Bonuses

Your No-Nonsense Guide to Online Casino Bonuses

The idea behind online casino bonuses is simple; give players some bonus money, giving them more reason to play at the site.
Our expert team put this guide together to help you find the very latest casino bonuses and give you the information you need to succeed.

Our Top Casinos for Bonuses in 2017

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Bonus Basics

Welcome bonuses almost always revolve around the idea of a ‘match’, where the player deposits some money and the casino matches it with a bonus. This may sound like a great way to get some instant, free cash, but this money cannot be withdrawn, which will be discussed later.

Casinos will generally distinguish between your real money and bonus money. You’ll need to win something with the money, perhaps several times, in order to make a profit. The idea is that this bonus money isn’t free cash, it’s a kind of sample cash for trying out the site and giving yourself more chances to spin the various slots.

The latest casino bonuses and bonus offers do change, but many sites will keep the same one for a long time. You can find the best offers by searching around online, or checking listings like ours at Casinopedia. Typically, the larger and better-known sites will have better offers, having a larger budget for promotions. They tend to have more reasonable terms too, since they need broad appeal. Always take a look at the terms before accepting any bonus cash.

Occasionally, sites will also offer free spins to add to a welcome bonus. It’s also not uncommon for sites to offer a bonus on the second, third or even fourth deposit you make. You can also find the occasional site offering some bonus cash just for signing up, without a deposit.

Wagering Requirements

The simple reason is that it can be very hard to get a withdrawal after a deposit, if you have wagering requirements. New players often get confused and disappointed by requirements, as they deposit some cash, get some bonus money, win a little but then find that they cannot withdraw their money.

These requirements are established as part of anti-laundering laws, as they prevent a player from simply putting cash in and taking bonus cash out. However, the multipliers can be steep. Some sites ask as much as 60x in a wagering requirement. That means that if you get £10 in bonus money, you need to spend £600 before you can withdraw any winnings! When you’re claiming bonuses in the hundreds, of course the amounts become huge.

Bonus Codes

Though a lot of casino sites have dropped bonus codes in favour of offering the same rewards to all players, there are still many which use them. A bonus code is like a voucher, which can be redeemed for a bonus or free spins.

The code is usually a word or some numbers and they tend to be either given up-front on the site, or delivered through promotional mail. A benefit of bonus codes is that they give the player some choice over which offer they want to claim.

The good news is that often the requirements are not as hard to reach as they sound. As you spin the slots, you tend to constantly push your balance up and down with small wins- all these spins are counting towards your spending requirement. However, do check the terms section of any new site, as some games (typically table games or live dealer games) may not count towards the requirement.

Deposit Bonuses Explained

The typical format for a welcome bonus is a percentage and a maximum. For example, when arriving at new site, you might see ‘Claim a 100% bonus up to £50’. The 100% means that your deposit is matched exactly, so you deposit £10 and get £10 bonus money. If the percentage was 200%, then you’d get £20 instead. On the other hand, a 50% bonus would only give you £5 bonus money from £10 deposited.

The maximum is simply the most you can claim from that one deposit. Sometimes it may refer to the most you can deposit, sometimes it’s the upper cap on what you can claim, but this should be made clear at the time. Many sites now clear this situation up by offering a simple, flat rate- such as ‘deposit £10 and get £10 bonus money’.

Welcome Packages

Some of the offers seen from casinos may advertise big amounts (such as a £1,000 welcome bonus), but be aware that this might be more of a ‘package’ than one bonus, requiring multiple deposits. Second and third deposits tend to have a lower percentage bonus, so your rewards are a little lower as time goes on.

For example, if a casino is offering £1,000 for new customers,  this could in fact be split over three deposits.  So your first is a much more standard 100% match up to £250. Your second is a very low 25% up to £250, then your third gets 50% up to £500.

Yes, in total you can claim £1,000 in bonus money, but you would deposit £2,250 of your own cash to get it. This doesn’t mean it’s out of the question, but it’s a reminder to always check the terms.

