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- 1 Understanding Casino Bonuses – A Guide
- 2 Rollover
- 3 Wagering Requirement
- 4 Playthrough
- 5 Games Limits
- 6 Percentage Contribution
- 7 Time Limits
- 8 Country Restrictions
- 9 Types of Bonuses
- 10 Payment Method Restrictions
- 11 Payment Amount Restrictions
- 12 Bet Amount Restrictions
- 13 Bonus Abuse
- 14 Bonus Codes
- 15 Advantage Play
- 16 Minimal Risk Wagering
- 17 Other Catches
- 18 Limit on Winnings
- 19 To Read or Not to Read?
- 20 Deposit Bonus Example Terms
Uptown Aces Casino has a number of different deposit bonuses available for new players. We will use this bonus as a practical example of bonus terms and conditions at the end of this article.
Understanding Casino Bonuses – A Guide
Online casino veterans might have little issues navigating the muddy waters of bonuses and promotions, but there’s a good chance that you aren’t one of those players just yet – and that means that you are still quite confused by all those wagering requirements and rollover numbers that are featured in the terms and conditions all online casino offers come with.
But just because it seems complicated or confusing that does not mean that you should skip over it. Doing that will cost you money at some point, so you may as well get to grips with the system now. Doing so will pay off for you in the future.
Here we are going to look at some of the basic terms and issues, and also give you some practical tips that should help you getting the most out of the bonuses that you decide to take advantage of.
This article may seem longer than some casinos t&c’s, but we believe that it will be worthwhile to read it.
First of all, let’s take a closer look at one of the most important terms that are associated with deposit and reload bonuses – the rollover.
Put simply, you’ll need to stake a certain amount of money before you’ll be allowed to request a withdrawal. Almost always, the requirement will come in a multiple of what you’ve deposited and what you’ve received on top of that.
The multiples range from 3x to 100x, but we assure you that both extremes are seen very rarely and that the most typical range is somewhere between 20x and 40x. While this might look huge compared to what the wagering requirements are for the vast majority of sports betting bonuses, once it is below 40x it’s not much to be worried about – after all, you stand a good chance of having a nice chunk of your bankroll intact after you first ‘roll it over’, while there are no such guarantees in sports betting.
In any case, the one tip that we’d like to give you here is to stay away from all the online casinos that go above the 50x mark as far as rollovers are concerned, especially whenever that’s applied to larger sums. While we wouldn’t say that those casinos don’t have good intentions, there’s no need to submit oneself to something so harsh, especially since you don’t really know much about the given casino when you’re joining it for the welcome bonus.
There is a possibility that you might not like the games it offers, or the feel of the software. or even that some of the advertised features don’t actually work as expected, so you don’t really want to commit to having to continue playing there for too long.
Another important point about the rollover multiple is whether it applies to the bonus amount or the deposit amount and bonus amount combined. There is no standard.
A multiple of the bonus amount only will be a lot less than a multiple of the combined total of your deposit and the bonus.
The wagering requirement is just another way to say ‘rollover’, and is quite often expressed in just the same way; 40 times the bonus amount, for example. This is then calculated out to show a cash figure that must be wagered before you can make any withdrawal.
So a bonus amount of £20.00 that attracted adeposit bonus of 200% for a bonus amount of £40, with a wagering requirement of 40 times the bonus amount, would come to a total of £1,600 that needs to be wagered by the player before they can ask to withdraw any of their money.
Playthrough is yet another way to express the rollover, or wagering requirement. It is usually expressed as an amount that needs to be wagered or played through before you may cashout.
Those three terms, rollover, playthrough and wagering requirement are effectively interchangable and must exactly the same thing: the amount that you need to gamble before you are clear to cashout your money, whether it includes any winnings or not.
Trying to cashout before the requirements have been met will normally lead to one of two things happening; you will either have your cashout request declined, and you must go back and finish the rollover, or you will have your cashout request processed but your winnings and the bonus amount will be deducted, and you will only get your initial deposit refunded.
While the entire business with rollovers is rather straightforward, there’s much more to talk about when it comes to game limits, i.e. the range of games that count for rollovers. Yes, you did indeed read that right – some games don’t actually count for wagering requirements.
You may now be wondering what’s the point of having such a limitation in place, so let’s answer that question first and foremost. Well, the point of having certain games excluded is to prevent advantage players from abusing the bonus system.
It should all become clearer when you take into consideration what games tend to be excluded – it’s the classic games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and video poker. What those games have in common is fairly low house edge – and, since it’s also very easy to find the optimal strategy for playing those games, that house edge is very easy to achieve. Bonus hunters would therefore simply love to get a big bonus and roll it over while being virtually guaranteed to lose only a small chunk of it in the end – and that’s exactly the type of behavior that online casinos want to prevent.
