Let's face it: there are only a limited number of casino games on the market, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of online sites that offer these games. For you to choose one site over another for your real-money play, sites have to come up with enticing ways to make you a depositor and to keep you a loyal player. Some sites do this by offering different software options or games available in local currencies. However, the majority of sites use bonuses to attract players and to retain them once they are in the database.
We get a lot of feedback about casino bonuses, and in most cases, players are confused as to which bonuses are the best and how to maximize the offers being given by an online casino. While there isn't one standard answer for the industry, we are going to try to de-mystify the world of bonuses and help you get the most out of every deposit and bet you make.
Sites with Excellent Bonuses
One of the most important factors that goes into our comprehensive site reviews is how generous a site is with its bonuses. In fact, we go a step further than checking them out - we get deep into the terms and conditions to see what games don't qualify and what other restrictions exist that may prevent you from taking full advantage of the offers being presented to you.
We'll go into even more detail about the types of bonuses a casino will offer you, but for now, let's get many of you on your way with a list of sites that we consider the highest-rated when it comes to these promotions. These sites will provide the best value overall for gamblers, although you may want to read through some more of our reviews if you have a specific game you like to play or a stakes level that is above or below average.
Why Are Bonuses Important?
We all know that casinos are not launched to pay out players. These operations are huge money makers, and the odds of no matter what game you choose to play are stacked against you. Only a minority of players who make a deposit will walk away with a win, and all players are looking for an edge when they play the games to try to bring the odds closer to their favor.
In most cases, these are additional small pieces of cash or free chances to win something, and while they might not seem like a lot individually, each bonus goes a long way towards the goal of profitability.
Now, some players in the early days found all the loopholes necessary to take advantage of casino bonuses, and these bonus hunters caused the entire industry to tighten their belts and the restrictions on players when trying to earn the extras. However, there is still value to be found out there - you just need to know where to look. That is where we come in. Our team of experts have decades of combined experience in the online casino world, so we can quickly spot promotions that are valuable and pass that information along to you via our site reviews.
Types of Casino Bonuses
Online casinos are always adding new bonus offers, and sometimes we can't update our reviews fast enough, so it is equally as important for you to understand each bonus and to be able to quickly evaluate its worth before you accept the offer. With that in mind, let's have a look at the different types of bonuses you are likely to find.
No-Deposit Bonuses - while they are becoming rarer as time goes by, there is still no better bonus than one that doesn't cost you anything to use. Now, these types of bonuses are typically reserved for players who are registering accounts for the first time, which is why we always recommend you create an account whenever you see a free spin or free chip promotion. There is no risk aside from giving up some information to the site, and who knows? You may actually win something before you ever make a deposit. These bonuses typically have a maximum you can cash out if you do manage to win, but we don't have a problem with that, as it is a truly free offer.
There are some other free spin offers that can come as a result of being a loyal player, so you should always check your balances when you log in to your casino accounts because you never know when you will find a few extra bucks or spins waiting there for you.
Welcome Bonuses - The first offer you are likely to see when you land on a casino homepage is the welcome bonus. This is the bonus given to players who make their initial deposit, and it is typically when the casino is at its most generous. Converting a player to being a depositor is one of the hardest things for an operator to do, so having a very enticing offer is one effective way to accomplish the goal.
Welcome bonuses can be a combination of free spins, free chips, and a match bonus on the deposit itself. Sometimes it is only one of the three, most commonly the match bonus. A casino may try to extend your engagement by making the welcome bonus valid over more than your first deposit, but in most scenarios, you will still end up with the same amount of bonus as a site that piles it all into one.
One thing to take into consideration when you see these outlandish bonus amounts is how long you have to convert the bonus. In some cases, you can have as little as seven days, which makes the size of the bonus almost irrelevant. Also, you should take a look at the terms of the bonus to find out what the wagering requirement is.
Reload Bonuses - reload bonuses are almost exactly the same as the welcome bonus, except they are rewarding players for making additional deposits. These bonuses are typical a much smaller percentage than the welcome bonuses, but they also have wagering requirements. The difference is that a site may offer these bonuses for your entire lifetime at their site. Some sites have a different reload bonus at different times during the week to try to entice players to play at non-primetime hours.
Loyalty Gifts - one way a casino can provide a higher perceived value of a promotion is to offer a physical good to a player. While you can track how many bonus dollars or free spins you receive, if you receive some electronics in the mail or an invite to a private event, you may feel that these gifts have more value to you. Casinos count on that, and many of them offer these types of gifts in their loyalty programs. Sometimes you can redeem points for these gifts, and other sites simply reward loyal players with them. We think more sites should get back into the form of giving out these gifts, as they are easier than ever to administer in the online shopping world.
Cashback - this offer is the exact opposite of a bonus on a deposit, and it is more of an insurance policy than anything. Many casinos offer you the option of taking a deposit bonus or taking a percentage of your losses back in cash. If you choose the cash-back option, you should make sure there is no wagering requirement for that money in order to redeem it. Also, some casinos will promote individual games with cashback offers, so you should always check the list of ongoing promotions when you are planning to play to ensure you don't miss out on a way to back up your play in a particular game.
Tournaments/Freerolls - another great way to find value in an online casino is by playing in the tournaments a site offers. Many casinos offer these tournaments, and while many cost money to enter, there are typically a few a week that cost nothing at all! While the prizes aren't necessarily huge, neither are the fields, so there is definitely some value to be found there. This is especially true of poker freerolls, where players who have some knowledge of the game tend to do very well against contest winners or new players. Check the lobby of your site of choice for a tournament schedule or check out our reviews for sites that offer them.
There are many different types of bonuses available at online gambling sites, but the bottom line is that you need to find the ones that provide you with the best value based on your individual gameplay. Whether that means making a lot of deposits or taking a percentage back on your losses, these amounts are what can sometimes make the difference between being a winning and losing player. Hopefully, this page has given you the information necessary to find the best bonuses and the best sites to go along with them.