Bonuses and Loyalty Schemes were initially introduced to give an incentive to new online casino players and to loyal online casino players. However, it soon became obvious that the Bonuses meant that a new player could go to an online casino and stand a very good chance of walking away with a profit. Therefore you will find that Bonus T&C’s have become extremely complicated and in general we advise you not to accept a Bonus offer if you don’t necessarily have to. Loyalty Schemes however, could pay off if you consider yourself to be a bit of high-roller.
- What are online casino Bonuses
- What is the wagering requirement
- No deposit Bonuses, match Bonuses and sticky Bonuses
- Loyalty Bonuses
- Reload Bonuses
- Free play Bonuses
- Free spins Bonuses
- Loyalty schemes
- How to decide on an online casino Bonus
What are online casino Bonuses
The Signup Bonus was initially introduced to give an incentive to new online casino players to sign up to an online casino and try out the games without too much of a risk. Back in the late 90’s and early 21st century, signup Bonuses were a lot more generous than they are today, being a relatively young industry with far fewer players and less competition around. The idea was that a player would deposit a small amount of real money into a player account and receive an amount usually equal, or greater than, the amount that they initially deposited. The principle stayed the same, but the rules have changed quite a lot due to “Bonus fraudulent behavior”.
Not quite surprisingly, it soon became obvious that the Bonuses meant that a new player could go to an online casino and stand a very good chance of walking away with a profit. Which was fine in the early days as competition between online casinos was way less than it is now, with fewer choices available to the players, little or no legislation and regulation, and being a new industry, players were obviously suspicious of who was taking their money. Therefore it was far more common for an online casino player to stick with one online casino that they felt safe with.
As the industry expanded, the awareness and visibility of the industry increased, more and more players entered the market and more online casinos sprung up. As you’d expect, this lead to greater opportunities for the online casino players to hop from casino to casino, taking the Bonuses and leaving with a profit. A situation which sadly meant that the online casinos could no longer sustain the signup Bonus concept on their current terms. It also increased the amount of “Bonus abuse”, fraudulent activity by online casino players attempting to take more than the statutory one Bonus from a casino via a wide variety of deceptive methods.
What is the wagering requirement
Until this time, the terms of a Signup Bonus were relatively insignificant. While today, players are always required to undertake a certain amount of bets before they are able to cashout any winnings made from a Bonus, known as the wagering requirement. This constitutes a multiple of the deposit plus the Bonus received. For example, if a player deposits €100 and receives another €100 Signup Bonus with a wagering requirement of 5x (5 times the total of deposit and Bonus), the total of €1000 or more bets are required before cashout. And the wagering requirements keep increasing significantly, with a far more limited choice of games.
Also, many more casinos have started to put more emphasis on the Loyalty Bonus and the “VIP” Loyalty Schemes to keep players loyal. The Signup Bonuses on the surface often appear to be more attractive with many offers of 200% or more in Bonuses on the initial deposit, sometimes into 4-figure sums. But when you read the T&C’s things aren’t so clear cut. You will notice that lots of games are often excluded, some Bonuses have to be claimed over 2 or 3 separate deposits, and wagering requirements can be anything up to 60x the deposit and Bonus which is an almost unachievable restriction.
No Deposit Bonuses, Match Bonuses and Sticky Bonuses
As you could have previously read, there are two common conditions attached to Signup Bonuses: the wagering requirement or the total of bets, that a player needs to place before cashing out, and the game restrictions, a list of games that most online casinos exclude from Bonus wagering requirements. There are by far the most common cause of complaints within the online casino world, often caused by complicated Terms and Conditions (T&C’s) or player misunderstandings.
Important to know is that there are generally three different types of online casino Signup Bonuses: the No-deposit Bonus, the Match Bonus and the Sticky Bonus. The No-deposit Bonus is an offer by the online casino to deposit a small amount of money into your account after you register with the casino, without any deposit requirement. Typically this is €10, €15 or €25, usually not more than that. The Match Bonus is the most common Bonus and offers you a percentage match on your first deposit. Normally 100%, but anything between 50% and 300% you’ll find at almost every online casino, including the few that offer No-deposit Bonus options. The Sticky Bonus is similar to a Match Bonus, and is advertised as a Match Bonus, but has an additional term attached whereby you can’t withdraw the Bonus by itself, not even if you meet the wagering requirements.
The key to understanding the online casino Bonus on offer and whether it is worth claiming is to be found in the T&c’s of each online casino. Though you might have to look further than the link to the normal T&C’s. The Bonus terms are usually displayed separately and can be found for example under the ‘Promotions’ header on the homepage. So please don’t think that just because there is nothing mentioned about Bonuses in the online casino’s T&C’s, it’s an easy play. There are ALWAYS separate Bonus T&C’s to be found elsewhere on the website.
Loyalty Bonuses tend to be different than Signup Bonuses, generally (though not always!) with less stringent conditions attached. An online casino Loyalty Bonus is offered to players who have been playing at an online casino for a certain period of time, which is at the discretion of the online casino. Often you will find there is a monthly Match Bonus, similar to a Signup Bonus with similar terms, available to all players who have previously signed up, irrespective of how regularly they play. You should best treat these like Signup Bonuses and check the T&C’s and details as discussed previously in the Signup Bonuses section.
