One of the best things about joining an online casino is that they offer substantial bonuses. At most sites, new players receive a welcome bonus that matches part of their initial chip purchase. The site may offer $200 in bonus chips if you buy $200 in chips, but there are very specific requirements for keeping any of that money! It is extremely important that you understand the rules and regulations for clearing the bonus before you start playing because most sites restrict which games you can play to meet the bonus requirements. Even a single bet on a non-bonus game can result in the loss of your entire bonus!
Of course you’ll want to have some serious belief that the site you join is legitimate, licensed, and has a record of fair and honest dealings with online players. There are several ways to check a site, from simply doing an online search for the name and seeing if any negative results come up, to checking their licensing. Online gaming is legal in many areas, but for the most security you might wan to start by playing only on sites licensed in the UK,Isle of Mann, and Alderney. Many well-known companies like IGT are adding new software for mobile and online gaming, so soon there will be more sites players feel safe playing at.
There are few guarantees with online gaming, and at the very least you should check the site, click on their licensing information, and go to the licensing board’s website and see that they are indeed listed as a licensed company.
There are many types of bonuses offered by online sites, so do some research first and find the one that looks the safest and the easiest to clear. You’ll have to dig around the site a bit to find the terms and conditions and all the bonus rules first, before you deposit. Make sure you understand exactly what the rules are. It’s important that the rules are plain enough for you to understand. If they aren’t, you’ll have trouble qualifying, and probably have trouble cashing out. Don’t be afraid to copy and print the rules so you can follow them correctly.
Make sure you can meet their time frame. The site may specify that you have only x-number of hours or days to meet the bonus requirements. Don’t be afraid to email support to check on any aspect of a bonus. This gets you clarification, and lets you see how responsive they are. If you send an email with a question and don’t get a quick answer now, how much support do you think you’ll get if you have a dispute later?
Redeeming a Coupon
Make sure you actually redeem any coupon or bonus offered, or have your bonus chips released for play. Some sites will accept your payment and allow you to play, but that play will not count towards any bonus requirements – only your activity after the coupon has been redeemed will count towards clearing the bonus. If the site also has general rules and policies, read those first!
Rollover or Qualifying Bets
When reading the rules for clearing any bonus, make sure you understand the betting requirements. These are sometimes called rollovers, signified by an “X” (10x,20x, etc.). This means to clear a bonus (clear it for payout) it has to be played a certain number of times. If the rollover is 10x, you have to bet the total amount ten times. If you get a bonus of $100, you’ll have to make a total of $1000 in bets (10 x $100).
In fact, you may be required to bet your purchase plus your bonus chips 10x, meaning that if you purchase $100 in chips, and get $100 in bonus chips, you’ll have to make $2000 in bets (10 x $200). And, just so you really understand, the bonus requirement is likely to be more like 50x, so even a $100 purchase could mean you have to make 50 x $200 in wagers. That leads to a total of $10,000 in wagers before you can withdraw any money from the casino! If you make two-hundred $10 wagers per hour, it will take five hours to meet the requirements. You can’t cash out a penny until those requirements are met.
Yes, Virginia, there are restrictions. A single mistake can void your bonus, so read the casino’s rules first! Restrictions are likely to be centered around the games you can play to qualify. Games you think might qualify, probably don’t. Bets on blackjack, craps, baccarat and other games may void your bonus – they likely don’t qualify to clear any bonuses. Why not? Because the house edge is small and they want you to play games with a higher casino edge like Three-card-Poker and roulette.
While brick-and-mortar casinos offer bonuses and comps based on your play, online casinos offer you the bonus up-front, but you need to be careful and follow all the rules to qualify and be able to cash-out any balance you have later.
For poker players, many online sites have free play, or offer bonuses based on first chip purchase or similar to the way a land-based casino’s player’s club works. Their bonuses are sometimes geared towards monthly play, so check carefully before you start playing.