There are many uncertainties in online gambling but one thing we can be absolutely sure of is that whichever casino you choose to play at, you will be offered bonuses. These incentives are used by promotions managers across Canada to entice you to register, deposit and then keep wagering, whether you win or lose.
Browse through our listings at Canada Online Slots and you will see that every one of our partners offer a welcome package of free spins and deposit matches. All these bonuses look similar, but beneath the surface there are differences in the terms of each offer that affect their value. In this article we show you what those difference are and how to pick the best bonus for you.
SIX TYPES OF BONUS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Before we address bonus value, here are six types of bonus regularly offered at real money casinos in Canada.
Free Spins – For online slots players the gift of free spins is the number one bonus to look out for. These are free plays on video slot games regularly given out on registration, first deposit, and to regular players at most casinos. Most free spins are eligible for the mainstream slots like Starburst from NetEnt but occasionally you can pick up some free spins to try new release slots.
Deposit Matches – A deposit match bonus will be familiar to anyone who has signed up and played at an online gambling site before reading this. Operators will be happy to match your deposit with a 100%, 200% or sometimes even 500% bonus. For example, you may deposit $20 and get $20 extra (100% match). These are regular features of welcome packages as well as being used to entice regular customers to keep depositing.
Registration Bonuses – A registration bonus, or no-deposit bonus, is issued on sign up, rather than first deposit. That means you can claim some free spins, or sometimes bonus cash, just for registering and at no financial risk to yourself. As you will see, these offers always come with strict wagering requirements and withdrawal restrictions that prevent you from just walking off with free money. Nevertheless, they are a great opportunity to have a free play on the games at your chosen casino.
Cashback Bonuses – Cashback bonuses are rarer as part of a welcome package and more often used as a promotional tool to incentivise regular players and particularly VIP players. Cashback is awarded as a percentage of losses over time. For example, if the deal is 10% cashback, you wager $500 and win $400, then you receive $10 back (10% of $100).
Non-Cash Bonuses – Another bonus type often used as part of VIP programs, and occasionally for regular casino customers, is the non-cash bonus. This is like a gift used to show a casino’s appreciation for your continued spend on their tables and slot games. Some VIP programs give away luxury items like watches, laptops, designer clothes, handbags and wallets, and top of the range mobile phones.
VIP Bonuses – The biggest bonus offers are naturally reserved for the biggest spenders, known in casinos as High Rollers or VIPs. VIP programs are very common in online casinos across Canada. If you are lucky enough to be invited to join one you will benefit from personal account management, faster-withdrawals, access to exclusive table and new games, higher deposit limits and much bigger bonuses. VIP bonus packages are normally bespoke, tailored to your own gameplay and game preferences and the more you spend, the more you get.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BONUS
With 100s of online slots casinos to choose from, each offering a different bonus configuration, how do you know which is the right one for you? The key is understanding the terms and conditions that define the limits of each bonus. And we will explain those here.
The first thing you need to know about when deciding whether a bonus is right for you is the qualification requirements. What do you need to do to trigger the bonus? Some casinos will credit free spins of bonus cash on sign up. All you need to do is register with your email address, name and address, then verify your ID with a photo ID, and you’ll earn your bonus.
However, most require a deposit of at least $10 first. Always check to see the minimum deposit needed to trigger the bonus. Sometimes it will be as high as $20 and if you only deposit $10 you will miss out. If this happens, you can top up to $20 and contact the support team to have your bonus manually credited, but its easier to avoid that scenario if you can.
The single most important feature of any bonus in defining its value is the wagering requirements. These establish how many times the bonus must be wagered on specific games before it, or any winnings generated, can be withdrawn. It’s a way for the casino to minimise their losses from players wagering with bonus money.
For example, if your wagering requirements are set at 35x the bonus and your bonus is $20, then you must wager $700 before you can make a withdrawal. It is possible to withdraw any of your original deposit before hitting this threshold. However, should you do so, you will often forfeit the bonus as a result.
In simple terms, the lower the wagering requirement, the better the deal. It gives you more chance of walking away with some real cash in your pocket. Most wagering requirements are set at around 30x but some can be as low as 20x or as high as 60x. So, it pays to read the terms before accepting any offer.
