Pro’s & Cons of playing with bonus funds
- They give you an immediate bankroll boost
- They can give you the opportunity to play new games for free
- More chances to play = more chances to win
- Some bonuses are risk free
- Many bonuses come with tough wagering requirements
- Some bonuses restrict the games you can play
- They often put a limit on the size of bet you can place
- You may find a low cashout limit tied to a bonus
Tips on getting the most value out of your bonus(es)
Before deciding on which bonuses might be the best fit for you, it’s worth investigating a few common themes you’ll encounter when playing/choosing a casino bonus. Firstly, investigating whether or not a bonus is ‘sticky’ or ‘non-sticky’ should be a major consideration when deciding on accepting a bonus. Other considerations should include the allowable wagering amounts, which games you are eligible to play with the bonus, and, if you’re playing slots, which type of slot best suits your needs.
Type of bonus funds (sticky versus non sticky)
Knowing whether the bonus you are considering is sticky or non-sticky is vitally important as it determines how much time and effort you will have to put in in order to clear your bonus and any winnings associated with it.
A sticky bonus is a bonus which is effectively ‘stuck’ to your initial deposit, meaning that you cannot withdraw any winnings until all wagering requirements (the amount you must wager in order to clear the bonus) have been met.
This is because all winnings are considered ‘bonus’ winnings as both the deposit and bonus are tied to one another. Furthermore, more often than not, as the deposit and bonus effectively become one pot of money with the same requirements, a wagering requirement of, say, 40x the deposit, becomes 40x the deposit + 40x the bonus.
The only money eligible for withdrawal during this time is the initial deposit and if that is withdrawn both the bonus and any winnings earned from the deposit are removed. Also, in some instances, even after meeting the wagering requirements you may not be able to withdraw the bonus money, only any winnings you may have earned from it.
This is not to say that sticky bonuses are all bad, in fact you tend to find that sticky bonuses may offer much, much bigger bonuses than non-sticky ones, sometimes up to 750% or more. Of course, the wagering requirements are likely to be huge. However, if you are a serial grinder who is likely to play a huge amount of volume at these games anyway, then huge sticky bonus might be up your street.
Non-sticky bonuses are deposit bonuses where you play with your own money first before any of the bonus is touched.
The significant advantage you have here is that you can withdraw your winnings at any time without having to meet the bonus wagering requirements, although by doing so you will forfeit the bonus itself.
As the bonus money only comes into effect once the initial deposit has been lost this type of bonus is sometimes called a ‘lifeline’ bonus, as the bonus cash acts as a lifeline, allowing you to continue to play, despite losing your deposit. Of course, to withdraw this bonus or any associated winnings, all wagering requirements must be met.
Non-sticky bonuses are a relatively new phenomenon and a most welcome one at that. Until relatively recently most online casino deposit bonuses were sticky. As such, a big win soon after taking the bonus could easily be swallowed up by the wagering requirements before the player had a chance to withdraw them. As such, non-sticky bonuses are by far the most popular bonus type, as well as the most lucrative.
The amount you are permitted to bet per game whilst clearing a bonus varies from casino to casino but by and large the rules tend to remain consistent. While you are usually permitted to place bets at the minimum stakes available (many players will do this to reduce variance), betting at the maximum stakes available is never an option with the max bet commonly set to £5/€5/$5.
Likewise, playing a Bonus Buy feature on a slot is not permitted when clearing a bonus as not only will the cost of the bonus buy exceed the maximum bet but the RTP for Bonus Buys tend to be high, up to 100% in some cases.
Once you have considered the type of bonus funds and wagering amounts, it’s time to turn your focus to game selection. We are going to assume that as CasinoGrounds players, your primary focus is going to be slots where game selection tends to be driven by RTP (return to player) then by volatility (the risk to reward measurement).
High RTP Slots
High RTP slots are those which pay back the highest amount of money over a large number of spins, expressed as a percentage of the total money deposited. For example, a slot with an RTP of 98% can be expected to pay back an average of €98 for every €100 played.
Another way to look at it is that the house edge for a slot with a 98% RTP is 2%. The higher the RTP, the lower the casinos edge. It is for this reason that you will find that many high RTP slots are excluded from those which contribute towards wagering requirements.
Examples of high rtp slot profiles on CasinoGrounds:
As a factor in picking a slot after RTP comes volatility. There are 3 different volatility levels. The higher the volatility the bigger the risk of loss, but also greater the chance of bigger wins.
Low volatility: A slot with low volatility pays out small to medium wins on a regular basis. Big wins are rare, but the abundance of regular, smaller wins means that your bankroll depletes at a slower rate than on more volatile slots.
