Casino bonuses look and sound fantastic. And this is their secret!
Whether or not what they deliver is quite so fantastic is another question, and it is one that players need to understand if they are assessing whether or not a bonus is a good deal, and in fact, it’s our view that players should be turning down some bonuses.
At the very least you need to completely change the way you look at bonuses.
What Bonuses Deliver?
Bonuses deliver players to casino sites. And casino sites make enormous amounts of money. This money, the profit of the site, is entirely made up of lost player bets.
This is because all casino games are set up to deliver a profit to the game operator. It is possible for players to win, and it is possible for players to win big, even life-changing sums of money, and even to come out ahead of a gambling session. However, the vast majority of players will fall into the central, average belt of players – that’s what average means – and lose relatively small amounts of money over the period that they gamble.
This is confirmed by one single figure: the house edge. House edge means that the house makes a profit and that the game is set up to deliver that profit. It’s a minor theory of ours that the term has been changed to theoretical return to the player because this puts the emphasis more on player winnings. And these figures are always larger: a house edge of 4% means an RTP of 96% – which sounds better to you?
So bonuses deliver guaranteed losing bets!
How Welcome Bonuses Work
Welcome bonuses work by making a very attractive headline promise.
100% bonus on first deposit worth up to £100 and 100 free spins!
That sounds great, doesn’t it?!
There is no way that an average member of the public reading that is going to think anything other than they are going to get £100 of free money to play with and 100 free goes.
And they are.
However, you don’t need an economics degree to work out that businesses that give their customers hundreds of pounds worth of free money are going to fail quite quickly.
So there are restrictions on how the player can use the money they are given.
The prime restriction is the wagering requirement. The wagering requirement is the biggest secret of the gambling industry and it is how welcome bonuses deliver the player for the long term.
A wagering requirement is a sum of money that the player must deposit and play with before they can withdraw any money that they have won with their welcome bonus.
This sum is usually a multiple of the bonus.
Let’s construct a very generous and simple example: for our headline offer, we’ll add a 25-times wagering requirement.
So a player who deposits £10 will get a £10 bonus. But before they can withdraw any of the money they win with that bonus they need to deposit and play with £250 of their own money.
That’s the simple version. The reality is much more complicated. Players will probably find that the total amount that they can win from the bonus they receive is capped at quite a low figure. They will also find a weighting applied to games in relation to the wagering requirement. This might mean that popular, good value games like blackjack are rated at 10% – meaning that only 10% of the money you spend on the game will be applied to your wagering requirement. So, if you want to pay off your wagering requirement by playing the world’s most popular card game you’ll need to spend £2,500.
Other restrictions will probably include limits on the size of bet you can make to pay off your wagering requirement: this means that you will be committed to making hundreds of bets in order to pay off your wagering requirement.
There is also likely to be a short time limit on the time you can pay off the wagering requirement: say a couple of weeks. This means you’ll be making hundreds of bets in a short period of time, getting used to and maybe enjoying the site.
There’s a psychological trick at work here: we would rather risk future money than give up something that we think is already ours. So by putting that big headline figure up the player finds themselves in eth position of making bets worth many times any possible bonus collection in order to save £100 they think is their own and that must be protected.
Should You Turn Down Welcome Bonuses?
This means it may be worth your while actually turning down welcome bonuses.
Sit down if you find that shocking!
It’s our view that there is no welcome bonus that makes it worthwhile signing up with a bad site. If you’re making decisions based on big welcome bonuses you’re almost certainly making bad decisions.
There are so many restrictions on welcome bonuses that the only way to really assess them is by ignoring money completely. The industry’s overall safe-gambling message is “When the fun stops, stop!” and that’s pretty good advice. Forget money, and winnings all together and particularly when you’re thinking about bonuses.
This means the best way to think about a welcome bonus is as a free tour of a site. Forget about the money and just use your free games to have a look around the site and maybe to try out a few games. If the site is good then it may be worth staying around. If not, simply walk away.
And if you think you’re going to have trouble walking away, or if you think you’re signing up at poor quality sites just to grab hold of a welcome bonus then you’re doing things wrong. Judge sites on their overall quality never on a welcome bonus, and judge a welcome bonus on what it will show you of a site rather than as a means of making money and you’ll have a much better and safer time.