Visit any online casino and it’s almost always the first thing you see – a big, flashy bonus offer to tempt new customers to sign up. But are these bonuses really what they seem? We’re here to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about online casino bonuses.

1. They are designed to reel you in

Online casinos are in fierce competition with each other, and there are a lot of them on the market. All the various brands spend a lot of time, effort, and money on tempting players to sign up at their site over all others. Big, eye-catching welcome bonus offers are the hook that casino sites use to reel in new players. If you click here, you can see some examples of what we mean.

2. It’s not free cash

Casino websites have relatively low overheads compared to a land-based establishment, so online casinos can afford to be a bit more generous with their bonus offers. Even so, these sites are not actually giving away free money. In the early days of these offers, players would sign up just to use the bonus, then withdraw any winnings and close out. Casino sites quickly realized that this was a cash drain, so they set some terms to prevent people from taking the money and running.

The solution to the problem was wagering requirements, essentially the number of times you have to bet with the bonus money before it can be released as real cash. Say you have a bonus worth fifty bucks, with wagering set at thirty times – you need to keep playing the money through until you hit $1500 worth of wagers, or until it runs out. Of course the latter result is more likely.

3. They help you play for longer

Thanks to the wagering requirements, most players are unlikely to turn a profit using a bonus. But if you think about it in a different way, the true value of the bonus becomes clear. Online gambling should be viewed purely as entertainment and not a money-making venture. With a bonus, you get the chance to play for longer and maybe try some new games. It’s the best way to get to know a new site.

4. There are lots of different kinds

Bonuses are not just for new players, and all the best casino sites have offers for their existing customers. The most frequent types of bonus that you will find are free spins and deposit match offers, where the casino adds bonus cash based on how much money you put in your casino account. These days more casinos are also offering cashback on losses, returning a portion of the money lost the preceding week.

5. You must always read the fine print

We saw just now that bonuses come with wagering requirements, but there are always other conditions to consider as well. For example, some sites keep your bonus money and your own deposited cash separate while others merge it together and apply the wagering to both. Sites that force customers to fulfill wagering on their own money should be avoided.