Online Casino Bonuses - Information and Guide to Bonus Offers

Wagering Requirements

One of the most common conditions attached to bonus offers is a wagering requirement. Simply stated, this means that a player has to wager a certain amount of money playing casino games on the site before they are eligible to receive the bonus reward. For example, a $10 bonus might have a $1000 wagering requirement. Any amount of wagers that adds up to $1000, regardless of whether the wagers win or lose, is enough to "clear" the condition. In this case, 10 $100 hands of blackjack or 20 spins of roulette with $50 wagered on each one would be enough to clear the bonus. It's also possible to play several different games in combination to achieve the same result.

There is also usually a time parameter attached to a wagering requirement, so the player has only a limited time to clear it before the bonus disappears. To continue the example above, the $10 bonus may have a maximum of two weeks from the time of acceptance to be cleared. So while a player may only wager $500 in one session after accepting the offer, he or she could still claim the bonus by returning within 14 days and wagering another $500. It's customary for online casinos to allow only one such bonus to be active for a player at any given time.

Cashable Bonuses

A cashable bonus is one that has become part of a player's online casino balance and can be withdrawn just like any other money the player has deposited or won. It differs from the various types of non-cashable bonuses, which can't be withdrawn. Sometimes the conditions that cause a bonus to be non-cashable are temporary, while in other cases they may never be able to be cashed out.

Two common variations of permanently non-cashable bonuses are phantom and sticky bonuses. The former refers to a bonus that appears as part of a balance but disappears after it is lost or a withdrawal is made. If a winning wager is made that includes a phantom bonus, the winnings are completely cashable, making it a useful boost for a single large bet. A sticky bonus always stays on the account until it is lost gambling, so its utility is in repeated use, cashing out the winnings each time until the bonus amount is eventually lost.

Microgaming ClearPlay Bonus System

Shared by multiple Microgaming online casinos, the ClearPlay bonus system is a way to figuratively improve the transparency of bonuses. Often bonuses are hard to figure out or even intentionally misleading. With ClearPlay, online gamblers know exactly what they have to do to turn non-cashable bonus credits into cash that can be wagered or withdrawn. It does so primarily by keeping regular credits and bonus credits in separate balances, with the latter turning into the former at regular intervals once wagering requirements are satisfied.

For example, a $100 deposit with a 100 percent match in ClearPlay would initially display as identical $100 balances in regular and bonus credits. If the wagering requirements were 20x, every $200 wagered would transfer $10 from the bonus balance to the regular balance.

Another important part of the ClearPlay system is simply stated wagering requirements that have all games played contributing, albeit often at different rates. Withdrawals of deposited money are allowed at any time, forfeiting any bonus credits yet to be converted.

Casinos that utilize the ClearPlay system include All Slots Casino, First Web Casino, Bet72 and many other Microgaming casino sites.

Sign-Up Bonuses

By far the most ubiquitous incentive used by online casinos, a sign-up bonus is extra money added on top of real money deposited by a player into an account. They can be found in percentages, like a flat 25 percent bonus on top of any deposit, or in fixed currency amounts, usually scaling in correlation to the size of the deposit. Sign-up bonuses are most often offered as an enticement to new players in a manner not dissimilar to the way that phone or cable companies use discounted rates to lure new subscribers.

Online casinos that offer sign-up bonuses to existing players typically do so in the form of a deposit bonus in order to rekindle lapsed interest. In that case, it's common for them to have wagering requirements attached. A referral bonus can also be thought of as a form of sign-up bonus, except it rewards people for getting their friends – who may receive sign-up bonuses of their own – to become new players.

No Deposit Bonuses

The exact opposite of a deposit bonus, just as the name suggests, is a no deposit bonus. This kind of offer feels the most like free money, as it's often given to a new player just for signing up for an account and downloading some casino software, before any money is committed. No deposit bonuses usually can't be cashed out under any circumstances, and are only usable to wager on games for a predetermined amount of time. At the end of the time period, the bonus goes away, and any additional amount can be kept by the player.

Naturally, there are plenty of strings attached. Money won with a no deposit bonus always has a maximum amount, to avoid players winning huge jackpots for free. Somewhat ironically, a minimum deposit generally must be made in order to cash out the money won from the no deposit bonus. That means that in the end, the no deposit bonus is probably misnamed, though it remains an effective tool for enticing people to play who wouldn't normally part with their own real money right away.

Monthly Bonuses

It's a fact that most of the best online casino bonuses go to new players. As mentioned above, non-gambling businesses do the same thing, figuring that once they turn people into customers, they will have an easier time holding onto them than they did trying to get them on board in the first place. Still, there is lots of competition in the real money gaming space, and not much to keep players from jumping from site to site. In fact, sign-up bonuses make it seem beneficial to do just that. That's where monthly bonuses come in.

Monthly bonuses are offers to existing players to reward them for their loyalty – or more cynically, to keep them from leaving. These typically take the form of a reload bonus, which gets the player to make another deposit to claim it, but could also be a no deposit bonus or some type of cash back offer depending on the casino and the player. The most important facet is that it arrives at the same time every month, like clockwork, in order to show the player there is a good reason to stick around. Experienced players evaluate monthly bonuses before joining a new online casino just to make sure the sign-up bonus isn't going to be the only good offer they receive for playing.