The last two decades have been a golden Eldorado for online gambling and sports betting with growth rates other industries can only dream off. Despite the humble beginnings in the late 90s, the market has grown rapidly into a multi-billion business. Plus, the latest developments in mobile technology have given online gaming an extra super boost that is set to continue for years to come. With such a hot-running trend comes intense competition between casinos as new brands are launched on a weekly basis. Operators are keen to cash in on the online gambling firework that is further fueled by an increasing number of game studios.
Faced with so much choice, players who are about to open a new account will look out for the best welcome package on offer. That is the very reason why casino operators are virtually outpacing each other to give players the best possible welcome when they finally decide to open an account. After all, only a depositing player will bring them revenue. However, players often think that bonuses are just a lure that comes with such complicated terms that will make sure that they cannot win from playing with a bonus. Others take them without reading the terms and thus get themselves into a lose-lose situation because they violate the said terms. You can read a detailed report about rules and pitfalls of casino bonuses here (link to article).
Nevertheless, a player can achieve a significant advantage when using bonuses if he follows the terms and plays it the right way. While many casinos will shut their doors quickly when they detect advantage play or so-called bonus abusers, there are countless trustworthy online casinos available to open a new account. A gambler following the right advice can make good returns from claiming bonuses with their deposit. While it is not a given that a bonus will lead to a profit, playing without a bonus is a sure way to lose in the long run. By using the right strategy the situation is reversed with bonuses. The more you play, the more probable it becomes to make a profit as long as you only play when the advantage is on your side.
Below you will find the most common types of bonuses with clear explanations what the pros and cons are for each. Low-risk bonuses have little variance but also lower returns. In other words, you will rarely incur large losses but it is also more difficult to win big from them. The bonus types below are listed from low to high risk. The best offers for limited budgets are at the top. Those with bigger budgets who can ride out a longer loss period can skip to the bottom bonus types.
1. Welcome, Reload and Deposit Bonuses Exceeding 100%
In these cases, the bonus money is given in proportion to the deposit, which makes them worth taking most of the time when you can get one. They do come with wagering requirements (WR) attached and often a long list of terms and conditions. It is advisable to wager these bonuses at the maximum allowed bet size (remember to read the conditions) to give you a bigger advantage. Shady and even some properly licensed casinos will have a maximum cashout limit hidden in the terms, so make sure that it is not the case before claiming the bonus.
Conclusion: The offers are excellent when cashouts are not limited as it gives you the possibility to hit big wins, although often the total balance is lost rather quickly.
2. Forfeitable Casino Bonuses, Offers Where Bonuses Are Not Tied to Your Own Money
This type of bonus will keep your deposited cash balance separately from the bonus balance. While they are rarely specified upfront, it is good to know the casinos that offer them. Make sure to read the rules or ask for advice to play them right.
The big advantage of these bonuses is that you will play first with your cash balance and you can always hit the withdrawal button should you score a big win before you use the bonus money. Please note, that at that point you will forfeit the bonus, plus casinos always ask to turn over your deposit at least once or more times before you can submit a withdrawal.
There is no maximum bet rule when you play with your cash balance, so it is worthwhile to take a higher risk. Some of the best options are to play Blackjack or Pontoon as the house edge is very small. Since your own money does not decrease the wagering for the bonus, grinding along does not help. The faster you achieve the desired result, the better value you will get from the offer. Big bets are making it easier to increase or as a matter of fact, decrease the balance quickly.
Taking a big bonus warrants a higher risk while with a small bonus it is advisable to settle for smaller bet sizes. Should you succeed with your own money, head straight to the cashier to forfeit the bonus and submit the withdrawal (hence, the name forfeitable bonus). On the other hand, should you fail and lose your cash balance, you will have a second chance with the bonus. It is usually subject to WRs with bet limits, game weighting and restrictions in place until it is completed. However, any converted bonus money is the profit you would not normally get without taking a bonus. The winnings from the bonus will then more than make up for your poor run with your own money.
Always watch out when the total balance is getting close to the bonus amount to avoid making a mixed bet with cash and bonus money. Make sure to play your own money down to zero and then start grinding the bonus.
Conclusion: The risk level when taking forfeitable bonuses is lower than for standard deposit bonuses because you can always withdraw winnings, which is usually more often the case when you stick to games such as Blackjack or Pontoon.
