Online Casino Offers
Pretty much all online casinos will offer you some kind of promotion when you sign up, ranging from the 'try it without risking a penny' free spins through to more lucrative deposit bonuses. On this page you'll find an easy to use guide for comparing introductory welcome offers from the casinos we recommend (and trust), all of which are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission for legal play in the United Kingdom.
If you're looking for a list of casino welcome bonuses or free spins offers then head over to our casino offers page where we list the introductory sign up promotions form our hand picked list of the best UK casinos.
Casino Bonuses Explained
Like most things in life you rarely get anything for free. Casino bonuses and offers are there for a variety of reasons but ultimately their purpose is to allow players to try out a casino in the hope they will continue to play.
When it comes to casino promotions the landscape is not exactly a level playing field. Bonuses have terms such as wagering requirements designed so that players simply can't take the money and run, which makes sense, but then again some operators have overly strict or complicated terms making it difficult to compare the quality of these deals simply on face value. The guide below is designed to help you spot the major differences between offers so you can pick the right ones for you.
Sign Up, Introductory and Welcome Bonuses
The online casino industry is a strange world. Most businesses would simply not be able to afford to give away the kind of free cash that is advertised by online casinos for new players. Well how come a casino can? It comes down to cost; online casinos have vastly lower overheads than their land based cousins and this means all the cash saved from staffing, buildings and facilities, handling real cash and providing entertainment can be pumped into attracting new players with unbelievable sign up offers.
The second major reason casinos can afford these bonuses is down to the way they must be used. Bonuses have wagering requirements and this serves a couple of purposes for the casino. Customers must play through the bonus and winnings several times over which means players get a better overall experience of the casino, its features and games. This allows players to make a more informed decision about whether to carry on playing after the bonus is used.
The subsequent effect of this is players are ultimately more likely to lose the bonus than win following the rollover, so the casino doesn't quite lose all of the money it gives away. Of course many players do win with their bonuses too, otherwise we wouldn't bother in the first place would we? It is ultimately the chance of winning that attracts us in the first place.
Here are a few of the major aspects to consider when choosing the right sign up bonus, you can read about each of these points in more detail further down too:
- What amount of money is the bonus for? – It is important to have an idea of what kind of bonus size you want to take before you start out looking. Amounts vary from £10 all the way up to £3000 or more with tiered bonus systems. If you are only looking to play with a few quid there is no point taking a massive bonus, likewise if you like to play with serious funds avoid the low level deals.
- What is the value of the bonus? – By value I mean how much are you getting as a percentage of what you put in? The best bonuses pay up to 500% on your first deposit but then the overall amount tends to be lower (e.g. deposit £10 get £50 free). Larger bonuses tend to have lower percentages but higher overall amounts (e.g Deposit up to £500 get £500 free = 100%). Remember though just because a bonus is matched up to say £500 doesn't mean you have to deposit £500, most minimums are £10 so if you like you can deposit just £10 and get £10 free.
- How big is the wagering requirement? – The WR or rollover is perhaps the most important consideration. The very best bonuses have a rollover of around 25x the bonus (e.g. take £100 you'll need to wager a total of £2500 before the bonus and winnings becomes real cash). On the other hand some of the worst bonuses can have a wagering requirement of over 50x. Check the wording carefully as some bonus rollovers state "deposit + bonus", in this case a 25x would actually be £5000 taking the above example. Remember to factor this in.
- Are there any game restrictions? – Generally the traditional table games of roulette, blackjack, craps, etc have a low house edge (less than 5%). Bonuses therefore tend to be restricted for use on these games in most circumstances. If you want to play these games it helps to take a bonus where they do contribute to the rollover requirements, the weighting may be less than 100% but there are bonuses available where games like roulette can contribute up to 30%. Most slots and standard games will generally always count 100%, jackpot games and special games may be restricted.
- Do payout and withdrawal limits apply? – Some bonuses have a cap on the maximum you can win or take out using a bonus. All terms will be clearly displayed on the sign up page so do check in advance, especially if taking a big bonus.
