Last updated: February 20, 2024
For those new to online gambling, casino bonuses can be confusing, and without fully understanding the mechanics behind them, it’s hard to get their full value.
For that reason, we’ve come up with this extensive guide to online casino bonuses. In it, we cover different types of bonus offers, all important terms like wagering requirements and maximum bet limits, and provide some tips on how to get the most out of different bonus types.
|Any casino bonus that requires a deposit
|Deposit Match Bonus
|A bonus that represents a percentage of your deposit amount, i.e., 100% up to $500
|No Deposit Bonus
|A casino bonus that requires no deposit, i.e., you can claim it without any financial commitment
|A casino bonus offered to new players, welcoming them to the site
|A bonus offered to existing players, requiring them to make a fresh deposit to claim the offer
|Free Spins Bonus
|An offer that gives you a certain number of free spins after completing a particular requirement (making a deposit, wagering a certain amount, etc.)
|A casino bonus determined based on the total amount of wagered or lost, i.e. 50% of all your losses during 24 hours back
|High Roller Bonus
|Bonuses offered to players willing to make large deposits and place big bets, usually featuring lower wagering requirements and fewer restrictions
|Loyalty / VIP Bonus
|A casino bonus offered to loyal players based on their gaming history on the site
|Payment Method Bonus
|A bonus offered to players who make a deposit using a particular payment method, i.e., 20% bonus on all deposits via PayPal
Although there are many different types of casino bonuses you’ll come across, all of them share at least some of the features described below. Understanding these is essential to avoiding some common mistakes and getting full value out of a bonus offer.
One aspect that nearly all casino bonuses share is the wagering requirements. In short, this is the amount you need to play through before the bonus turns into actual money that you can withdraw.
For example, a $100 bonus with 20x wagering requirements asks the player to play through $2000 before they are allowed to cash out.
As a player, you want the wagering requirement number to be as small as possible, as this effectively increases the value of a bonus. The more times you need to turn over the funds, the less valuable the offer becomes.
This is directly related to the house edge that’s inherent to all casino games. If a casino has an edge of 3%, this means they’ll get — on average — $3 for every $100 you put through the game. Of course, this is applicable only in the long run, as anything can happen over the course of a few hours of play. However, when thinking about the value of a bonus, this is how you need to approach it.
So, if we look at the above example, if you need to play through $2,000 to release $100, doing so on a game with a 3% house edge (like a slot with an RTP of 97%) would result in a long-term profit of $40. Thus, we can say that this is an advantageous offer for the player.
If the bonus had 40x wagering requirements, using the same math, we can see that a long-term cost to complete the wagering is $120, which is larger than the bonus amount. Hence, that offer isn’t profitable.
Of course, different casino games have different house edge and return-to-player percentages. Playing a game with a lower house edge improves your odds, as shown in the table below.
Looking at the numbers, it is easy to draw a conclusion that the most favorable strategy is to play games / place bets with the lowest house edge while clearing the bonus. This is a correct conclusion, but often, casinos don’t make it easy to do so.
Game restrictions come hand in hand with wagering requirements. It is quite common that while using bonus money, you won’t be allowed to play certain games, your play on certain games will not count toward wagering, or wagering contributions from particular games will be lowered.
For example, it is a usual practice to exclude almost all table games and video poker variations from bonus play. The reason is simple — these games have very low house edges, often below 1%. Allowing players to clear the bonus on these games would make bonuses very profitable for the customer and cut into the casino’s bottom line.
|Amount to Wager
Some operators take a slightly different approach. They’ll allow players to play these games with a bonus, but will decrease wagering contributions, making them anywhere between 50% and 20% of your bet. So, for every $100 wagered, only $50 or $20 will count toward wagering requirements.
This approach levels things out as halving wagering contributions on a game with a 2% house edge makes it the same as if you were playing a game with a 4% edge. However, it is better for the overall experience as it doesn’t force players to play the games they don’t enjoy and instead lets them play whatever they prefer.
Wagering requirements, combined with certain game restrictions, are designed to ensure players don’t abuse casino bonuses, i.e., to avoid hit-and-run tactics.
Maximum bet limits are the third factor in this equation. As explained earlier, the house edge is realized over a long span. The longer you have to play, the closer you’ll get to the actual number, which is why most casino bonus offers have the maximum bet limit in place.
Usually, the limit is set at around $5 per bet or spin, although it can be somewhat lower and, in the case of high roller bonuses, somewhat higher. The reason is simple — the casino doesn’t want a player to take a, say $500 bonus, and use it to only place a few large bets.