A number of online casinos refrain from actually publishing details about their Loyalty Bonuses, and this is largely because they tend to be by the targeted “invitation” of frequent players, high rollers and valued regulars. Sometimes they can be very generous and a number of online casinos also hand out birthday Match Bonuses, sometimes even as freebies. A lot will depend on how often you play there, and it will normally be bundled in with their VIP Scheme or Loyalty Program. On each online casino’s homepage you are likely to find a Players Club or Loyalty Scheme link which will explain how it works. Obviously these schemes vary considerably from online casino to online casino, but the usual structure is to find a silver, gold and platinum tiered scheme, similar to Credit Card companies. Over a given time period and depending on how much you wager, you will be rewarded accordingly and the benefits vary.
If you consider yourself to be a high-roller, let’s say that you deposit €10,000+ in a given month, it actually pays off to shop around for an online casino with a good Loyalty Scheme. At this level it doesn’t harm to contact the casino and ask them about extra available benefits. Part of receiving preferential treatment is the relationship factor. An online casino who know you and you build a good relationship with are far more likely to pass on special incentives and gifts.
With a Reload Bonus, players get offered a Bonus whilst ‘reloading’ their online casino account
i.e. depositing more money into their player account. Meaning that this is actually an ongoing Bonus. A Reload Bonus rewards players for continuing to use their online real money gaming account and gives the players an opportunity to claim a certain percentage of their initial deposit as a casino Bonus. Sometimes, a Reload Bonus goes hand in hand with additional Free Spins that are activated when the credit of an account gets reloaded. A Reload Bonus can sometimes also be linked to a certain method of payment.
Free play Bonuses
To take advantage of a Free Play Bonus, a player needs to register a new player account with the online casino. At this stage, no Credit Card or bank details are required. A typical Free Play Bonus works like an extension of a regular No-deposit Bonus. But instead of a small amount of money that a player will have added to the player account, a Free Play Bonus offers a much larger amount to play with. This can be as much as €1,000 or more and this can be used at any given moment but only within a certain amount of time, even as little as within 30 minutes or an hour. Within this time limit, a player has to do as much as possible with the Free Play Bonus money, because after that, the Bonus will be gone. Of course a player won’t be able to simply cash out after finishing up the Free Play Bonus period. Instead, it’s more likely for a player to get any winnings as a 100% match on a future deposit that’s needed to be able to continue playing.
Free Spins Bonuses
Free Spins Bonuses are a type of No-deposit Bonus that will give a player the opportunity to try a new casino or a new game without having to make a deposit and not having to risk anything, but to still have a chance to win real money. With a Free Spin Bonus an online casino offers the players a chance to play their favourite Slot machines for free. The Free Spin Bonus will be received as soon as a new player registers an account with the online casino. Any winnings from these Free Spins will be added to the casino balance for the player to play with. Again, a player won’t be able to simply cashout winnings resulted from a Free Spin Bonus. T&C’s will always apply.
An online casino Loyalty Scheme, as mentioned before also known as a Loyalty Program, VIP Scheme or Players Club, is a mechanism used by online casinos to reward online gamblers who stick with them over a period of time. Typically, a Loyalty Scheme will reward these players with extra money rewards and prizes, often directly related to the amount that the online gambler wagers or deposits over a monthly period.
The majority of online casinos offer a cashback as part of their Loyalty Program or sometimes operate an “Invite Only” Scheme. Cashback typically means that for every bet placed, the gambler collects a small number of points which can then be redeemed at a specific cut-off point (normally 1000 points) or on a specific date in a given month. These points vary, but typically reward 1 point for every €10 wagered, with 1 point equals 1 cent. So 1000 points might therefore equal €10. It’s surprising how quickly these points can accumulate, as they are based on every bet made rather than the amount of the deposit. Most online casinos vary the points depending on the game. The games that offer 50/50 options (ie: red/black bets in Roulette) and Blackjack usually offer 1 point per €10, while online Slots might offer 2 or 3 points per €10 wagered. Some casinos extend this further and offer up to 5 points per €10 bet on certain online Slot machines or other games of chance. Always make sure to check the T&C’s of the Loyalty Scheme at each online casino.
A number of casinos operate a tiered Loyalty Scheme which means that the more you play, the higher you will “climb up the loyalty ladder”. Unfortunately, it is often hard to discover the full extent of what’s on offer, but usually you’ll find out by playing at one place over a period of time. There is no harm in contacting the casinos to ask what they offer if you cannot find information on the website, although most of the time these are discretionary gifts and not necessarily set to a schedule.
Finally it is worth noting that all online casinos run daily, weekly or monthly promotions for all players, not just for “the loyal ones”. These will normally be displayed on the Promotions page, along with T&C’s or shared with players by newsletter. In addition, a majority of online casinos also run extra competitions for loyal players with better rewards.
An online casino Loyalty Scheme can play an important part in a player’s decision to stick with one casino. Leaving aside service, support and the games themselves, if you have a monthly budget of €5k or more, it is definitely worth spending some time to find out about the Loyalty Schemes on offer before selecting an online casino, as the schemes could possibly work out to be very rewarding over time.