- What time limits are there? – Almost all welcome bonuses have a time limit in which you must meet the wagering requirement, this can vary from 3 days to unlimited so again check or you could have your promo funds wiped.
- Is there any payment method ineligibility? – Due to historical problems with customers fraudulently claiming bonuses using Skrill and Neteller accounts in particular many online casinos will not issue bonuses to customers who make their first deposits using these methods. If these methods are restricted but you want to use them there are some casinos that will issue bonuses when funds are loaded this way, alternatively claim the bonus using another banking method and switch to Neteller or Skrill later on. PaySafeCard can also be restricted occasionally too.
- How long is your deposit locked in? – The terms of any bonus will generally lock in your initial deposit (and sometimes even winnings from your deposit) until you have met the original rollover requirements. Consider this as you will not be able to withdraw your initial deposit back out until the bonus terms are met. If you do withdraw your deposit too early you will invalidate your casino bonus.
- Can you play progressive jackpots? – Some bonuses do not count towards progressive jackpot games, check the terms on this to avoid the disappointment of potentially missing out on a massive payout.
- Is it possible to play all of your bonus in one go? – Generally there is a limit on how much of your bonus you can use in one spin or hand. This may be set as a monetary value, number of chips of percentage of the bonus.
- Play the bonus, don't let the bonus play you – It is easy to get trapped within some bonus structures because we are all attracted to claiming the big money amounts. You should only take a bonus that fits the way you want to play casino, don't allow the bonus to force you into playing more than you want to. If you like to play £100 in a month but you then take a £500 matched bonus you've suddenly got £1000 worth of funds to play with. The time restrictions on these funds means you may be playing at a far higher rate than you want to. Instead remember you don't need to take the maximum amount, deposit a lower amount instead, say £100 to get £100, this way you're more likely to enjoy the bonus.
Tiered Deposit Bonuses
Sign up bonuses come in two main flavours. Some operators give you one big value first deposit bonus, which will usually be a high percentage of your deposit, whereas others give a series of lower percentage bonuses on your first few deposits.
Tiered bonuses are not anything to be worried about. There is a common misconception that if you take a tiered bonus that you need to claim each tier to complete the terms, this is not true. Just because a bonus is split over say three deposits does not mean you need to fulfill each one, if you prefer you can just take the first deposit bonus, or just the first two bonuses, or whatever. So long as you meet the wagering requirements for that bonus any cash you end up with is your irrespective of whether you go on to take the second, third, fourth, etc., bonuses.
Tiered bonuses are quite obviously designed to keep you playing for longer. This is not a con, it's simply a marketing strategy that makes sense. These bonuses are perfect if you want to play for longer with the online casino in question anyway, I mean if you are going to stick around and play after your first deposit you may as well be rewarded for further deposits. The second advantage is the overall bonus amount, a good tiered bonus will pay over £1000 in total, sometime up to £5000. This means if you like to play a lot of casino and you have a fair amount of money available for deposits.
As a general rule, if you are looking for the highest percentage value then single deposit bonuses tend to be better, if you are looking to claim the highest possible amount of bonus cash then tiered bonuses tend to be the best. Again here are some factors to consider when taking a tiered bonus:
- Availability – You are going to need to meet the terms of your first deposit bonus in order to go on to claim the second bonus in time? Think about what you need to do in advance. If you take a £100 bonus first with a 30x rollover then you are going to need to play with £3000 of funds before you can claim the second bonus, casinos won't allow you to have two active bonuses at once. Be careful if you take your next bonus too early as you may forfeit your original one too.
- Time Limits – Often you are given a set period of time to claim all the tiered bonuses in a given deal. Think about this carefully as sometimes these terms if too stringent can mean you end up playing far more than you wanted to. If you take an offer with three deposit bonuses (let's say £100 first deposit and £250 second and third) and the time limit is 30 days from sign up and each bonus has a 30x rollover then you are going to need to play with £3000 from your first deposit and £7500 form the second and third. This means a total wagering of £18000 in 30 days, you might want to consider if this is something you want to do. These bonuses will expire after 30 days too so no point getting half way in if you're not able to complete. Remember you can just take the one bonus you don't have to go on and take 2nd/3rd/4th deposit bonuses if it doesn't suit how you play.
