In the same way the famous welcome sign in Las Vegas makes new arrivals to Sin City know they have arrived, online casinos, sportsbooks, bingo sites and poker sites will have a welcome bonus (sometimes referred to as a welcome offer) to help new players enjoy themselves and feel at home. These bonuses make joining a new site very exciting and can be enormous fun. The rules are sometimes complicated, however, so it is worth familiarising yourself with the basics before you get started. Here’s our essential guide for getting the most from your welcome bonus:
Who a welcome bonus is for
A welcome offer is a way for a casino, bingo site, sportsbook, or poker site to encourage players to try their site out without risking too much of their own money. A typical bonus will include free spins, bonus money, or both. With only a small deposit, or perhaps no deposit at all, a new player can have a decent sized stake to play with and enjoy themselves without worrying about getting too far into the hole.
Every welcome bonus has terms and conditions and these sometimes (unfortunately) can be very complicated. Whenever Bonus Bulldog reviews a welcome bonus we try to make these as clear as possible. We do not always go into every detail, but we always do our best to highlight any unexpected or unusual conditions that might catch you out. Most welcome bonuses include what are called wagering requirements, which from operator to operator, and are probably the easiest part of a welcome offer to misunderstand.
Examples of different types of welcome bonus
No Deposit Free Spins
No Deposit Bonus Funds
Deposit Free Spins
matching deposit bonus
- lots of spins for a small deposit
WITH £1 DEPOSIT
The basic elements of a typical welcome bonus
A typical welcome bonus has two parts and comes in two stages:
The sign-up bonus
Some, but not all, operators will give players a bonus just for signing up to their site. Typically a player will need to register a valid credit or debit card, but no actual deposit is required.
For these casino welcome bonuses the typical reward are what are called No Deposit Free Spins, and these are typically free spins on a NetEnt slot (sometimes a specific slot). Any winnings from no deposit free spins are normally counted as ‘bonus funds.’
Some operators offer no deposit free bets at sign up, as in £5 that can be wagered risk free.
For either no deposit free spins or no deposit free bets there are normally a fairly large number of terms and conditions that need to be met before a player can withdraw winnings.
The deposit bonus
All operators provide some sort of bonus once a player makes his or her first deposit, and sometimes on the second, third. fourth, or even fifth deposit.
These bonuses come in two forms:
Deposit free spins, like no deposit free spins, may be restricted to certain games but not always. Winnings from deposit free spins are normally counted as ‘bonus funds.’
Most casinos offer a ‘matching deposit bonus’ for your first deposits. A 100% matching bonus means your deposit is doubled, 200% tripled and so on. There is an upper limit for bonus funds for most welcome bonus offers, but some are unlimited. Bonus funds are always counted separately from cash, and you will need to meet a wagering requirement before your bonus funds can be converted to cash and withdrawn.
Hybrid welcome bonus offers
While most welcome bonus offers have either no-deposit free spins and/or deposit free spins and bonus funds, there are some that do not neatly fit this pattern. Both Captain Cooks Casino and Zodiac Casino offer a very generous number of spins on progressive jackpot slot Mega Moolah for a token amount. In the case of Zodiac Casino, a £1 deposit gives players 80 spins on Mega Moolah (a £20 value). Technically the spins are a deposit bonus, but the deposit is so small we like to think of it as more of a hybrid welcome offer.
Who a welcome bonus is NOT for
While it is possible for someone to win millions of pounds within minutes of joining a casino (as happened recently for a new player at Zodiac Casino who won over £8 million after depositing just £1), a welcome bonus should be treated as a source of fun, not primarily as a source of income.
There’s nothing wrong with being a professional gambler, but a welcome bonus may not be your best option if you are. The terms and conditions that come with a welcome bonus will almost certainly seem overly restrictive if you are a “professional.”
The other type of player a welcome bonus is NOT for is the type known as the “bonus abuser.” These players try to catch operators out, mostly through trickery, into paying out winnings when the rules say the players should not be eligible. It is because of bonus abusers that operators have to make terms and conditions so complicated – they have been burned many times and have take steps to avoid being scammed repeatedly.
Just in case it is not obvious, all content found on Bonus Bulldog is written assuming you are gambling for fun, not as a professional and certainly not as a bonus abuser.
If you want to have fun with online casinos, bingo sites, online poker, or sportsbetting, a quality welcome bonus is a great way to start. Be sure to read through our reviews of the leading offers and choose the welcome bonus that suits you best. But welcome offers are not for everyone. Choose wisely!