From free drinks all night, to complementary tickets to a show, casinos have always offered a little extra enticement to bring players to the table or slot machine. Online casinos have their own way of adding some extra sparkle at the door, in the form of bonuses. These vary from one online casino to the next, but usually come as credit in your account, free spins or a combination.
In this guide, we look at the most popular and widely available online casino bonuses, which mostly fall into two categories: no deposit bonuses and deposit bonuses. Some operators still offer bonuses for referrals, or for using certain payment methods, but these are not common.
This is the first bonus you will encounter when registering at an online casino for the first time. It’s standard to offer a welcome bonus to new customers, so the chances are good you’ll be offered one. In most cases you receive this bonus when you make your first deposit. Depending on the structure, your welcome bonus may be spread over your second and third deposits as well.
It’s important to familiarise yourself with the casino’s wagering requirements when it comes to welcome bonuses. Wagering (see below) almost always applies to these, so there will be specific terms under which you can claim the bonus as cash.
It’s worth considering forgoing your welcome bonus because of its attached conditions. If you do claim it, bear in mind that you might need to wait a while before you can enjoy it, so it’s good to be patient.
Welcome bonuses are strictly controlled to make sure the online casino is complying with international law. Bonuses may only be available in certain countries, they may be capped, and are exclusive to new users. However, they do tend to be substantial, and if you pay attention to the wagering requirements, and exercise some patience, you could receive a decent cash payout.
Some online casinos offer a no deposit bonus when you register. You can claim this bonus before you make any deposits, and it’s usually fairly small. The purpose of these bonuses is to offer players a chance to try out the online casino and its games before committing your cash.
The wagering requirements around no deposit bonuses are strict, so chances are you won’t be cashing out before placing several bets. There’s also usually a short time limit on the no deposit bonus.
Some online casinos bypass the no deposit bonus by allowing you to try various games for free instead. In this case, you don’t have to use real money to play, but you also can’t cash out any winnings. This is designed to give you a good idea of how the casino and games work without taking any risk.
A new bonus system that is starting to appear in top online casinos like Jackpot.co.za is the No Wager Bonus or Wager-free Bonus.
A No Wager Bonus is a bonus that does not have a wagering requirement (more on that below), which means that you won’t need to play through sometimes steep wagering requirements before you can get your hands on your winnings.
No Wager Bonuses are not free money though, they do come with their own conditions, but these are generally far more lenient than wagering requirements. One of the most common ways online casinos work No Wager Bonuses is to give you a Bonus Wallet where your bonus cash is placed. You cannot withdraw money from the Bonus Wallet, but any winnings you make from your bonus amount goes into your casino account for use anyway you see fit.
The cashback bonus is there for those times when you lose big. Some online casinos offer a cashback bonus if you lose everything you’ve bet, over, say, a week. In this case, they offer you a percentage of your net losses as a bonus. The bonus might be paid out in cash, and it could be subject to wagering, though there are one or two online South African casinos that have wager-free cashback programmes in place.
The terms of cashback bonuses vary from operator to operator, and may be subject to stringent laws or rules. Be sure to read these terms carefully before claiming any bonus.
When you’ve made your initial deposits, claimed – or surrendered – your welcome bonus, and played for a while, some casinos will offer reload bonuses for additional deposits. These generally function similarly to welcome bonuses, although terms might be different, depending on the casino.
Reload bonuses are usually sent by promo code to registered players, or handed out to people logged on at certain times of day. Online casinos will usually advertise these bonuses regularly, as their purpose is to entice players to make additional deposits.
As we mentioned before, some casinos still offer referral bonuses or alternate payment method bonuses – particularly Bitcoin – but these are rare. More frequently, you’ll find various other bonuses, incentives and rewards on offer. These vary from casino to casino, and are one of the ways online casinos can get creative about how it keeps its players engaged.
Among the more commonly found promos and bonuses are loyalty programmes, where you can earn an increasing number of points – often across ascending tiers – the more you bet. These points usually get you bonus credit or cash.
Take note of wagering requirements before signing up to an online casino, as these influence when and how you can withdraw your bonus as cash.
Taking advantage of the bonuses on offer is one of the benefits of using an online casino. However, it pays to be scrupulous and make sure you fully understand the terms of the bonus before claiming it. This way, you avoid disappointment and frustration, and instead make the most of these freebies, gifts and incentives.