Make the Most of Your Bonus

The rule of thumb is typically to not view bonus money as free cash! It’s much more like a boost to let you explore the site and get more chances to play, but you still need to be lucky to get a withdrawal out of it at the end- it isn’t a guarantee of profits. Remember that you’re always taking a gamble at a casino, with the house edge to contend with.

A big benefit of bonus cash is that it gives you more room to play. When playing any casino game, you’re risking your money against the pay-out percentage or the house edge of the game. With each bet, you’re working your way through the requirement and hoping to make profit over time, based on the odds of success.

Blackjack players tend to like welcome bonuses as the house edge is a low 0.5%.
When playing with a bonus, it’s worth occasionally heading back to your account or withdrawal area to see where your wagering requirement currently stands.

Advanced Tips

Find a good casino, that will let you use your bonus on a good range of casino games.
Check the wagering requirement, it is easy to get caught out if you are not careful.
Device specific bonuses, will give you the best chance to make the most of your bonus, from iPads to desktop computers.
Biggest doesn’t always been best, so make sure you check our casinos table and see what suites you best.

Online Casino Bonuses’ Glossary

Glossary
These are just a few terms that will come up when looking for a bonus:
A promotion which grants extra starting cash or free spins when you place your first deposit or set of deposits at an online casino.
Read more about Welcome Bonus.
A term for a bet, the act of risking money for a potential profit. Any spin of the reels or bet on a table game is still a wager.
Read more about Wager.
Some casinos will offer bonus money without needing a deposit from you. This is non-withdrawable and may still require you to register a payment card.
Read more about No Deposit Bonus.
Many slots allow you to win free spins, which are usually played out at a set stake value (often based on your last spin).
Read more about Free Spins.
This is how much, as a percentage, a slot machine pays back in winnings. This is typically in the 90% to 98% range and higher is better.
Read more about Return to Player (RTP).
The typical welcome bonus involves matching the money from your first deposit, with an equal or higher amount from the casino.
Read more about First Deposit Bonus.
Also known as a bet or wager, the stake is how much money the player risks when spinning the reels.
Read more about Stake.
A code number or word which is entered at the depositing stage to claim a bonus, just like a voucher.
Read more about Promotion Code.
This is just like a welcome bonus, but for existing members. They tend to offer much smaller amounts, but available more often.
Read more about Reload Bonus.
Also known as a bonus round, a feature on a slot game can be anything from free spins to a whole animated sideshow, which interrupts play and offers big wins.
Read more about Bonus Feature.
This is a minimum spend which comes along with taking bonus money. The idea is to prevent players committing fraud by depositing their money and withdrawing bonus money.
Read more about Wagering Requirements.
Some casinos offer a birthday bonus as a loyalty reward, giving bonus money or free bets as a gift. This may still have wagering requirements.
Read more about Birthday Bonus.
A standard welcome bonus or reload bonus where the bonus money received depends on the amount you put in. A true match is 100% of what you deposit.
Read more about Match Bonus.
If a bonus has to be played through 30 times, then it has a 30x wagering requirement. Playthrough simply means to spent; so betting £30 is completing £30 playthrough.
Read more about Playthrough.
This is a bonus which cannot be withdrawn at all, it is only granted for placing bets. A non-sticky bonus is the kind that can be withdrawn after meeting requirements.
Read more about Sticky Wilds.
This term tends to refer to all casino offers, from welcome bonuses to special events and competitions.
Read more about Promotions.
Like all big businesses, online casinos must have lists of rules and regulations that dictate exactly how the site works. Always read these to ensure you haven’t missed important details.
Read more about Terms and Conditions (t&cs).
When you first join an online casino, there will be a registration process where you submit your name, address, email and possibly your payment details.
Read more about Registration.
Another term for a sticky bonus, this seems like a great deal but cannot be withdrawn, so it’s purely for exploring the site.
Read more about Phantom Bonus.
This is a person who has joined an online casino for the first time. Welcome bonuses are not available to people who have held a previous account at the same site.
Read more about First Time Depositor.