Casino Signup Bonuses and What To Check For
Bonuses – What To Check For
What you are primarily interested in finding out is the wagering requirements and the allowed games. These two factors will probably make your decision for you, but while you are trawling the Terms of a bonus, there are a couple of other things to look for. You need to know if you are “eligible” to claim the bonus, how the bonus is credited to your account, and whether your residential circumstances carry additional requirements. Also if there are any maximum cashouts applied to winning from a bonus.
Claiming A Bonus: Find out if the bonus is credited automatically, or whether it needs to be claimed. Some casinos insist that once signed up and made your first deposit, you either claim your bonus through a link on the “Promotions” page at the website, or you email casino support asking for the bonus. Others simply credit your account with the bonus, though this may not happen immediately- the terms will tell you.
In actual fact, claiming a bonus is a far better method for the player (be aware the casino often says that this must be done within 24-72 hours of registering at the casino). Why? Because you can deposit, play your own money and if you win, cash out without any restrictions. If you lose, then you can claim your bonus and have another go with the restrictions attached! With auto-credited bonuses, you are immediately subject to wagering requirements which can impede your ability to win.
Eligibility: When you check the T&C’s of a bonus, watch out for restrictions or additional requirements for residents of certain countries. These often apply to some countries in the East and people from Denmark, Poland and Israel. Often, the bonus is still available to them but with higher wagering requirements largely due to the amount of “bonus abuse” that comes out of these countries. Denmark seems an odd choice, but a while back there was an item on TV there which explained how to abuse bonuses at online casinos which lead to a significant rise in fraud from the country. To this day, the industry has remained wary of Danish players simply for that reason.
Wagering Requirements: You can find some casinos that still have some good deals. Most of the casinos however will ask you to wager at least 15 times the total of the deposit and bonus before you can withdraw, subject to the information I have provided above. Combined with the game restrictions, the wagering requirements often make it difficult to win, so be very careful to read the terms and understand these fully before you deposit.
Maximum Cashouts: A few casinos, primarily those using RTG software, place a maximum cashout on any money won using the signup bonus. Typically this might be 10 times the amount of the bonus awarded, so before you go chasing that progressive jackpot, make sure you know if this rule applies. A similar principle is sometimes attached to promotions. For example, Fortune Lounge recently (2006) ran a “100 free spins” promotion on slots, but again this had a maximum cashout rule. In general, at reputable casinos anyhow, this rule should be clear in the terms of the bonus or promotion, but it’s another reason to make sure you fully understand the T&C’s before you deposit!
Game Restrictions: With Microgaming’s eZbonus aside, you can pretty much be sure that any game that includes 50/50 bets, or close approximations, will not be allowed when you are counting bets towards a wagering requirement. Consequently games like Roulette, Blackjack, Sic Bo and Craps are almost always disallowed. A lot of casinos also exclude Video Poker games (or aloow them at an vastly increased wagering requirement) largely because these games often offer high expected returns and can be used to the players advantage in bonus situations. You will also find a lot of bonuses are called “Slots Only” bonuses and consequently can only be wagered on slots which typically have a 90%-95% expected return (see the Odds & Expected Returns page). You’ll be lucky to see a 4x turnover on $100 playing 5 reel bonus slots although some of the 3-reelers could take you to 8x or 10x and maybe a better bet. (ie: 4x turnover means you have $100 and could make $400 of bets before you run dry).
Continue to read about some of the more Shady Casino Tactics when it comes to sign-up bonuses.