Terms and Conditions of Casino Bonus Offers and Their Pitfalls
We all love to receive and take up a generous bonus offer, but we should never forget that they always come with a substantial number of terms and conditions attached that limit how a player can use them or how much he/she can win from it. Generally, the purpose of terms is to prevent what is called “bonus abuse”, which would put the player at an advantage when using bonuses.
Bonus abuse includes among others taking the same bonus across multiple accounts opened by the same person, withdrawing bonus money immediately after depositing (many players would certainly just love to take the free money and run without the slightest risk of losing their own money). Another example of bonus abuse is playing with bonus money until a feature trigger, then quickly closing the slot, forfeiting the bonus and return to the game to play the feature for real money wins.
Casinos make great efforts to prevent bonus abuse simply because it has a direct impact on their profitability. At reputable casinos, the bonus rules are usually no problem even for inexperienced players as any human mistake can be explained and customer support using some common sense will easily determine whether a player attempted to abuse the bonus. Minor or unintentional mistakes are mostly forgiven with a warning to avoid repeating it.
However, there is a substantial number of casinos that will penalize players for the smallest of mistakes, something they use then to confiscate winnings and improve their profits. Regular players at such casinos, especially those who are overall losing money, will most certainly not notice any issues as long as they make small wagers and maybe manage the odd minor withdrawal, leading them to think that the rules are not taken that seriously. However, that will often change instantly the soon they hit a sizeable win.
We therefore strongly recommend that you adhere to all the essential rules, even if they have never had any consequences in the past; by breaking the rule you give tacit approval to the casino to void the winnings whenever the casino feels like doing it. They won’t care if you broke the rules when you lost your deposit and bonus as the money will stay with the casino anyway.
In this article, we listed some of the most common points to look out for when using casino bonuses.
Maximum win from bonus offers
Many offers that sound too good to be true are usually exactly that. Especially Curacao-licensed casinos use big bonuses in the 200 – 500% range to attract players and maybe encourage them to make a larger deposit. However, a closer look at the small print will uncover that the maximum win is limited to a ridiculously low amount like 500 GBP.
While the big bonus gives you a higher balance to get through the wagering requirement, ending with a good balance will see the largest part being shaved off due to the imposed limit. Hence, never miss reading all terms of a bonus when you sign up at a new casino to make sure that you know if there are any limits. Otherwise, you might be in for a rude awakening and the big win celebrations will turn into disappointment when you find out that all you get is e.g. 500 GBP.
Basically, low-limit casinos raise doubts, but there may be some good ones. Here are some general rules of thumb drawn from my experience:
- Any bonus offer with a limit below 1,000 GBP is not really worth taking
- Bonus offers with limits from 1,000 to 4,999 GBP can be taken with smaller deposits but playing high variance games should be avoided
- Bonus offers with limits of 5,000 GBP or higher reduce the significance unless the allowed maximum bet size is two to three digits per round. Still, it is recommendable to avoid playing such slots where you can win well over the limit in a single round such as Dead or Alive.
Maximum bet while wagering a bonus
Almost all casinos have some kind of maximum bet rules to prevent players from hitting overly large wins with bonus money, which would lead to significant losses for the casino. Some casino will use the bet limit to catch players breaking the rule which will give them a reason to confiscate any large winnings. Always be careful to stay within the allowed bet limit.
Many slots have a “max bet” button and an accidental click can prove very expensive. We recommend adjusting the coin size to such a low value that even a hit on the max bet button won’t take you past the allowed bet size. For example, on Reel Rush the minimum coin size is 0.01 (0.50 total bet) with up to 10 coins, hence, hitting on the max bet button will increase the bet to 5.00 GBP which is in most cases within the allowed limit. By staying on the low coin size, you practically are not able to surpass the imposed bet limit.
Most casinos will happily overlook a single spin or round exceeding the bet limit if it is apparent that it was done by mistake. That attitude changes quickly when a player is seen overbetting multiple times and that maybe even on more than one game which will doom basically any submitted withdrawal. Generally, it is recommended to continue playing with an allowed bet size and usually, any submitted withdrawals will go through.
