When it comes to wagering with free bonus money at online casinos, one can never be too cautious before claiming said free money. In other words, no matter how many terms and conditions you have to dig through and read, ensure that you understand all of the conditions, or better yet, red tape, that will impede just how fast and likely you will be able to cash out any winnings derived from bonus play BEFORE you claim a bonus and start wagering.
For the seasoned pro’s out there, it’s likely you’ve heard this time and time again. Believe me, I’ve written about it so many times that I could probably recite it in my sleep. Nonetheless, there is always somebody new on the scene who runs into a snag at the time of trying to cash out (due to breaking casino bonus terms), and who consequently, makes a big stink on the forums about being cheated and denied rightful winnings.
Granted, there are some jilted newbies out there who wouldn’t have known better anyhow, because of a lack of disclosure of bonus terms. Needless to say, any online casinos that do not properly disclose their terms, including general and promotional terms, should be blacklisted. And yes, there have been plenty of blacklisted online casinos over the years.
These days, the word has gotten around so much thanks to reputable online gambling portals such as Your’s Truly, that you are much less likely to find an online casino withholding bonus terms on their website – albeit some sites will require you to dig around more than others. Instead, you will find some casinos that mail out unsolicited promotional postcards showcasing free bonus chips (without disclosing terms) and directing players to a stand-alone signup page that offers no direct links to the specific bonus terms. Free bonus chip offers are especially bound by terms, so you can imagine what a mess they can make when a player is not aware of the cashout restrictions.
When you are combing through bonus terms and conditions, be sure to verify the following:
1) The play-through or wager requirement – This is the number of times that you will be required to wager over the sum total of your bonus and accompanying deposit BEFORE eligible to cash out winnings (minus the original bonus amount). All casino bonuses have a play-through. Be sure to verify what it is.
2) Minimum number of wagers – If you’re a high roller or risk-taker, do not think that you can drastically increase your wager amount so that you can meet the play-through in just a handful of wagers. Most online casinos deem this to be bonus abuse. If there are no stated minimum wager amounts, ask customer service to explain their bonus policy more in depth. And remember, if you get an incompetent customer service rep who doesn’t know what your asking about (and just keeps telling you what the play-through amount is), demand to speak with a casino manager.
2) Restricted Games – In conjunction with the play-through, all bonuses will restrict certain games from being wagered until the play-through has been met. Be warned that the casino software will not automatically block you from playing these games. Nor will you be notified that you have played a restricted game. It is your responsibility to ensure which games are restricted. If you are unclear, contact customer service and get it in writing. Slots bonuses are the most common, however, even these may restrict certain slots wagers, such as tournament play and progressive jackpots. Again, if you are unclear, contact your casino rep or customer service.
3) Maximum Cashout Limitations – Although some casinos, do not impose maximum cashouts on winnings earned with bonus play, most do. Free chip bonuses ALWAYS have a maximum cashout amount. That means you are limited to the maximum cashout even if you hit a jackpot while using bonus money. Please note, in order to ensure you are free of any bonus restrictions after meeting the play-through, it is advised to withdraw all winnings earned from said bonus and make a new deposit. Again, if you are unclear about the extent of withdrawal constraints, contact customer service. Two great casinos that do not impose a max cashout on their welcome bonus are Club USA ($777 Free) and Lucky Red ($4,000 Free).
4) Time Constraints – Most bonuses require that the play-through requirement be met within a specified timeframe. On average, this is 90 days, which is reasonable. This is especially important for low-stakes bettors (penny slots, anyone?) to know, as it’s important to ensure that your time spent wagering online is sufficient to meet the play-through requirement within a designated timeframe.
In summary, if you can’t any validate any and all of the above terms (that means getting it in writing), take your business elsewhere. There are plenty of great online casinos out there offering free bonus money. Don’t buy into the hard sell.