Online Casino Bonuses: Are There Any Downsides to Them?

Online Casino Bonuses

Almost every online casino in existence offers bonuses. Therefore, you’ll have no trouble finding deals to take advantage of.

You could earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars in some cases. Even if you don’t plan on depositing and chasing this kind of money, you can still cash in on bonuses.

Taking everything into account, it seems like online casino bonuses don’t have any downsides. The reality, though, is that you do need to worry about certain things while pursuing these deals.The following guide discusses what you should be aware of when going after casino bonuses.

It also covers the different kinds of offers that are available.

Different Types of Casino Bonuses

The online gaming world offers a variety of bonuses. You can see the main types of deals along with how they work below.

Welcome Bonus

A welcome bonus is the first deal that you’re eligible for upon joining a new online casino.

It’s also typically the largest bonus available at any gaming site. After all, mobile casinos want to impress new players. What better way to do this then by offering a deal worth hundreds or thousands of dollars right away? Most of these bonuses cover your first deposit.

For example, a mobile casino might offer a 100% match bonus worth up to $500. If you deposit $250 in this case, then you’ll be eligible for a $250 bonus.

Some welcome deals cover multiple deposits. Here’s an example on how this works:

  • An online casino offers a welcome bonus worth up to $1,000.
  • The first deposit is eligible for a 100% match bonus worth up to $200.
  • The second deposit is eligible for a 100% match bonus worth up to $300.
  • The third deposit is eligible for a 75% match bonus worth up to $500.

Reload Bonus

While welcome bonuses are nice, they’re only one-time offers. That said, you want extra chances to earn money once the welcome deal is no longer available.

Reload bonuses provide this opportunity.
They’re deposit bonuses that are available to existing casino customers after the welcome bonus. Reload deals aren’t typically as large as welcome packages. For example, they may only offer a 75% match worth up to $200 on your deposit.

Nevertheless, they’re still worthwhile if you like a particular casino and want to keep taking advantage of its bonuses.

No Deposit Bonus

The deals covered so far require you to place a deposit. A no deposit bonus, on the other hand, merely requires you to complete registration.

Once you finish registering at a casino, you’ll receive either cash or free spins.

You use the bonus to rack up winnings that can later be cashed out after meeting terms and conditions.

Here’s an example on how a no deposit bonus works:

  • You register and receive a $20 no deposit bonus.
  • You have $12 left (winnings) after meeting T&Cs.
  • You can cash out this money, provided it meets the minimum withdrawal.

Free Spins

Free spins can come in the form of either a no deposit or deposit bonus. In either case, you receive free spins for use on real-money slots.

Sometimes these offers are restricted to a single slot.

Other times, they’re eligible for most or all of a casino’s slots.

Here’s an example of free spins:

  • You make a deposit and receive 100 free spins.
  • You use these spins to generate $25 in winnings.
  • The $25 can be withdrawn after you’ve met terms and conditions.

Cash Back

The deals described above all revolve around winning bonus money. Cashback, on the other hand, pays back a percentage of your losses.

You become eligible for these bonuses after placing a deposit.

Any losses that you accrue within a certain timeframe after depositing will be returned up to a certain percentage.

Here’s a closer look at how cash back works:

  • An online casino offers a 20% cash back bonus worth up to $200.
  • This deal covers losses over your first 7 days after depositing.
  • You lose $100 within the first week.
  • 100 x 0.2 = 20
  • You’re now eligible to earn $20 in bonus funds.

Potential Downsides of Online Casino Bonuses

The idea of earning free money at mobile casinos seems like it’s all upside. Before pursuing these offers, though, you should consider the following potential drawbacks.

Murky Terms & Conditions

Gaming sites include terms and conditions behind their bonuses. You must meet these terms before cashing out bonus money.

In many cases:
The T&Cs are written clearly enough. However, some casinos write their terms in an ambiguous manner. If you can’t tell what the T&Cs mean, then you’re more likely to make a mistake that could cost you the bonus.

A better idea is to simply avoid any mobile casino that features unclear terms. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting cheated out of a bonus that you’ve rightfully earned.

Unfavorable T&Cs

Right up there with unclear terms and conditions are unfavorable terms. The latter make it difficult for you to make any money with bonuses.

Please Note:
High play through (a.k.a. rollover) can really prevent you from profiting off bonus deals. High rollover requires you to bet more before withdrawing a bonus. Some casinos restrict a large number of high-paying games too. This restriction requires you to choose lower-paying games when unlocking bonuses.

You should always thoroughly read the T&Cs before going after any deal. By doing so, you’ll know which offers to avoid if they’re unfavorable.

Negative Expectation Propositions

The goal with casino bonuses is to add more money on top of your winnings. You can especially win big with the aforementioned deals that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

In reality, though, you’re facing a negative-expectation (-EV) situation with almost every bonus deal. Casinos set up the terms so that they still profit over the average player.

Here’s an example on the -EV nature of bonuses:

  • You’re eligible for a $100 bonus.
  • Play through is 40x.
  • 100 x 40 = $4,000 must be wagered before cashing out
  • The casino only allows games with 97% RTP or lower to qualify for rollover.
  • You play a game with 97% RTP (3% house edge).
  • 4,000 x 0.03 = $120 in theoretical losses
  • 120 – 100 = $20 in total theoretical losses

You May Be Forced to Use Deposit Money First

Some gaming sites don’t give you bonuses right away. Instead, they require you to burn through your deposit money first.

In this case, the bonus is more of a safety net. Assuming you ultimately lose your deposit, which most players do, then you can finally use the bonus.

Obviously, it’s better to gain access to the bonus right away. If you really like a certain online casino, though, then you’ll be faced with a difficult choice.

Are Online Casino Bonuses Still Worthwhile?

As pointed out with the -EV propositions, mobile casino bonuses aren’t a quick path to riches. They may or may not ultimately help you win profits.

Much depends upon the specific terms and conditions behind an offer.
When dealing with unfavorable terms, you’ll have a tougher time unlocking bonus funds. Meanwhile, you stand a better chance at making money with reasonable deals.

Certain gaming sites are known for offering a fair shake when it comes to bonuses. You can check out casino reviews to try and find such sites.

Of course:
You still need to be prepared for the times when things don’t go your way. The key, though, is to give yourself the best opportunity to earn bonus money by choosing fair casinos.


Online casino bonuses are definitely worthwhile if you’re going to play at mobile casinos anyways. They provide an opportunity to earn extra money on the side of your play.

However, you shouldn’t dive into just any deal. Some bonuses are superior due to their player-friendly terms and conditions.

You need to examine the T&Cs behind mobile casino bonuses to make sure that they’re both clear and fair. If not, then many other deals exist throughout the gaming industry.

About the Author
Rick Rockwell profile picture
Rick Rockwell
Sports/Casino Writer
Blog and News
Rick has been a professional writer for over 14 years with an extensive resume spanning projects and clients from around the world. But, his passions have always been sports and sports betting. Whether it’s being a credentialed media member to major sporting events, climbing into a racecar or a pro wrestling ring, Rick’s sports and sports betting knowledge, passion and versatility is on display with each article he writes for TSG.

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