On the face of it, casino bonuses can often seem too good to be true. How can these guys afford to offer you so much in free money just to play their games?
The reality is that online casino gaming is a hugely competitive market with relatively low costs (compared to a land based casino) and this means a lot of value is passed on to the player. The UK is also one of the biggest regulated markets in the world so British players have more choice and better deals than anywhere else.
Bonuses are designed for you to get free funds that can be used to try out a brand to see if you like them, but this is not free cash, it comes with wagering requirements (more later). You may or may not end up with cash winnings once you’ve used your bonus but the most important thing is you get to try out the site without spending much, if any, of your own cash.
Below we have a selection of bonuses and offers listed, including no deposit offers, with a welcome deal to suit all types of player (new customers only, 18+, T&C’s will apply). Further down you can read about how these bonuses work, things to look out for, and how to claim.
Understanding Casino Bonuses
When deciding which online casino site to play at, it’s important that you understand what the various casino bonuses are and how they work. Bonuses are offered to get new players to sign up to that specific casino site, but there are so many bonuses available with subtle differences in the wording and terms that it can be difficult to make an informed choice.
You need to use bonuses that will suit you, the games you want to play, the bankroll you have available, wagering requirements that don’t shut you out, and the amount of time you are willing and able to put into playing.
Most bonuses tend to match a proportion of your deposit, but you don’t have to take the maximum amount – most minimum deposits are as low as £10 so whichever offers you choose be sure to only claim a sensible amount of bonus money that you have at least some chance of clearing the wagering in the time allowed.
But before we get into all of the different bonuses, let’s tackle wagering requirements, because understanding these will make the rest of the page so much easier to digest.
If you think you can sign up to an online casino site, deposit and get a bonus and walk away with it, you are very much mistaken. Every casino bonus offered will have terms and conditions, and sometimes it’s better to decline a bonus than accept one that you have almost no chance of winning from.
The wagering requirement (WR) is sometimes called the play through requirement or rollover requirement, and is usually given as a multiplier of either the bonus or the bonus plus the deposit. This is the minimum amount you’ll need to play before withdrawing the winnings from your bonus, as well as the bonus itself (if it’s withdrawable).
If you deposit £100 and receive a £100 bonus you’ll have a £200 casino balance. Applying a reasonable wagering requirement of 30x the bonus means you’ll need to bet £3,000 on casino games before withdrawing.
This might seem like a lot, but remember, the word ‘wagered’ doesn’t mean lost. Slot sessions tend to see your balance going up and down as you hit winning streaks and dead patches, so you could wager through £3,000 using the same £100 deposit.
Most casinos will also apply weightings to their games so that games with a very low house edge, such as blackjack, count less towards the play through requirement.
As a general rule of thumb the WR stated will be for slots, with the weightings normally looking something like this:
- Slots – 100%
- Roulette – 25%
- Blackjack – 10%
This means that £1 bet on slots counts for £1 towards the wagering requirement, but £1 bet on roulette counts for 25p meaning you need to bet 4x as much on roulette as you would slots:
|Amount to Clear||Amount Wagered||Game||Weighting||Amount Cleared||Amount Left to Clear|
Whilst this may seem unfair if you’re more of a blackjack player than a slots player, it’s almost a universal rule now and one that’s found at pretty much all online casinos.
It brings the wagering requirements in line with the house edge of the game so it is as fair as possible to all players and the casino.
Casino Sign Up Bonuses
The first type of offer we’ll talk about is the most lucrative, the casino welcome bonus (aka sign up bonus).
These are restricted to new customers and can normally only be claimed once per player, although some will stagger the bonus over your first three deposits rather than the first one.
Broadly speaking, they can be be split into two different camps; deposit bonuses and no deposit bonuses, so let’s look at each in turn and get an understanding of the differences between them.
Here you receive a bonus on your first deposit as a way of saying thank you for choosing to play at that casino. It will often come as a deposit match, and different casinos offer to match different percentages of your first deposit. The amount you can claim will also have a limit.
One of the most common bonuses is a 100% deposit match, which basically means that they will double your very first deposit – so if you decide to deposit £100 you will also receive £100 in casino bonus funds for free, giving you a total of £200 to play with.
You’ll also see plenty of 200% bonuses, where a £100 deposit receives a £200 bonus – giving you a £300 starting balance. Generally speaking the bigger the match percentage the bigger the wagering requirements will be, meaning you’ll need to play for longer before withdrawing your bonus or winnings, but we’ll get to that later on.
The phrasing can be quite clever with these offers, so you need to read them properly and work out exactly what you are getting so that you can tell which bonus offers better value for you.
Free Spins / No Deposit Bonuses
There are some online casino sites that want you to try before you buy, this can come in the form of free spins to use on selected slot games or as a bonus to use however you like.
- Free Spins – Usually on specific games or on a small selection of slot games. Here you’ll get to spin without making a deposit, but the winnings are yours to keep (wagering requirements will normally apply).
- No Deposit Bonuses – Similar to the deposit bonus we mentioned above, but no deposit is needed. Here you’ll receive bonus cash to play with as you like (usually with some game restrictions). Once you’ve met the wagering requirements the winnings can be withdrawn but the initial bonus cannot.
The majority of online casino sites will stipulate a maximum amount that can be won from these bonuses – they are, after all, completely free.
Whilst they don’t require a deposit you may be required to register a debit card to prove your identity, or have to make a deposit to be able to withdraw winnings. This is normal industry practice, it’s not a trick.
