How to Choose and Use Online Casino Bonuses
Today is Christmas Day, and even though all of the NJ online casinos are open for business as usual, they seem to be taking a holiday from offering bonuses. Have they forgotten about all the loyal players who might be spending the day alone or simply craving some alone time to enjoy their favorite games away from all the craziness? Apparently so. Just as a White Christmas has completely eluded this part of the country today, there are no new online casino bonuses or other special promotions in sight. So instead, for today’s column, I am offering you a gift not just for today, but one that will keep on giving indefinitely–10 tips on how to choose and use online casino bonuses wisely so they will add to, not subtract, from your bottom line. Enjoy!
- Read the fine print carefully before accepting any offer.
Read all the fine print carefully and make sure you fully understand all the terms and conditions before accepting any offer. If anything is not crystal clear, check with Customer Support before proceeding further. The last thing you want to have happen is to go ahead with what you assume is the deposit and play the casino requires, only to be denied both the bonus and any related winnings because you misunderstood the terms and conditions.
- All online casino bonuses are not created equal.
If you play at multiple casinos, you will undoubtedly receive multiple offers simultaneously. Unfortunately, unless you have unlimited time to play and are also sitting on enough discretionary money to be able to afford all the deposits and wagers that all of these offers entail, you then face what could be a very difficult choice. Which offers are best to accept and which are okay to forego?
The first consideration is how much money you need to risk and whether the reward is worth it. Obviously, if the deposit and wagering requirements are beyond your budget or if the promotion is a drawing with unlimited entries based on amount deposited and wagered, forget it.
Another consideration applies to promotions that are deposit match bonuses. The best of these are 100% matches of your deposit. 50% deposit matches also offer good bang for the buck. The lower the percentage of the deposit match, the more you will have to rely on your own deposited funds to satisfy the bonus-related wagering requirements.
A third consideration is how much time the casino is giving you to clear the bonus. If money is tight, you will be better off with a casino that gives you at least a week to clear the bonus than having to complete all the wagering in a single day.
- On the other hand, multiple bonuses in succession enhance the value of individual bonuses.
Sometimes a casino will have a different offer running for a string of consecutive days or even weeks. For example, BorgataCasino.com was giving out random prizes daily from December 1 through December 24 in its Celebrate 24 Days of Holidays promotion. Meanwhile, the Spin the Wheel of Fortune promotion at GoldenNuggetCasino.com that started December 4th continues through December 25 and the CaesarsCasino.com Stocking Stuffers offer that started December 21 continues through December 28.
Whenever you have a string of consecutive offers, you can generally count on some being better than others. However, even those that individually aren’t great might be worth taking because being part of a succession of offers increases their value. In any case, if possible, you should log in every day of the promotion to see what that day’s offer is. Otherwise, you might miss the best offers of the bunch.
- Clearing the bonus with any game that doesn’t count 100% will increase the wagering requirements substantially.
Sometimes the casino will allow any game, and all games count 100%. But more often than not, only slots count 100% and any other game contributes a much smaller percentage towards clearing the bonus. If you decide on slots, your best bet is to limit yourself to the best games in the house–those with a return to player (RTP) of 96% or better. This will increase the likelihood of winning if you’re lucky or, equally important, keep you from losing all your money quickly during dry spells.
When the trade-off for playing a game with a lower house edge than slots is a much steeper wagering requirement (i.e., 50x the bonus instead of 5x the bonus), consider clearing the bonus partly with the lower house edge game and partly with slots. It also helps to have a generous amount of time to clear the bonus so you can spread out your play.
- Accepting the maximum bonus offered is great–if you can afford the wagering requirements.
Some deposit match bonuses are fixed. Even if you deposit more than the minimum, your bonus remains the same. However, many deposit match bonus offers specify not only the minimum deposit to receive any bonus, but also the maximum bonus in return for a substantially higher deposit.
If you are a small player and/or dealing with a limited bankroll, as much as you would love to get your hands on a big bonus, you may not be able to afford it, Keep in mind that the bigger the bonus, the higher the wagering requirements. It is far better to make a smaller deposit and settle for a smaller bonus than to go for the max only to have both the bonus and any related winnings stripped from your account because you can’t handle the wagering requirements.
On the other hand, 100% deposit match bonuses are few and far between, so if at all possible, taking the maximum bonus offered so you get the full benefit is highly recommended.
- Non-redeemable bonuses rarely yield big wins, but the risk is minimal.
The bonuses offered at TropicanaCasino.com and VirginCasino.com differ from the other NJ online casino bonuses because they are not redeemable. The stipulation that you can only keep the winnings (if any) and not the bonus itself obviously works to the advantage of the casino, not the player. It becomes exceedingly difficult to turn the bonus into a profit, especially since you can only wager it once, which is probably why these casinos hand out this type of bonus so frequently. On the other hand, aside from the earlier play that qualifies you for the bonus, the offer is risk free. Because you only have to wager the bonus once, the only money you can possibly lose with that play is the casino’s!
- Beware of Playback Bonuses.
Since the only way to qualify for a Playback Bonus is to lose, the best outcome by far if you opt into a promotion that offers this deal is not to get a bonus, but to win. Furthermore, the amount the casino is willing to give back as a Playback Bonus is only a small percentage of the player’s actual loss, and then you only get to wager that money once and hopefully win something. But the bonus itself is not withdrawable, so it doesn’t take a math whiz to see that the likelihood of recovering all of your loss is very slim.
Therefore, you should never opt into these promotions with the hope of getting a bonus. That kind of mindset will most likely lead to your playing longer than you should and to the self-fulfilling prophecy that the casino is banking on–that you will lose and be rewarded for your loss with a bonus! At best, these promotions offer you a little insurance in case you lose, but your main reason for playing should be that you enjoy the games and feel you have a good chance to win, not the token Playback Bonus the casino will give you if you lose.
Lastly, stay away from the Playback Bonuses that increase (i.e., from 5% to 20%) based on how many days you play. They encourage you to keep chasing your losses, which is the opposite of good money management.
- Take advantage of mystery bonuses and drawings with guaranteed bonuses.
The requirements for participating in these promotions are usually minimal (i.e., a $25 deposit), which makes them affordable to everyone. While obviously, you’re hoping for one of the top rewards, even if you only get a small bonus, you should not be disappointed, considering how little you have to do to earn it. Furthermore, whatever the outcome, mystery bonuses are fun!
- Vary your play. Don’t get stuck in a rut always playing the same games.
Even if you think you’ve found your lucky slot machine or other game, results vary. So don’t be afraid to try new games. If you have only played slots in the past, it’s never too late to learn the basics of another game like blackjack or video poker. But keep in mind that winning in these games, unlike slots, takes not only luck but skill. So give yourself time to brush up on the rules and basic strategy and practice with play money before you start playing for real money. Yes, it’s true you can only earn bonuses on real money play, but what good is a bonus if all you’re going to do with it is give it back to the casino?
- Last but not least, keep your sessions short.
The longer you play, the more opportunity you are allowing for the game’s true house edge to exert itself. If you’re ahead, leave while you are still a winner. If you’re losing, set a reasonable stop loss figure for yourself and stick to it. Don’t chase your losses. You can always return another day. Keep your sessions short.
These are my 10 tips to help you get maximum mileage from your online casino bonuses. Refer to them often.