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For beginners, casino offers are very tempting as online casinos offer tons of free money for registering / depositing with an online casino. These offers are called sign-up bonuses, welcome bonuses or deposit bonuses. Basically, when depositing, the online casino will add free casino money to your account balance depending of what you have deposited. There are even online casinos offering you real money to play without even depositing! That's the no deposit bonuses. All of that is great and fun, but there are strict rules and conditions for using a casino bonus that you must know before playing. These rules have been implemented to protect the online casinos of all forms of abuse from "bonus hunters". But the problem, is that these rules are getting complex, and in the middle of this, legitimate players are caught and are experimenting a very bad first experience with online casinos, and never return to play online. This article is here to avoid this and to educate our audience.

1) The "You will read terms and conditions every time you choose to receive a casino bonus" rule

Player "John", for example, deposit $100 at "Fictional Casino". He receives a 100% match bonus, so his account balance is now $200. John is happy because he gets the double of money he has deposited, so basically he has more chances to win with the same money! He all play on Roulette, then he gets very lucky and ends his session with $400. Wow! That's great... He then requests a cash out because he wants to get this money in his pocket... BUT! What's the deal? The cash out he has requested has just been returned in his casino account! He then contact casino support, and gets this as an answer:

"Roulette does not count towards wagering requirements - you will need to wager $1,500 on the games you want excepted Roulette, Craps and Baccarat before requesting a cash out."

"But what's that", think John. In the mess, John comes back to his account and lost all back on Roulette, then is not very happy and don't think that he will play again at online casinos before the next century.

These kind of situations are happening for real with a lot of variations, but it ends always in the same way: the player is not happy at all. To avoid that, when selecting an online casino, and before registering to play for real, you must read the terms & conditions attached to a casino promotion. They are always displayed clearly on online casino websites. If an online casino don't provide the conditions of a promotion on its website, then it's a first clue of a rogue casino. You can ask directly to the casino support: if it remains silent, then you should avoid this online casino. An example of terms and conditions of a welcome bonus are:
Read terms & conditions before accepting a casino bonus!
It is recommended to always read the terms & conditions attached to a casino bonus

"In the interest of fair gaming, in order to cash out any amount of money you must wager at least eight (8) times your play bonus plus deposit. If you withdraw before having reached the minimum wagering requirements, your bonus and winnings will be void.

All PLAY BONUS credits are for wagering purposes only (No withdrawal will be honored for an amount less than the PLAY BONUS). Upon your FIRST withdrawal (regardless of the number of deposits), any amount up to the equivalent value of the PLAY BONUS will be deducted from your play balance or winnings prior to settlement. The first credits wagered will be deducted from your deposit(s) rather than from the PLAY BONUS).

Casino Tropez reserves the right to withhold any amount in excess of the players original deposit from a player's withdrawal if the play bonus is wagered in Baccarat, Roulette, Craps, Sic Bo or all 4-line Video Poker Games. Casino Tropez reserves the right to refuse or rescind the play bonus for any reason including, but not restricted to, player abuse. In case of abuse, Casino Tropez reserves the right to discontinue player's membership and to prevent the player from accessing Casino Tropez in the future.

(Casino Tropez terms & conditions)

What that means? That's what we will explain in the next sections.

2) "Wagering requirements"

Every time you will need to cash out winnings when you have received a casino bonus, you must meet some wagering requirements. It means that you must have played for some time before cashing out. The "some time" is the value of your wagers multiplied by a value chosen by each online casino. "Wagering $800" does not mean that you should deposit or play $800 of your money... That means that you should play for $800 of bets. On a $100 deposit (real money), you can play for $800 of bets, since when you win / lose, you bet more than what you have deposited. That's what we call the "level of play". Experimented players can wager a lot, while beginners wager small (or a lot if they are lucky).

So when an online casino states that before requesting a cash out you must wager 8x bonus & deposit, it's that your level of play should be 8 x bonus + 8 x deposit. So if you deposit $100 with a match bonus up to $100, you must wager 8 x $100 + 8 x $100 = $1,600. You must play throughout $1,600 of bets before being able to cash out any winnings.

Some online casinos require that you wager only the bonus, others only the deposit, others the two, and each online casino has a different value to multiply. Some are requesting 10, some 20, some 2, etc...

Why these "wagering requirements" exist? Because online casinos expect that you are an "honest" player and want you to gamble naturally. In fact, some players, called "bonus hunters" only play for being able to cash out the bonus. They make no-risk wagers, for example red & black on Roulette, to inflate their wagering level and then being able to cash out the bonus, just for making money. Why online casinos don't monitor this kind of play and drop these "wagering requirements"? Because they can't monitor every player - impossible task.

