The one disadvantage of being an online casino is that many people simply don’t trust spending money online because there is no way of knowing for sure who or what is at the other end of a transaction. This also works to your advantage because in order to help players overcome their fears, online gaming sites have had to make gambling online that much more enticing. And the way they do this is through offering attractive bonuses (it’s the same way psychologists have been know to cure a fear of heights – they put a $100 bill on top of a tall later and tell the patient that its their if they only climb up and get it).
The most common type of bonuses are "matchplay" bonuses. This type of bonus is very popular and works online much the same way that it does for land-based casinos. A player is offered, for example, a $25 match play bonus which he or she must match it with $25 of their own yielding a total of $50 with which the player can then use to bet. In statistical terms, this yields the player an advantage over the house in the neighborhood of 100% on this one bet. Another type is offering a certain percentage of your deposits.
There are several things to bear in mind when utilizing online casino bonuses. The first thing to check is whether they apply to the games you want to play. Many casinos boast bonuses of $100, $200 or more but limit it to games that have very large house advantages. Many casinos are especially stingy on player’s favorites such as blackjack. Sometimes, there are even penalties for withdrawing bonus winnings early. There may be others so do read the casinos policy.
A second point to bear in mind is what is called the "play through" requirement. To understand the concept, let’s take a look at the $25 match bonus mentioned above. If there were no play through requirement, anyone could clean up with the huge advantage the bonuses affords them on the first bet. If they lose, the casino wins $25, if they win however, the casino looses $50. To moderate such enormous player advantages, casinos require that the player to "play through" a given number of times their initial deposit. For example, on the $25 match bonus, the casino may require a player to place $250 in wagers before they can make a withdrawal of any winnings (although players can normally withdrawal their initial deposit if they like). Depending on the size of the bonus, the games you play, and the play through requirement, the advantage you have will be variable. If you’re a bonus hustler, games that come pretty close to breaking even will rack up you action and meet the play through. Remember, when playing bonuses many small bets are superior to one big or two big bets because even on a 1 to 1 bet, its pretty easy to lose 2 or 3 times in a row or more. Over 100 bets, the win rate should come close to the expected value of 1 to 1 (provided you’re a gambler who knows what they’re doing).
There are a few other things to keep in mind when playing bonuses.
The first is that casinos don’t like players that play just for bonuses. Casinos offer bonuses to attract losers, not winners. This has been a constant source of tension between player advocates and casinos. Player advocates believe it is just as fair for players to hustle bonuses as it is for online casinos to set up shop and offer games with built in house advantages. Online casinos on the other hand often feel justified in not paying bonuses; giving you the run around when you try to make a withdrawal sending the single that bonus hustling at their casino will be an excruciating waste of time; and, often known bonus hustlers are banned from online casinos altogether. The point is don’t get yourself labeled as a bonus hustler. Many casinos, unethically in my opinion, even share information about your IP address, credit card or online banking account info, etc. so if you like to play, make sure you don’t play the minimum then cash out. Make yourself look like a real gambler.
The second point is that the odds don’t start and stop at a single online casino but are part of the great mathematical universe. In other words, don’t get stuck betting at a single casino after you’ve exhausted your bonus. The opportunity cost of staying at one place is a bonus someplace else.
Another good way to take advantage of bonuses is by trading referral bonuses with others. You get a referral fee for inviting them to a casino, and they get one for inviting you to another. Make sure you know the person well however. If they turn out to be a scoundrel, you’re a scoundrel by association and you both will likely receive the same slamming door in your face.
Signing up and getting invited back may be the juiciest means of getting good bonuses. Sign up, play a bit then sit out and wait. Competition for depositing players is ENORMOUS and you may just find a juicy invitation waiting in your email box to comeback for spin. In this respect, it pays to sign up for many casinos – even if you don’t bet.
A last simple way is by using Neteller. Players often get convenience bonuses just for depositing and withdrawing using Neteller.
A few other tips…
Not matter what you do, always keep good records of everything; save every email, if you’re a jackpot player, keep a camera handy in case you hit the jackpot and take several clear pictures of the screen.
Also note that most casinos offer free games to play. In fact, most of the trusted casinos listed here offer some form of free or practice play in Flash or in a downloadable form that you have to install, but with which if you can play in free or practice mode. In fact these are often a great way to practice, warm up as it were, in a real online casino environment. However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Many times, the rules and settings of the free games make it easier for the player to win that the games one plays for money. This is unethical, but it happens.
In a recent trial of the free roulette game at a casino we'll call LeoVegas Casino (obviously not one of our recommended casinos as we discourage this type of behavior), the results were 133 wins and 67 losses. The probability of 133 or more wins in 200 spins is 1 in 3,788,515. Beware of this sort of thing because some disreputable casinos utilize this technique, frankly, to sucker players into thinking they'll have the same success with the money play.
When gambling online, one last point bears mention. Many players are hesitant to offer their credit cards online, especially when it comes to an activity such as online gambling. While better safe than sorry, there are two ways to minimize this risk. The first is to only deal with the reputable online casinos listed here (if you are one of our players which you can do for free by clicking through our site links and signing up at which ever casino(s) you like, we’ll mediate any dispute). The second is to utilize the wonders of online banking.