An Introduction To Online Betting Bonuses (Casino & Sports)

Bonuses and free spins might sound too good to be true (and in some cases they are). But new and existing sports and casino players should be aware of the potential benefits to claiming promotions offered by reputable betting sites.


Why Bonuses Exist

Gambling sites attract new and recurring business through the bonus schemes and rewards they provide. So casino and sports betting promotions are basically customer incentives.

Most bonuses boost players’ winnings or reduce their losses, making it more enjoyable — and less expensive — for gamblers that opted in. Naturally some gambling sites are more generous with their promotions than others.


Types of Promotions

Promotions come in various formats and are rewarded to players depending on their eligibility criteria. For instance, to new players, or to those most loyal to the site.

Players can save time finding safe places to play by exploring the portal. In addition to listing the best online casinos, the site also makes it easy to find a wide range of promotions — whether you’re keen on spinning reels or prefer old school table games.

Free Cash

Free cash is mainly offered by online casinos and appears as regular cash balance in your account. The free cash can’t usually be placed on Progressive Jackpot slots — but players can use it on the vast majority of other games.

These promotions are excellent because there’s a chance to win real cash without making a deposit. This makes it the ideal bonus for newcomers wanting to try out a casino without the risk of losing money. Or even for experienced players looking to try out new games before playing with their own money.

Free cash tends to have the same sort of value as free spins (around £5-15).

Free Spins

Slots are the biggest gaming category at online casinos, with more than £2bn wagered on them from UK players alone in 2019. As such, free spin bonuses are among the most common no deposit promos players can claim, and come as stand-alone special offers or are thrown in as part of another promotion (e.g. a welcome bonus).

Unlike ‘Free Cash’ bonuses, Free spins aren’t usually credited as part of your account balance, but can be redeemed at eligible machines — such as the ‘Age of the Gods’ slots by Playtech.

Free spins are frequently used by betting sites and software developers to promote new games, and enable players to take fresh releases for a test drive to find out how they stack up graphically, and in terms of gameplay.

Unlike deposit bonuses (see below), Free spins generally already have a preset wager (i.e. 1x wagering requirement) and all you have to do is make the Free spin and wait to see whether it generates you a profit.

Free spins are worth a relatively modest sum, often around the £5-15 mark.

Free Sports Bets

Many online casinos also have a sports betting platform where players can claim free bets as part of a welcome package. Occasionally free sports bets are tied to a specific event — such as the Cheltenham festival or Champions League final.

Free bets can be used on any market, provided the minimum odds requirement is met. The terms aren’t anywhere near as strict as those attached to casino bonuses.

While the majority of players simply place their free bet on the sport they follow most, others choose to take full advantage of the promotion by extracting a guaranteed from it. This can be achieved by backing one outcome of a sports event using the Free bet, while simultaneously betting against it at another sports betting site (usually a betting exchange). This is known as Matched Betting.

Learn how Matched Betting works

Remember that Free bets come with no downside when you lose. So you always have the option to bet on a long shot that you wouldn’t usually chance.

Tournament Bonuses

Casino Tournaments can be dangerous — so proceed with care, or simply stay away.

Gamblers who enjoy playing slot machines can participate in tournaments. The objective is to win the most money on a specific game or slot by the end of a given time period in order to claim a prize. Typical prizes include free spins, cash, or items such as gadgets and merchandise.

If you ever decide to enter a slots tournament, it’s strongly advisable to maintain a sensible, fixed stake size and to refrain from betting any more than you usually would. That way you stand a chance of winning a prize at no extra expense. Otherwise, you stand to lose a lot of money by attempting to ‘race’ towards a profit.

Deposit Bonuses

Deposit bonuses are offered to new and existing casino (and some sportsbook) players. These almost always require a minimum deposit amount, as well as entering a promotional code (or opting in) to claim the bonus.

For instance, the casino might offer to double the initial deposit up to certain amount. In this scenario, depositing £100 will show £200 in the account balance.

Other casinos offer a fixed welcome bonus. So for example, whatever amount you deposit, so long as you meet the minimum deposit for the bonus, your account is credited with an additional fixed amount (such as £50).

It’s worth noting that majority of deposit bonuses are aimed at slots players, because other games (such as blackjack) are not eligible during bonus playthrough, or otherwise count very little towards it. Players must thoroughly check the bonus terms and conditions to ensure the offer is suitable.


Meeting T&Cs & Cashing Out

There are certain conditions that need to be satisfied before completing a bonus and/or cashing out.

Wagering Requirements

Players can’t just immediately cash out a bonus, otherwise online betting sites would be literally giving money away. And the single biggest hurdle to overcome is the wagering requirement.

The wagering requirement is the total amount of wagering required, expressed in terms of the bonus’ value, before a withdrawal will be accepted. For instance, a “30x bonus” requirement means a £10 bonus requires £300 in total wagers (on eligible games).

Obviously the lower the wagering requirement, the more chance you have of withdrawing at a profit. And that’s precisely the problem; occasionally you’ll find a ludicrously high WR (200x bonus, for example) which drastically erodes the value of the promotion, rendering it completely worthless.

Eligible Games

Casino bonuses, in particular, restrict which games bonuses can be played on. Only certain games are eligible.

It’s vitally import to check this before accepting a bonus. You don’t want to be betting through your wager requirement, believing that you’re clearing it, when really you’ve already voided the terms of the promotion, or have simply been draining your own bankroll the whole time.

Withdrawal Caps

Look out for withdrawal caps. This limits cash outs from a bonus to a fixed value, such as £100.

Most special offers feature this type of restriction — although the limits aren’t consistent between different sites.

Time Limits

Most bonuses expire after a given time frame (e.g. 30 days) after it was claimed. Therefore its important to assess whether you’ll have the time to play through it.


The Importance of Licensing and Trust

Lastly, before claiming a bonus, consider that online betting has never been more competitive — so there’s a vast array of casinos and sportsbooks to choose from.

Sports and casino players alike should always look for sites holding the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority licences, which are two of the top authorities in the world. This alone doesn’t guarantee a seamless service — but it’s certainly a good starting point.

Take the time to delve deeper into a site’s online reputation, too. While no gambling site will have perfect reviews (as losing bettors often post negative feedback), multiple stories of non-payments and voided winnings reeks of foul play. Indeed most major gambling sites value customer retention — but others, unfortunately, regularly make highly dubious decisions (e.g. voiding a winning F1 bet if a driver starts from the pit lane).

By all means, take advantage of online betting bonuses. But don’t just jump at any promotion you see. Instead, be selective with the sites you use, and always check the fine print. 

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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