The Casino Bonus – A Complete Guide
Choosing a casino bonus can be one of the most difficult decisions for players. Some know exactly what they want. Yet, for others, the sheer volume of online casino bonuses can be overwhelming – especially for beginners.
When the Casino Professor first began gaming, the casino bonuses on show were fairly limited. These days, there’s been a mini-explosion of innovation – with no deposit bonuses, free spins, casino bonus codes, reloads, and much more!
Yet, the Professor doesn’t want iGaming to be reserved for those only in the know. If you’re already familiar then you can select the best offer for your gaming needs using the Professor’s handy casino bonus filters on this page. Alternatively, we’ve put together this comprehensive casino bonus guide which explains the different online casino bonuses and how they work.
What is a Casino Bonus?
Before we delve into the details, the Professor wanted to ensure you have a thorough understanding of the wider connotations of “online casino bonuses” to begin. Here he is in his own words:
Casino bonus definition: A reward that casino sites offer to their players as an extra boost.
These rewards can appear at many different stages of your journey and in many forms. It is almost compulsory to offer what’s called a Welcome Bonus – which is one of the entries we’ll get to shortly. Unless a casino has an incredibly appealing feature, players are more likely to register at a domain that offers them a bonus for doing so. It’s simply human nature!
However, as we touched upon earlier, there’s much more than just welcome bonuses. It was previously the case that a casino bonus would often only be offered to new players. Of course, existing players weren’t exactly fond of this. A boom a few years ago saw a mass influx of new casino sites enter the fold, and this forced platforms to change dramatically.
A rich period of innovation occurred because of this increased competition, with websites trying to make their experience unlike any other. Of course, this also went beyond offering just “the best casino deposit bonus”, as players really began to reap the all-round rewards of being an iGamer.
This brings us to the present casino bonus situation, with a multitude of new, wide-ranging offers now appearing almost daily. Ready for a casino bonus tutorial?
Best Online Casino Bonuses in 2018
Although it’s difficult to categorically state what is “the best”, the Professor has undoubtedly spotted a few favourites. Different players from different regions and cultures have varying casino preferences, sure. However, there is one specific area that generally tops the opinion polls – no deposit bonuses.
Before we go any further, the Professor is on hand to explain the two main casino bonus avenues.
- No Deposit Bonus: A type of casino bonus that is given to a player without the need for them to make ANY payment.
- Deposit Bonus: A type of casino bonus that a player needs to activate by making a payment.
One crucial point to note is that even the best casino bonuses almost always come with wagering requirements attached – including no deposit free spins. This means you can’t withdraw what you win right away. See more on wagering requirements below.
No Deposit Casino Bonus
Being a completely free, no-risk offer, you can see why no deposit casino bonuses continue to be the average player’s most popular casino bonus. Also, if you consider how there are several top casino sites at the moment, it’s understandable if you want to try a few out.
That’s essentially what a no deposit bonus is – a nice, short casino site trial. Of course, it’s certainly possible to win real money from these signup offers, but in most cases it requires a fair bit of luck.
Furthermore, in rare circumstances, existing players might be offered free spins with no deposit required. An example of this scenario is with a casino VIP program (see below) which looks to reward its most loyal gamers with a special treat. It’s rare to see a no deposit bonus that’s not connected to a new account, but they do exist.
Did you notice how we refer to bonuses and not just bonus? That’s no accident because there are actually two variations – free spins and bonus money.
No Deposit Free Spins
The most common of the two is no deposit free spins. If you don’t know what free spins are then make sure to read the Professor’s explanation below – you’ll likely be seeing A LOT of them during your iGaming adventures…
What are Free Spins? Free spins is a type of casino bonus which allows you to play a slot game a certain number of times without using your cash balance. Usually, you will receive a set number of free spins, and they will be for a specific slot game.
As this bonus features two definitions stuck together – no deposit and free spins – you may have guessed that free spins can be either or. We’ll take a look at deposit free spins a little later on, but for now let’s concentrate on the connected phrase.
If a casino offers no deposit free spins to new players, it means you only need to create a new account at that site to access them. As stated above, these free spins no deposit will probably be for a specific game only – with the exact number of rounds you receive depending on each casino bonus.
See our no deposit free spins bonuses to learn more and try a few out.
No Deposit Bonus Money
On the same page, you’ll also find casinos that offer no deposit bonus money. It’s best to use Casino Professor’s nifty tools to filter between no deposit free spins and no deposit bonus money. Select “Cash” from the options provided to do see the latter with whatever device you’re using.
Once this is done, casinos offering bonus money without deposit will automatically appear – €5, €10, you name it! Anyone who doesn’t fancy being tied down to a certain slot machine may well prefer these alternatives, as you can often use your no deposit bonus money on whatever game you fancy.
