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Understanding Online Casino Bonuses

Are you puzzled by the workings of online Casino bonuses, with those pulsating dollar signs and offers of free cash? Let's see if we can demystify the situation.

Different rules apply to different casino bonuses - know these rules and avoid disappointment. In addition you may think you're receiving the best treatment because a casino gives the best percentage bonus, then you learn that your small deposit hasn't bought that much of a bonus after all, or you have problems cashing out your winnings. In this article we'll explain how to work out which bonus is actually the best, drawing from typical bonus schemes to help you make your selection.
Types of Casino Bonuses Casinos typically offer four types of bonuses:

  • Free cash or no-deposit bonuses.
  • "Match bonuses" or bonuses when you sign up or pay your first deposit.
  • Bonuses for renewing your membership or making further deposits.
  • Bonuses for using a preferred deposit system, such as paying through

    Neteller. We'll consider these bonuses one by one.

Free Cash Bonuses
There's nothing strange about these bonuses. Once you've signed up at the casino, you can place free bets up to the value of the bonus. But there is a snag - you may not be able to cash in until you've either paid your deposit or staked a sum real money many times greater than the bonus value.

Even so, newcomers to online casinos should accept this type of bonus to use as your initial stake money. There's always a chance that you could win real cash with your free bet! However, take caution as many of these types of bonuses have onerous wagering requirements that sometimes make it difficult to cash in any money at all.

First Deposit Bonuses
Now things become a little more interesting. Deposit bonuses come in two forms, namely, the straight cash bonus and the percentage bonus.

Let's look at an example. A casino advertises a 400% bonus up to $100 maximum. Here you'll get free credits worth $100 for the first $25 you deposit. Take note that this bonus is likely to apply only to the first $25. Afterwards you qualify for other types of bonuses, like the one for making a re-deposit. Now the casinos terms and conditions state a 7 times wager through requirement in bonus + deposit if you elect to take a bonus. That means that you have to wager $25 + $100 = $125 x7 = $875 before you can cash out anything. Wager through requirements differ between casinos. Always understand them carefully before you make a deposit. The last thing you want is to win, only to find that you can not cash out because you have not wagered enough.

Ongoing Bonuses
Casinos offer numerous forms of re-deposit bonuses as inducements to retain their gamblers. At a number of casinos the extent of these bonuses depends on the loyalty ratings of the members. Most of the time these bonuses are subject to the same conditions as the bonuses for initial deposits, but sometimes you have to bet multiples of this deposit to qualify for a cash-out. If your bonus is $50, for instance, you may have to bet 10 times as much - yes, $500 - to qualify. To do so you'd obviously have to be on some sort of winning streak.

Special Bonuses (e.g. preferred payment method)
Here too there are a range of bonuses. The two most frequently applied are deposit mechanism and special event bonuses.

The deposit mechanism bonus rewards you for making deposits through a preferred payment system, of which Neteller is the most widely used. You can get an additional 20 percent from some casinos for using Neteller. Terms and conditions are much like those for first-deposit bonuses.

Special event bonuses may be dressed up in different ways. You may receive one of these special bonuses if, for instance, you bet a minimum amount on a particular game. Many casinos offer this type of bonus for slots players.

Ryan D. has over 6 years in the online casino and sportsbook market in marketing, operations and customer service. He shares his "insider" views at The Online Gambling Insider


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