There’s some good news to talk about as well, however, and it’s the fact that many of the premium casinos are allowing their customers to fulfill the wagering requirements at any game they want, with the only catch being that the low-edge games don’t contribute as much to the total amount as slot games. This allows players to meet the quotas while enjoying their favourite games – and it doesn’t allow bonus hunters to abuse the system.
We do see the reasons behind casinos banning some games from contributing to rollovers and it’s a business decision they’re naturally free to make, but we’d nonetheless urge you to check the ban list every single time you take a big bonus on, as we’ve already seen some casinos being sneaky enough to get some of the most popular slot games in there. That’s completely unjustifiable in our opinion, so our recommendation is to stay away from casinos that do this.
The allowed games list will hopefully include low-edge table games such as blackjack and roulette, but at a reduced contribution percentage.
The effect of this reduction is to increase the amount of the rollover.
For example, a player gets a £50 bonus with a rollover of 40 times the bonus amount only, for a total wagering requirement of (£50 x 40) £2,000. So they are required to gamble at least £2,000 on permitted games. If they play at games that count at 100%, such as most slots games, then that is fine. But should they choose to play at blackjack, and find that the percentage contribution for blackjack is only 10%, then it means that they will have to gamble at least £20,000 to complete the rollover.
The way this works is that once they reach the original wagering amount, in this case £2,000, they find that this is only counted as £200, that is, 10%.
The point of this is to increase the amount that you gamble so that the house edge has more opportunity to eat away at the bonus.
Games limits aren’t the only limitations you’re going to face in the world of casino bonuses, however – there are also time limits to care about. Thankfully, the vast majority of online casinos is fairly lenient on this particular front, which means that you’re typically going to get at least thirty days to get all the wagering requirements in.
There’s not much to add here and this particular limit isn’t going to force you to change your gaming habits, but we’d nonetheless recommend that you plan ahead whenever the time limit is thirty days or less. It’s most definitely not a good idea to take on a hefty bonus when you’re just about to leave on a long holiday – while we’ve seen some players getting through a 50x rollover requirement in a single day, there was some auto-play involved and that’s a pretty drastic measure that you most likely don’t want to use.
You probably know for how long you typically play and what stakes you typically use, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get a good estimate of how many days you’ll actually need, especially if you’re one of those players that are fairly comfortable with raising the stakes if the need to do so arises – alternatively, you can just schedule a few intense gaming sessions once the allotted time starts to run out. Just make sure that you aren’t going to start feeling the proverbial heat and that you aren’t going to make any stupid decisions just because you forgot to mark the final date in your calendar.
Many offers will only be available to players from a select list of countries, even though the casino accepts players from other countries too. Don’t think that just because you are allowed to create an account at a particular casino that means that you will get the bonus. That is not always the case, and somewhere in the t&c’s will be a list of countries that are not eligible for the bonus, or, in some cases, countries that can get a different deposit bonus, or even the same bonus but with different, harsher, wagering requirements.
Types of Bonuses
Now for the somewhat more interesting thing – although most online casinos are offering “pure” bonuses nowadays, some are a bit trickier with the bonus amounts.
Before we get to that, however, let’s explain the “pure” bit – basically, a “pure” bonus means that you can withdraw all the money that’s left in the account once you complete the wagering requirements regardless of whether it comes from the original deposit or the bonus amount. No hidden tricks and other shenanigans – what’s left in your account is yours to keep and you can do whatever you want with it.
Now for the trickier part – some casinos still think that bonuses should be sticky and that players should never be able to withdraw the bonus money they’ve been given. This is typical old-school mentality and we’re happy to say that the numbers of casinos still adhering to it is decreasing every single year, but it’s something that you simply have to keep in mind at all times.
These sticky bonuses come in two types. The first type is typically called “phantom” due to the fact that you’re going to lose the bonus money once you decide to withdraw. Just to give you an example – let’s say that you’ve deposited $100 and received a $100 bonus on top of that. After completing the wagering requirements, you find that there’s a nice tidy sum of $300 left in your account and you decide to withdraw it in its entirety. However, you’re only going to get $200 and your account will be left with $0, as the $100 bonus will be removed. It goes without saying that the value of these bonuses is much lower than the value of “pure” bonuses, but they aren’t completely pointless either.
