Posts Tagged ‘free casino bonus money red tape’

A Call for Industry Reformation: Making Online Casino Bonus Terms Unbreakable

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Here at Online Casino Suite, we have seen our fair share of complaints from players regarding non-payment of winnings. Now, you might be wondering how an online casino could possibly get away with not paying players. The simple answer is that they simply do not pay – that’s how. Needless to say, online casinos like that have a place on the OCS Online Casino Blacklist.

But what if the casino has a right not to pay? This is where things get messy. And yes, the bulk of non-payment complaints we receive are when the casino has a right not to pay. In other words, the player is shit out of luck.

What ends up happening most of the time is that the player claims a bonus, does not read the fine print for cashing out winnings derived from bonus play, then, inadvertently breaks one of these very terms. Come cashout time, the casino says it’s a no-go, and the player responds by crying bloody murder and usually goes on a rant to defame the online casino.

Certainly, the casino does have a right to deny a player winnings when those winnings were incurred while breaking the rules. However, the casino does not have the right to be an irresponsible online gambling operator and bait the player into claiming a bonus, while making it nigh impossible to find the bonus T&C’s. Nor should they allow players to wager on the exempted games, knowing all to well, they will be denied a withdrawal sooner or later…more likely, later. But here, my friends, is where we enter the territory of “industry reformation”.

You see, there are no industry regulations requiring that an online casino must ensure a player has read the T&C’s before claiming a bonus, i.e., a check box that must be clicked at the bottom of the posted terms before the bonus can be issued. Furthermore, there are no safety mechanisms in the software platform that automatically blocks certain games from being played while a bonus play-through requirement is still being met.

And I don’t want to hear the excuse “it’s too complicated”. If online casinos can impose wagering limits and blocks on player accounts, the technology is certainly available to place blocks on certain games. FYI, the number one reason why players are denied winnings from bonus play are because exempted games were wagered on with bonus money before the play-through was met.

In the meantime, yes, it’s the player’s responsibility to read the bonus T&C’s. Those players who have been burned – usually for the first time claiming a bonus – you can bet your bankroll they won’t make the same mistake again. However, what the online gambling industry as a whole fails to realize is that many of these newbie players don’t even give online gambling a second chance. Rather, they go around talking trash about the online casino and online gambling in general, and the industry’s credibility suffers as a result.

What it comes down to is fostering a higher standard of operator responsibility. Online Casino Suite is devoted to this cause. Are you? If so, leave us your comments with ideas. In the meantime, OCS will be starting a lobbying campaign to get regulators and software developers to address what has a become a major issue – one if left unchecked will continue to give the online gambling industry a bad name.

Free Casino Bonus Money Red Tape Part IV – More on Play Restrictions

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Always read the red tape before claiming a bonus at an online casino

Always read the red tape before claiming a bonus at an online casino

Continuing with our highly informative, yet (admittedly) oh-so-boring blog series on casino bonus money red tape, let’s go over a few specifics not mentioned in the previous article covering the wager requirement and play-through restrictions. In our last post, we briefly went over how the play-through governs casino bonuses, including the transfer of bonus money into actual winnings that can be withdrawn without any red-tape complications.

Anyone who is somewhat familiar with free casino cash knows that certain games do not count toward meeting the play-through, and of those that do, not all of the games do so in the same amount. Very quickly (so as not to bore the more experienced players reading this), a common bonus will allow 100% of wagers made on slots, keno and basically any other casino game with a higher-than-average House Edge to meet the play-through.

However, this same bonus may not allow wagers on the Gamble Feature of a slot machine to go toward the play-through. It may not even permit wagers made in tournament play. How do you know if it does or doesn’t? Read the full terms and conditions of the bonus. Heck, you need to read both the bonus T&C’s and General T&C’s, for online casinos will often slip a bonus term in the general section!

As for the casino games that only count toward part of the play-through, they simply require more wager-for-wager. In other words, a game that counts 1/20 or 5% toward the play through, only $0.05 of every $1 wagered would be applied to the play-through. Compared to a slots wager counting 100%, you would need to make 20 more bets on said game to achieve the same amount of play-through.

