Online casino bonuses are great, aren't they? It's free money given to you by casinos to play nearly any game you want. The money they give you can keep you busy for hours, if not days or weeks. You get to keep your winnings, too. All you need to do is create an account and make your first deposit to get started.
Please. If it were only that simple...
That's the message spread through online casinos, affiliate partner websites and marketing campaigns, though. However, what they don't tell you is that most bonuses are not worth your time. That they can take weeks, possibly months, and thousands of dollars to complete. You'll be lucky if you can clear the bonus in any game outside of slots, keno and scratch cards, too.
Lets not forget that's all assuming the casino is worth playing at in the first place. The majority of them aren't. Most don't care about you, your favorite games or your entertainment. They just want to milk you for all they can, then pack up and leave -- preferably with your money still in their pocket.
How's that for honesty? Welcome to OnlineCasinoBonus.org.
Below is a quick selection of the best casinos available to you, based on your location. To understand better how we choose these, I recommend reading all the info on this page.
Back to honesty. You better get used to it. We're so tired of the crap that's spewed online that we've decided to create a honest resource for players. We're here to cut through the fluff and...
Ultimately, our goal is to become your go-to resource for any questions or concerns that you might have about gambling online. We want to help you avoid the scum of the online universe, and find a casino that you can trust, can't wait to play at and recommend to your friends.
The problem with the casinos, partners and advertising pushing bonus this and bonus that, is that players, especially new players, aren't taught what to watch out for when shopping for a site to join. They don't realize that some operators aren't worth the bandwidth they take up, much less the player's time. If the company fails, it's usually in one of the following areas:
Reputation - This is an umbrella for trust, safety and security, too. Unfortunately, you'll find more than your fair share of casinos with poor support, payouts that take too long or not taking care of player concerns and complaints. They put themselves first, instead of their customer.
Banking - Banking is a problem area for players because a (bad) online casino can take weeks, if not months to send out payments. That's assuming they weren't lying in the first place (that the money was sent out). Many players have experienced the frustration when they ask for an update on their withdrawal, only to be told they need to start the process all over again.
US Customers - US players face multiple obstacles in trying to gamble online. They're lucky to find a site that accepts US customers. They're lucky to find a US accepting site that has no troubles accepting payments. And US customers are lucky to find a company that's not at risk of being shut down by the DOJ. Don't believe me? Ask PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute / Ultimate Bet Poker.
Games - You'll find that most casinos offer the core games. All the favorites like blackjack, slots, video poker, craps and roulette. It's all there. However, game variations are popular, yet aren't available on every software platform (used by the casinos). For example, if you want to indulge in some Spanish 21 or French Roulette, you're going to have fewer choices between where to play.
Keep in mind that these obstacles can compound, too. In other words, if you're a US customer you may have 5 or 10 casinos worth playing at. But what if you want to use gift cards for depositing, or if you only want to play Pai Gow Poker? Then you cut your options down to maybe 1-2 sites.
See what I mean? Not every casino will be a good fit for you.
Also notice how I didn't mention bonuses. They're made to be such a big deal in advertising a casino, yet your bonus isn't going to save you if the company is rogue and is willing (or planning) to close up shop 6 months after opening, with no intention of giving you your money back. Or a company that accepts US customers, but uses a .com domain name.
That $500 or $1000 bonus is a one time deal, and should be viewed as icing on the cake. The cake being an already great, safe site regardless of their promotions.
Think of a bonus as a... bonus.
Another problem with the gaming industry in general are rogue casinos. A rogue casino has shady business practices and ethics. They have no problem changing their terms so they don't have to pay out promotions, or closing up shop and taking all of your money. These kinds of companies run rampant and you should avoid them at all costs.
It's hard to do, though.
For one thing, it's not hard to start an online casino. It's cheap, relatively speaking. A license will set you back $25,000, a skin might cost $10-$15,000 and then you need resources for payment processors, marketing and employees.
So, what, a shoddy gaming license and a software platform will set you back $100,000, maybe $200,000.
Now, I didn't say that you'd start a successful company with $200,000. Just that you could start serving customers at that point.
There are a couple of problems with this:
A common theme with new casinos (or poker rooms and sportsbooks) is to struggle to keep their head afloat for 6 months or a year, and then close up shop. Often times with no resources to pay their players, let alone bills or affiliate partners.
