Who doesn’t like a bonus? The leading casino sites offer plenty, but if you don’t know your stuff, you could be missing out on free winnings.
Our expert guide will help you find the very latest casino bonuses.
Welcome bonuses almost always revolve around the idea of a ‘match’, where the player deposits some money and the best online casinos match 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 This may sound like a great way to get some instant, free cash, but this money cannot be withdrawn, which will be discussed later.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, in particular, the best RTP 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.
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.
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.
The typical format for a welcome bonus is a percentage and a maximum. For example, when arriving at a 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’.
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.
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.
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