The vast majority of online casinos use gaming and payment software provided by a small number of developers, and they look to the same regulators, auditors and certifiers when it comes to providing security and stability.
In fact, when you really get down to it, 90% of casinos use software by one of three major developers, which isn’t great for variety.
As a result, they can all look very similar, and one of the few things that truly separates one casino from another are the bonuses that they offer. These are commonplace on all gambling sites and are used to lure new players in, but the way these bonuses are presented, and the benefits they provide, can differ quite substantially.
In this guide we’ll show you how to find the best of these bonuses and how to get the most out of them, as well as some other tips and tricks on getting freebies from online casinos.
This is an easy one. Like the cliche says, you can’t win the raffle if you don’t buy a ticket, and it’s the same with bonuses: you can’t expect to get any extra freebies if you don’t ask.
But before you rush off to email your chosen online casino, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- The Person: Ideally, you need to speak to a manager or, at the very least, a promotion’s specialist. If you speak with customer support then they will not be able to help you. So, look for a specific contact method and if you can’t find it, phone customer support and ask to be transferred.
- The Contact: Emails are okay if you can get through to the right department or person, but phone calls are much more effective and live chat is completely ineffective.
- The Reason: You need to give them an incentive to offer you a bonus. Tell them that you are being offered bigger bonuses elsewhere but would like to signup with them, if only they can provide you with a similar bonus.
- The Amount: This is so much easier if you are a high-roller and can promise to deposit big or bet big. They will almost certainly offer you something if this is the case, especially if you openly flaunt how much you are going to deposit. If not, then you need to imply that you’re a big spender (known as a “whale” in the gambling industry) without lying. So, be vague but suggestive.
2. Maximise Your Deposit Bonuses
Matched deposit bonuses are the most common type of welcome bonus. They offer you extra cash on top of your deposit, they always come in the form of a percentage and they are limited to a maximum amount.
For instance, a matched deposit bonus of 100% to $200 means you can deposit as much as $200 and get a free $200 when you do. If you deposit $100, then you’ll get a free $100; if you deposit $300, then you’ll get the maximum of $200.
This is all straightforward (if you’re still not sure, learn more here), until additional deposits come into play and this is when you need to put your thinking cap on.
For instance, take look at the following setup:
- 1st Deposit = 100% to $200
- 2nd Deposit = 25% to $300
- 3rd Deposit = 25% to $300
- 4th Deposit = 50% to $200
This setup is commonplace and it is used to entice you to deposit big every time. If your deposit budget is $50 to $100, then the casino expects you to deposit the maximum of that budget each time. But doing so will mean a total spend of $400 and a reward of just $200.
Instead, you need to play the system. In the above example, for instance, it would make more sense to allocate half your money to the first bonus and then place most of the additional money on the final bonus. That way, a setup like:
- 1st Deposit = $200
- 2nd Deposit = $20
- 3rd Deposit = $20
- 4th Deposit = $160
Would cost you exactly the same, but it would get you a total of $290 in free cash—nearly 50% more!
Just make sure you meet the minimum terms of each deposit, which typically includes a minimum deposit amount (which is why we suggested $20 and not $5) and a minimum wait between each deposit.
3. Move Around
In the next tip we will discuss the importance of sticking with specific casinos, but only under certain circumstances and only when you have played the field a little bit.
There are a huge number of online casinos out there that only offer new member bonuses and pay no attention to their loyal players. These casinos are asking for you to exploit them, so go for it.
Signup to casinos that off big bonuses, do what you need to collect those bonuses, get through the play-through rate and then, if you have money left, cash-out. You may need to go through ID checks, but providing you are of legal age and reside in a country where gambling is legal, then you’re good to go.
4. Prioritise Loyalty Schemes
There is one exception to the “move around” rule we discussed above, and that’s when you encounter casinos with loyalty schemes.
These are rare, because the vast majority of players just don’t appreciate how good they are. Most players prefer a big new member bonus, even though a good loyalty bonus can earn a lot more money.
Loyalty bonuses give you points every time you spend money, regardless of whether you win or lose. When you collect enough of these you can exchange them for cash, prizes or free tickets.
These are the casinos you should stick with when you find them, but only if the loyalty schemes are generous, have multiple levels, and reward high-rollers considerably more than small stake players.
5. Stay Away
Online casinos operate on in-depth analytics. They know what you do, when you do it, and when you don’t. If you signup, deposit, lose all of your money and then never deposit again, they will send you emails to try and entice you back.
How many times has a casino that you only played once sent you offers to try and tempt you back?
You can exploit this by taking big breaks. When you have used up bonuses on one casino, switch to another one until that first casino starts to send you offers to tempt you back.
6. Learn the Good and Bad Holidays
Gambling bonuses change on a seasonal basis, but they make their biggest changes during specific holidays and gambling events, and it’s important to learn about these if you’re going to get the best bonuses all year long.
For instance, the 2018 World Cup saw some of the very best casino and sportsbook bonuses this industry has seen for years. But on the flip side, during the Grand National, an annual horse race in the UK, all sports betting companies stopped their signup bonuses.
Generally, any time casual, once-a-year gamblers rush to join these sites, the bonuses are poor, but when the competition is big between actual gamblers, the bonuses become very generous.
7. Use Your Mobile
The mobile gambling age is upon us and casinos have invested a small fortune in preparing for it. The days when desktop gambling was more common than mobile gambling are long behind us—mobiles are used a lot more these days.
Casinos want you to move from desktop play to mobile play and one of the ways they do this is to offer bonuses specifically for mobile players. These bonuses can be accessed even if you are not a new player and even if you have already picked up your new member bonus.
The best way to take advantage of them is to collect your new member bonus through the desktop casino and then, when that has gone, download the mobile app and see what extra bonuses they offer you.
8. Signup to the Newsletter
Newsletters are something that all companies use, but that few customers enjoy. And as spam becomes more and more common, our hatred for these emails grow and we pay even less attention to them.
But if you want to get the most out of an online casino then you need to signup to their newsletter and pay attention to whatever promotional materials they send you.
9. Don’t Focus Too Much on Free Spins
Free spins look great at first glance. After all, how amazing does it look if you come across a bonus offering “500 free spins”?
The problem is, these bonuses are actually very poor once you look underneath the surface.
Most free spins have a value of just $0.05 to $0.10, which means that even 100 of them are only worth $5 to $10. To add insult to injury, they are often limited to specific games that have low RTPs, and casinos also attach withdrawal limits to them, so you can’t withdraw more than $100, regardless of how much you win.
10. Ignore No-Deposit Bonuses
No-deposit bonuses have become a must-have in this industry. Players love them and casinos love them even more, as it’s much cheaper for them to offer these bonuses than it is for them to offer matched deposit bonuses.
As a player, these bonuses look a lot better than they actually are. You don’t get a lot of money, there are high play-through rates, and there is also usually a limit on how much you can withdraw.
If you have a choice between a no-deposit bonus and a matched deposit bonus and you want to get the most value, always opt for the latter.
Online Casinos vs Offline Casinos
In the early days of online casinos, bonuses were few and far between and they just couldn’t compete with land-based casinos. But that changed over the years.
Online casinos grew bigger and bigger, and one of the ways they did this was by offering substantial bonuses that offline casinos just couldn’t compete with.
You can still get great perks on land-based casinos, but you either need to be very persistent or, in most cases, you need to be a high-roller. In a land-based casino, money talks, and the more you lose the more they like you. In an online casino, the playing fields are level and everyone can secure big bonuses.
In other words, offline casinos used to have the edge where bonuses and perks were concerned, but that is no longer the case.