Beginners Guide Part 2: The Bonuses
We’ve mentioned it several times on this site that bonuses are a big selling point for casinos, advertisers and affiliate partners. It’s not hard to understand why. Who doesn’t want to earn free money for doing something they were going to do anyway (make a deposit)?
Bonuses are more than a marketing ploy, though. It’s an opportunity for you to play and win with money that’s not yours. They can prolong your entertainment, too, as well as give you the opportunity to review a casino without investing any money of your own.
My point of all this? Bonuses are great, but casinos do leverage their appeal to attract (or suck you in) to their casino. So you want to know what you’re getting into. You should have an understanding of what the different types of bonuses are, what makes them unique and what the general rules are to participating in them. I’d like to help you gain a better understanding of all of those things right now.
Beginner’s Casino Guide
What Types of Casino Bonuses Are There?
Casinos offer several kinds of bonuses. We’ve listed the different types below, along with what makes them unique.
Match – The match bonus is the most common offer. It’s not a standalone offer, like a deposit or high roller offer. It’s more or less a variation.
The promotion works like this. Say the offer is a 100% match up to $500. Whatever amount you deposit up to $500 you’ll be matched even money. If you deposit $25, the casino will give you $25. You deposit $450, the casino will give you $450, and so on.
It’s common for online casinos to offer higher match percentages, too. For example, a casino might offer a 200% match up to $1,000. So instead of receiving $1 for every $1 you deposit, you’re now receiving $2. This is why it’s important to shop around, compare offers and read the terms and conditions. A 200% match deal up to $500 is much better than 100% up to $750.
Deposit – A deposit bonus is also known as a sign-up, welcome or first depositor bonus. It’s for players that are signing up to the casino for the first time. It’s also for players who have already signed up, but have yet to make their first deposit.
Play – A play bonus, also known as a sticky bonus, is for players to spend only. They can’t actually cash out the money. They can only keep the money they win with it. Casinos don’t make this known in their advertisements, so you’ll want to read the terms and conditions to make sure.
No Deposit – A no deposit bonus is free money given to players who sign up for a real money account. You don’t have to make a deposit to receive this money. The downside is that no deposit offers are much smaller in size, ranging from $5 to $25. They’re great if you have hardly any money of your own to deposit. These offers are also known as instant bonuses, instant bankrolls, no deposit bankrolls, free bankrolls, instant cash offers, etc.
High Roller – A high roller bonus is for players that have lots of money to spend. “Normal” bonuses are in the neighborhood of $1,000, maybe $2,500. High roller bonuses are more like $5,000, $7,5000 and $10,000. Other than the amount, everything else about them is identical to other offers.
Game Specific – Game specific bonuses are offers for casino games like blackjack, slots, video poker and keno. These bonuses are great because often times it’s the only way blackjack and video poker players get to participate in a promotion.
Reload – A reload bonus is for current customers. Casinos offer these bonuses as a way to encourage existing customers to come back, make a deposit and play. These fall under the umbrella of loyalty bonuses, too.
Preferred Deposit – These bonuses are for players that use specific deposit methods. For example, you might come across an offer for a 20% match on your deposit when you use NETeller.
Refer-a-Friend – Any existing member of an online casino can participate in a refer-a-friend promotion. These offers pay when you refer other people to the casino. To receive the commission the new player (usually) has to make a real money account, make a deposit and roll so much of the money over. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to roll over your commission, too, although this varies from casino to the casino. Some casinos have limits on how many friends you can send and others let you send as many as you can.
Be Aware of Bonus Codes
Sometimes you’ll come across an offer on a website (like ours) that will tell you what type of offer you can receive and the bonus code you need to use to receive it.
A bonus code is essentially a tracking code; a way for online casinos to know where their customers are coming from and what promotions to offer. Some partners are able to offer better deals than others are, and the code is what distinguishes that partner from the next.
If you’re presented with a code you’ll want to enter that in during the sign-up phase. Sometimes you’ll be asked to enter in your code when you’re making a deposit. Keep in mind that if you don’t use the code you might not receive the (better) offer.
Note – Not every offer requires a code. If we don’t list a code, all you need to do is use the links on our website to get the exclusive bonus offer.
Beware of Bonus Terms
We cover bonus terms extensively on this site, but I thought that I would point out a couple of things while on the subject of casino promotions. Here are a few things to check for in the terms and conditions before accepting a promo offer:
- Expiration dates – This tells you how long you have to complete the bonus offer. What you’ll want to do is check out the rollover requirements, figure out what games and stakes you’re going to play, then do the math to see if you can complete the offer in time.
- Rollover requirements – This term tells you how much money you need to spend to clear the offer. It’s usually written out as a multiple. For example, a common rollover is 25x. Some offers include just the deposit and others are deposit plus your bonus. Pay attention to this, too, because at one casino you might deposit $1,000 with a 25x rollover ($25,000), and at another with deposit plus bonus it essentially turns into a 50x rollover ($50,000. Rollover is also referred to as play through.
- When you void bonuses – Pay attention to the small things that might void your bonus. This can include accepting additional bonuses, requesting payouts too soon or playing the wrong games. You don’t want to lose money that you’ve already earned.
These terms are important to understand, because they will affect your ability to earn, clear and withdraw your bonus money. You don’t want to go through the hassle of choosing a casino and playing lots of hands/rounds, only to find out it was for nothing.