Usually, honest online casinos have soft wagering requirements corresponding to an average level of play. But there are some unscrupulous operations instituting drastic terms and conditions in order to prevent themselves to pay winnings. Or it can happen that this average level of play is not matching a sudden win at the beginning of a gambling session, so you can't cash out this win and then you must wager a bit more for being able to cash out.

Concerning your deposits, you must be able to always get them back (if you don't have lost them ;-) ). The terms & conditions are not regulating your own money and you can cash out any amount of your money whenever you want. Any online casino withholding your deposits and stating that you should wager more are rogue casinos.

3) Exclusion of games

Well, you just have understood what are wagering requirements. But when reading the terms and conditions, search if it is noted that some games are excluded. If it is stated that Roulette does not count towards wagering requirements, then you know that if you play on Roulette, your wagering level will not increase. So if you play all on Roulette and win, you won't be able to cash out your winnings. You will be required to wager the fixed level on other games, usually Slots or Blackjack. In general, Roulette, Baccarat and Craps are excluded, but again you should read the terms and conditions.
Casino Del Rio - Roulette screenshot
Roulette is a game generally excluded from casino offers!

The games generally excluded are considered "no-risk" wagers, so that's why online casinos exclude them to avoid getting players inflating their wagering level easily, then cashing out the bonus.

Sometimes the terms are inverted and you are required to wager your bonus on a certain type of games only (generally slots).

Attention, exclusion of games for wagering requirements does not mean that you won't be able to access these games or play them. That's just that it will not increase your wagering level if you play on them.

4) Phantom / Sticky bonuses

Okay, I have met the wagering requirement, I have been lucky and have a great balance: $800, so I can cash out! Great! But what's up? My cash out is equal to only $600!

If your real cash out is inferior to what you requested, it's that the bonus value has been removed. These bonuses are called "phantom" or "sticky". When cashing out, the casino removes the bonus value. So if you have received $200, then you will get "only" $600 out of a $800 request. This is always clearly written in terms and conditions.

Usually, when a bonus is sticky or phantom, wagering requirements are much lower and softer than for those which are not sticky, and there are less games or no games at all that are excluded.

here are great online casinos that have understood everything and are proposing phantom bonuses with NO wagering requirements! You are able to cash out when you want - the bonus is just removed - plus generally these online casinos pay out winnings instantly or very fastly. A good example is the 100% match bonus up to $300 available at Nostalgia Casino.

Nostalgia Casino - 100% match bonus up to $300 FREE, with NO wagering requirements (phantom bonus)
Nostalgia Casino offers a welcome bonus with NO wagering requirements!

5) Bonus accounts

Bonus accounts are still a bit new and need to be improved. They are actually very confusing for players and for us also (strange and very complex terms). What are they? Their main goal is to separate bonus money and your deposit money. Then you risk your bonus with the terms of the bonus account, and you play with your deposit with the rules of the real account. You can transfer your bonus money and any winnings (occurred during bonus play) to your real account after having met all conditions of the bonus account, BUT - there is a transfer rate applying with a strange formula. At Gambling-Pro.com we think that bonus accounts are for the majority very deceptive for players - they are complicated plus it enables new loopholes for some unscrupulous online casinos to void winnings. The only casino offering a fair bonus account and simple rules is the Captain Cooks Casino.

Bonus accounts were a good idea at first (separating bonus money and real money), but we don't think that it is very well used actually.

6) Playing without bonuses?

Naturally, you can choose to play without casino bonuses. You can just play with your own money and request to cash out without worrying if you have met the wagering requirements or have played the right games. It will be similar to a real gambling session in a land-based casino. If it is your choice, then you should contact the customer support of the online casino you wish to play before depositing, or at worse, after having received the bonus but only if you haven't played any games. Just give your real account number to the customer support and tell that you don't want to receive a sign-up bonus - or ask to remove it (that's in the case where bonuses are credited automatically). If it is given to you the liberty to request or not the welcome bonus, then don't ask for it. You can process in the same manner for any ongoing bonuses.

7) Conclusion

Even with the increase in length of the terms and conditions regulating the use of online casino bonuses, these offers are still profitable and generous - we don't have to forget that these bonuses are at first designed to invite you to play, while giving you more chances to win - that's all. They are a marketing point for online casinos and a way to compete in the cyber-space. They haven't been designed to give real money to new players for no reason. They enable players to have longer gambling sessions, giving them more entertainment and fun for the same money, and they are still a unique point for online casinos, when we compare them to land-based casinos. Everyone can claim these bonuses and that's something you won't encounter in land-based casinos!

Well, that's all folks ! We hope you have enjoyed reading this article as we have enjoyed making this information available for you. And if you need any help or complementary information, we are at your service at webmaster gambling-pro.com.

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