A good online casino bonus could be the deciding factor that makes you choose one casino over another.
We analyse the offers from all of the casinos we list and break them down in detail so that you have a clear idea of the benefits you’ll receive before you sign up. We describe not only how much you can get with any particular Welcome Package, but also what you have to do to get it and, just as crucially, what the wagering requirements are.
We’ll also give you details about exclusive offers just for UK players. Check back frequently to find out more about the latest offers.
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Welcome / Sign Up
A Welcome Offer is essentially the free money a casino gives you in order to encourage you to play at their site. However, there are various types of signup bonus that you can receive:
- Deposit match bonus – The most common type of casino promotion, when you make a first (or sometimes second, third and even fourth) deposit into your new account, the casino matches it, increasing your bankroll. Most first deposit matches will be 100% (sometimes 200%), while subsequent matches will usually be lower.
- No deposit bonus – These are awarded simply for register with a site and give you a chance to sample a casino’s offerings before you invest any of your own cash. This offer usually comes in the form of free spins on a particular game, and in most cases you can keep on playing with your winnings.
- Free play bonus – operating on the same principle as a no deposit free spins offer, in this case the bonus amount can be used on any game, rather than a specified slot.
There are always conditions attached to a casino bonus in the form of wagering requirements (at some sites you’ll see this referred to as the playthrough requirement).
You’ll see this expressed as a multiple e.g., 20x, 30x, 40x etc., and what this refers to is the number of times you have to wager your bonus before you’re able to withdraw it (‘cash out’) or any of the winnings you made from it.
When you’re looking at the wagering requirements attached to an offer, you should also take note of whether the playthrough applies only to the bonus amount, or the total of your deposit + bonus. You should also look at the contribution wagers on different types of games make to meeting the playthrough – slots at most sites contribute 100% (i.e., every £1 you wager counts as a £1), but this is not the case with all games, particularly table games, where the contribution will usually be much lower, and sometimes 0%.
An example of how wagering requirements work: you receive a 100% match on your first deposit of £200, meaning you now have £400 in your account. If the wagering requirement is 40x, will need to wager £16,000 in total (40x £400) before you can cash out either the £200 bonus sum you received or any of the winnings you made from that sum. However, note that this applies to wagers – you have to bet this amount, not lose it!
Bonus Clearing Techniques
The most effective clearing technique is to choose a bonus that will enable you to meet the wagering requirements without your having to play and wager any more than you normally would. This is why examining all the aspects of a signup offer is so important – you need to make sure it’s right for you.
Here are some of the most important factors that will enable you to clear a bonus (i.e., to meet the wagering requirements and cash out):
- Check how much you need to deposit to be able to claim the full promotion. While some offers can be large, the amount you need to deposit to claim it all can be large too. Therefore, choose one where the deposits required to claim it all are in line with how much you want to invest.
- If the offer consists of matches on multiple deposits, check how much time you have in which to make them, as this can sometimes be quite limited.
- Make sure that you choose a bonus where slots games contribute to the wagering requirement 100%, and if you like to play other games as well, check the contributions of your favourites, as this can have a significant impact.
Cashable vs non-cashable
Again this is a factor that can have a significant influence on whether a particular offer is the right one for you.
Once you meet the wagering requirements with a cashable bonus, you can cash out not only your own money and your winnings, but the amount you received as well. Using the example cited above, once you’ve met the playthrough you would be able to withdraw your winnings plus the initial bankroll of £400 (£200 deposit + £200 bonus).
With a non-cashable bonus, however, you can wager using the bonus amount, and cash out any winnings from it, but the sum you were given can’t be withdrawn. Using the same example as above, if this were a non-cashable bonus once you’ve met the wagering requirements you would be able to cash out your winnings plus the £200 you deposited, but not the £200 you received as a gift, which would remain in your bonus account to play with.
Which type is right for you?
Online casino offers are all different, and so the sort of promotion you opt for will depend on the type of games you like to play, how often you play, and the size of bankroll you want to set up.
For instance, the casual player will most likely benefit from a single one-off deposit match bonus, where the amount required to claim the full bonus isn’t especially large. On the other hand, if you play a lot and make significant wagers, and top-up your account fairly regularly, then you’re more likely to be able to get the full value from a multi-deposit signup offer.
When you’re looking at the sort of bonus where you get matches on more than one deposit, it’s important to consider:
- What’s the total amount you need to deposit to get the full bonus?
- How many deposits do you have to make and how long do you to make them?
- What contribution do games other than slots make to the playthrough?
No deposit offers give players the chance to play for a limited period of time or number of spins (usually on a slots game) after you set up a new account but before you make a deposit. In most cases, there will be a limit on how much you can win from your free spins, which will be credited to your bonus account and, once you make your first deposit, you can start wagering with them. In some cases, winnings from a no deposit free spins bonus will be non-cashable, meaning you can play with them but they can’t be withdrawn (even after you meet the playthrough), but in other instances they can be cashed out once the wagering requirements have been met.
Free spins are increasingly being offered as part of a Welcome Package, along with deposit matches. How they are awarded can vary – at some sites, you receive a small number of free spins when you register, and the remainder once you make a deposit into your account; at others, you get them in one go once your account is up and running; while at other sites, you get a number of free spins every day for a set period of time.
Free spins as part of a Welcome Package will usually be on a selected slot (very often a new release game), and winnings (which will almost always be limited) will be credited to your bonus account and you can continue to wager with them. Depending on whether these winnings are considered cashable or non-cashable, you may be able to withdraw them once you meet the wagering requirements.
High roller / VIP
Players who play often and bet big will usually be rewarded with VIP status at many of the casinos we recommend. Most casinos have a form of loyalty scheme where you can accumulate points every time that you play, which can then be redeemed for cash or other rewards; however, when you’re a VIP it’s usually the case that you rack up points at a significantly faster rate, and so you get awarded bonuses (usually in the form of free spins or casino credits) much more often.
Similar to a free spins offer, a free play bonus is usually awarded when you register for an account with no deposit required. However, instead of being limited to spins on one particular slot, free play will usually mean you can play almost any game in the casino. There will likely be a cap on how much you can win, but you will in most cases be able to keep playing with your winnings once you make your first deposit.
A number of the casinos we list offer re-load bonuses. These usually operate on the basis that once you make a specified number of deposits into your account in any given month, any further deposits receive an additional match bonus, which is usually around 10%.
A simple way to pick up a casino bonus is if the casino has Refer-a-Friend scheme. With this kind of promotion, all you have to do is send a friend a link which they can then use to sign up. Once they do this and make a deposit, you receive a gift too, which is usually a cash amount or free spins.
Picking up an online casino bonus is a great way to give your bankroll a boost and to play for free. However, if you want to get the best value and take full advantage of a signup offer, it’s important to know the ins and outs about what sort of offer will work best for you. But if you follow our casino bonus tips, you can feel confident that you understand how casino promotions work and that you can make a clear, fully-informed choice.