nothing at all.
If you have met the deposit threshold but there is no option that would allow you to claim the welcome offer, you have probably used one of the payment methods that void your claim on bonuses.
The list of all methods that exclude the welcome package option is displayed under the Bonus Terms & Conditions section. You will also notice that using these payment options will not prompt you to opt-in for the welcome offer at the moment of submitting your first deposit.
In case you funded your cashier before realizing that the particular payment method annuls the bonus, all is not lost. Reversing the transaction is an option, as well as contacting the casino customer support agent, who will then advise you on the proper procedure.
Maximum Winnings and Wagers
You should also understand that bonus cash will not make you a millionaire – all bonuses come at certain limitations, applied to either the winning amount generated from the bonus cash bet, or to the individual bet that the player can submit.
Some casinos limit the winnings in the promotional free spins to L1,000 while the bets are limited to L0.10 or L0.20. For exact limits, one will need to refer to the Bonus Terms & Conditions.
Once the welcome bonus expires or runs out, the operators will keep you engaged with other promotions, such as Free Spins, Reload bonuses, or High Roller bonuses (via the VIP membership).
Free Spins Offers
Free Spins can be triggered by a qualifying deposit or received as an award in tournaments and competitions that the casino launches. The bonus rounds are linked to a specific game or games and cannot be used outside this group.
The spins are commonly loaded on the player’s account in instalments and have an expiration date. The player will need to use a session before the next one arrives, otherwise, the spins will be voided and the new session will simply replace them.
Reloads are often regarded as a form of welcome bonus extension. Unlike the welcome bonus which can be claimed only once, reloads can be claimed every time you submit the qualifying deposit amount. The system is the same as with the welcome packages – once the deposit clears, the balance will be boosted by a certain percentage.
High Roller Bonuses
Big spenders are welcome everywhere, especially at a casino, online or land-based. High rollers will be able to upgrade their membership status and acquire a VIP membership, which will give them access to a special set of bonuses, higher reload percentages, higher withdrawal limits, more free spins, personal account manager, birthday gifts, and more.
Bonuses to Avoid
High Wagering Requirements
Sometimes you may find that a bonus looks great on paper, but after scratching a surface and paying closer attention to the terms, the truth will rear its ugly head, revealing sky-high wagering requirements and a short time frame for meeting them.
No Active Gaming Licences
Before claiming any of the operator’s promotions, you should make sure that you are dealing with an operator that meets all the legal requirements for offering gambling services. If the licence is expired or not displayed at all, it should definitely be a cause for concern.
Fortunately, you can always learn from other people’s mistakes or benefit from their experience. Check out our reviews and learn everything you need to know about the strengths and weaknesses of a certain online casino.