The Online Casino Bonus – What types are there and how they work?

Bonuses are one of the main differences between online casinos and your traditional land-based casinos, apart from the virtual playing format. Unlike land-based casinos, where players can only enjoy perks while playing or returning back to the casino, in the online world even those who try out the casino for the first time can get treated with some rewards.

However, as much as these incentives are good, they can also be confusing to most new-joiners to the online casino scene as all bonus offers come with a specific set of terms that kick in once you accept the bonus offer. Yet, these terms are nothing you can’t wrap your head around with some proper guidance.

In simple terms, any bonus you can find online aims to give you more chances to test out the casino, enjoy its games, and win some money back in return. Of course, this is only a simplified comparison and the reality is a tad more different, which is why it’s important to understand exactly what these offers are and how they work.

Basically, there are but a few type of bonus offers, or promotions, offered online, and all will fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Deposit Bonuses – Bonuses that you receive for depositing a specific sum of money into the casino. Deposit bonuses can be a bonus in money, chips, or even free spins for an online slot game.
  • No Deposit Bonuses – Like the name suggests, the no deposit bonus is a bonus you receive without depositing any money into the casino. Different casinos will have different types of no deposit bonuses and the way they are claimed will depend on the operator itself.
  • Sticky bonuses – Bonuses that you can use to wager in a casino game, but you can’t actually withdraw back to your bank account.
  • Cashback bonuses – A bonus that you can receive in the form of a percentage of the money you’ve spent on various casino games like Blackjack, Roulette, or Poker.

Depending on the casino, you might get some or all types of these promotions. Some are given as part of a Welcome Bonus for when you first join a casino and some may be regular promotions aimed at all players. The most common ones are deposit and no deposit bonuses, which are explained in more detail below. 


The Casino No Deposit Bonus vs. “Standard” Deposit Bonus

The casino no deposit bonus is one of the most popular type of bonuses sought by online players, simply because it can be claimed without spending any money. In general, there are two types of no deposit bonuses you can find at today’s online operators:

  • Free Money Bonus – You receive a certain amount of money from the casino, normally around £10-20, without making a deposit.
  • Free Spins Bonuses – Free spins you can spend on any slot game, or a pre-determined game, depending on the casino.
  • Free Chip Bonuses – The free chip bonuses are the same as free spins, only you can spend them at card and table games where chips are wagered.

The deposit bonus, on the other hand, is mostly a money bonus in the amount of a portion of your deposit. The amount will usually be stated as a percentage of your deposit, the most common being 100%. Thus, if you make a £10 deposit for a 100% bonus, you’ll get £10 as a bonus and so on.

However, whether you need to make a deposit or not is not the only difference between both bonus types. Apart from this clear distinction, the two bonuses also differ in the terms and conditions they come attached with. As a rule of thumb, a no deposit bonus will have stricter terms, since it’s basically a free casino bonus, while deposit bonuses will have lighter T&Cs.   


Why a Free Casino Bonus Isn’t Really Free

Even though bonuses appear to be “free money” offers, they are far from being such. Whatever the bonus type, nearly every online casino will apply a certain set of terms that you have to meet to be able to claim the winnings made with your bonus.

The most common term are the wagering requirements, which specify how many times you have to wager your bonus + deposit money (for deposit bonuses) before you can withdraw any winnings made with that money. So, for example, if you made a £10 deposit and you received a £10 bonus with 35x wagering requirements, you’ll have to wager £700 of bets before you can withdraw winnings made with that bonus money. And the rules don’t stop here.

Casinos also enforce game contribution rules, which state what percentages of any bets you make will count towards meeting those bonus terms, depending on the game. Slots, for example, have a 100% contribution, so every £1 you spend on them will be counted as £1. Games like Poker and Roulette, on the other hand, have much lower percentages (20% and up).

And finally, most casinos impose a limit on the time you are given to meet those bonus terms as well as a cap on your winnings. The exact limits will depend on the casino itself, which is why it’s crucial you always read through the bonus terms before accepting any offers. 


Using a Casino Bonus No Deposit Right

If you want to make the most of your no deposit bonus, or even your deposit bonus, there are certain practical tips you have to stick to, the key being:

  1. Always check the wagering requirements and game contributions.
  2. See if any games are excluded from meeting your bonus terms.
  3. See how the casino counts your wagers, i.e. whether every £1 you spend will be taken from your bonus funds, deposit, or half/half.
  4. Check the time-frame and maximum winnings limit.
  5. Never try to outsmart the casino. If you use betting strategies, or try to trick the casino in any way, you will be labelled as a “bonus abuser” and will have your deposit + bonus seized. To know what exactly the casino means by “bonus abuser”, check their terms and conditions.