Deposit bonuses are probably the most common offer that a casino will give you as a customer. They are a way for the casino to give you more playtime and extra chances to win, and a deposit bonus is nearly always a casino’s welcome offer, or part of it.
As you can tell from the name, deposit bonuses are related to deposits. The way it works is, if you deposit with a deposit bonus the casino will match your deposit with money of their own. How much depends on the specific bonus.
Deposit bonuses vary a bit from casino to casino but there are some things they have in common. First, there is usually a minimum deposit required to use the bonus, say for example C$ 25. If you deposit less, you won’t be allowed to use the bonus.
Second is the percentage with which the casino will match your deposit. If you deposit C$ 30 with a 150% deposit bonus, the casino will match your deposit with C$ 45 bonus money (30 x 1.5 = 45), giving you C$ 75 to play for in total, two and a half times as much as the C$ 30 you deposited.
Third, to limit risk, casinos cap the bonus money to some set amount. Let’s say the cap is C$ 300 for the above bonus. What that means is that the casino will only match your deposit until the bonus money amount is C$ 300. You can still deposit more but the casino will not match the extra money deposited. In this example, if you deposit C$ 200 or more you have reached the bonus cap, since C$ 200 x 1.5 = C$ 300.
Fourth, since casinos don’t want to give away money for free, the bonus money will be subject to wagering requirements. This is a multiple that tells you how many times you need to wager your bonus money. A common multiple is in the x35 to x40 range. So, if you got C$ 50 of bonus money with a x35 wagering requirement, you would have to place bets worth C$ 1750 with your bonus money before it becomes real money that you can withdraw. The casinos do this so that only some players manage to complete the wagering requirements, lowering their costs for the promotion.
The difference between real money and bonus money is that real money can be withdrawn from the casino, but bonus money cannot. You must first fulfill the wagering requirements for the bonus money, at which point it becomes real money that you can withdraw.
Are deposit bonuses a good deal? Well, the thing is, you don’t really lose anything by using the bonus, it’s just extra money to play for, and an extra chance to get lucky. There is something you should look out for, however, that makes this statement untrue, and that is if the deposit bonus is sticky. What does sticky mean in this context?
A non-sticky deposit bonus is what we’ve discussed so far, where the real money you deposited is always kept separate from the bonus money. Most casinos will make you play for your real money first and then the bonus money. If you win with the real money, you will win real money and the only caveat is that if you withdraw your real money the casino will remove the bonus money you got with your deposit.
A sticky bonus, however, will lock your deposited real money to the bonus money. This can be done in several ways, like adding any wins made while wagering with the deposited real money to the bonus money or adding the deposit and the bonus money into a single pool which is all bonus money. Sometimes you can withdraw your real money, sometimes you can’t. This locking together of the real money and the bonus money is why these bonuses are called sticky. The key takeaway here is to avoid them if you can, they’re almost always a bad deal.
There is a problem with doing that however, and it’s the same reason our description of the sticky bonuses is kind of hand-wavy; casinos use very vague language when describing their bonuses if they can get away with it. They omit important information or phrase the information in a way that can be interpreted in many ways. This makes it hard to figure out how the bonus works just by reading the terms and conditions or its promotion page, even for professionals like us. You can of course deposit with the bonus and see for yourself how it works but then it’s too late to change your mind.
It might be that you don’t particularly care about these things and you’re fine with a sticky bonus since it’s more money to play for in any case, and that’s fine, but as we said in the beginning of this section, then it’s no longer the case that it’s a risk-free proposition.
All deposit bonuses will come with terms and conditions describing the limitations of the bonus. Besides the above-mentioned wagering requirements, they will often have a limit on the highest bet you can place while playing with your bonus money, like say C$ 5. Other common limitations are things like expiration dates, what games you’re allowed to play, or the timespan you have available to fulfill the wagering requirements. Some (bad) deposit bonuses will even have limits on how much you can win or withdraw with the bonus. Reading through the terms and conditions is a good way to avoid nasty surprises.
Deposit bonuses are very popular, both for the casinos as a marketing tool and for the players as added value, and it’s not hard to see why. Most people enjoy having more money to play for, and it’s an especially good idea if you, as we always advocate for, play for entertainment value and not for monetary gain. There are some pitfalls to avoid for sure, but in the end, deposit bonuses wouldn’t be so ubiquitous if they weren’t appreciated by the customers.