If you were to take a $500 bonus with 25x wagering, the total you need to wager is $12,500. If you were to bet $200 a go, it would take just over 60 wagers. At the $5 maximum bet limit, you need to play 2,500 spins or place 2,500 individual bets on approved table games.
The house edge remains the same in both cases, but, as explained, the longer you have to play, the likelier you are to approach the real number, allowing the casino to realize its edge.
Most casino bonuses come with a time limitation. These can vary greatly, from just 24 hours (or less, in rare cases) up to 30 or more days. There is no particular rhyme or reason as to why casinos put a particular time limitation, but they do want to incentivize players to be active on the site and use the bonuses instead of leaving them in their accounts for months.
There isn’t much to say about this particular aspect except that you need to be aware of any time limits and make sure to use the bonus, and try to beat the wagering before the deadline. In most cases, if you fail to do it, the bonus will simply be removed, which means that any progress you made toward wagering will be for naught.
Time constraint stipulations are usually listed in bonus terms and conditions, but if you can’t find them or have any uncertainties about it, you can always reach out to customer support and ask.
The ultimate goal of taking a casino bonus is running it up and cashing out some profits. To be able to do this, you’ll usually need to meet several requirements:
The last step in this process is the important one to keep in mind. Most online casinos will only let you make a withdrawal after making at least one deposit. The main reason for this is to connect your preferred payment method to your casino account.
The identity verification is another important aspect. Casinos are very meticulous here as they want to prevent people from claiming multiple bonuses by registering under different names. If you try to do this, you can be almost certain it’s not going to work, because, unless you have the relevant documentation to confirm you are who you claimed you are when opening the account, you won’t get paid.
Now that we’ve covered the most important aspects of casino bonuses, it’s time to turn to what really matters: how do you get the best value out of these casino promotions?
On paper, many bonuses sound great, as they are the main promotional tool for most gambling sites. However, it is only after looking under the hub and exploring every important aspect that one can understand how valuable any individual bonus really is.
Here’s an overview of things you should do when picking a casino bonus to ensure it’s the right one for you and how you can know what kind of added value to expect.
Quite often, online casinos will give you a choice of a welcome bonus, allowing you to pick between two or three different offers. It’s important to choose correctly, keeping in mind your bankroll and gaming preferences.
For example, a 100% match bonus of up to $2,000, like the one offered by DraftKings Casino US is great if you intend to make a big deposit. But if you’re only depositing $20, that particular offer isn’t doing anything for you.
On the other hand, with that same $20 deposit, you could easily pick up the PokerStars Casino welcome bonus, which gives you $100 worth of free play (a mix of bonus spins and casino credits) after wagering just $1.
Big match bonuses can be quite valuable if you have a big bankroll to take full advantage of them. For recreational players who only look to deposit a small amount, bonuses that come with bonus spins and extra casino credits are a much better option.
In the above sections, we’ve covered in detail what casino bonus wagering requirements are, how they work, and why they exist in the first place. You can now apply that knowledge when deciding whether the bonus is worth your time.
As we’ve shown, high wagering requirements decrease the value of a bonus regardless of the size. A good cutoff number here is 30x. Casino bonuses with wagering requirements of 30x and under are usually a good pick. Anything that goes over that number doesn’t have a positive expected value.
US online casino players have it good in this regard, as there are many welcome offers that come with just 1x wagering, which is insanely good. Many larger deposit match offers have wagering requirements of around 15x, which is still much better than the average and definitely worth taking.
Sometimes, a bonus may look very good on the surface and meet both criteria we discussed up to this point, but still not be worth your time. This happens when a casino goes too far in terms of restricting games you can play with bonus funds.
For example, you may find a bonus that’s right for you and has good wagering requirements, but then it turns out you can only use it on slots from a certain provider. With further inspection, you find out that this particular provider has a very limited selection of games, and they all have low RTP — 94% or under, for example.
If you’re restricted to only games with low RTP, this drives down the value of the bonus, even if the wagering requirements are within the suggested parameters. Plus, such limitations can significantly influence the fun you’ll have playing as you don’t get to play the games you like.
One final thing to consider is the maximum withdrawal clause. This isn’t common with US online casino bonuses, but it’s something you might come across, and it’s very important to pay attention to.
If there is a restriction that stipulates that you can only withdraw a certain amount after you clear the wagering, you’re better off looking for a different bonus. For example, on a $100 bonus, you might be allowed to cash out a maximum of $300.
The reason why this is bad is that, every now and again, you’ll have a big win, and that big win becomes irrelevant when there is a maximum withdrawal clause. In the long run, these big wins are important because they factor into your overall RTP, so having to forfeit $700 from a $1,000 win isn’t good.