Casinos have often varying maximum bet sizes for different bonus offers, especially VIP offers come usually with higher bet limits. The Bethard Group casinos are a good example where we found a variety of bet limits. We, therefore, recommend to always read the terms for the specific offer to ensure you know what bet sizes are allowed.
Even better is to play with bonus money only at casinos who have a safeguard in place which will not allow you to bet over the limit. All casinos should strive to have such a block when a bonus is wagered.
Changing bet size while wagering
Many players are inclined to reduce their bet size after a big hit to complete the remaining wagering more safely with a smaller bet. For example, a 1,000 GBP win on a 5 GBP bet with 3,000 GBP wagering left could easily be lost back before the wagering is completed if you stay on the same bet size. Changing the bet size to maybe 1 GBP would reduce the risk, although you would see smaller swings for losses or wins.
Statistically, a player will not benefit from lowering the stake, instead, it is bound to yield higher profits in the long run by staying on the larger bet. But despite this, the basic mindset of a person tends to lean towards securing large sums of money.
According to some of the studies I have read, most people prefer a safe 3,000 credits over an 80% probability of getting to 4,000 credits, although the latter has a better outlook.
Lowering the bet size drastically when wagering a bonus can be fatal as most promotional terms explicitly prohibit exactly that. Most casinos mention an exact amount that a bet can be lowered. For example, when staying with the 5 GBP bet case, prohibiting a 50% or higher drop would mean that you will not be allowed to lower your bet to 2.50 GBP or lower. Generally, minor bet changes are no problem but significant variations can be interpreted as bonus abuse.
Prohibited Games and Slots
Almost every promotion has some kind of list with restricted games that cannot be played while wagering a bonus. The main problem is that in most casinos there is no technical safeguard in place that will prevent you from playing restricted games. Checking the list is highly recommended.
Some casinos allow all games or have just a short list with some outliers such as Blood Suckers (very high RTP) or Dead or Alive (very high win potential). In turn, table games are often weighted with very low percentages contributing to the wagering or banned completely. Where they are allowed, changing from a table game (high RTP, low variance) to a slot (lower RTP, higher variance) can be seen as advantage play. Personally, I do not fully understand the rule because a low-variance game at the beginning and a high-variance game actually favors the casino in the long run. However, it is good to be aware of the rule. Overall, table games are not worth playing in standard betting.
Other casinos have an extremely long list of restricted games with some having no logical explanation as to why they were added. The only explanation I have is that maybe some players hit mega wins on them and the casino management decided to add them to the banned list just to be safe. Another often-used rule is to restrict the contribution of games, e.g. all NetEnt games at 50%, which then removes hundreds of slots as it makes it virtually unprofitable to play them with a bonus.
Making sure to zero out the balance
Sometimes you lose your bonus balance on a game but it leaves a few cents as the current slot does not allow you to reduce the active lines that would then zero out the balance completely. Casinos usually remove the bonus when the balance goes below a certain limit, but remarkably often the bonus stays in your account, and the next time you make a cash deposit, the bonus wagering is still active and continues from the last spin. If you have already started playing with the new cash deposit, it might not be so easy to remove the bonus from your account.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to always make sure that you zero out your balance when taking a bonus. You can always use your last cents on games where you can select the number of active lines such as Book of Dead, Pimped, Golden Shamrock or Karate Pig.
The bonus can usually be removed by a customer support agent, however, where it is not possible a trivial amount of a few cents might force you to wager a lot more with your newly deposited cash to see it being taken off your account.
IP address restrictions and other factors related to the prevention of multi-account usage
Very often, bonus offers are limited to one per household, address, person, etc. This means that if you live at the same address as a casino roommate or would like to play casino deals with your spouse, it is not possible for both to take offers if the registered address is the same for both. Casinos have their own methods of detecting what they call duplicate accounts which will normally lead to the closure of the accounts in question or worse, cancellation of any winnings when it comes to a withdrawal. Make sure that only one person in your household is using a bonus offer at the same casino to avoid disappointment.
In addition to the above, casinos often mention that “offers are only available once per IP address”. This is a very controversial rule as it virtually prevents you from gambling safely on all public networks such as hotel rooms, airport, workplace, etc. as you may no longer be sure if someone else has taken up the same offer. The larger the public network is, the more likely it is that a “match” will occur. There is no very precise information available as to what criteria are used to determine a so-called “match”. Usually, it is when the same bets are made from an identical IP but at some casinos simply logging into a gaming account from the same IP may be enough to declare it multi-accounting.