- Rollovers – If the first bonus has say a 25x rollover don't assume the second and third bonuses will too. The best online casinos have simple terms with the same or roughly the same requirements for each. Some however (mainly operators we don't list of this reason) put very high wagering requirements on tiered bonuses, so always check and don't assume.
- Game Specific Bonuses – It is common for subsequent deposit bonuses to be restricted to a certain game or type of casino game (roulette bonus, slots bonus, etc.) there is certainly nothing dodgy about this but if you don't play the games the bonus is designed for then there is not much point taking it. This can be a good way to get bonuses for some games however as most 'main' bonuses won't let you play games like roulette and blackjack as part of the rollover, or at least the weighting is very low. Most deposit bonuses are generally unrestricted so will let you play on what you like but don't assume that tiered bonuses will automatically have the same game restrictions as the first deposit bonus.
- Held Funds – One aspect to consider with tiered bonuses in particular is the deposit lock in. Each time you claim a new bonus you generally need to keep any initial deposit (and perhaps winnings too) in the account until the bonus terms are completed. If it's going to take you say 90 days to do this then its worth remembering you can't access your funds for this period.
No Deposit Bonuses
No deposit bonuses are not as widely available as they once were but there are still a fair few available, you can read about these on our no deposit bonus page.
These offers tend to be for a low amount of money (£5 or £10) or free spins / plays on slots or table games. The terms tend to be more stringent than you see with conventional deposit bonuses so expect a higher wagering requirement (can be 50x or more), tighter time limits (usually around 7 days to play through any bonus) and possibly even withdrawal or payout limits.
You can't blame an online casino for having harder terms on a no deposit offer, after all it's mainly there for customers to get a good feel for if they like the casino without having to deposit. They are certainly still worth taking though and you can always claim the main bonus later anyway. If you visit our no deposit section you can find more information on the best offers of this type as well as common factors to consider.
The reload bonus is a type of retention offer, the casino gives you a fixed percentage bonus on your deposits as an existing customer. Reloads are available from lots of online casinos now and in general if you are depositing into a casino regularly it makes a lot of sense to play with a casino with regular reloads. You can see a full list of the best bonuses in our reloads section.
These deals are a good bench mark of an online casino. Most casinos pour huge resources into attracting new players but significantly less in keeping you there. A casino with a good reload bonus system can be like gold dust when you come across them. This shows you the casino is invested in you as a customer rather than just in getting new players. Fine you are not going to get the kind of rewards you will from a sign up bonus, reloads tend to be around 50% at best, but still not to be sniffed at for regular players. These bonuses also come in several flavours, here are a few common types and features to be aware of:
- Monthly Reloads – These are often the best type of reload, they give all customers the option to get a bonus each month just for depositing. There are plenty of decent casinos that run these deals which for regular players really can add up over time.
- Special Reload Bonuses – Reload promotions are popular around big events, this may be seasonal, such as during the Christmas holidays, or even around new game or product launches. We always recommend at OnlineBetting that it is better to hold several casino accounts and switch between them based on the best deals. It is good to shop around for special reload bonuses at certain times of year.
- Game Specific Reloads – Most reload bonuses are similar to sign up offers, you get a percentage of your deposit matched and you can play with this on almost all slots and some table games. Some reloads however give bonuses that are specific to one game or slot, obviously if you don't want to play that particular game there is little point in taking the bonus. Saying that though these deals tend to either come alongside new game launches (so you may want to try it out anyway) and can often have more lenient wagering terms compared to standard reload promos.
- Loyalty and VIP Reloads – Loyalty programmes are common in casinos and these tend to give points based on the amount you wager in a given time period (usually a month). Many casinos let you convert these points into reload bonuses directly. Other casinos run VIP schemes where you can move up tiers based on the amount you bet. These VIP tiers tend to give incrementally larger reload bonuses as you move up.