The second type of sticky bonuses – which is, unfortunately, less common than the first one – is more lenient in that the bonus amount isn’t going to be removed from your account once you decide to request a withdrawal. Instead, the bonus amount will stay in your account and you’ll get a chance to play with it while keeping all the winnings. To stay with the aforementioned example – you would get $200 withdrawn back to your bank account, while the $100 bonus would be left in your account marked as bonus money that’s impossible to withdraw.
Payment Method Restrictions
You may find with some UK casinos that making a deposit by either Skrill or Neteller will automatically disqualify you from receiving the advertised deposit bonus.
I’m going to say that again; some casinos will NOT give the bonus if you use certain payment methods to deposit.
If you are depositing with the intention to have the bonus money to play with, then it is hugely important that you know about any such restrictions before you deposit.
Payment Amount Restrictions
Yes, even the amount of your deposit may be covered in the bonus terms. We often see that casinos will allow very low deposit amounts, but the amount you must deposit in order to get any bonus is higher. So do not assume that just becasue a casino lets you depsoit £5.00 that it will give you a matching bonus on this deposit.
Bet Amount Restrictions
Many bonus terms include a restriction on the maximum size of any bets that you make. Instead of being able to bet the maximum bet at the game you are playing, you will be limited to a lower amount as stated in the terms. You need to read the terms to find out if this applies,a nd if it does, what the cap is.
This term is often used to take winning back from a player before they can cash out, and it is often only vaguely defined at best. It sometimes comes with a ‘catch all’ type of wording that basically says ‘if we say that you were a bonus abuser then that is good enough’.
Hidden somewhere in the small print will be a term that says the casinos decision is final.
One manner in which players that are trying to clear a bonus often get caught out is by hitting the wagering requirement amount. Yes, unbelieveable though it may seem, if the wagering requirement is, for example, £2,000 and you gamble exactly that amount and then request a cashout, you could quite probably be termed a bonus abuser.
There is no point arguing about how that is incredible and shouldn’t be allowed, it has happened, so expect that it could happen to you. What you need to do is wager that amount and then some more to get into a ‘safe’ zone.
I don’t have a definition for what a safe amount to gamble is, but 10% more than the requirement should be good. It can be annoying when you hit a losing streak after you have completed the stated wagering amount, and end up cashing out less than you had hoped, but trust me, it is better than losing out on the whole amount.
Some casinos require that you use a particular bonus code in order to get their offer. If you do not use this code, and begin to play before you realise your mistake, you may not get the bonus at all. Check for any code you might need before depositing.
This is another term that you need to watch out for, and, even if it is not present in the terms, you can be sure that it could be applied if the casino chooses to.
An example of obvious advantage play would be betting on both red and black on roulette in the same round. You are betting that green (or zero) will not come up too much, only within normal probability, and so you hope to reach the wagering requirement without risking too much of the bonus cash.
This won’t work, and you can be sure that you will lsoe your bonus. You migth also lose your depsoit, and be banned from the casino.
Another example of play that is termed advantage play is when you play a higher risk game, such as slots, then you hit a significant win, so you switch to a lower risk game to clear the remainder of the rollover.
This won’t work either, and at best you will be told to complete the recalculated rollover on the original game on which you had your big win.
Another style of play that can be disqualified is varying the amount that you bet too much. For example you are betting $25 per spin on your favorite slot game, then hit a ncie win, and reduce your stake for the remainder of the rollover to a much smaller amount.
The term ‘advantage play’ is loosely defined in order that any new style of play that shifts the odds in your favor will be covered by the existing terms.
Minimal Risk Wagering
This term is jsut another way of saying ‘advantage play’ so the above paragraph applies here.
Another term that may casue you to lose out is the i.p. address / real world address restriction which says that two players from the same household or i.p. address may not have accounts at one casino. If there are any other gamblers in your family, or sharing yoru internet connection, you had better check with them before signing up.
Also, you will be required to submit your identity documents before cashing out – very rarely will you need to do this before you deposit – so be prepared to have proof of identity and you may also be asked for proof of the payment method used to make the initial deposit too. In the case of a deposit by credit card that might mean sending a scan or photocopy, or photo, of the original card, both front and back.
Limit on Winnings
The amount that you can win when playing with a bonus may be limited. You really will need to read through the terms to find this amount if there is one. This is more common for ‘no deposit’ bonuses, in which case the limit is usually quite low.
To Read or Not to Read?
If you have got this far in this article then the obvious answer is YES!
There are so many ways that you can be in breach of the terms, and end up losing out simply bacause you didn’t know. Taking the time to inform yourself will pay off for you, and that is almost guaranteed.
The approach that we’d advocate is pretty simple – read the terms and conditions carefully at online casinos that you are playing at for the first time.
