These days, just about every online casino offers some kind of bonus – particularly for new players. Most people realise that such bonuses do no represent guaranteed profits. However, not many know that casino bonuses sometimes offer bonuses with positive expected value. Whilst a tiny few people even know about these potentially profitable propositions, even fewer know how exactly to spot the most lucrative.
In this article, we’ll introduce the easiest ways to tell a good online casino bonus from a great one. Don’t worry though, we won’t be going too far into the mathematics of it all. It’s not difficult to work out the exact expected value from a casino promotion. However, it is out of the scope of this short introduction to choosing the best casino bonuses.
The Best Casino Bonus?
Some readers might presume that the best casino bonus always involves receiving the largest amount of bonus cash. However, they’d be wrong.
By best, we mean the most potentially profitable long-term. It’s possible to win real money with any casino bonus but it’s usually not likely. Various terms and conditions will significantly reduce the probability of you cashing out any profits.
Understanding the conditions casinos put on their bonuses is often the deciding factor when selecting your bonus. That’s why we’ve detailed each of these terms and conditions below and how to identify the best casino bonuses.
Wagering or Playthrough Requirement
The first thing to look at when comparing online casino bonuses is the wagering requirement. This refers to the amount of money you need to bet at a casino before your bonus cash turns into real money and you can withdraw it.
The wagering requirement will usually be noted in the terms and conditions as a multiple of the amount of bonus cash you receive. The clause might read something like:
“The total bonus received must be wagered 35x before withdrawing.”
If you received a £10 bonus from the casino offering a promotion including the above term, the total you will need to wager will be £350. This sounds like a lot but remember, you can place bets contributing to the wagering requirement in any sizes. Three hundred and fifty £1 bets will complete the wagering just as a single £350 bet will.
When you compare two online casino bonuses, the one with a lower wagering requirement is usually going to be the better one. The more times you need to bet the entire bonus amount, the more likely you are to bust out before completing the wagering. The casino wants you to bust out because they’d rather not pay out!
Casino bonuses have expiration dates. One of the clauses in the terms and conditions document will detail the validity period of your bonus funds. The validity period can range between a few hours and a couple of months.
A good bonus will give you a lot of time to complete wagering. Poorer ones will force you to complete it in a short amount of time. With longer to complete wagering, players can make small, low variance bets and stand less chance of busting out. When the time limit is tight, players might be forced to increase the size of their bets, inviting greater variance and a bigger chance losing all bonus funds before finishing wagering.
Casinos don’t allow players to complete wagering requirements on whatever game they like. If they did, everyone would play blackjack with perfect strategy (blackjack has a very low house edge) and would complete the wagering ceding as little edge as possible to the casino. The venue would lose a lot of money and would need to cancel the promotion or go out of business.
Instead, casinos limit the contributions of high return-to-player rated games like blackjack. The venue might state that blackjack contributes just 10% to wagering or not at all. Other games and certain bets on games might be restricted too.
Look at which games contribute 100% towards wagering when comparing casino bonuses. Check the return-to-player ratings of the games making full contributions to the playthrough requirement – the bonus with the higher RTP games will likely be the best.
Cash Out Limits
One term that catches a lot of people out is the cash out limit. Casinos will often cap winnings at a certain value. Any bonus cash balance that exceeds the cash out limit will be surrendered to the casino on completion of the wagering.
Different types of bonuses typically have different cash out limits. For example, a deposit bonus that involves the player’s own money might have a very large cash out limit. Conversely, a no deposit bonus that doesn’t require the player to use their own money will probably have a very low one – the casino doesn’t want to pay a lot of winnings out to players that don’t even make a deposit!
When comparing online casino bonuses, you want to pay close attention to the cash out limit. It should be quite obvious but we’ll say it anyway. A good casino bonus will have a very high cap (if any at all) on winnings.
Size of the Bonus
Finally, the size of the bonus does matter to a degree. If all other terms are equal, a £50 bonus is better than a £5 one. Although the wagering requirements will be much higher on the £50 bonus (30 x £50 > 30 x £5), you will have many more opportunities to spike a big win when playing through the £50 bonus.
No one single factor determines how good a casino bonus is. A lucrative casino bonus will have a low playthrough requirement, many high RTP games contributing 100% towards wagering, a long time to complete the requirements, and a high cash out limitation (if there is one at all).
It’s important to use your bonus wisely as well. This doesn’t mean you have to be a maths genius or anything though. Just stick to playing the highest RTP game that contributes 100% to wagering and is rated as low volatility. You can find such information about various slots on the website of the developer that made them.
When you actually play through the bonus, make sure to keep the volatility low by always placing the smallest bet that will reasonably allow you to complete wagering without upping stakes. If you’re completing wagering on a slot machine, make sure you’re playing it in a way that will actualise the maximum RTP of the title. This will usually mean setting the number of win lines to the maximum and the bet per line to the minimum.
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea about how to spot lucrative casino bonuses. Next time you’re thinking of signing up to a new online casino, use our tips to maximum your chances of winning. Happy spinning!