- Wagering Restrictions – As with all bonuses, reloads also come with the same types of restrictions. Look for wagering requirements, game restrictions, game weighing and time limits before taking the offer. Remember as reload deals tend to be less than 100% you will need to deposit more than the bonus amount and as with all bonuses you don't have to take the maximum amount either.
Promotions come in all shape and sizes, some operators are good at running lots of little incentive offers whereas other go for the big value deal on certain occasions.
Casinos have all sorts of personalities when it comes to their regular deals, it's part of what defines them. What is good depends what you want really, are you looking for straight down the line cashback or reload deals or more fun prize draws and free spins rewards? The best way to find the right casino is to have a browse through our online casino reviews where we discuss how each casino likes to reward existing customers.
This is one of the most common casino promos. Often game specific or slot specific it may be deposit dependent (deposit £20 get 20 free spins) or play dependent (play £10 on slots get 10 free spins). If you like free spins then some casinos certainly do reward more than others.
This tends to be associated with loyalty points (see later) but there are also regular cashback deals if play certain games. Effectively a rebate on your loses, used well these are great offers for adding value to your play.
Around half of promotions are game specific, this means you need to play a certain game to claim the deal or use any free spins or promo cash on that game when awarded. This is a very common promotion when new games are launched, common example may be "play £10 on blackjack get £10 free".
There are many promotions available only during certain time windows, these are often connected to the cashback deal discussed above. Casinos like to attract customers at usually non-busy times and one way they do this is to reward players who play during these time windows. This is especially common on multi-player, jackpot and live table games to keep the games going.
Seasonal deals are also common, if you play casino during any holiday periods there will be lots of specific incentives and prizes available.
There are so many prize draws available its untrue. Generally, these are associated with leader boards that are based on the amount wagered or amount won either on casino as a whole or on specific games. Some prizes are simply opt in only for all customers and others select customers at random so long as they play a certain game or play a given amount in a given time.
Loyalty and VIP
Loyalty and VIP schemes can be ten a penny in the world of online casino but how can you tell which ones are worthwhile and which ones are not? One way is to check out our loyalty pages or individual reviews, we don't list shady operators here and we explain all terms in full and in clear language.
Loyalty schemes give you points for the amount of money you wager. This isn't necessarily fixed, you may earn more points for every £1 wagered on slots compared to say table games. Featured and special games also tend to come with a points premium.
Points can often be exchanged for cash, reload bonuses, free spins, prize draw entry or even merchandise. Many loyalty schemes are also linked to VIP programmes with points being the currency to move up VIP tiers.
The best loyalty schemes will give you at about a penny in the pound back. If you think a casino may have a margin of say 5% if they are giving you 1% back that’s a fifth of their profits.
With a VIP scheme you generally need to be playing a decent amount to qualify, for this the casino return some of their profits to you in the form of enhanced deals and features. If you are someone who plays at least £100 or more a week and your casino doesn't give you anything back then you are playing in the wrong place.
Some casinos are open about their VIP qualification criteria, even providing progress bars or similar to show you how far away you are from the next level. Other casinos are more secretive about this and will email to invite you in. If you think you should qualify and you play enough then email and ask the casino if they have a VIP system. If they tell you that you aren’t playing enough why not go to a casino that will reward you for the amount you play?
Generally VIP schemes are tiered so the higher you move up the more you get. For example, a tiered VIP scheme that gives monthly reload bonuses may increase the bonus amount depending on your tier level.
For the lower levels of a VIP package expect things like reloads, free spins, lower wagering requirements, enhanced comp points and priority promotions. Higher level VIP player can expect even better terms on the above points, plus tickets and hospitality at events, private customer service and banking and some really exclusive offers. Full details of each operators VIP structure can be found in our reviews.