Additionally, this clause can really ruin your experience, as having to forfeit a significant portion of your win goes against everything that makes online gambling fun.
To get the best value out of casino bonuses, you also need to avoid some common mistakes that many inexperienced players fall victim to. This list should help give you a good idea of what you shouldn’t do under any circumstances to avoid problems when it’s time to cash in:
US online casinos offer a variety of bonuses for new and existing players alike. These bonuses aren’t set in stone and they change frequently, but every operator has its own style, so we’re bringing you an overview of the type of bonuses you can expect at leading US casino sites.
BetMGM Casino US is the only regulated operator in the country that continues to offer a no deposit bonus to all new players. This may change in the future, so now is the best time if you want to have some fun and try your luck without any risk involved.
Right now, BetMGM Casino US offers a $25 no deposit bonus that you can claim after registering account and confirming your email address. The bonus needs to be wagered only once, and there is no maximum withdrawal cap.
This isn’t to say that BetMGM doesn’t have other types of bonuses. Their first deposit match is very good, and you can pick up some extra funds every single week simply by playing select games.
While players can’t claim any no deposit bonuses here, PokerStars Casino US certainly caters well to recreational gamblers looking for a bit of fun without breaking the bank.
Their welcome bundle offers plenty of bonus spins and casino credits, and the only requirement to claim it is a single real money wager. Plus, the operator has a myriad of regular giveaways with daily and weekly bonuses up for grabs, often requiring no financial commitment.
For those with bigger bankrolls, the first deposit match is usually smaller than what you’ll get with other casinos.
DraftKings Casino US has always taken a slightly different approach than most operators, tailoring their bonus offers more towards players with big bankrolls.
For a long time now, the site has been offering a 100% match up to $2,000 as a part of their standard welcome package, which is the biggest deposit match available in the country. And, if you’re looking for an even bigger deal, they do provide custom welcome offers for those willing to deposit over $2,000.
DraftKings does have occasional offers for lower-stakes players as well, usually offering a much smaller deposit match but with very low wagering requirements. These are quite valuable when available, but they aren’t the standard feature of the operator.
We’ve talked a lot about wagering requirements in this guide to casino bonuses, so by this point, you understand they are the most important thing in determining the value of the bonus. And when it comes to player-friendly wagering, BetRivers Casino US stands above the rest.
The operator has made it one of its core principles to offer the best wagering requirements around, with their bonuses often featuring a turnover of just 1x. Even when that’s not the case, you’ll never come across a BetRivers Casino bonus with wagering of over 15x.
If you can pick up $250 or $500 with 1x wagering, there is really not much to say other than you should definitely go for it. This is almost as good as free money because you’re guaranteed to profit from the bonus — the only question is how much.
Claiming a casino bonus is usually a very simple process, even if you have no experience with online gambling whatsoever. Follow these steps, and you should have no issues:
With so many different casinos out there, the exact procedure may differ slightly from one operator to another, but it is usually a mix of the steps described above. If you are confused or uncertain about what to do next at any point, the best course of action is to reach out to customer support and ask them for clarification.
With everything we’ve covered in this extensive casino bonus guide, you may be wondering if bonuses are even worth the bother or if you’re better off just playing with your own money.
The best answer is that casino bonuses are definitely worth it, but you have to pick and choose and make sure to only go for the ones that bring additional value. There is no point in dealing with all the restrictions to claim a bonus that doesn’t really boost your winning chances in the long run.
Another reason casino bonuses are valuable is that they give you more space to explore a new site. With double or triple the funds you deposited, you’ll have much more maneuvering space to get a feel for the place and decide if you like it.
So, to wrap it up, there is no reason to avoid casino bonuses, and some of them can really contribute to your bankroll and your gaming experience. You just need to take a few minutes to read the terms and conditions and understand them fully before committing to any particular bonus.
Casino bonuses are boosts provided by online casinos, giving you extra money and bonus spins that you can use to play games on the site.
Wagering requirements tell you how much money you need to wager before you are allowed to withdraw the bonus. They’re usually expressed as a multiple of the bonus amount, i.e., 20x wagering on a $200 bonus equals $4,000 in money that needs to be wagered.
A no deposit bonus is a casino bonus that doesn’t require any financial commitment from the player. Usually, you just need to register an account with the casino to receive this bonus, and you don’t have to pay any of your own money.
To judge the value of a casino bonus, you need to look at several factors, such as wagering requirements, game restrictions, maximum bet, and any withdrawal limitations. When you consider all these aspects together, you can make an informed decision about the value of a bonus.
Different casinos have different rules, but quite often, if you break the terms, you will forfeit your bonus and any related winnings. This is why it’s very important to closely follow all the terms when playing with bonus money.