Casino bonuses are one of the main tools online gaming establishments use to encourage players to sign up for an account with their venue. While every reputable online casino offers secure transactions, a wide variety of games, lucrative progressive jackpots and safe deposit options, when it comes to giving out free money to players, the amount and stipulations tend to differ greatly.
Best casino sites for online bonuses
Welcome bonuses and matched deposits
The most common form of casino bonus you’ll come across online is the welcome bonus extended by casino vendors as an incentive to register for an account. Welcome bonuses often consist of free spins to play on selected pokies games and almost always consist of a matched deposit bonus.
A matched deposit bonus is an additional amount that the casino will credit to your account based on the amount of your initial deposit. For example, a casino may offer a 100% matched deposit bonus up to an amount of $100. This means that if you were to make a real money deposit of $100, the casino would match that equally, giving you an extra $100 to play with, boosting your bankroll to a total of $200.
Online casino bonuses for USA players
Given the restrictive online gambling laws in the USA, US players don’t have as many choices when it comes to the casino sites they can play at. The laws are beginning to soften, with some US states starting to legalise online gambling for local residents, but until major legal changes occur, US players aren’t accepted at the casino sites we’ve listed in the bonus section below. For a list of online casino bonuses available at reputable casino sites that accept American players, head to our USA casino bonuses page.
Some of the biggest welcome bonuses include:
- House of Jack – New players can claim up to $450 in matched deposit bonuses when registering with House of Jack, distributed to your account over your first three real money deposits using promo code JACK1, JACK2 and JACK3. You’ll also get 100 free spins which are completely wager-free.
- Mucho Vegas – This excellent casino site offers one of the biggest bonuses of all, giving new players up to $1500 in matched deposit bonuses spread out over your first seven cash deposits with the casino. Make your seventh deposit and you’ll also be rewarded with 150 free spins to use on one of Mucho Vegas’s most popular online slot games.
- Emu Casino – Emu Casino also rewards players over their first three deposits, matching the first by 100% up to $100, the second by 50% up to $100 and the third by 80% up to $100 – that’s $300 in bonus money all up for a fraction of the cost. Read more details about Emu Casino’s promo codes here.
- Mongoose Casino – New players get 20 free spins to use on a selected slot game, followed by a 100% matched deposit bonus up to $200, so you can dive right in and start playing Mongoose’s hundreds of online casino games from some of the best software developers in the biz. Be aware that the bonus money expires within three days of being credited to your account.
- Royal Vegas – One of the most respected online casinos gives all new players up to $1200 in bonus bets over their first three deposits. Is based on the Microgaming platform and has a solid mobile website.
- Gday Casino – Has a number of different bonuses for new and existing customers. The casino offers an unlimited 100% matched deposit with generous wagering requirements. This means you can deposit $10,000 and have a total of $20,000 to wager with.
For more great casino bonuses view the table above or check out the latest casino bonus codes.
Categories of casino bonuses
The bonus money paid out by online gambling sites can be placed into two distinct categories. Whether you’re an Internet gaming rookie or a seasoned pro, it’ll help to learn these terms and commit them to memory to avoid any disappointments down the track.
Cashable bonuses – Once the player has met the wagering requirements set forth by the casino, the bonus money can be withdrawn right along with any other winnings. This is the best category, and players should always keep an eye out for such offers.
Sticky bonuses – The more common type of bonus is called “sticky” for a reason. When you’ve met your wagering requirements and decide to make a withdrawal, the bonus money sticks to the casino instead of your bank account. In other words, it can’t be withdrawn along with your other winnings; it is nothing more than complimentary money that can only be used within the casino and is meant to draw in customers and encourage them to gamble.
Please note that it’s the player’s responsibility to determine whether a bonus amount is sticky or cashable. It isn’t in the casino’s best interests to tell you up front that money can’t be cashed out, so they’ll bury the bad news on the terms and conditions page. Always know what you’re getting into before you make a deposit based on potential bonus winnings. Otherwise, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Just like land based casinos reward punters with certain discounts and bonuses for spending money at their venues, online operators also reward players every time they spend money at their site. Loyalty programs won’t necessarily benefit you hugely if you play on a very casual and recreational scale, but those who play regularly at the same casino site will see the fruits of their labour starting to pay off.
Membership points are earned every time you place real money wagers at an online casino that offers a loyalty program. When you first register you start at the lowest loyalty tier and then move your way up to higher status the more you play. Loyalty points can later be exchanged for casino bonuses like free spins, matched deposits, tickets to prize draws and entry to online tournaments.