You should also check to see if the wagering requirements apply to the bonus alone, of the value of the bonus PLUS the deposit. It is better if they just apply to the bonus alone.
For those looking to make a big deposit and claim a big bonus, check to see what the maximum amount you can claim is. It is easy to find out because normally the headline figure will tell you. Often the casino will advertise a package as, Claim Up To $1,000 bonuses across three deposits. In this instance, you know you can get $1,000, but check to see what you have to do on each deposit to claim the maximum.
And remember, if you deposit more than the required amount, you won’t get extra. If the offer reads, 100% up to $100, then depositing $200 won’t get you $200. The bonus will remain at $100.
Almost all bonuses now come with withdrawal restrictions. This is a limit set on how much you can cash out from winnings generated with bonus funds. Normally this is capped at around $500, but it can be as low as $100 and as high as $1,000. This is an important check for you to make before you claim a bonus. It can be frustrating to get a lucky win of $5,000 and find you can only take out $100! Once again, it’s there to protect the casino against big losses from bonus funds, but it the figure is too low, don’t take it.
Game Eligibility and Weighting
You may think that free spins and bonus funds can be used to play all your favourite slots and table games. But you’d be wrong. Not all games are eligible for bonus play. Why? Because casino games have different house edges and Return To Player (RTP).
In simple terms, a game with a smaller house edge and larger RTP gives you a greater chance of winning with each dollar wagered. That makes it more risky for the casino. To mitigate against losses from bonus funds, operators therefore restrict you to playing your money on games with an average or lower than average house edge. Typically, your bonus funds or free spins will be eligible to wager on slots like Starburst (RTP 96.01%) but NOT on slots like Nemo’s Voyage (RTP 99%), and often, they will NOT be eligible for games like Blackjack (average RTP 99.5%) or Craps (average RTP 98.6%) at all.
Another way a casino mitigate against losses is to set game weightings which define how much your wagering contributes towards meeting the threshold required to make bonus funds withdrawable. An example of a game weighting would be as follows: Bloodsuckers slot contributes 20% towards your wagering requirement which means if you wager $100 on that game, only $20 of that amount would contribute towards your total.
Game weightings are usually listed with the terms and conditions on a casino website.
Keep all this in mind when choosing a bonus. You don’t want to deposit only to find that the bonus or free spins are not eligible for your favourite slot or table game format.
Less important, but worth noting, is that bonuses usually come with expiry dates. You must claim and use them before the date is reached or the bonus will be forfeited. Don’t forget the funds are there. Use them whilst they are valid!
Payment Provider Eligibility
We also recommend that you check to see that the payment service you are using is eligible to receive the bonus. Whilst credit and debit card deposits always qualify, some eWallets, including Skrill and Neteller, are regularly excluded from promotions. This is because they have been used by customers seeking to sign up multiple accounts and claim multiple bonuses in the past.
Other payment services come with higher or lower deposit limits than credit and debit cards which may impact your ability to claim the highest bonus amounts.
Finally, whatever your interaction with an online casino might be, it is always important to ensure that the operator is licensed by one of the recognised jurisdictions. On our site we only list casinos that are licensed in Ontario, or by one of the European regulators, including the Malta Gaming Authority and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
Under the terms of these licenses, gambling operators must make their promotions fair and transparent and give you recourse to customer support and a 3rd party arbiter in the event of a dispute over a bonus or any other aspect of their service. If you bet at unlicensed sites you won’t have this protection, so its critical you make this check before signing up.
Free money offers are never as simple as they seem at first site. No casino is going to give away bonuses that you can simply withdraw and walk away with. Over the years they have come up with a standard set of restrictions that they use to limit their losses, from wagering requirements to cashout restrictions and game weightings. Understanding what these are is the only way to ensure you can be confident in choosing a bonus package that is good value and gives you at least some chance of walking away with some winnings.
And finally, remember that this is a free shot at winning. And if you don’t have anything to cash out once your bonus is used up, don’t let it get you down! There is always another bonus around the corner.