Most players understand and accept this condition in bonus play. However, many new players don’t realize that the act of placing wagers on restricted games can actually jeopardize your bonus winnings come withdrawal time. If there are games that absolutely do not contribute to the play-through, it is each players responsibility to NOT wager on these games while still playing with bonus money or winnings earned off of bonus money. Doing so is grounds for a rejected withdrawal. If you accidentally make a wager at a restricted game, immediately contact customer service and inform them of your error. They are likely to forgive the infraction, rather than waiting until withdrawal time when it is determined that restricted games were played. Again, all of this will be listed in the bonus T&C’s.

Another thing worth mentioning is that while certain bonuses impose game restrictions as part of their bonus red tap, some online casinos impose “mode of play” restrictions as well. I am specifically referring to tournament action. In many ways, it’s kind of a Catch-22. For example, online casinos love to award large Slots welcome bonuses. Some will even throw in free entry’s to slots tournaments. The catch is that the slots bonus play-through does not apply to wagers made in tournament mode. The good news is that, unlike restricted casino games, playing in tournaments is not deemed an infraction, and although not counting toward the play-through, is not grounds for a rejected withdrawal when the play-through is eventually met playing slots in standard betting mode.

Again, it’s all in the terms! Knowing what the bonus red tape requirements are ahead of time will let you know if that bonus is really worth claiming or not. Knowing what games you want to play ahead of time as well will help you even more in the decision making process.

Free Casino Bonus Money Red Tape: Part III – The Play Through

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Continuing with the OCS blog series on casino bonus red tape, we’d like to discuss the concept of the play-through, and how this applies to bonus money and real money.

As you may already know, unless you are playing with a no-deposit bonus, a.k.a. free chip, all free casino bonus money is contingent on the amount of an accompanying deposit. The more money you deposit, the more bonus cash you will receive. This is usually up to a certain amount, although it is not unheard of to receive an unlimited bonus.

Depending on the percentage of the bonus, the ratio of bonus money to deposited cash will vary. A common amount is 100%, meaning that for every dollar deposited, 100% will be matched in bonus money. This is actually the correct meaning of a true “match” bonus. For a bonus less than 100%, technically, it is not a match bonus.

Let’s say you deposit $100. With a 100% Match bonus, you will receive $100 Free, giving you a total bankroll of $200. Now, here is where things become more tricky. Instead of having the $200 in a single account, the casino will keep your bonus money separate from your real money, until the wager requirement has been met. The wager requirement is the amount of times you must wager over your bankroll before you are eligible to cash out winnings derived from bonus credits. A 10x play-through will require you to wager $100 + $100 = $200 x 10 = $2,000, before you can cash out.

The way it works is that your balance will show the total amount of your bonus and deposit. Although it appears there is one balance, per say, a bonus balance and real money balance is tracked through the accounting/cashier section of the software. This determines how much of the play-through has been met, and how much in wagers is needed to be eligible for a withdrawal.

Some online casinos, such as Microgaming powered Jackpot Factory, use a bonus management system (in this case, the “ClearPlay Bonus” system) that automatically transfers eligible bonus money winnings to the real money account as the play-through is met in increments of $10. This money is eligible for cashout; However, keep in mind that all remaining bonus money is void. Most online casinos do not even allow players to cash out bonus winnings until the entire play-through is met.

This brings up an important question. When do you know when the play-through is met? Keeping track of it yourself – wager for wager – also called “micro managing” your bonus, is timely and difficult. Not every game contributes to the play-through and of those that do, most do not even contribute the same percentage amount. Furthermore, certain bets, such as the Gamble Feature on many slot machines do not count toward the play-through.

But don’t worry. All online casinos have a system in place that keeps track of it for you. When the play-through is met, any winnings exceeding the maximum amount of bonus money earnings that can be cashed out (most bonuses have a maximum cashout) will be removed from the real money account. Remember, being “play” bonuses, no actual bonus money can be cashed out – just winnings earned off that bonus money. Some casinos will also remove the bonus winnings that is eligible for cashout and make it a “pending” withdrawal.

But remember, this is IMPORTANT – in all cases, the player must request the final withdrawal and should always withdraw ALL winnings derived from the bonus. Otherwise, if any bonus winnings are left in the account, all future winnings will be subject to the original bonus terms and conditions. In other words, it is vitally important to keep tabs on your wager requirement. For me personally, if this means micromanaging, then so be it.

