Online casino bonuses are real money rewards that casino sites give to new players for signing up and depositing. There are hundreds of casino sites out there competing for your business right now, and one of the main ways they try to get your attention is by offering bigger and better signup bonuses than the competition.
In any industry, competition is beneficial to the customer. The more casinos there are competing for your business, the more rewards you get as a player. As nice as online casino bonuses are, there are a few things you should know before jumping right in.
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Best Deposit Bonuses
Not all online casino bonuses were created equal. Some online casino bonuses are much more valuable than others. On this page, you can see a list of the best online casino bonuses that are available for the taking today. I look at all the details of every online casino bonus and rank them according to how beneficial they actually are in the end.
Size does not matter when it comes to ranking the best online casino bonuses. I have personally seen online casino sites that offer players more than $10,000 for signing up and playing, only to find that those bonuses were next to useless. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Always read the fine print before you sign up and claim a bonus at a gambling site.
Most importantly, check the clearing requirements for any online casino bonus before you sign up and deposit. Clearing requirements are basically insurance policies that casinos use to make sure people don’t just sign up, get massive bonuses and then cash back out again. Before you can withdraw your bonus money, you are required to place a certain dollar amount of wagers at the casino.
On average, casino websites use clearing requirements in the 20x range. This means that you are asked to place a total sum of wagers equal to 20 times the bonus plus deposit amount. That might sound like a lot, but remember these are only wagers and not losses. Most online casino sites have payout rates of 97% and above, so meeting these wagering requirements is not particularly difficult.
The other thing you want to look at is the match rate of the bonus. This number is given as a percentage and it tells you how much money you can expect to see from the casino. For example, a 100% bonus means your first deposit is doubled. Deposit $200 with a 100% match rate and you’ll get an extra $200 in bonus money.
These two factors (clearing requirement and match rate) are the most important when looking for the best casino bonuses. It is always smart to check the fine print anyways to make sure the bonus works for what you intend to play. For example, some online casinos do not count blackjack bets towards meeting the wagering requirements.
Latest Bonus Codes
Sign up for a new account at any online casino and the odds are you’ll see a place somewhere on the signup page that asks for your “bonus code” or “promo code.” When casinos come out with new promotions and bonuses, they often release special codes that you need to enter during the signup process in order to claim the special offer.
If you take a look at our bonus codes page, you’ll see a list of the latest promo codes. Make sure you grab the latest code to ensure you get the best bonus offer available.
Taking Advantage Of Incentives
The most obvious advantage of bonus offers at online casino sites is the free money they give you. If you are planning on visiting a casino and gambling anyways, bonus money is a nice little perk that you wouldn’t get at a traditional brick-and-mortar casino. You do not have to do anything special other than sign up and make a real money deposit.
The extra cash you get from an online casino signup bonus can be considered a win in itself. Alternatively, bonus money can be wagered at the casino site and used to win even more money. A casino deposit bonus basically doubles the amount of money and time you get to spend at any single online casino site.
Sign-up bonuses also come in handy if you hit a bad run of luck. If you go on a bad losing streak, an online casino bonus can help pad some of your losses. This is obviously preferable to losing your entire bankroll and being stuck with nothing.
Even better, online casino bonus offers make stretches of good luck even sweeter. Now not only are you winning money at the casino, but you’re also clearing a fat casino bonus. Hit a nice run of luck while you’re clearing a bonus and it’s possible to build a respectable gambling bankroll in short order.
Caveats and Disadvantages
Something you should always keep in mind with gambling is that casinos are not in the business of giving out free money. Every game has a house advantage and every offer you see is somehow geared to earn more of your business.
One of the primary disadvantages of casino bonuses is that they come with clearing requirements. These clearing requirements must be met before you can play with the money or cash it out. Many bonuses can’t even be cashed out – they can only be used to place wagers and win money that you can withdraw.
It would be nice if bonus money was just deposited straight to your account with no questions asked. Of course, that’s not realistic from the standpoint of the casino. They would all go broke within a week if they gave out bonus money with no strings attached.
Keeping track of these clearing requirements can be a bit of a pain. Or if you get tired of gambling and are ready to cash out, you may feel obligated to continue playing for the sake of your remaining bonus money. What I recommend is simple: Only play casino games when you feel like it and consider any bonus money you earn the icing on the cake.
Don’t play when you don’t feel like it just because you have an unclaimed casino bonus. There are plenty more out there and new bonuses are released all the time. Remember that online casino sites are there for your enjoyment. The bonus money was just extra free cash that was given as an incentive for you to sign up and play. You do the casino a favor by playing there, so don’t feel obligated to stick around.
Expected Value of an Online Casino Bonus
You can get a very rough idea of the expected value of a bonus by multiplying the clearing requirements by the house advantage of the games you intend to play while clearing the bonus. Let’s say you deposit $50 and get a $50 bonus that comes with a 20x rollover. Let’s also say this bonus allows you to clear it with roulette (not all bonuses work with all games – something to keep in mind).
The 20x rollover applied to the bonus + deposit amount ($100 x 20) means you’ll need to place a total sum of wagers equal to $2,000. Single zero roulette has a house advantage of 2.7%. Now you want to figure out how much you’ll lose, on average, if you place $2,000 worth of wagers at a 2.7% house advantage.
$2,000 x .027 = $54.
This tells us that you’re expected to lose $54 if you wager a total of $2,000 at roulette. Your actual results will vary of course because this is just the average. You might actually win or lose a lot more money than that.
However, we still learn something very important here. This bonus is actually going to cost you $4 if you clear it with roulette. You got a $50 bonus but your expected losses are $54. You should either play a different game with a lower house advantage or pass on this bonus entirely if your goal is maximize your potential earnings.
This dampens some of the allure of online casino bonuses, doesn’t it? I like to look at it this way: gambling is a negative expected value endeavor anyways. Everyone knows the casino has an advantage over the long run. If you want to make guaranteed money, you can just go to work and earn a paycheck. The point of gambling is to buck the odds, get lucky and win a bunch of cash. I just think it’s important to keep everything in perspective and understand that nothing is guaranteed – not even big bonuses.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.