Medium volatility: Medium volatility slots offer a good balance between risk and winning potential. There is more chance to win big that a low variance slot, but wins are a little less frequent overall.
High volatility: High volatility slots have the highest risk to reward ratio. Wins are significantly less frequent than at lower volatilities, but this is where the truly big wins lie. Highly volatile slots are the most popular among regular and high rolling players.
With regards which volatility games are best to play when attempting to clear a bonus, common consensus tends to favour playing a low-risk strategy of grinding things out on a low volatility slot with as high an RTP as you can find. However, there have been other strategies touted which may suit you more. For example, some players prefer to start playing at a highly volatile game in the hope of an early big win, after which they advocate reverting to the low volatility, high RTP strategy.
What if you accidentally breach terms?
If you accidentally breach the conditions of the bonus you should stop playing immediately, and notify support of the breach, why and how it occurred. You should not resume play until you have clarification in writing from casino representatives.
By doing so you will most likely avoid your account being locked and have the best chance to avoid the forfeiture of your player balance and/or any bonus funds/winnings accrued so far. Serious operators will appreciate your actions, and it will be more likely you will be able to resume as normal if you get confirmation.
The Player's Guide to the topic of Casino Bonuses
Bonuses are an essential marketing tool for any prospective or successful web-based casino, and with good reason. Nothing is more likely to attract a new player than the prospect of giving him or her more value for their money, be it in the form of a welcome bonus, loyalty schemes, cashback offers or simply free spins.
Casino bonuses offer a win-win, with the casino attracting new players, and the new players receiving an instant reward for their custom. However, each new bonus comes with its own set of rules and conditions which need to be fulfilled before you can fully enjoy its benefits. Therefore, it is vital that any new player familiarize themselves with the types of bonuses offered and what is required of them to release any potential winnings they might bring forth.
What kind of wagering requirements need to be met? Does the bonus have an expiry date? Is there a maximum bet imposed? Is the use of the bonus restricted to certain games? Is the bonus sticky or non-sticky? Without knowing the answers to these kind of questions before making your deposit, you could find yourself in receipt of a bonus that hinders rather than helps your progress.
As previously mentioned, there are a variety of bonus types and most casinos offer one or more of them. In the upcoming section we’ll take a quick look at the most common bonuses currently offered by online casinos.
No deposit bonuses are simply those which are ready to play upon signing up with the casino, without the need to place any money on the site. They will generally take the form of a cash or free spins bonus.
Free money on signup
Certain sites offer completely free no deposit cash bonuses. In such cases, simply registering as a player makes you eligible for the ‘free money’. However, the conditions for parlaying such bonuses into cash which you can actually withdraw tend to be quite restrictive.
A classic example of a no deposit sign up bonus is the famous “$88 Free” offered in certain jurisdictions by 888Casino. Although you do indeed receive $88 in free plays, with the exception of winning one of the sites progressive jackpots (hugely unlikely), the maximum free play winnings you can convert to hard cash is just $10.
Furthermore, to do so, the $88 worth of free play cash must be wagered 50 times over (that’s $4,400 in bets) before you can get your hands on the free money – and that’s if you’re solely playing slots. If craps is your game, then a staggering $88,000 in bets must be placed before converting any winnings as only 5% of craps winnings contribute to the wagering requirements.
Most bonuses are also likely to have a time limit set on them, i.e. ‘all wagering requirements must be met within 90 days of claiming the bonus’. It is also not uncommon for players opting for the no deposit bonus to have to forgo other, potentially more lucrative welcome bonuses, to do so.
No deposit free spins
Generally, no deposit free spins bonuses will consist of a small number of free spins to be played on a specific slot (or a small selection of slots) at the minimum bet size. Sites such as Leo Vegas allow you to withdraw any winnings from no deposit free spins with no restrictions. However, many no deposit free spin bonuses require you to wager any winnings many times over before the cash is truly yours. Also, a lot of sites offering no deposit free spins will limit the amount of winnings you are able to convert to real money. You tend to find that the casinos offering the most free spins are the ones with the most restrictions placed upon them.
Cashback bonuses are among the most popular bonuses. Cashback bonuses reward players with cash payments equal to a predetermined percentage of any losses they might have incurred over a specified period. These bonuses are particularly popular as they carry no wagering requirement.
Cashback often come as a payment of between 10%-20% of a players net deposit losses. Some casinos cashback bonuses only apply to a player’s first deposit, while others might run regular, intermittent cashback promotions and more still operate an ongoing, weekly cashback program.
