Another major difference between online casinos and their land-based counterparts is the existence of “casino bonuses”. These are incentives for new players to sign up at a site. They take the form of free chips or gambling money that you can wager on the games available.
A common type of offer might be a 100% matching bonus of up to $3000. That means that when you buy in to the site for $3000, they put an extra $3000 in your account. Your total gambling bankroll is $6000 instead of $3000.
It’s not unheard of for land-based casinos to offer similar promotions, but not on this scale. Online casinos do it all the time. In fact, we don’t know of a single Internet gambling site which DOESN’T use this as a promotional method to incentivize new players. It’s that ubiquitous a practice.
All casino bonuses come with a catch, though. Casinos use different names for this catch, but the most common phrases include “wagering requirements”, “playthrough requirements”, or “rollover requirements”.
They require you to gamble your deposit plus the bonus amount a certain number of times before you’re allowed to cash out. This gives them a chance to whittle away at your bankroll via the house edge. It also eliminates the possibility of taking that bonus amount and running away with it.
They also limit wagering on certain games for the purposes of meeting these requirements. To explain further, we’ll use an example. Imagine the following scenario.
We’ll assume that you’re going to stick to the casino’s slot machine games. This is a safe assumption, since most Internet casinos disallow wagers on most other games for the purposes of meeting your wagering requirements.
You don’t know what the house edge or payback percentage is on this casino’s slot machine games, but the casino does. For illustration purposes, we’ll assume that the house is playing with a 25% edge and has a 75% payback percentage.
Putting $180,000 into action is easy enough. An average slots player makes 600 spins per hour. If you’re betting $3 per spin, you’re putting $1800 per hour into action, which means you’ll achieve your $180,000 in wagering goal in about 10 hours of play.
But the casino has a mathematical expectation of keeping 25% of that $180,000. That’s $45,000.
Of course, that’s more money than you have in your bankroll, which is the entire point. You COULD get lucky and wind up profiting in this situation, but it’s unlikely as well. The odds are stacked in favor of the house, big-time.
On the other hand, let’s assume that the casino has lost its mind and allows wagers on blackjack to count toward the fulfillment of your wagering requirements. A player using perfect basic strategy faces a 1% edge. 1% of $180,000 is only $1800, so the player would expect to have $4200 after fulfilling her wagering requirement. Since she deposited $3000, she would have an expected profit of $1200.
Now you know why online casinos limit which games you’re allowed to play in order to achieve your wagering requirements.
At one time, during the glorious early days of online casinos, smart advantage players could take advantage of casino bonuses to actually earn a little bit of money. In those days, they didn’t have much in the form of wagering requirements, and they didn’t restrict many games. But it didn’t take long for the casinos to wise up.
Choose Online Casino bonuses:
We have a friend who took advantage of signup bonuses at multiple properties to put together enough cash t buy a jukebox for his game room. That was 15 years ago, though. Good luck pulling that off today.
The nicest thing we can say about casino bonuses is that they do give you the opportunity to spend more time playing the games and enjoying your gambling experience. But in any gambling game where you don’t have the edge, the longer you play, the more likely you are to see results which mirror the actual math behind the game.
And the math always favors the house in the long run.