All casinos, be they terrestrial or online, are in a constant struggle to attract new players while at the same time keeping the ones they already have.
Land-based casinos do this in any numberJ. Phillip Vogel is considered a leading authority in online gambling. He has written for most of the major gaming publications worldwide including Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Gambling Online, Bluff, and many more. He is also the author of a series of best-selling gambling books collectively titled The Real Deal. He is the founder of online watchdog site TheOPN.com at www.theopn.com and currently serves as the Editorial Director for Poker Life magazine. of ways, such as offering free rooms, show tickets, inexpensive buffets and of course cash rewards.
Online casinos, on the other hand, don’t generally have the same luxury of diversity as their terrestrial counterparts. In online gambling, there are no free meals to be had or shows to attend. The primary impetus for attracting and keeping players are the cash incentives. And there are a lot of them.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the most common and potentially lucrative forms of comps online casinos have to offer. Let’s begin with the first and most fundamental of player incentives, the sign-up bonus.
By and large, online gamblers are offered a tempting bankroll boost right from the start in the form of a sign-up bonus. Sign-up bonuses (also called initial deposit bonuses) are cash rewards that are doled out as an incentive to get gamblers to open up an account and start playing. Because they are designed to entice new players to come onboard, an often difficult task, they tend to be among the most lucrative form of comp.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for sites to offer hundreds of dollars in ‘free’ money based on only a fraction of the initial deposit.
Although the specific type and value of each sign-up bonus varies from site-to-site, they are generally available in one of two forms: fixed bonuses and percentage-based bonuses.
The simplest form of player incentive, fixed sign-up bonuses are deposit bonuses set at a predetermined amount by the casino and offered to all new players that open an account. The basic requirement for such a comp is generally that the player deposits an amount equal to or higher than the value of the comp itself.
For example, a casino may offer all new players a $50 deposit bonus, provided that they deposit at least $50.
Percentage-based bonuses, on the other hand, are often more lucrative, especially for players that establish a large bankroll right from the start.
With percentage bonuses, players receive a bonus based on the amount of money deposited into their account on the first transaction. For example, if a new player decides that they want to start with a $200 bankroll, and the casino offers a 100% deposit bonus, their $200 becomes $400.
At first glance, it may seem that the percentage-based bonus structure offers more of an incentive than the fixed bonus. However, that is not always the case. Consider a small bankroll gambler. A player who makes an initial deposit that is fairly small, let’s say $50, would receive a $50 bonus under a typical fixed schedule, resulting in a total bankroll of $100.
If that same player were to establish a bankroll at a casino with a moderate percentage-based bonus schedule of 30%, the same player would have a substantially smaller bonus of $15 and a total starting bankroll of only $65.
Finally, be aware that all sites place restrictions on when the bonus cash can be withdrawn. For some, the funds are available for cash out once the value of the comp has been wagered ten times. For others, players need to bet 35 times the amount of the comp before it can be claimed.
Always read what restrictions are placed on any bonus when deciding where to play.
Regardless of the size of the deposit bonus, it’s only a matter of time until the well runs dry and it becomes necessary to re-fund your account.
Historically, that wonderful sign-up bonus that you got when you first joined the site was available only to new players; returning players received little, if anything, in terms of comps. Luckily, because of the increasing competition among online casinos, more and more sites have started offering additional incentives to keep players happy, well fed and returning to the site.
These loyalty programs come in a variety of formats but typically conform to two categories: additional deposits and previous play.
Additional deposit bonuses are cash rewards given to players at the beginning of every month and are based on the amount of the deposit for that month.
Examples of these types of bonuses include the match bonus and the percentage bonus.
One of the most common player incentives, match bonus programs award patrons with cash comps that are equal in value to the amount of the first new deposit each month.
For example, let’s say you deposited $50 in January and exhausted your bankroll by the end of the month. On February 3rd, you deposit another $50, your first deposit for the new month. The casino will then match that deposit dollar-for-dollar, giving you a new bankroll of $100.
As previously discussed, online casinos sometimes offer new players a bonus based on a percentage of their initial deposit. Some casinos now offer this type of bonus to returning players as well, awarding it based on the first new deposit each month, just like you were a new player.
However, be aware that the same bonus rules may not apply to returning players.
For example, when you originally signed-up and made your first deposit, the bonus may have been 100% or more. Subsequent deposits may only yield a bonus equal to 20% or less.
Unlike deposit-based bonuses, some casino comps are based on previous play, rather than on a current deposit. Two major loyalty programs of this nature include cash back programs and player’s clubs.
Rather than just hand over a bonus based on a single deposit, a few enterprising sites have developed cash back programs that refund players a portion of their total losses over the previous month.
One casino, for example, gives players a monthly bonus equal to 10% of their monthly net losses, while winners receive a 1% bonus based on their winning balance.
Similar to the comp programs found in traditional casinos, a player’s club in an online casino awards patrons points for play. That is, for every X amount of dollars wagered the casino awards one point to the player.
Over time, these points accumulate in the player’s account, and when enough have been earned may be exchanged for casino cash. Although the point system varies, players typically receive one point for every $10 wagered, and can begin cashing these in at 1,000.
In addition, some sites provide players with incentives to hold the points longer.
For example, one casino awards players $25.00 for 2,500 points, but $52.50 for 5,000 points, $2.50 more than what would be earned by cashing in 2,500 points twice.
While sign-up bonuses and loyalty programs represent the major bonus incentives offered by online casinos, there are also a variety of specialty bonuses out there that are often overlooked, but nonetheless potentially lucrative.
To help draw in new clientele, many casinos offer a referral fee to players who can get their friends and/or family members to play on the site. These rewards are usually minimal, ranging from a flat $20 to 5% of the new player’s initial deposit.
But if you have a lot of friends or family interested in gambling online, it could be worth the effort.
Some sites award players additional cash bonuses for deposits made via specified methods. For example, one online casino offers players an additional 20% initial deposit bonus for using IGM-Pay to fund their account.
Occasionally, sites will offer extra bonus opportunities to mark some special event, such as a new game being launched or in celebration of a holiday. They may take any number of forms, like an extra 20% bonus on all deposits for a week, or free cash to a lucky player chosen at random.
To get an idea of the type of special bonuses a site offers, check out their Promotions Page, or review the archives of their member newsletter.
The bonus incentives offered by online casinos are as diverse as the sites that offer them. Some are available only once, while others can be renewed throughout the life of your account. Although not every bonus will turn a mediocre bankroll into a gold mine, no matter how large or small it is, any bonus is still valuable ammunition in your battle against the house.
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