Wagering requirements explained
A number of bonuses require the player to wager a specified amount of money before a withdrawal can be made, and it’s once again important to read the site’s terms and conditions before making a deposit to ensure you understand the wagering requirements that are expected of you.
To better illustrate what we’re talking about, let’s look at Royal Vegas Casino and its $1200 free welcome bonus. Now let’s look closer and see if this deal is as good as it sounds.
Clicking on the “More Info” link takes us to another page where we can select “Welcome Bonus Terms and Conditions.” The first thing you’ll notice is that the $1200 is actually broken up into your first three deposits. The casino offers 100% matching funds up to $250 on the first deposit, 25% up to $200 on the second, and 50% up to $750 on the third. If the player makes the maximum allowable deposit each time, then they receive the $1200, otherwise the number may be significantly lower.
The terms also state that the three bonuses must be claimed within seven days of the initial deposit, so a new player will need to put thousands of dollars into his account within the first week to be eligible for the “free” bonus. This is a perfect example of why reading the fine print it always a good idea.
It also mentions that all bonus amounts are subject to the normal wagering requirements of the casino. Some of the requirements are listed below, and they are indicative of what you can expect to find elsewhere.
- Deposits must be wagered at least once before a promotional bonus related to that deposit will be credited.
- Casino accounts are divided into Bonus Balances and Cash Balances.
- Promotional bonus credits will be added to your Bonus Balance.
- In order to meet wagering requirements for free casino money, you need to wager 40 times the amount received. So if you got a $500 bonus from the casino, you would need to wager $20,000 before it would be eligible to be withdrawn.
- Money in the Cash Balance can be withdrawn without any stipulations.
- Bonus balances cannot be withdrawn from any account.
- When wagering requirements have been met for complimentary funds, future deposits will be added to your Cash Balance.
There are numerous other requirements, but the above examples should give you an idea of how complicated it can get. This is common at most casinos, however and not just limited to the Royal Vegas Casino example we’ve used here, so it’s best to just accept that these terms and conditions are a necessary evil.
You can blame the strict requirements on the original “bonus whores,” who used to sign up with casinos in the early days of online gambling, get their bonus money, and then withdraw the amount without bothering to play any games. The wagering requirements essentially serve as a way to protect online casinos from going under.
Types of free casino money
Bonus money comes in a number of forms, and this list is meant to be as comprehensive as possible. The next time you visit one of the online casinos recommended in our table above, expect to find one or more of the following:
No deposit – Bonus money that is received when the player opens an account, but before they make a deposit.
Weekly and monthly deposit – Players who regularly make deposits into their account may receive additional money on a weekly or monthly basis.
Matched deposits – The casino will match your deposit up to a specified amount.
Sign-up – Players receive a matching bonus when they make their first deposit, usually with minimum and maximum requirements.
High-roller – Some establishments like to award players who deposit at least $1000 at a time by giving them a percentage bonus based on the size of their deposit.
Percentage – The casino matches your deposit up to a certain percentage. For example, a 50% bonus would pay $50 on a $100 deposit.
Payment method – A casino may reward players who use a certain method of deposit or withdrawal (Skrill or Neteller, for example).
Refer-a-friend – For every new player you talk into registering, you receive a certain amount of money.
Cash-back – The casino awards losing players with a certain percentage of their losses.
Loyalty – Each time you make a wager, you earn loyalty points. These can later be redeemed for bonus money, prizes, or entry into exclusive tournaments.
Free-trial no deposit – This is “fun” money that allows the player to sample the casino software. It has no actual value and cannot be withdrawn.
Reload – Each time you reload your account with money, you may be eligible to receive a percentage or matching bonus.
Casino bonuses can be a slippery slope. On the one hand, they provide free money to play with. On the other, that money may come with all manner of strings attached. No matter which Internet casino you choose to play at, it’s wise to fully read the terms and conditions before you sign up and make a deposit into your account. That free bonus money might not be as free as it seems. Of course, if you’re going to be wagering a lot of money at the site anyway, the bonus money is more like the cherry on top of a delicious hot fudge sundae.
We highly recommend Raging Bull Casino as our top-rated casino site for players from United States, which has some excellent welcome bonuses available for new players. Sign up today and make your first real money deposit to reap the rewards, and get access to hundreds of online slots, blackjack, roulette, scratchies, poker and other table games.
Also read: USA casino bonuses
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