What are casino welcome bonuses?
Welcome bonuses (also called first deposit bonuses) are a type of promotion offered by online casinos. The main goal of welcome bonuses is to attract new players and help the casino grow, amongst the stiff competition of other online casinos.
The welcome bonus is usually the best deal you can get in an online casino. Loyal players often get bonuses as well, but these are almost never as generous as the welcome bonus. The reason for this is that welcome bonuses are usually so high that casinos don’t make any money on them. If casinos were offering such high bonuses all the time, they wouldn’t make any money at all. And that’s not good for any business.
Welcome bonuses usually come in the form of extra credit which you can use to play for real money. If you play for long enough, you can withdraw this credit.
How do casino bonuses work?
The basic principle of casino bonuses is that you can’t withdraw a bonus if you haven’t played long enough with it. Otherwise, everyone would just simply come to the casino, take the bonus and withdraw their money with a healthy profit, without even playing.
The conditions which force you to play for long enough with a bonus before a withdrawal are known as wagering requirements (WR), or rollover requirements. WR are expressed in terms of how many times you have to roll over the bonus (25x, 50x etc.) prior to withdrawal.
To roll over a bonus 25x, the sum of your bets must exceed 25x the original value of the bonus. So at 25x WR for a $100 bonus, you’d have to play 2500 spins at $1 each, for example.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that some casinos state WR for bonus amounts, while others state it for the bonus amount and the corresponding deposit. A 25x WR for a 100% bonus + deposit is therefore equal to a 50x WR just for the bonus amount.
Note that not all games contribute to WR with a full bet size. Table games like blackjack or roulette always contribute only with fraction of the bets. Many high RTP slot (RTP over 97%) also have decreased contributions. Many high volatility slots are either ruled out entirely, or have limited contributions. Always check the WR contribution of a game before you play it when you’re looking to meet the WR and cash out on your bonus.
The rules and principles mentioned above were related to deposit bonuses specifically, although many of them can be applied to other types of bonuses as well. One of the most popular types of bonus offers, no deposit bonuses, is a bit different in terms of WR calculations, as there is no deposit and just the bonus value you need to wager. To learn more about them or browse our list of no deposit casino bonuses, click here.
Which 1st deposit bonus conditions should I be aware of?
The most important thing to consider is whether a bonus is tied to the deposit or not.
If a bonus isn’t tied to the deposit, you can play freely with your deposit as if you didn't have any bonus at all. If you win, you can cancel the bonus and withdraw your winnings. If you lose, the bonus is your second chance.
If a bonus is tied to a deposit, you have to follow the bonus rules from the beginning. Even if you win a large amount, you can’t withdraw your winnings before you roll over the bonus. If you decide to cancel the bonus, all your former wins will be void. This can be quite annoying and it is the reason why it’s usually better to refuse some of the tied bonuses with a value below 30 % of the deposit amount.
Other conditions to be aware of include:
- Maximum bet per spin: usually $5 or 10-20 % of the bonus value, lower values apply
- Excluded games: always check whether your favorite game is allowed
- Double up options are usually prohibited
- Irregular gameplay: this is when you start with high bets to lose the bonus or build a nice bankroll and then you win big and switch to much lower bets (to slowly roll over the rest while losing a controllable amount of your bankroll).
How do casinos make money on welcome bonuses?
Most casinos don’t make money on welcome bonuses. They make them on players who keep playing after spending their bonus funds. The majority of casinos still offer a bonus which gives the player a little headstart when played properly. There’s a reason why many casinos only offer their welcome bonuses to several target countries and strictly apply a one bonus per account policy.
Welcome bonuses are definitely an expense and the casino managers have to be very careful when setting the conditions of their bonuses, as well as the target markets in which they are offered.
On the other hand, the bonuses offered to existing players are usually configured in a way that can’t be abused. These bonuses may decrease your cost of playing, but you very likely won’t make money on them from a long term perspective.
How can I filter out latest casino bonuses, high roller bonuses etc.?
The filters on the left are a powerful tool to search among hundreds of bonuses. My goal is to build the most accurate and detailed database of casinos and casino bonuses in the world. I’m not quite there yet, but we’re getting stronger by the day.
Here are some tips on using the filters:
- Use For players from… filter to search for bonuses you are eligible for
- Use Bonus Value -> Bonus value (%) to find 200% casino bonuses or 300% casino bonuses
- Use Bonus Value -> Bonus amount ($) to find high roller casino bonuses above $500
- Use Sort (Year. Est.) to find the latest casino bonuses from casinos that just started
- Use Wagering Requirements to find bonuses with low wagering requirements