Bonuses For Existing Customers
Whilst new players do get the biggest and best bonuses, that doesn’t mean that once you’ve signed up you’re forgotten about.
Most casinos also offer bonuses and run loyalty schemes for their existing customers in order to keep them sweet and stop them being courted by rival sites.
These can be much more varied in their approach, and some casinos prefer certain types over others, so learning which kind of existing customer rewards suit you can be a key factor in deciding which casino to sign up with in the first place.
Loyalty schemes are intended to reward you for playing at the casino. Here comp points are accrued as you play which can then be turned into bonuses or even real money.
The rate at which you earn bonuses, as well as the rate at which they’re converted back to real money, will vary by game and casino but will usually follow a similar pattern to this:
- Slots – 3 points per £10 wagered
- Other Games – 1 point per £10 wagered
A decent rate for conversion to cash is £1 per 100 points, which effectively works out at £1 in free money for every £1,000 wagered on a game. Not something to shout off the roof tops, but a nice little regular freebie to help top up your account.
Loyalty points are often linked to VIP schemes too and can determine your VIP level, which itself comes with extra benefits.
Higher level VIP’s tend to be able to convert comp points to cash or bonuses at a better rate, or are able to accrue them faster. Birthday bonuses are a regular occurrence too, as are exclusive offers for those on the right rung of the VIP ladder.
Cash Back Bonuses
Here the casinos give you money back based on your losses over a certain period of time, either as bonuses or in real cash.
To qualify you simply need to play at the casino. At the end of a set period (eg: a month) the house will calculate how much you’ve played and how much you’ve won or lost. If you end the period down, a proportion of your losses is refunded from in the form of cash back ranging from 5% up to 25% depending on the casino.
It might end up looking like this for a given month:
£1.75 might not seem like a big deal but cumulatively it can add a lot of extra spins over the year, and we are working with a small figure in this example too.
Promotions vary and the deal can sometimes include cash back for losses on all games or just one particular game. If you manage to win and accumulate a profit, you obviously won’t qualify for this cash back bonus.
The literal opposite of a cashback bonus. Some casinos will top up your winnings if you have a profitable day, week, or month. These types of promotion are less common but offer a great opportunity to make a big win even bigger.
Normally these types of promotion are limited to specific games and times rather than being available all year round, and you’ll often see special events such as ‘Blackjack Monday’ or ‘Slot Sunday’ with this deal applied.
This is to encourage activity on a certain game or area of the site, but if you play those games anyway then it’s a no brainer.
Refer a Friend Bonus
Does exactly what it says on then tin. You will be rewarded with a casino bonus when you successfully refer other players to that casino.
All online casinos have different terms and conditions but you will have to refer your friend – either by them mentioning your name or using a payer referral code when they sign up – then they have to make the minimum deposit displayed in order for you to receive your bonus.
The casino bonus received will allow you to play for free but in order to withdraw, you will have to meet wagering requirements.
This is the 50th time we have mentioned wagering, so you see now why understanding it is so important.
Key Bonus Terms & Rules
- If you have to insert a casino promo code in order to obtain your bonus, make sure you do so at the point of making your deposit. If you fail to put the code in, you won’t get the bonus.
- Sometimes you will have to request or opt in to receiving the bonus, so always read the terms and conditions attached.
- Always, always check the wagering requirements before deciding whether to accept any bonuses. Some of them are just too high to have any hope of completing.
- The casino will always want you to prove your identity – this is not only standard procedure but the law, so don’t panic. You will have to provide photographic documents such as a driver’s license, your card details, and a recent utility bill to prove you are who you say you are.
- When you’re offered a casino bonus, you may have a short period of time to claim that bonus. You may sign up and decide not to deposit for a week – that’s all well and good, but check the expiry on your bonus as some only last a day or two.
- Never take a bonus at face value – again, terms and conditions are there to be read.
- If you accept a bonus, you will have a specific period of time in which to use it and complete the wagering terms – if you fail to do this in the time frame specified, you will lose your bonus and any winnings accumulated from it.
Are Casino Bonuses Worth It?
The final question you may be wondering is whether or not casino bonuses are worth claiming at all, or are you better off playing without one?
Answering this is going to depend on what you want to get out of your casino session. If you want to extend your playtime or try and cash the bonus out by meeting the WR without losing, then a bonus could suit you down to the ground.
On the other hand, if you want to play table games or like the idea of a quick hit and run after a big win, then playing *au naturel may be more suitable.
*We mean that as a metaphor, don’t play in the nude. Not with the curtains open anyway.
- Playing with a bonus extends your playing time, meaning more chances to hit the bigger wins and better value from your deposit.
- You can play bigger than you normally would, so with a 100% bonus your 25p slot bets could become 50p without affecting your play time. This amplifies your wins without increasing your risk, assuming you meet the WR and would have played that long anyway.
- If the bonus is withdrawable, once you’ve met the WR the bonus becomes real money and yours to take away.
- You are normally restricted when it comes to the games you can play with your bonus, so if you want to play an excluded game you’ll need to do so with real funds.
- All bonuses are subject to wagering requirements (if you see one that isn’t grab it with both hands), meaning you cannot cash out whenever you like. So you can’t just bank the profits after a decent win if you haven’t yet met the WR.
- The bonus received may have maximum stake limits, meaning you will only be able to bet a certain amount on the games.