The worst part is that little can be done to police this, given that the company and servers are located in one country, and players and partners are scattered all over the world. It's hard to get justice when no one has jurisdiction.
But new casinos aren't the only ones that fail, and ultimately go rogue. Many times existing (and once reputable, fun and worthwhile) casinos, poker and sports betting portals can display or adopt rogue-like behaviors. We are in the process of constructing our own rogue section, but Casino Meister is the best resource on the web for a detailed list of scam operations.
But new casinos aren’t the only ones that fail, and ultimately become rogue casinos. Many times existing (and once reputable, fun and worthwhile) casinos, poker and sports betting portals can display or adopt rogue-like behaviors.
Full Tilt Poker: Full Tilt Poker was the second largest poker site, behind only PokerStars. They, too, accepted US players. Both companies were indicted on charges of fraud, money laundering and other crimes. However, Full Tilt didn't manager their money right, and as a result, couldn't pay players or partners once accounts were freed up.
Betfair Casino: In 2010 Betfair offered an unlimited "happy hour bonus" that only required a 10x play through. Players started to take advantage of this offer, reportedly causing Betfair to lose money in the 8-figures. Betfair then closed / suspended accounts (some were eventually reopened) and took away the winnings. This follows a previous scandal where more than 3 million Betfair customers had their credit card information, including names, usernames, security questions and addresses stolen.
As you can see, it's not just brand new companies. Even existing sites can take advantage of players, either by outright theft or by leaning on existing (and vague) terms and conditions.
And often times, there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
Now we're finally to the bonuses. But don't think it's all rainbows, sunshine and unicorns from here. Some of these guys can be sneaky when it comes to their bonuses, too. That's why we stress that you must read the fine print before accepting a promotion.
So what exactly don't they want you to know?
Rollover Requirements Are Hard to Complete
A rollover requirement is also known as bonus clearing, wagering requirement or play-through requirements. This is a dollar amount you must wager before you will receive or can withdrawal (fractions of) your bonus.
For example, a 100% up to $1000 offer might have a 40x play-through. That means you'd need to wager $40,000 before the money is yours to keep. Keep in mind that some casinos require you to rollover the deposit plus bonus, or in this example, $80,000.
That brings us to the first problem.
$40,000? $80,000? For $1,000 in free money?
Thanks, I guess.
The problem doesn't stop there, though. Many games, like blackjack, video poker and craps, are excluded from the offers. That means that if you play blackjack (for example) while participating in a bonus, that the casino can void your bonus and any money you've won.
However, casinos that do allow you to clear the bonus through these games often ask that you clear 2-3x as much as the standard play-through. So 40x becomes 80-120x, or in our example, $80,000 to $240,000.
To clear a $1,000 bonus.
That's all assuming you win money and roll it over, too. Otherwise you need to redeposit money to clear your "free" money.
Most Bonuses Aren't a Good Fit
Deposit bonuses aren't always a good fit. Like my example above, who has $80,000 to blow for a chance to receive $1,000?
But even with a more reasonable play-through requirement, say 10x the deposit plus bonus, not everyone will have the bankroll to manage it.
Not only that, but nearly all deposit bonuses have an expiration date. You'll have 60-90 days to complete the promotion, or else you risk losing what money you don't clear, or worse, all of it.
I'm sorry, but not everyone has all day everyday, for 60-90 days, plus unlimited funds, to clear a deposit bonus. Much less clear the entire deposit bonus before ever being able to withdraw your money.
By now, I'm wondering how scared you are of online casinos. I've covered some nasty stuff about the industry, including common problems, rogue casinos and things these companies hide from you (or at least not make obvious to you).
If you are scared, that's ok. In fact, that's a good thing. Fear provokes (re)action. Maybe the next time a new casino opens up with promises of riches and a 150% up to $5,000 match bonus, you won't mindlessly sign up with doing your due diligence first.
So, that brings us to our final question. Possibly the most important question.
Why should you bother listening to us? How do you know we're not here just blowing smoke up your ass?
This is why:
We have a lot of knowledge of the industry and how it works. Being on both sides gives us an unique perspective. We're able to quickly figure out what the great deals are, what sites are worth playing at and what sites are going downhill and should be avoided.
Ultimately, we're players first. You should listen to us because, like you, we want to enjoy casino games online without fear of being ripped off or being strapped to some shoddy promotion. Using our knowledge we're able to look out for ourselves, while consequently being able to look out for our fellow players in the process.