In practice, reputable casino (such as those on our site) will not take just an identical IP but will look for a more broader match before they determine that it is indeed a case of multi-accounting.
I just went through such an experience at 18bet Casino where I submitted a withdrawal only to receive a message that my account was closed and the winnings confiscated because the bonus offer was claimed multiple times from the same IP. I don’t know how that could happen or if it did at all and the casino just used it as an excuse to decline the withdrawal.
Players who are aware of this issue will always try to play under their own fixed IP address. When travelling with a laptop it is also advisable to use your own mobile data network if possible to avoid such situations.
Verification documents are rejected
From here one, we are not talking only about issues when playing with bonuses but also when simply trying to withdraw winnings after playing with a straight cash deposit. Casinos usually don’t take an issue when you keep losing your deposits but will jump into action after you submit a withdrawal. Reputable operators will complete the document verification quickly after you submitted them.
However, there are casinos who are using the verification as a delay tactic in the hope that you will reverse your withdrawal and lose it back. Usually, verification at these casinos tends to take days to complete or valid documents are simply rejected. Often, a second request for more documents follows with some weird justification after you submitted the first batch. You may be asked to upload a selfie holding your ID or submit proof for each deposit you made. Some even go as far as asking for notarized documents.
As a rule of thumb, the weirder the request, the more rogue the casino tends to be. The main reason for delaying withdrawals is always to frustrate a player so much that he cancels the withdrawal, loses it and maybe deposits even more in a moment of madness to chase the losses.
We can only recommend that you keep a cool head, accept the strange requests, and wait. If they still don’t pay, you can always ask our site for help with any issues.
Low withdrawal limits
Some casinos have very strict monthly limits on withdrawals, and these may come as a surprise to a player after a big win. Limits can be as low as 1,000 – 2,000 GBP/week and can be easily exceeded with a big it on games such as Dead or Alive even on a modest stake. Such low limits are a clear sign that a casino is underfunded and winnings might only be paid when they have sufficient funds available or not at all if you are unlucky.
For example, casinos under the Condor Group, including Rembrandt Casino, Casino Sieger and Big5 Casino, make great use of it. I and many others have had big problems with every withdrawal and they could not even keep paying the 1,000 GBP instalments per week. The first two instalments from a 10,000 GBP win were paid with considerable delays while the third has been pending for nearly 3 months and the remaining winnings of 7,000 GBP have somehow disappeared. These shady businesses will continue to exist as they keep paying small winners but the major withdrawals will simply vanish and complaints do not seem to help as they are not licensed in Europe. This type of casino should be avoided like the plague.
“Casino can void your winnings anytime” rules
A bitter rule article that is on the list of many (all?) Casinos puts the player in a weak position, even if the player followed all the rules and did nothing wrong. This is why you should always be prepared for the worst before you have the money in your bank or online wallet. Good and reputable casinos do not take advantage of these rules, but they do protect their backs if there is a clear conflict.
As soon as you move into grey-area casinos, there will be more trying to exploit the term. Of course, the rule is not stated as such, but the wording goes something like “In case of dispute, if the casino and the player have a different view, the casino’s view is interpreted correctly” or “The casino may confiscate the winnings of any promotion at its sole discretion”. This consideration may be exacerbated by the fact that the casino simply does not want to pay big wins, and usually first comes up with a rule that they believe the player has broken but does not provide any evidence, yet are stating that no winnings will be paid.
The casinos featured on our site are safe and there should be no problems following the rules, but when entering a grey area, it is always good to remember that a player can indeed break the rule without breaking any rules. Makes sense, right? The terms may also change afterwards in such places and the player has not violated them during the game. It’s a good idea to take a screenshot of the terms right after a big win so you can prove it if needed.
However, because casinos have such rules in their terms, players will always face an uphill battle to receive their winnings if the casino does not want to pay. In one case, the Condor casino I mentioned earlier took away a Euro 52K win from a Wild Line on Dead or Alive at 18 Euro stake by accusing the player of multi-accounting. In the end, they paid 2,500 Euro and the rest vanished into thin air.