Please don't underestimate the importance of wagering or rollover requirements. This is perhaps the single greatest factor in defining if a bonus deal is good or bad. Here are the big three considerations for rollover in any casino bonus:
- Bonus or Deposit and Bonus? – This really does matter and it's not just about the number written in the terms, for example, an offer that is 30x the bonus is better than an offer that is 20x deposit and bonus. If your deposit value is included in the wagering requirements, then you must factor this in.
- Table and Special Games – Whereas pretty much all WR's on bonuses have a 100% contribution from slots this is much lower for some special games, traditional table games and some jackpot games. Try to find bonuses that can be used on the games you want to play. In general low house edge games (e.g. roulette) have the lowest contributions.
- Time Limits – If you fail to rollover the bonus in the period of time allotted you will lose it all, not just the bonus but any winnings from the bonus. If you have a 30x bonus then 1x rollover is just as good as 29x as if you run out of time it's all the same, your funds will be wiped.
Most bonuses and promotions have restricted games where either the offer does not apply or the contribution of that game is much lower.
The main reason for game restrictions is predictably down to profit margins. Slots and many modern games are can have any structure the software developer likes, the effect of this is games can be designed to build in any house edge the operator likes. In general, the house edge on most game is designed to be somewhere between 5-10%.
Traditional table games are another matter. Roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat and similar games predate online casinos and the virtual world. These games therefore have fixed structures and so no matter what you do to the graphics the house edge remains the same. European roulette for example (the one with the single zero) has an edge of just 2.7%. This is the reason many of these games contribute less, or sometimes not at all, to wagering requirements.
Should you wish to use a bonus on a restricted game you may want to look for bonuses where the weighting of games like blackjack are higher. Don't expect more than about 20% though at best. To get the most out of your bonus you are best using it on non-restricted games.
Jackpots and multi-player games can also be restricted with a bonus. This is something to be really mindful of too as with many progressive jackpot games you are in fact playing a single game but each time making a contribution to the collective pot. With a bonus you can sometimes be allowed to play the single game but you won't be adding to the pot, therefore if you did win the top prize you would only win the top prize within the single game not the huge progressive jackpot.
Withdrawal or Payout Limits
This is most common with no deposit bonuses but it can still apply to all other casino promotions. Whatever they call it, withdrawal or payout, it means the same thing. It is a cap on the maximum of amount of real cash that can be won from any given bonus (or set of free spins) once you have met all the terms.
There are so many bonuses without withdrawal limits that if this isn't a no-deposit bonus you should probably pick another casino.
This can apply to progressive jackpots too so try to use real cash on progressive jackpots just to be sure in case you do win millions.
Progressive Jackpot games come in two major forms, the prize pool and the contribution. The prize pool form tends to be quicker to find a winner, here a large majority of your stake goes into the main prize pool until someone wins. The contribution game is different, here you are playing the game on an individual basis but each time a small proportion of your stake goes towards a jackpot pool and every now and again someone wins big.
If playing with promotional cash you must be very aware that although you are playing the individual game you may not be actually eligible to win the jackpot. If you want to use a bonus on a progressive jackpot check the terms very carefully. Remember as well as these games are run by the software provider not the casino itself you tend to find that if you can't use a bonus with one of them you can't with any of them.
It is also important to consider withdrawal limits. Even if the terms state that you are allowed to use a bonus on a progressive jackpot you may still be scuppered if you do win by a withdrawal limit. Imagine winning a million only to be told you can only actually take out £50,000.
Limited bonus betting
The last thing to tell you about is limits on actually wagering the bonus. Here we are not talking about the wagering requirement but about how much of your bonus you can stake in one go.
It's an obvious term built in to most bonuses primarily to stop players whacking the entire bonus on one hand or spin of a reel.
These terms tend to be relatively fair, a good bonus deal will allow you to wager about 10% of your bonus in any one bet. These limits may be listed as an amount of the bonus or number of chips and may be different for individual games or sections.
It is important to check the terms and conditions in this regard. If, for example, you take a £400 bonus but you are limited to a £5 individual bet limit that will contribute to the play through requirement then it is going to take you a long time and a lot of bets to wager that bonus. In all likelihood the probabilities say you would probably lose too.