3. Forfeitable Slots-Only Bonuses Where You Use Your Own Money for Wagering the Bonus With Maximum Bet Rules
This is a bonus offer where you get bonus money added to your the deposit and you accept to wager the bonus on slots only (progressive slots are mostly restricted) with a maximum bet, game weighting and restrictions and other wagering terms. However, if you manage to score a big hit before the balance dips into the bonus balance side, you can again head for the cashier, forfeit the bonus and withdraw your winnings similar to paragraph 2.
For example, at 100 % you will receive for a deposit of €100 a bonus of €100, total €200 to play with. Should you now hit a big win of let say €1,000 when your balance is still over €100, it is advisable to cash out straight away when you are still at the beginning of the wagering. However, if the big hit comes towards the end of the wagering, it is usually better to complete it as it will also convert the bonus into real money.
Conclusion: This type of bonus is not the best option but still less risky than normal bonuses because you can always withdraw without completing the WR as long as you did not touch the bonus balance.
4. Normal Deposit Bonuses from 25% to 100%
These bonuses can be usually used for slots play only with the deposited money and the bonus tied together into one bonus balance, which needs to be wagered a pre-set amount of times as per the bonus rules of the casino. The entire balance converts to cash once the WR is completed.
We can also include in this category those bonuses where you can withdraw while still wagering but the withdrawable amount is proportional to the deposited amount and the received bonus. Casumo is one of the casinos offering this option. Taking again our example of a 100% offer, giving you a €100 bonus for a deposit of €100, will allow you to cash out 50% of your balance, e.g. if you reach €2,000 then €1,000 can be withdrawn. However, it is advisable to complete the wagering as at the end the entire balance will be converted to cash.
These bonuses are usually advertised as “50% bonus, up to €100″. This means you will need to deposit €200 to claim the maximum bonus amount (€200 x 0.5 = €100). The WR for the bonuses is usually given in the form of x times the bonus or x times the deposit + bonus. The requirements have significantly increased in recent years, leading to more casinos using the “deposit + bonus” format as it makes a high WR look smaller. A WR of 40x bonus is always better than a 30x deposit + bonus offer although the number appears smaller at first glance. Take a look at the example below for a 50% bonus:
Deposit €100, Bonus €50
Case 1 – WR is 40 x bonus: €50 x 40 = €2,000 wagering requirement
Case 2 – WR is 30x deposit + bonus: (€100 + €50) x 30 = €4,500 wagering requirement
Always make sure to do an exact calculation for the total wagering requirement as casinos increasingly like to use the trick. But even bonuses with high WR are worth taking on smaller deposits. When wagering, it is best to avoid grinding. Rather go for a short session with big bets (in accordance with the maximum bet rule) than playing longer with small bets. You lose fast one day but also win big on a lucky day. In case the casino does not have a max. bet or a high limit, getting through a high WR can still be profitable if the allowed bet size is big enough.
Conclusion: For these bonuses, you should prepare yourself that your balance can be anywhere during the session and still zero at the end. You have won nothing until the remaining WR is lower than the total balance. However, once completed the remaining balance is yours to keep.
5. Forfeitable Slot Bonuses Where Your Own Money Does Not Contribute to the WR and There Is No Maximum Bet Rule
A rather rare type of bonus today and pretty much the equivalent to the forfeitable bonuses in paragraph 2. However, the risk is higher as you will have to wager the bonus on slots.
Conclusion: Avoid grinding and go for higher bets to try an hit a big win quick.
6. Cashback Deals, Blackjack Allowed
The CB deals as we call them are becoming more common at online casinos where they return a percentage of your net losses in cash. The usual rate is 10% over a given period, mostly one week. For example, you deposited €1,000 and withdrew €500 in a week means you have a net loss of €500 and at 10% you will receive a cashback of €50.
Although €50 might not look like much when you lost one large, it can be turned into a profit in the long run. The strategy is to play a specified amount in Blackjack with a big bet, e.g. doubling a €200 deposit to €400 and withdrawing. Should you lose the bet, you will have €20 cash in your account the next day or at the beginning of the following week. Since the house edge on Blackjack is very low, usually around 1% or less, this is a pretty sure way to make a profit in the long run. However, as it requires playing with high bets, it can be rather nerve-racking on long losing streaks, which is the downside of the strategy.
