The History of the Online Casino Bonus

The History Of The Casino Bonus

The signup bonus was initially introduced to give an incentive to new players to sign up to an online casino and try out the games without too much of a risk. Back in the late 90’s and early 21st century, signup bonuses were a lot more generous than they are today, being a relatively young industry with far fewer players and less competition around. The idea was that a player would deposit a small amount of money initially and receive an amount usually equivalent to, or greater than, the amount they first deposited. The principle is still the same today, but the rules have changed.

As you’d expect, it soon became fairly obvious that the bonuses meant a new player could go to a casino and stand a very good chance of walking away with a profit. All well and good in the early days as competition between casinos was much less than it is now, with fewer choices available to players. Aside from which, with little or no legislation and regulation, and being a new industry, players were obviously wary of who was taking their money. Therefore it was far more common for a player to stick with one casino they felt safe with.

As the industry expanded, more casinos came into the market, self-appointed regulatory bodies sprang up and the perceptions and visibility of the industry increased, more and more players entered the market and more casinos sprung up. As you’d expect, this lead to greater opportunities for players to hop from casino to casino, taking the bonuses and leaving with a profit, a situation which meant the casinos could no longer sustain the signup bonus concept on their current terms. It also increased the amount of “bonus abuse”, fraudulent activity by players attempting to take more than the statutory one bonus from a casino via a variety of deceptive methods.

Until this time, the terms of a signup bonus were relatively insignificant. As today, the player was always required to undertake a certain amount of bets before they could cashout any winnings made from a bonus, known as the “wagering requirement”. This normally constituted, and still does, a multiple of the deposit plus the bonus received. For example, if a player deposited $100 and received another $100 signup bonus with a wagering requirement of 5x (5 times the total of deposit and bonus), they would be required to place bets to the total of $1,000 or more before they could cash out. Again, in the early days of online casino gambling, the games on which players could place those bets were fairly general, covering most games in the casino, although “50/50” games were often excluded.

Today, the signup bonuses remain commonplace but the wagering requirements have increased significantly, some would say horrifically, and the choice of games is usually far more limited, That said, Microgaming have recently implemented the eZbonus system which some casinos have adopted, and some online casinos that use Cryptologic software have made things simpler by insisting that you wager X amount of your own money before you can claim the bonus, but the bonus has very simple, if any, restrictions.

Many more casinos have started to put more emphasis on the loyalty bonus and the “VIP” loyalty schemes to keep players loyal, and the best deals are normally to be had by sticking at one casino. The signup bonuses on the surface often appear to be more attractive with many offers of 200% or more in bonuses on the initial deposit, sometimes into 4-figure sums. But when you read the T&C’s things aren’t so clear cut: shedloads of games are often excluded, some bonuses have to be claimed over 2 or 3 seperate deposits, and wagering requirements can be anything up to 60x the deposit and bonus, an almost unachievable restriction.

The upshot of these changes are, aside from cutting fraudulent player activity, that it is nigh impossible to profit from a signup bonus at a casino unless you are a) extremely lucky or b) find one which still offers a good deal, and the latter is harder than you might think. So let’s take a look at the comon catches in signup bonuses…

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