If you manage to attain free casino bonus money later on after you’ve joined, you’ll know you’re a highly valued player – as that feat is incredibly rare!
Any deposit bonus that a casino offers will usually follow on from these initial freebies. As the Professor stated above, these are rewards or extras that are unlocked whenever you make a first real money deposit at your chosen domain.
The casino bonuses found on this page will 99% of the time contain deposit bonuses. To make it easier for you, Casino Professor has another filter so you can quickly choose an option that fits your preferences. Here’s how to activate it.
So, what happens when you activate a first deposit bonus, also known as a match bonus, with a real money payment?
In most cases, you will receive a set amount of bonus money on top of your real money. Bonus money is additional funds that you can use to play your favourite casino games – but it can’t be withdrawn before the wagering requirements (see below) have been completed.
To describe how a first deposit/match bonus works, it’s best illustrated. We’ll let the Professor outline the classic 100% up to €100 for you.
This basically means that whatever you deposit – up to a maximum of €100! – will be doubled. So, if you deposited €150, you would only receive the maximum €100 as bonus money.
What about casino bonus terms? Now, what’s very crucial to point out is that different casinos have different casino bonus terms attached. Make sure to keep an eye out for the stipulations on each offer you claim. Some examples include:
- Casino bonus wagering requirements: see our full guide on “what are wagering requirements?”. Note: a special bonus wagering calculator is included!
- Is the casino bonus forfeitable?: It may seem silly, but sometimes you might WANT to lose your bonus. More on that below.
- Time limits: 99% of casino bonuses have expiry dates, so make sure to check yours.
- Deposit method restrictions: Some casino bonuses won’t work with Skrill or Neteller payments, for example
Casino bonus terms can be found within our casino review or within the terms of a bonus on a casino’s site. When licensed by either the MGA or UKGC, the following rules are in place:
There are different percentages and caps to choose from too. By this, we mean not all casinos offer a flat 100% boost, nor a maximum bonus of €100. A few may decide to offer lower amounts, but most exceed these numbers – which is great!
- 100% Match Bonus: This casino bonus will see you first deposit doubled, up to a certain amount.
- 200% Casino Bonus: Your casino bonus will be trebled instead – e.g. deposit €100 to get €300 overall.
- A 300%+ Boost: We’re getting into huge casino bonus territory now, with your first deposit being quadrupled.
However, 300% or over wouldn’t prove to be a huge casino bonus if it was capped at, say, €50. So, you’ve always got to consider the bonus money cap too:
- €100 Extra Funds: As above, your casino bonus will be capped at a maximum of €100.
- €200 Casino Bonus: This doubles to a maximum amount of €200.
- €300+ Additional Money: If a site is looking to make a big splash, it may decide to up the limits to €300 for a huge casino bonus.
- Unlimited: This leads us to the ultimate. Although rare, some casinos may not apply a cap, so you can literally acquire whatever amount of bonus money you desire.
You need to consider both aspects before deciding whether a casino bonus is worth it. For example, 25% up to €300 is a very different bonus to 300% up to €300. Also, while a huge casino bonus is tempting on the face of it, you need to check the terms to see whether they’re reasonable. See more on this below.
Deposit Free Spins
Rather than offering a match bonus with percentages and bonus money to think about, some casinos like to keep their bonuses simple with first deposit free spins. Here, you will receive a certain number of free spins if you make a first deposit.
For example, a casino bonus with deposit free spins may be: Get 2 free spins for every €1 you deposit (up to a maximum of 100 free spins).
In this case, a €20 deposit would yield 40 free spins. However, if you deposited €60, you would only receive 100 free spins, rather than 120, due to the limit in place. Free spins offers often come with similar casino bonus terms as above.
Casino Deposit Bonus + Free Spins
A good old fashioned mix and match is one of the Professor’s favourites. Rather than split your first deposit casino bonus into two, this combines both for the full entertainment factor.
For example, an offer may read something like “100% up to €100 + 50 free spins”.
A deposit of €50 would see you receive your €50 in real money + €50 in bonus money + 50 free spins.
Casino Reload Bonus
Once your first deposit is finished, you may be treated to further bonuses if you make a second, third, fourth or even more deposits. Any offers that arrive after the first deposit are called casino reload bonuses.
For example, if you joined a casino that offered two reload bonuses of 100% up to €100 + 25 free spins, you would be able to activate them by depositing a second and third payment.
A casino reload bonus may need to be activated within a specific timeframe, so give the terms a good scan as you register.
Is a Welcome Bonus Part of These Offers?
Yes! Well, at least they can be.
Just like casinos have varying bonus terms, they can also have different definitions of a welcome bonus – just to be tricky!
