There are thousands of online casino to be found online, and all of them seem to throw bonuses out to new players as if it was nothing.

But why do they do that, and is it worth claiming and using casino bonuses?

This guide details how casino bonuses are a marketing trick that is rarely profitable for the player.

Online casinos have marketing teams that craft campaigns that are profitable for them, not you.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not worth claiming.

Let me explain.

How casino bonuses work

The profitability of casino bonuses for operators stems from the conditions they attach to offers – the wagering requirements (WR) specifically.

All casino games have an RTP, which stands for Return To Player. That mechanic dictates how much of your bet returns to you, on average.

If you play a slot game with a 99% RTP you will lose 1% of each of your bets in the long run, e.g. if you bet £100.00 on a spin – you lose £1.00.

But how does it relate to casino bonuses?

Wagering requirements and RTP percentages

Online casinos attach wagering requirements to their casino bonuses, forcing you to stake your bonus and winnings multiple times before allowing you to withdraw either the bonus or winnings accrued from playing with it.

For example, you could claim a bonus worth £100.00 with a 50x WR. 

You’d have to stake 50x your bonus (50x£100.00=£5,000) before being able to withdraw the bonus.

Now, if you were to place all bets necessary (£5,000) to clear the bonus’ wagering requirements on the slot game with a 99% RTP, you’d lose 1% of all your bets – which translates to £50.00 (£5,000/1%=£50.00).

Considering that you got a casino bonus worth £100.00 and only lose £50.00 staking your bets on the slot game with the favourable RTP, you’d turn in a net profit of £50.00.

But here is the kicker. 

Wagering contributions

Online casinos exclude certain games from contributing to the wagering requirements – because of their high RTP.

In doing so, they are ensuring you do not have a mathematical edge using the casino bonus.

Let’s look at a table illustrating how the wagering contributions of different games affect your bottom line.

Game  Contribution RTP Stakes Expected EV Net Win/Loss
Video Slots 100% 97.5% £5,000 -£125 -£25
Classic Slots 75% 99% £6,250 -£62.5 £37.5
Table Games 10% 95% £50,000 -£5,000 -£4,900
Baccarat 5% 99% £100,000 -£1,000 -£900

To clarify, considering that bets on Baccarat only contribute with a 5% rate to the wagering requirements, you’d have to bet a total of £100,000 to withdraw your bonus.

Aint’ happening.

You can deduce that video slots and classic slots should be your preferred choice when trying to clear the casino bonus of its wagering requirements.

If you look at the row pertaining to classic slots, you can see you even have expected winnings.

But that is only the case on the surface.

Aside from varying wagering contributions for different games, selected titles do not contribute to the wagering requirement at all – namely slots with a very high RTP (e.g. 98%+).

Withdrawal restriction and bonus expiration

Most online casinos in the United Kingdom allow you to keep all your winnings from the match bonus they offer new customers. But game bonuses like extra spins commonly have low maximum withdrawal policies, allowing you to withdraw profits in the 3-digit range.

But an issue many players are unaware of is that your bonus funds are immediately forfeited once you request a withdrawal.

You must first clear the wagering requirements and then request a withdrawal if you don’t want to lose your bonus.

Summary

The online casinos consider the games’ RTP and base the wagering requirements and contributions on them, ensuring the casino bonus remains a profitable campaign for them, to sum it up. But, casino bonuses can be slightly profitable if you are willing to complete the painstaking task of discerning all the terms and finding offers with low wagering requirements.

Whether that is worth the time is up to your own assessments.

In general, you should treat casino bonuses as a treat that will prolong your gaming session, and not as means to turn in a profit.

The fact is that you’ll lose regardless of whether you claim an offer or not, but using casino bonuses will give you a bit more time to cope.

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Author bio

I am Max and have a special interest in everything related to online gambling, but especially online poker. I have been working in the field for over ten years and love writing about my experiences.