Then, when you are familiar with a particular casino and the way they structure their offers, you’ll be able to get to grips with the terms of any new offer fairly quickly. After a bit of practive and experience, you will know exactly what you are looking for and should be able to find it easier at new casinos as time goes on.
But you really, really should always read the terms of any offer you receive, especially before you play.
A final tip – if a bonus offer looks too good to be true, it’s a good idea to be twice as careful, as it probably is. All bonuses that offer more than 100% on non-trivial amounts should certainly set the alarm bells ringing, as bonuses that good simply don’t come with no strings attached.
Read the term and condition!
Deposit Bonus Example Terms
The Uptown Aces 100% Low Playthrough Deposit Bonus will match your deposit at the rate of 100% up to a maximum bonus amount of $100. It also advertises “15x slots, keno or scratchcards playthrough and no max cashout”. It is available on your first deposit, using bonus code 100ACES.
Ok. First up, at the very top of the General Bonus Terms we have “.. there are limits on the maximum bet sizes you can place during the playthrough of any bonus including cashback offers (10 being the maximum unless SPECIFICALLY stated otherwise). Betting above $10 during a bonus playthrough will result in any promotion winnings voided.”
Also of note is the next paragraph “Progressive jackpots games are excluded from any promotion excepting our 50% Jackpot Match Bonus with coupon code JACKPOTACES.” So these games are not allowed with this bonus; Aztec’s Millions, Caribbean Hold’em Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Caribbean Draw Poker, Jackpot Cleopatra’s Gold, Jackpot Pinatas, Let Em Ride, Shopping Spree II and Spirit of the Inca.
Then we get to terms.
#2. Each promotional offer is available only once per person, family, household address, email address, credit card number, and environments where computers are shared (university, fraternity, school, public library, workplace, etc).
#3. Players must claim and receive their bonus before they start playing with their initial deposit. Requests for the bonus once players have started wagering their initial deposit will be refused.
#5. Unless otherwise stated, all free bonuses must be wagered at least 60 times before withdrawing. Wagering on all types of Blackjack, Video Poker, Craps, American Roulette, Baccarat and other table games and non-slot games, will not count towards this wagering requirement unless SPECIFICALLY stated. If an excluded game is played before completion of the above wagering requirements, the casino reserves the right to void all winnings and reserve the right to close the account. Withdrawal requests before the wagering requirements have been met will be rejected until such time as the wagering requirements have been satisfied.
Terms #7 and #8 are other ways that you can lose your bonus, but they don’t apply to this specific offer.
#9. Bonuses may be refused at the discretion of the management if abuse of promotions is suspected. All withdrawals will be audited and refused where there is suspected fraud at the casino management’s discretion.
Terms #10 and #11 are a couple of vague catch-all terms to void bonuses.
#12 “.. Players from BULGARIA, UNITED KINGDOM, GREECE, POLAND, ROMANIA, RUSSIA and SWEDEN can not claim any bonus offers at the casino.”
#15. “.. bets placed on Roulette on color Red and Black are not allowed, if contrarily any winnings generated will be voided. Also bets placed on European Roulette with an active bonus are not allowed.”
Then under the more specific terms for the individual types of bonuses, we find that the 15x refers to 15 times the bonus plus deposit, which we really did need to know. Also, players from Finland must wager twice the standard rollover. And players from Poland can’t get some bonuses at all.
Then we get to this; “..If you place any wager of $6.50 or above, the bonus and any winnings thereof will be voided.” This line goes against the earlier max bet amount of $10.00.
And finally, this term “..Player must deposit a minimum of $25 or higher to qualify for these promotions.” Which goes against general bonus term #18. “.. Winnings generated from ANY of our deposit based reward bonuses … will not be honored if the awarded deposit is below $10.”
My interpretation of these terms tells me that I must deposit at least $25 and use the code 100ACES at the time of the deposit to get a 100% match bonus of $25.
On a deposit of $25.00 I must wager 15 time the total of the deposit amount plus the bonus amount, 15 times ($25 + $25) $50 for a total rollover amount of $750.
I can only play slots, keno and scratchcard games and can not bet more than $6.50 on any one bet.
I cannot play any of these games that might be slots games; Aztec’s Millions, Caribbean Hold’em Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Caribbean Draw Poker, Jackpot Cleopatra’s Gold, Jackpot Pinatas, Let Em Ride, Shopping Spree II and Spirit of the Inca.
I must not be from a restricted country, nor from an address or i.p. address that matches any account already open at the casino.
I know this has been long winded, but I hope that it is clear now why you really must read the terms before depositing.