Online casino bonuses offer certain advantages, but you should be aware of a couple of hazards before you get them. This is not an article that denounces casino bonuses (I love casino bonuses); it’s an article that will help you make the most of casino bonuses and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
1. Most casino bonuses are not cashable
The vast majority of casino bonuses cannot be withdrawn. This is especially surprising for poker players who switch over to casino games. Not all is bad though; casino bonuses can be used to win real money that you can cash out. You can cash out anything that you win by wagering the bonus, but you cannot cash out the bonus money itself.
Note: There are some cashable casino bonuses out there. You just have to know where to look. See this post for a list of 3 cashable bonuses.
If you know this going in, it’s not such a big deal. You have extra opportunities to spin the reels and win money. However, it can be a nasty surprise if you went in thinking you were going to get to cash out the bonus right away. Online casinos do not go out of their way to clue you in on this restriction, but you can find it by reading the terms and conditions of any bonus.
2. All casino bonuses have clearing requirements
Online casinos require you to wager a certain amount of money before you can withdraw the winnings that you earn from the bonus. In many cases, casinos will say something like “you must wager 20 times the bonus amount before withdrawing your winnings.” This means that if you get a $200 bonus, you will have to wager a total of $4,000 before you can withdraw any winnings earned with the bonus money.
That might sound like a lot of money, but wagering requirements aren’t too difficult to meet. The high payout rates of online casinos make it possible for you to place a large number of bets without losing a lot of money. Plus, you always have the chance to win a bunch of money while you clear the bonus.
If you do not meet the clearing requirements and then you try to make a cash out, you will automatically lose any winnings that you earned with the bonus money. Your initial deposit is always safe, but any winnings that you collected with the bonus money are gone. This can be a huge negative surprise to new casino players.
3. Restrictions apply to clearing bonuses
Some games do not count towards meeting the wagering requirements. Even money games such as blackjack, craps and roulette are often restricted from counting towards meeting the wagering requirements that I mentioned in point number two above. You can find out which games do not count by reading the terms and conditions of any bonus offer.
Going even further, some online casinos will void your winnings if you even place a single bet on the restricted games. I’m fine with everything else so far, but this just strikes me as dishonest. I don’t see any harm in placing a few bets on blackjack while you work on clearing a bonus. The simple act of betting on restricted games should not be grounds for losing an entire bonus.
How You Should Think of Bonuses
Casino bonuses should not be thought of as cash infusions for your bankroll. Poker bonuses are great for building a bankroll, but casino bonuses aren’t the best. Yes, you can earn a lot of money with casino bonuses, but the above restrictions limit their usefulness.
I would recommend casino bonuses for people that want to play games like slot machines and table card games. Gambling sites allow you to clear bonuses with those games and the extra money will give you extra chances to win. I would not recommend casino bonuses for people who like to play low house advantage games such as blackjack, craps and roulette.
If you decide you do not want to get a signup bonus, you can e-mail the casino before you deposit and decline the bonus. From there, you can just wager and play like normal without having to worry about all the above restrictions. Casino bonuses do have some advantages, but they are definitely not for everyone.