Case in point is the player who recently was robbed of a $5,000 jackpot win, because his bonus winnings were still in his account. Even though the player had met the play-through, he had not withdrew his funds yet and was still playing on excess bonus winnings. His jackpot win was hit making a wager with such winnings, and therefore, was subject to the max bonus cashout – far below the $5,000 jackpot.

Do online casinos do this on purpose – throwing in just one more variable that will make it harder for you to win? Probably. Does that mean you have to let them win. No, it doesn’t. When you know the bonus red tape, you are one step ahead of the curve.

Free Casino Bonus Money Red Tape: Part II – Multiple Accounts and Multiple Bonuses

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

As part of the OCS blog series about casino bonus red tape, we’d like to discuss the concept of “multiple accounts”. For most of the seasoned online gamblers out there, it is common knowledge that online casinos do not permit you to open more than one account. And not just one account per person. It’s one account per household. In other words, if both you and your spouse open an account, well then, when it comes time for either one of you to cash out your winnings, you will be denied – and that sucks. And it doesn’t end here either. There’s the notion of multiple accounts within a single online casino network. Sure, it’s allowed, but it’s a trickier matter when pertaining to welcome bonuses – more on that further in this post.

One of the main reasons why all online casinos impose this rule is because of bonus abuse and fraud, and hence the reason why the universal rule of one account per household should be classified as bonus red tape. Understandably, online casinos cannot afford to give unlimited bonus money to their players. They wouldn’t be able to stay in business. And a welcome bonus is just that. A bonus to welcome a new player to the casino. While it would be nice to receive such a grand welcome every time you login the casino, that’s simply not going to happen. Reload bonus offers will make due.

Now, of course you are not going to forget if you opened an account at a particular online casino six months ago. If so, well then, you need to start taking your Gingko Biloba. Players who say they forgot they had an account already opened or that a relative unknowingly created an account at the same online casino are full of it. 99% of these people what the industry likes to call bonus hunters. And truth be told, some of them probably do forget they previously opened an account because they have too many gambling accounts to keep up with.

So we can agree that you are not a bonus hunter and that you are taking your Gingko Biloba. No worries about opening multiple accounts, right? Wrong. Remember that part in the first paragraph about online casino networks? Yep, that’s where a lot of people go wrong. See, most online casino owners, operate and manage more than one online casino – some are more transparent about this than others. For example, a network like the US friendly English Harbour Gaming Ventures (see the OCS Vegas Techology Casinos page), maintains their own website with a listing of all their online casino properties, while a network like the Microgaming-powered Casino Rewards (non US) offers a comprehensive rewards program integrating all of their eighteen online casinos under one roof. On the opposite extreme, there have been several investigations revealing large numbers of rogue, blacklisted online casinos all being tied together by the same owner or network.

Now, assuming you are playing at an online casino that is part of a reputable and transparent network, like the aforementioned English Harbour Gaming Ventures (EHGV), you need to verify whether or not the network allows multiple welcome bonuses to be claimed. All networks will permit players to open a single account at all of their online casinos, in effect, creating multiple accounts. For example, at EHGV, you can have an account at English Harbour Casino (for the table games), VIP Slots (for the slots) and Millionaire Casino (for the high rolling action). However, you cannot claim the welcome bonus at all three of these online casinos – just ONE of them. Even if the welcome bonus if for a different percentage and amount of free money, the fact that it is a first-time deposit bonus is the deciding factor.

Now, here’s where things get messy, and is a rightful complaint many players have about an industry wide practice. Most online casinos will allow you to go ahead and claim the welcome bonus, even if you already claimed it at another online casino in the network. It’s not that the casino is purposefully setting you up for failure, although some conspiracy theorists will tell you otherwise, and I personally wouldn’t throw it past certain online casino networks (none which OCS would recommend, of course), it’s more that the industry does indeed have some catching up to do in terms of preventive measures.

