One of the best parts about online casinos is the range and frequency of their promotional offers and bonuses. It’s equivalent to walking into a retail outlet and having a sales assistant hand you a voucher or free gift, just for visiting. Even land-based casinos struggle to compete as online casinos go the extra mile to entice new players to give their casino a try.
As online casinos scour the internet for new players, many offer welcome bonuses as a way to encourage customers to give them a try. While “no deposit” bonuses are rare, many casinos offer match bonuses which can double your first deposit in order tempt you from your existing gaming establishment of choice.
What is a welcome package?
A welcome bonus or package will include something free as a way to encourage your patronage. Whether it is free spins on a new online pokie or a match bonus for your first deposit, every online casino longs to expand its customer base as it tries to stand out from all the other establishments.
Match bonuses often make up at least part of your welcome package to encourage you to make a cash deposit. Anything from 100% to up to 500% can catch your attention as casino banners flash on web pages you visit.
As with most things on the internet, all that glitters isn’t gold as these promotional offers always have terms and conditions that have detailed requirements about what needs to happen next.
Whatever percent is offered, don’t be surprised if you don’t receive that amount all at once. Let’s take a look at a 200% match bonus promotion. These are often split like this:
- 1st deposit = 100% match bonus up to $100
- 2nd deposit = 50% match bonus up to $100
- 3rd deposit = 25% match bonus up to $200
- 4th deposit = 25% match bonus up to $200
While you can claim as much as $600, you first need to deposit $600.
Free spins are sometimes included in welcome packages as casinos not only get you through the door but also promote a new online pokie at the same time.
When it is included in a welcome package, it may look like something like this: “Register today and receive a 100% match bonus and 100 free spins”.
On closer inspection, however, the details may specify that you will get 20 spins per day for the first 5 days you are registered with the casino, on one particular pokie.
These spins usually have limitations on them as they are restricted to a specific value or only valid for a certain time. Winnings are also capped at a certain threshold and few casinos allow you to cash out more than $100 should you win anything on these free spins.
In order to encourage more uptake, a few casinos have started offering “no-frills” free spins where you can cash out (up to a certain amount) without needing to meet any wagering requirements.
Terms and conditions apply
Now, while everyone loves free money, few people read the fine print comprehensively enough to understand all that it entails.
When it comes to the wagering requirements, the details are extensive and often confusing. It’s no surprise as to why people think welcome bonuses are a scam.
Understanding wagering requirements
The bane of any bonus, wagering requirements specify how much you need to wager before you can receive any winnings.
While some casinos have wagering requirements of 70x or more, most casinos stick to between 20% and 40% for the deposit and the bonus, while others require you to wager between 60% and 80% of just the bonus.
Let’s look at an example to clarify what this would look like:
- Let’s say you receive a match bonus of $100
- The casino requires that you wager both the deposit ($100) and the bonus ($100) 40x before you cash out
- You would need to wager $200×40 = $8,000 before you can receive any winnings
Any money won using this bonus is usually locked away in a separate account on your profile, and only unlocked once you have met the requirements.
Wagering game weights – The sting
The terms and conditions get even more sticky when you read further down in the fine print that not all games are weighted equally. Some games are even excluded from contributing to the meeting of wagering requirements altogether.
Most often, slot games, contribute to the wagering requirement 100%. That means you would need to place $8,000 in bets across pokie machines to meet the wagering requirement before making a withdrawal.
Live casino and table games like Poker and Baccarat are often excluded from the wagering requirement, so you are limited in terms of which games you can play and enjoy.
Essentially, the casino wants to keep you playing for as long as possible.
Is it worth it?
At the end of the day, free money is free money. As long as you don’t expect to pocket it immediately, it is worth it. Making the most of that free money isn’t always easy but, if you set your expectations accordingly, you won’t be disappointed.
For players who are aiming to deposit, play and cashout as quickly as possible, welcome bonuses may not be the best idea. However, depending on the offer available, you may just find the perfect wager-free, no strings attached promotions for you!
You should always set your gambling budget while keeping in mind that you may not get it back. Only risk what you can afford.
Also, remember that if your games of chance pastime are affecting your life or that of your loved ones, consider seeking support to avoid risky behaviour.
Beating a gambling addiction is a guaranteed way to win.