Online casinos operate in an extremely competitive space and need to differentiate themselves from others in order to get noticed. A part of this is done through the casino games offered. But online casinos powered by the same software provider offer the same set of games. Therefore the true differentiation comes from the bonuses and promotions offered.
Bonuses and promotions serve as a means of attracting new players and retaining existing ones. If they are compared to the brick and mortar world then bonuses would be like discounts on bulk purchases or buy four and get one free type schemes.
What are Casino Bonuses
Casino bonuses are free money provided to the player for wagering subject to his meeting certain conditions. Usually the bonus cannot be withdrawn by the player, but only the winnings from wagering the bonus can be withdrawn. The player would have to perform a minimum amount of wagering on specified games before he can withdraw the winnings. There could be a limit imposed on the winnings that can be withdrawn. Most bonuses require the players to make a deposit upfront and are given a percent of that deposit as bonus. But there are bonuses where a deposit is not required upfront.
Why Take Advantage of Casino Bonuses
Online casino players are not compelled to avail of bonuses. It is an offer made, which can be accepted or refused. But if the player would in the normal course be meeting the conditions under which the bonus is offered it makes sense to avail it and get some free money for wagering. In this case the player has nothing to lose. If players are sure that their bankroll will not permit them to meet the stipulated conditions then they can give the bonus a skip. Usually online casinos are sensitive to the requirements of such players and offer smaller bonuses with less stringent requirements.
Understanding Wagering Requirements
Wagering requirements are the key to understanding bonuses and are best explained through an example. A typical bonus offer would be: A 100% bonus on a deposit of $20 subject to the bonus and the deposit being wagered 20 times. The $20 deposit and the $20 bonus have to be wagered 20 times. The total wagering requirement works out to $800 [(20 + 20) x 20]. This means that the player would have to bring in additional $760 from his winnings or fresh deposits in order to claim the winnings on the $20 bonus. In addition, the wagering may have to be done on specified games.
Avoiding Online Casino Bonuses with Overly Strict Wagering Requirements
The first thing that players must do in regard to bonuses is evaluate the wagering requirements as indicated earlier. Only if their bankroll permits them to put up the amount needed for fulfilling the wagering requirements, should they claim the bonus. If the wagering requirements are overly strict it is best to let the bonus go.
There is a considerable range in the wagering requirements stipulated by online casinos. It would not be very difficult to find one that offers more reasonable requirements. However, this choice must not be made at the cost of the reputation of the casino and the quality of games offered.
Bonus Codes and How they Work
Many online casinos have bonus codes associated with each bonus offered and ask players to redeem the bonus code (or coupon) while claiming the bonus. When the player is making the deposit at the cashier of the online casino he will have to enter the bonus code before confirming the deposit. If the player forgets to enter the bonus code then he will not get the bonus. Entering the bonus is a confirmation by the player that he wants to avail of the bonus and will then be committed to meeting the wagering requirements. Sometimes a choice of bonuses is offered and the bonus code makes it clear which bonus has been chosen by the player.
Bonuses Credited to your Account Instantly
In some cases the online casino will credit the bonus instantly to the player's account when the initiating event has been performed. For example in the case of a welcome bonus, as soon as the first deposit of the required amount has been made the bonus may automatically be credited to the player's account. This is meant to make operations more convenient for the player. However, in such cases if the player does not want the bonus it is better to inform the customer support before making the deposit. Once the bonus is credited and the player wagers with it then he is stuck with it.
Types of Online Casino Bonuses
There are different ways of classifying bonuses. The most common is Deposit Bonus and No Deposit Bonus. For the former the player has to make a deposit and for the latter he does not have to. Bonuses can also be classified based on the games on which they have to be wagered. Large bonuses with stiffer wagering requirements are classified as High Roller Bonuses. Most online casinos offer bonuses to existing players for getting friends to sign up and these are called Refer A Friend bonuses. Loyalty Reward Bonuses are unique bonuses offered to players based on the amounts they have wagered.
No Deposit Bonuses
No Deposit Bonuses are bonuses in which the player is not required to make a deposit up front. Some online casinos offer No Deposit Bonuses to new players to allow them to check out the games offered. These bonuses are of small amounts of the order of 20 credits. After wagering this amount should the player want to leave the casino he can do so but will not be able to claim the winnings from wagering the bonus. If he decides to stay on then he may have to make a deposit to show his commitment and will be allowed to cash the winnings from the No Deposit Bonus.
Deposit Bonuses are given against deposits made by the players. For the first deposits made by a new player the Deposit Bonus is called Welcome Bonus or Sign Up Bonus. Deposit Bonuses for existing players are referred to as Reload Bonuses. Reload Bonuses are usually smaller than Welcome Bonuses. The bonus is specified as a percent of the deposit made. The minimum deposit that has to be made in order to be eligible for the bonus is also specified. Other specifications include the upper limit on the bonus, the limit on the cash out of winnings and the wagering requirements.
Free Play Bonus
Free Play Bonus is a unique form of Welcome Bonus offered at some online casinos. The new player is given a specified amount of free money to wager at the casino. A single game or a group of games may be specified for this. The player is also allotted a time limit. At the end of the time limit if the player has been able to enhance the original balance the winnings are his to keep. There is usually a limit on the amount of winnings that the player can retain and some other conditions, which may differ from casino to casino.
Slots Bonuses are bonuses where the wagering requirements have to be met on online slots. There are several reasons why online casinos want bonuses to be wagered on slots games. Slots games offer about 95% returns to the player whereas table games average 98% or more. Also in many table games like roulette and craps it is possible to hedge bets and minimize the risk and thus defeat the purpose of wagering requirements. Bonuses on other games are also offered but they are far less attractive than Slots Bonuses. Hence it becomes worthwhile for the player to opt for the Slots Bonus when a choice is offered.
High Roller Bonuses
Though less in number, it is the high rollers that provide most of the wagering turnover at online casinos. Therefore online casinos offer special bonuses for high rollers. The most striking feature of High Roller Bonuses is that the upper limit on the bonuses is very high and in many cases not imposed at all. This provides an incentive to the high roller to make large single deposits, knowing that the full extent of the deposit will yield a bonus. High Roller Bonuses may have larger wagering requirements but this should not bother high rollers who plan to wager with large bankrolls anyway.
Monthly Bonuses are standing offers at online casinos. Players know that these deposit bonuses will be available on specified periods of the month, or throughout the month, month in and month out. Some monthly bonuses are specified in the normal deposit format. However in many Monthly Bonuses the bonus limit is not imposed on each deposit but on the total quantity of bonus availed per month. A typical specification would be: a bonus of 20% on each deposit made during the month, but not exceeding $200 for the entire month. This gives players greater flexibility and helps them plan their wagering better.
Loyalty Rewards Bonuses
Loyalty Rewards Bonuses are indirect bonuses. Players earn loyalty points per real money unit wagered. These loyalty points can be accumulated and when they reach a specified level they can be redeemed for casino credits. The casino credits are like bonuses and wagering requirements and other terms have to be met. The rate at which players accumulate loyalty points depends on the game played and the player's VIP status. Games like online slots offer the most loyalty points, whereas games like blackjack offer the least loyalty points. Players who wager larger amounts over given periods are allotted higher VIP statuses and accumulate loyalty points at a faster rate.