However, as “welcome bonus” implies just one offer, the term is usually associated with whatever first deposit casino bonus is offered – be it a match offer or free spins. Therefore, the following format is often used:
- A casino bonus enacted with a first deposit = Welcome Bonus
- A casino bonus enacted with a subsequent deposit = Reload Bonus
If a casino was to include all aspects – for example, a no deposit bonus plus a first deposit bonus and two reloads – this might be branded a welcome package, or something similar, instead.
In the end, the exact terminology is up to each casino site.
Casino Bonus Codes – How Do They Work?
Although not as frequent as in previous years, you might need to enter a specific set of letters and numbers to activate all kinds of casino bonuses. These casino bonus codes can be used for unique and exclusive offers or standard promotions. Again, it all depends on the situation.
However, if a casino bonus code is required and you fail to enter it, you will probably not receive said offer – so keep your eyes open!
Casino Bonuses for Existing Players
Most good casino sites have a dedicated Promotions page. This houses extra casino bonuses that existing players can take advantage of, if they wish.
The exact casino bonus can vary pretty spectacularly. You’ll have your classic match casino bonuses and free spins, while the more exuberant may offer tickets to sporting/music events or even holidays abroad.
That’s not to mention these popular schemes that have been created to keep loyal gamers happy long after their first deposit casino bonus has been devoured.
- VIP Program: A loyalty system which gives incentives to keep playing. Earn points and prizes as you play.
- Gamification: Very similar to VIP programs, but often includes the entire theme of a casino being a story to complete. As you progress and complete levels/achievements/missions, you can earn more casino bonuses!
- Daily Deals: A much-loved classic. Simple yet effective, a casino will offer a brand-new casino bonus every single day.
- Game of the Week: A popular slot game will be selected, with offers for that specific game going up for the calendar week.
- Refer a Friend: You’ve seen them everywhere, from Uber to Airbnb, and casino site refer-a-friends work in a very similar way. Send your companion a link, and if they sign up then a casino bonus will likely be heading your way!
- Slot Tournaments: Slot machine competitions where participants collect points for every win they make. Multiple slot tournaments are usually held every day, with classic casino bonus prizes up for grabs.
How to Choose the Best Casino Bonus
As we said earlier, “the best casino bonus” depends solely on yourself. However, there are a few general guidelines which the Professor encourages you to keep in mind:
- Select a reliable platform: You can win all the money in the world, but if you’re at a dodgy domain then there’s a good chance none of it will ever enter your account. Visit Casino Professor’s trusted casino sites for peace of mind.
- Slot restrictions: Free spins are very often tied to a specific slot or collections of slots. But are you actually interested in playing them? If not, perhaps a casino bonus with fewer limitations is best.
- Inspect the casino bonus terms: The Prof can’t stress enough how important it is to check the terms of each offer. A 200% casino bonus may look great on the surface, but if there is sky-high wagering attached then it’s going to be almost impossible to win anything from it.
Is a Casino Bonus Even Worth it!?
Following on from that last point, you may decide that a casino bonus isn’t worth the time or energy. Unrealistic and downright ridiculous terms and conditions can quickly erode your interest in playing, unless your only goal is to practise for your real money rounds.
Thankfully, if you’re not interested in thinking about casino bonus obligations, many of our best casino sites allow you to deposit without activating any offer. Have a look at our reviews of each casino to take your pick.
Forfeiting Your Casino Bonus
Remember this topic? Sounds ridiculous, right? Because who on earth would want to lose their casino bonus?
Well, in some very specific circumstances, it actually makes total sense – believe it or not! When you activate a casino bonus, the terms and conditions should state whether you’ll play with real money or bonus money first. If you use real money first, that’s when the possibility of casino bonus forfeiting enters play.
Why do some casinos use real money first? Well, this is another that’s down to preference. The casinos that do believe bonus money should act as a second chance – if you didn’t win the first time, maybe you’ll have better luck the second!
Therefore, if you do happen to strike gold using your real money, there’s probably no need to use your casino bonus after all. That’s where forfeiting comes in. You can actively choose to relinquish your casino bonus in exchange for withdrawing real winnings. Often, this is done by requesting a withdrawal. Again, check the casino bonus terms for full instructions.
The Professor’s Latest Casino Bonuses
And finally, since the Professor is an active and analytical gambler himself, he’s frequently adding the latest casino bonuses. Alongside spinning his own reels, he’s always on the lookout for quality casino sites that are looking to make a name for themselves.
These, of course, come with new and exciting offers to consider.
Casino Professor’s Casino Bonus Conclusion
Congratulations, you’ve made it through my entire casino bonus guide. Phew! Hopefully you’re more clued up about casino bonus possibilities than you were before – it’s certainly come a long way since I started spinning!
If you found this article particularly interesting, make sure to give my Casino Insider page a look from time to time for more guides on casino sites. Happy gaming!