All online casino bonuses fall into one of two different categories. If you lurk much at discussion forums, you’ll frequently see people referring to “sticky” and “cashable” bonuses. These two terms are used to describe the different types of deposit bonuses.
There are pros and cons to both types of casino bonuses, but players generally tend to prefer cashable bonuses over sticky bonuses. You’ll see why as soon as I describe them both.
Cashable bonuses are bonuses that can be withdrawn once you meet the wagering requirements. Let’s say you get a 100% cashable bonus for an extra $100. In other words, you have deposited $100 and gotten an extra $100 on top of that for a total bankroll of $200.
Suppose you play through the wagering requirements and are fortunate enough to end up with a $100 profit. Your total bankroll at this point is $300: your original $100 deposit, an extra $100 in bonus money and $100 in winnings.
If you make a withdrawal at this point, you’ll get the full $300. The word “cashable” means that you can withdraw the bonus money itself. Most casinos do not offer cashable bonuses.
- You can withdraw the bonus money
- It is easier to calculate the expected value of the bonus (the EV is the amount you can expect to win, on average, when taking the clearing requirements and house advantage into consideration)
- You usually don’t get the bonus money up front. It sits in purgatory until you meet the wagering requirements with your original deposit. This is a disadvantage because if you go broke before you meet the wagering requirements, you won’t get the bonus
- These bonuses are hard to find
Sticky bonuses cannot be withdrawn. If you look at the terms and conditions posted on most online casino websites, you’ll see a little clause that says something like “this bonus is for play purposes only and cannot be withdrawn.”
What that means is that you can play with the bonus all you want, but it can never be withdrawn. You can withdraw anything that you win with the bonus, but the bonus itself will never convert into actual spendable cash.
Let’s say you visit an online casino that has a 200% up to $1,000 bonus. You deposit $100 and get an extra $200 on top of that. You now have $300 in your bankroll. Now, you being playing at the casino and clear the bonus.
Let’s say you are lucky once again and clear the entire bonus with a $100 profit. You now have $400 in your bankroll: $100 in original deposit money, $200 in bonus money and $100 in profits. When you go to withdraw, you find out that the bonus money itself cannot be withdrawn. Even though you have $400 in your account, you can only cash out $200 (the original deposit and the $100 in profits).
That’s where the name “sticky” comes from. The bonus money is stuck at the online casino. You can still withdraw all your profits and original deposit, but the bonus money never leaves the casino. To make things even more complicated, there are two types of sticky bonuses.
Type 1 Sticky Bonuses
Type 1 sticky bonuses are the most common types of signup bonuses. Type 1 sticky bonuses disappear once you make your first withdrawal and are never seen again. Some people call these “phantom” bonuses.
So basically, you get to keep and play with the bonus until you make your first withdrawal. As soon as you withdraw, the full bonus amount disappears from the face of the earth.
Type 2 Sticky Bonuses
This type of deposit bonus is actually pretty rare. I don’t know of any mainstream casinos with this type of bonus, but leave a comment if you do (reputable casinos only please).
Anyways, a type 2 sticky bonus cannot be withdrawn, but it doesn’t disappear when you withdraw like type 1 bonuses do. So if you have $100 in bonus money, $100 in original deposit money and $100 in profits, you can withdraw up to $200 at that point. After you withdraw, you’ll still have the $100 in bonus money in your account. You can continue placing bets with that money and hopefully win more money to withdraw.
If you have the choice between type 1 and type 2 sticky bonuses, the type 2 bonus is the best. The only problem is that they are hard to find.
Pros of Sticky Bonuses
- You get the bonus money up front, which makes it more likely that you meet the wagering requirements before you go bust
- You can never withdraw the bonus money itself
- That’s the biggest drawback – cold, hard, sweet cash is always better
Warning about Withdrawing
You have to be careful when withdrawing if you have active bonuses. Some online casinos put this sneaky little clause in their terms and conditions that says if you try to withdraw before meeting the wagering requirements, the bonus and ALL winnings will be deemed forfeit.
You should always be aware of which games can be used to clear the bonus. Many gambling sites state that you cannot use certain games to meet the wagering requirements. Some casinos take it even further by saying that if you place even a single wager on a restricted game, the entire bonus and all winnings will be confiscated.
I think this is a pretty crappy thing to do to customers, but it’s very common in the industry. Always read the terms and conditions before you sign up and deposit anywhere. If you’re ever in doubt, contact your casino’s customer support team and ask them if it’s safe to withdraw. Print-screen the chat conversation if you talk to them in live chat and they tell you that it’s OK to withdraw.