Online casinos have seen a boost in popularity during 2020, with the industry one of the few to seemingly benefit from the coronavirus crisis.
With bricks and mortar casinos shut down for months due to the pandemic, people who like playing slots and games like blackjack, poker and roulette have been forced to go online.
Many of them have enjoyed the experience, with the flexibility of online casinos a big plus point compared to their bricks and mortar equivalents, some of whom are likely to go out of business because of the financial impact of COVID-19. Many casinos have already announced that they are going to have to make major layoffs as a result of their coronavirus struggles during 2020.
Bonuses and promotions tend to be a lot more generous at online casinos, so it is clear to see the attraction of playing through the internet. But are these bonuses always worth taking?
Casino bonuses – the basics
It is obvious why casinos offer such tempting bonuses. They want customers to sign up and they have to convince them to pick their site over one of the many rival operators out there.
If it says there is no risk, run away.
With so much competition for customers, bonuses and promotions have got bigger and bigger over the past few years. They are expanding so fast that a lot of casinos now even offer a no deposit bonus. For these, new players can sign up and start trying to win cash without even having to risk any of their own money, though there are strict terms and conditions attached.
Players who are quite new to online casinos may see these bonuses as a wholly positive thing. But if something feels as though it is too good to be true – and online casinos effectively handing out free cash certainly comes under that category – then it is usually the case.
So what are the main drawbacks from using online casino bonuses and promotions?
Terms and conditions are a minefield
Getting your head around the various terms and conditions attached to a sign-up bonus offered by an online casino can be tricky, especially for those who are inexperienced at gambling.
Not only can free spins only usually be used on games that the casino wants you to play – there is not a free choice – there are hoops to jump through if you are to actually win any cash.
This is due to something called a rollover requirement, which is sometimes referred to as a wagering requirement, What this means is a player must bet their bonus funds a certain number of times before the cash is unlocked and becomes available to be withdrawn from their account.
As an example, a wagering requirement of 20x on a bonus of $100 means you must stake $2000 with the funds in order to unlock them. This is obviously going to be tough to achieve, especially as not all games contribute 100 per cent to the requirements either.
Casinos put this wagering requirement in place to protect their profits. After all, if they handed out free dollars to play with and all their customers won with the cash, then withdrew it straight away, there would be no net gain for the casino operator.
Their goal is to gain customers and keep them playing on the site for a long time into the future.
Is it even possible to win with the bonus at an online casino?
Even if you are able to successfully meet the wagering requirement – which can be anything from 10x to 100x – this does not mean you are necessarily going to be celebrating.
Yes, you can win real money using a bonus, but it's limited. Buried in the small print of the terms and conditions of the promotion users take will be details of the maximum win on offer. This is usually set to a low amount, with users not able to scoop life-changing wins as a result.
Imagine using bonus money to play an online slot and being fortunate enough to land a jackpot spin. It would be heart-breaking to then find out you would only be paid out about $30 of the potentially millions of dollars that you could have won if you were playing with your own money.
Some people have even ended up spending their own cash that they deposited when signing up in order to try and meet the wagering requirements, which is not what they intended to do.
The bottom line is simple. When considering taking a generous sign-up promotion or bonus, think about why this is being offered by an online casino site. They are not doing it out of the goodness of their heart. They do not want to help to make you rich. The house always wins.
As such, if you do want to play online casino games, ignoring the various offers, promotions and bonuses that are waved under your nose might prove to be a better decision in the long run.