While there are generic cashback schemes for all players, many casinos also run their own loyalty or VIP programs which reward high volume players with additional bonuses, often including larger cashback and discretionary bonuses.
A good example of a cashback bonus can be found at the ironically titled No Bonus Casino, who operate a flat 10% cashback on all lost deposits on an ongoing basis, paid daily. As they operate no other type of bonuses, they are able to repay 10% of all players losing deposits for as long as they play at the casino.
Deposit bonuses (first deposit; match; welcome offers)
Welcome deposit bonuses will usually be what a new players looks for first when considering signing up to a new casino. That’s because invariably this will be the single biggest bonus the site has to offer.
Although percentages vary, the most common initial deposit bonus will match a players first deposit with a 100% bonus. The amount you can deposit and still be eligible for the bonus varies considerably by casino and jurisdiction.
As well as the initial deposit bonus, many casinos offer deposit bonuses for the second and even third deposits, although usually at a 50% rather than 100% deposit match. Often referred to as ‘reload’ bonuses, many casinos also reward loyal players with the offer of discretionary reload bonuses from time to time.
Although the usual first deposit bonus at a casino is 100% or less, there are casinos offering 500% or even 750% first deposit bonuses. However, it tends to follow that the higher the bonus, the higher the wagering requirements. Big deposit bonuses like this also tend to be sticky bonuses, where both the deposit and the deposit bonus have to fulfil the wagering requirement. Deposit bonuses have to be played within a time limit starting from the time of deposit, so be sure to make a note of it.
Free spins often come as part of a welcome package alongside a deposit match bonus. Similar to the no deposit free spins bonus, the free spins in such bonuses tend to be awarded at the minimum, or close to the minimum bet size. Although some casinos don’t impose a wagering requirement on any free spins winnings, many do. However, the amount required to be wagered tends to be considerably lower than for deposit bonuses, usually between 1x and 10x the value of the winnings.
Live casino bonuses
More and more casinos now offer live casino games, where you can play against a real life dealer in a realistic casino setting. Look around and you can find bonuses here too.
A good example would be the live casino welcome bonuses at LeoVegas. They offer a live casino welcome bonus in which only live casino games count towards any wagering requirements. The amount of the bonus and the qualifications vary by jurisdiction. Their UK live casino bonus, for example, comes in the form of a cash reward of £10, £25, or £50. Depositing £10 - £24, £25 - £49, and £50+, earns you a shot at the £10, £25, or £50 rewards respectively. To complete this bonus, you must wager 75x the value of the sum of the cash reward for which you qualify, upon which the cash reward will be made available to you.
Nearly all casino bonuses (especially the larger ones), carry significant wagering requirements. What this means is that to be eligible to withdraw any bonus money or winnings associated with that bonus, you must first ensure you have wagered your deposit amount a certain number of times over (even more so if the bonus is sticky). Wagering requirements also tend to come with their own set of requirements which need to be adhered to. These include time limits, game restrictions, and game contributions.
The amount to be wagered to clear the bonus, as mentioned, will be a multiple of the amount deposited. This varies from casino to casino, and then from bonus to bonus. A typical wagering requirement of 30x, therefore, would require a player depositing €100 to eligible wagers with a combined total of no less than €3,000 before the bonus is cleared.
Most bonuses typically come with a set time limit on them. If the wagering requirements are not met during that period, then the bonus amount is removed from the player’s balance, along with any winnings associated with that bonus.
Not all games at an online casino contribute 100% of their worth towards a player’s wagering requirements so be sure to check out the contribution of the games you intend to play if you wish to meet the requirements in a timely manner.
The good news is that by and large slots wagers contribute 100% towards wagering requirements. On occasion some slots may carry a slightly lower contribution towards wagering due to their higher than average RTP (return to player), while some might be restricted altogether.
Other casino games, however, have much lower contributions towards wagering requirements. For example, table games such as roulette, blackjack, craps etc. usually only contribute around 10% towards wagering requirements. This means that a €5 bet on a hand of blackjack would only deduct €0.50 from the total wagering requirement. In the same way slots with high RTP’s are often excluded from contributing to wager requirements, casino table games don’t give the casino a high enough edge for them to allow them contribute much towards wagering requirements.
So, in theory, the most practical way to clear a 100% match bonus on a €100 deposit with a wagering requirement of 30x the deposit would be as follows:
- Play an eligible slot with a high RTP and low volatility
- Play at the lower end of the allowable stakes
- Complete wagering a total of €3,000 within the specified time limit.