The opposite of CB is a Win Boost. It is similar in principle but gives extra profits when you hit a win overall. Sometimes casinos offer both which means no matter if you lost or won, you will get something. In this case, you should take a shot with your balance at either end, win or lose quickly.
Occasionally, the casino terms may require you to complete a minimum number of rounds to be eligible cashback. You should play the amount off with smaller bets and then start playing with a bigger bet. Sometimes the money to be returned also has a wagering requirement that somewhat reduces the value of the offer, but still remains a plus.
Conclusion: Cashback or Win Boost are both good opportunities to make a profit or even extra profit when you play games with a low house edge. Play big bets to maximize the advantage. However, don’t use the strategy with a small budget.
7. Deposit Bonuses Where the Bonus Is Gradually Released as You Complete the Wagering
This type of bonus is more common on poker sites but is used by some casinos, e.g. Videoslots. The bonus is released as the wagering progresses. In the worst case scenario, you may have to spend a lot more money than your initial deposit to get the whole bonus released. A big risk, but can be profitable for a player if the WR multiplied by the EV (expected value) of the slot (average 3-4 %) is less than the promised total bonus.
Conclusion: Only viable when the rule of thumb for WR x EV applies.
8. Big Deposit and Bet Bonuses, VIP Bonuses With Reduced WR
Being loyal to a particular casino coupled with regular sizeable deposits may see you qualify for VIP status. While in some it is rather easy to ascend to the coveted status, in others only the big players are eligible. VIP bonuses tend to be very good but also carry a higher financial risk. The wagering requirements are usually well in favour of the players and while the risk of a large single deposit is significant, it can produce substantial monthly earnings by simply using them.
A typical VIP bonus is “50% up to €500 with just 15x bonus as WR”, which is so small that you can manage to get through it in most cases, and with a huge win on lucky days. Although sometimes the budget might not warrant to claim the maximum bonus, it is advisable to take them every time it is possible
Conclusion: VIP bonuses have some of the lowest wagering requirements and should be taken on each occasion.
9. Slots Cashback
We explained the Blackjack cashback in paragraph 6 as a rather good opportunity to turn out a profit. Slots cashback is much tougher as the losses must come from slots play only to qualify. This means they need to be played at high stakes to avoid grinding up and down. It is better to achieve a quick result, either win or lose. We have mostly the feeling that a deposit is lost the soon we make it and accept it as we risk it on games that have an house edge. But when you hit well on a big bet, it will be a substantial amount. Losing it will get you a second chance via the CB.
Conclusion: Slots Cashback require a large bankroll to play for this type of cashback bonuses.
10. Other Bonus Types
Sticky Bonuses: Generally, bonuses where bonus money can never be withdrawn, but you can play with the bonus and withdraw the winnings. In some cases, they can be withdrawn immediately, in others the wagering must be completed and the sticky bonus amount will be deducted from your cashout.
Forfeitable Bonuses where the WR is done only with your cash balance: Bonus money can be converted into real money only by wagering your own money long enough. You can make multiple deposits to complete the wagering and release the bonus, however, you would have to re-deposit before using up the bonus balance to make sure you receive the full bonus once the WR is completed. Royal Panda is one of the casinos offering this bonus type.
Undoubtedly, there is a large variety of bonus types on offer of which we listed the most common ones on this page. Reading and understanding all rules to establish the equally large amount of bonus conditions can be time consuming but is absolutely essential to avoid any violations.
We have sometimes the feeling that operators make their terms appear convoluted on purpose so players run into the trap of breaking them and thus give the casino reasons to confiscate any winnings. Customer support is also not always helpful as they often simply point to the terms. The best answers come usually from players who have already claimed bonuses at the respective casino.
You can always count on the help of our GMBLRS Aces, an open group of newcomers, nerds, experienced gamblers and everyone else who pledged their support for our community. Visit the GMBLRS Aces group now to post your questions or become a member of the group yourself.
Always remember the rule of thumb that applies to all bonuses. Simply follow the casino terms with the right strategy and you could end up making a good profit in the long run. We know it because we have done it!