The way they do it currently is come withdrawal time – your first time withdrawal, that is – the online casino will request a faxback verification form which consists of documents that verify you are indeed the person you say you are and that you are in good standing with the casino. It’s at this time they will verify if you are cashing out bonus winnings and whether or not you have claimed the bonus before, including welcome bonuses at other partner online casinos within the network. The casino’s argument is that the only players with multiple accounts or who have claimed the welcome bonus before are bonus hunters. In other words, you should have nothing to worry about if you are not doing anything you not supposed to be doing. But what about the newbie players who signup at an online casino after reading a favorable review that says nothing about the casino being in a network or revealing only one part of the bonus terms and conditions? It’s not until later the player realizes (oftentimes when making a withdrawal request), that they violated bonus terms and conditions. Indeed, this happens! Not every player who violates bonus T&C’s is a bonus hunter.

So, until online casinos adopt an industry wide practice of verifying player identities via the faxback process BEFORE said player makes a real money deposit and claims a welcome bonus, it is up to each and every player to verify for themselves what the bonus terms and conditions are. It is up to us to sift through the bonus red tape, including the part of the “one welcome bonus per player, per household, per online casino, per network”. Continuing with the OCS blog series on bonus red tape, next time we will be discussing the differences between a bonus account and a real money account and will touch on the basics of the play-through process… be followed by much, much more. But no worries, so long as you know how to recognize it, you’ll know how to get around it.

Free Casino Bonus Money – Getting Through the Red Tape: Part I

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
dog wagging tongue

Oh Boy, oh boy, oh boy! I'm drooling for Milk BONUSES!

Claiming bonuses at online casinos and actually getting your bonus cash withdrawn are two entirely different things. Needless to say, free money at the online casino is never 100% free. Sure, it’s possible to walk away with more than you started with – courtesy of a beefed up bankroll on bonus bucks. However, any seasoned online gambler – you may be one yourself – knows that online casinos like to make it very difficult to withdraw your bonus money.

Some casinos are more transparent about this than others. Yet, the bottom line is that no online casino wants to make it overtly easy for players to walk away with free bonus cash. You might think the infamous “wager requirement” aka, play-through, is all it would take to do this – but it’s not. FYI, the play-through is the amount of times a player must wager the sum of their deposit and bonus before any winnings earned from the bonus are eligible to cash out. Notice how I said “winnings earned from the bonus”. That’s because the bonus money itself can never be cashed out!

To make a long story short, there is all sorts of bonus red tape that can get between you and your winnings. And depending on the online casino and/or software provider, you could be dealing with red masking tape as opposed to red scotch tape (and no, red scotch tape doesn’t exist). Bonus abuse, whether intentional or unwittingly is the number one cause of disputes between players and online casinos, and consequently, the complaints that always follow. Sure, some casinos could do more to keep bonus abuse from happening in the first place (chalk it up to the old bait and switch routine or downright laziness), but that’s neither here nor there. If you want the bonus, take full responsibility and no matter how trustworthy the casino or solid their reputation, do your homework and get your hands sticky unwrapping the tape that is certain to come with your bonus. If you still have unanswered questions after digging through the T&C’s, ask a casino rep and get your answers (hypothetical or not) in writing.

To aid you in recognizing and understanding all this bonus jargon, OCS has decided to create a blog series dedicated just to online casino bonus red tape. If you haven’t done so already, bookmark this post and check back often. Just look for the photo of the happy dog drooling for his milk bonus. That’s supposed to be you by the way 🙂 The tags at the bottom of this post (free casino bonus money red tape) will be linked up with all future posts pertaining to the full series. Or, you could just sign up for our online casino newsletter, which we use to send out timely information, the latest and greatest bonuses (err, I mean milk bones), and tips on how to keep from drowning in the vast sea of online gambling. Dog paddling, of course.

What exactly will OCS be covering in this blog series? Here’s just a taste:

Claiming bonuses with online casino networks, bonus accounts vs. real money accounts, the play-through process including how to know when you’ve met the play-through (it can be very tricky), bonus micro-management, game restrictions, maximum winnings, time expirations, bonus claim codes, automated bonuses and how to remove them from your account, the free play bonus, and the notorious no-deposit bonus, aka, free chip.

All of this encompasses what is ultimately your responsibility as a player, for let’s just say that online casinos won’t do it for you. The only thing they will do for you is not pay up when they’ve deemed that you have violated the bonus terms – even if they could have stopped you from the get-go!

What can I say, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. That doesn’t mean you have to eat other dog’s to survive. But if you’re not looking out, they will sniff you out and eat you and your stash of milk bones up in a heartbeat. So, stay tuned!