Pros and Cons of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

If you’ve tried signing up for an online casino account recently, you can’t help but have noticed the welcome bonuses. These are probably the most widely used marketing tool in the industry, designed to catch your eye and encourage you to sign up for a new account. Big offers of hundreds, if not thousands in welcome bonuses are readily available, and some even contain additional extras like reload bonuses and free spins. For the uninitiated, this can seem like a sweet deal – it’s pretty much free money, right?

As with most things in life, it’s just not that simple. In fact, while there are a number of benefits to these welcome bonuses, there are also a number of downsides you should be aware of. As they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But if you understand the common terms and conditions of these bonuses, and the way in which they work for you and the casino offering them, you can make the best of these bonuses to get your account off to the richest possible start.

How Welcome Bonuses Work

Before we examine the pros and cons of welcome bonuses more specifically, it’s worth just quickly running over how these bonuses are typically formatted. When you see an advertisement or a promotion from an online casino, they’ll usually feature some reference to the welcome, or sign up bonus. This is a promotional tool that rewards you for setting up and depositing into your new account. In almost every case, this is a matching bonus, based on the size of your first deposit.

Say you saw a bonus offer of £100 from an online casino. What this means in most cases is that the casino will match the size of your first deposit, up to the value of £100, in account credit. So if you deposit £20, you’ll get that matched with a further £20 from the casino. The specific terms will vary from casino to casino, but the underlying outcome is the same – the casino is essentially giving you an amount you can play with, risk-free, as an incentive to try them out.
Pros of Welcome Bonuses

Welcome bonuses are now one of the main attractions for new players signing up for casino accounts. Firstly, they’re an excellent way to maximise value at the point of creating a new account. Say you’ve encountered a casino offering up to £50 and a casino offering up to £100. If you’re planning to load your account with £100, you might as well get £100 back in credit, over the £50 option. That feels like a no-brainer.

But these bonuses are also a useful way to test out different casinos, and to equip yourself with a better feel for the basics. By taking advantage of this bonus amount, you’ve got a longer runway to decide whether you like a casino or not – ideal for those narrowing down several choices to find their preferred gaming operator.

And of course, there’s the potential benefit of risk-free winnings. When you get the free credit for your welcome bonus, you can use this amount in conjunction with casino terms and conditions to win withdrawable money. This is arguably the main benefit of welcome bonuses – when you can use credit to bet and win on a range of casino games, it’s as good as money’s worth.

Cons of Welcome Bonuses

Unfortunately, there are some downsides. When new players hear about welcome bonuses for the first time, they’re often confused – if it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is? While casino welcome bonuses are legitimate, they are not without restriction. Imagine you were the casino – it would be impossible to survive if you were just doling out free cash to everyone who signed up for an account, irrespective of whether they made you any money. While bonuses can be amazing, it’s important to be aware of the common restrictions.

Wagering requirements are one downside, and a common way casinos protect themselves against bonus abuse. What this means is that you are required to wager your bonus a certain number of times, before you can withdraw the winnings. So if the wagering requirement was 30x, you would need to wager your bonus amount 30 times successfully in order to withdraw the winnings from it. In some instances, the wagering requirement also includes the deposit amount, so could be effectively twice as high.

There are also usually some maximums in place, designed to protect the casino against a fluky jackpot win on a free spin, or a free bet that deliver a massive windfall. These can be in the form of maximum withdrawal limits from bonus play, or in some instances from maximum wins.

While it can feel at times like this is stacking up against you as a player, you must remember that these cons are protective measures for casinos – without them, the industry as we know it would cease to exist.

Should You Take The Bonus?

Some players think, in light of the terms and conditions that restrict welcome bonuses, that they may be better off rejecting the welcome bonus altogether. This obviously depends on the casino you’re playing with, and the terms of the welcome bonus you’re assessing, but in most cases, it’s still worth taking the bonus. While you might find it trickier to meet the requirements for withdrawal than you would with a straight deposit, these free bonuses still have the potential to be money in the bank.

The best advice you can take when weighing up the pros and cons of welcome bonuses is to get to know the ins and outs of different casino offers. It very much depends on the casino, and the terms of some bonuses are less onerous than others. By doing your homework and reading the small print before jumping in with any bonus, you’ll be sure what to expect when the time comes to cash out your reward.