How Online Casino Bonuses Work
Online casino bonuses — which usually come in the form of bonus funds or free spins — are rewards offered to both new and existing customers at UK online casinos. Most bonuses place certain qualifying requirements on players, which usually constitutes making a deposit of at least £10.
In most cases, as with matched deposit bonuses — where casinos match the value of your first deposit and return that same amount to you in the form of non-withdrawable bonus funds — the amount you’ll receive depends on the size of your qualifying deposit. When it comes to free spins, the minimum qualifying amount is usually enough to claim the full whack.
However, this is where things get tricky. The more you deposit in the process of claiming a matched deposit bonus, the more you’ll be required to spend to clear the wagering requirements — without doubt the most irksome of all bonus terms and conditions. We explain what each T&C involves below.
Wagering requirements refer to the amount of money you’ll be required to wager before you can withdraw any of your bonus winnings. Let’s look at an example.
Say you have a matched deposit bonus worth 100% up to £50, with wagering requirements of 30x. If you make the minimum qualifying deposit of £10, this means you’ll have to wager £300 (£10 x 30) of your own money before converting any potential winnings into withdrawable cash. If you deposited the full £50, the sum of those wagering requirements would increase to £1500 (£50 x 30). Another thing to be aware of is that wagering requirements can sometimes be applied to the sum of both your deposit and the consequent bonus, resulting in a much higher figure. In the case of free spins, wagering requirements are applied to your free spins winnings.
As you can see, wagering requirements can make it extremely difficult to profit from online casino bonuses, particularly when it comes to matched deposits. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that bonus funds are always a useful way of exploring a new site’s games library without spending too much of your own cash.
Another important factor to consider is the amount of time you’ll have to make use of your bonuses. If you’re only given seven days to use your free spins or satisfy wagering requirements, then you have no chance of really benefiting from your bonus and should probably look elsewhere. 30 days, on the other hand, is far more reasonable. Having said that, you should never feel pressured into overspending because of time restrictions — this is precisely what these sorts of terms and conditions are designed to encourage, and it’s rarely worth it.
Game weighting — also referred to as ‘game contributions’ — ties in closely with wagering requirements, and refers to the amount that different games will contribute to clearing the requirements. These will vary somewhat from one online casino to the next, but you can generally expect slots to contribute 100%, while table and live dealer games will seldom contribute more than 20%, if anything at all.
Some online casino bonuses restrict certain games altogether. This usually applies to free spins bonuses, which are often restricted to one or two specific titles. If this is the case, it should be made pretty obvious, but you’ll be able to find a list of all the ineligible games in the terms and conditions.
Similarly, you’ll often find that certain payment options — usually e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill and Neteller — aren’t accepted as qualifying deposit methods. This too should be clearly stated in the T&Cs, but it’s generally best to make your first qualifying deposit with a debit card, and then switch back to your preferred e-wallet for subsequent deposits.
Winnings caps are restrictions on the amount of real cash you can win from your bonuses. This figure will either be explicitly stated, or be presented as a multiplier on the value of your bonus; for example, if your winnings are capped at 4x the value of your bonus, and your bonus was worth £10, you can only win a maximum of £40. It’s important to be aware of, as you don’t want to be stretching your budget in an attempt to clear wagering requirements only to find that your potential winnings are severely limited.