How Casino Sign-Up Bonuses Work

It’s no secret. Online casinos want your money, and they are willing to pay you to get it. As proof, just look at all of the “sign-up bonuses” and “welcome promotions” offered on the Internet. One industry analyst compiled a list of such offers and concluded that over £20,000 could be claimed just by joining every one of the gaming web sites represented. The biggest single bonus identified was worth more than £2,500.

Obviously, casinos are not in business simply to give money away. They expect to get back every penny that they dole out in free cash…and more. Knowing how casino sign-up bonuses work can save you a lot of hassles and more than a few quid in the long run.

The most common form of sign-up bonus is the “100% deposit match.” For every pound you transfer into your account on your first deposit, the casino will match it with a pound worth of free cash. It is like doubling your money before you even place your first bet.

Of course, there are some rules regarding how you can access and use the bonus, starting with limits on how much you deposit. There is almost always a minimum of £5, £10, or £20 required and usually a maximum of £100 or £200. Some VIP schemes raise the ceiling to £500 or £1,000, and a few of them claim to have no limit at all, but there are other rules that preclude the possibility of making a quick profit simply by funding your new account.

The most common, and some might say “insidious,” requirement is that you “play through” your initial deposit a certain number of times before you can make a withdrawal. That number might be 3, 12, 20, or even 40 times the amount of your transfer, plus the amount of the bonus.

In other words, if you deposit £20 and claim a matching £20 in free cash as your sign-up bonus with a “10X play through,” you need to make bets equal to £400 before you can access any winnings. Casinos that offer to match your initial deposit with bonuses of 200%, 300% or even 400% are locking you into an agreement to wager at least £600, £800, or £1,000, even though you only started out with a deposit of £20.

And that’s not all. If you read the Terms & Conditions carefully—which you always should—you may see that “qualifying play” is limited to certain games. In most cases, the ones permitted are those with higher risk involved, like slots. Excluded are any even money games that could be manipulated by the player, such as Roulette betting on both Red and Black simultaneously with a hedge bet on Zero.

When you read complaints in Internet forums about casinos that “cheat” players, the vast majority are referring to their inability to collect winnings and cash in before meeting the criteria established for the sign-up bonus. The fault is usually not with the casino; the players failed to read the fine print.

Nevertheless, many casinos realize that this is a problem and they have begun offering an alternative form of sign-up promotion—the No Deposit Bonus—which could be the best way to get started playing online. You risk none of your own money. It really is free cash for you to enjoy. Here’s how it works:

The no-deposit sign-up bonus is usually a small amount, from £10 to £50. You can only use it on certain games. You must “play through” a certain number of times to claim any winnings, or you must use it all within a certain limited time period, perhaps as little as one hour.

Some casinos require you reach a minimum amount of winnings before you can cash out. Others give you more free cash to play with, perhaps even £500, but limit the winnings that can be claimed to anything over that amount and less than a given maximum, say £200.

So before you sign up for any sign-up bonuses, make sure you understand the rules that govern them. It is absolutely possible to turn free promotional cash into some seriously winnings. Just be clear about what it will take to cash in on your good fortune.

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