As this guide will explore in more detail, free bets and other slot casino bonuses are offered in a number of different ways. Moreover, although the majority of free bet revenues are reserved for new players who are yet to open an account, online casinos also offer bonuses to existing players too. Ultimately, it is hoped that by providing players with a range of free bets the casino is able to retain their customers long-term.
If you are wondering how each of the best casino bonuses work, along with their respective terms and conditions, this guide provides a comprehensive overview for you. By the end of reading it from start to finish, you will be ready to claim your first bookmaker freebie!
Everything you want to know about Casino Bonuses
The UK online casino sector is experiencing new heights year-on-year, with 2017 responsible for £4.7 billion worth of wagering. This outperforms its sector competitors in its entirety – with consumer appetite for land based casinos or high street bookmakers on the decline. Industry experts predict that this trend is only set to continue, with the UK Treasury recently announcing that it had decided to reduce the maximum stakes on the hugely popular Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT’s) that can be found in over 9000 betting shops. As a result, customers are now only permitted to stake a maximum of £2 per spin, which is a far cry from the previous maximum of £100.
Nevertheless, this upwards trend in consumer demand for online gambling has resulted in thousands of UK casinos each competing with one another to maximize their share of the market. Although the range of available games, user-friendliness of the platform and competitiveness of the operator’s odds are all important factors to consider, it appears that online casinos have recognised the offering of free bets as the most effective way of enticing new customers.
First deposit bonus
In an attempt to attract new players to their platform, online casinos offer something called a first deposit bonus. This is essentially a reward for making your first ever deposit. For example, a common promotion that operators like to employ is a 50% first deposit bonus. Let’s say for example you are planning to deposit £100 via your debit or credit card. As soon as you have made the deposit, the casino will credit your account with an additional 50%. This means that your starting balance will have increased from £100 up to £150, essentially given you a free £50 to play with.
If you have the financial means, it is always best to maximize the bonus by depositing the largest amount that the promotion allows for. For example if the casino offers a 50% first deposit bonus up to a maximum of £500, then it would make sense to deposit £500 to receive a £250 bonus. On the other hand if you only plan to deposit small amounts, the promotion is still highly viable.
A signup bonus, also commonly referred to as welcome package, is a bonus that is offered exclusively to players who are yet to open as account with the casino. As there are now more than a thousand online casinos operating in the UK gambling market, these are the most sought after bonus. The casinos are quite strict on their stance with repeat customers, insofar that if an individual already has an account, then they are no longer eligible to receive the sign up bonus.
A signup bonus can be in a number of forms, such as a matched deposit bonus, free spins or bonus credits. Even if the player turns their signup bonus in to profit, the casinos are happy to take the loss in the hope that the customer will remain on the books long-term. In this sense, it is wise to take full advantage of every single online casino sign up bonus that is available.
Matched deposit bonus
A matched deposit bonus refers to the act of matching the value of a customer’s deposit with free credit. For example, if the casino was offering a matched deposit bonus up to a maximum of £200, then by depositing £200 the player would receive an additional £200 in funds, totaling their balance to £400.
Again, much like in the example of a signup bonus, it is always best to maximize the offer by depositing the maximum amount that the offer permits. Interestingly, although this type of bonus is normally reserved for new players, online casinos often offer them to existing players too.
This is especially true in the build up to popular sporting events such as the World Cup or Super Bowl final. Moreover, existing players are also presented with this type of offer during times of inactivity. What this means is that if the player has not used their casino account for a certain period of time, then the operator will send a promotional email to the customer offering them a matched deposit bonus, in an attempt to entice them back to the platform. This is why it is always useful to check your emails, just in case the casino has provided you with a bespoke matched deposit bonus.
No deposit bonus
Often described as the ‘Crown Jules’ of online casino bonuses, a no deposit bonus is a highly lucrative promotion. In a nutshell, when an operator offers a no deposit bonus, it allows a new customer to gamble without depositing any funds. Again, although this potentially costs the casino money, it is an effective way to attract new business.
For example, if the casino offers a £10 no deposit bonus in return for registering a new account, then you can gamble with that £10 without needing to deposit any funds. The only time that you would need to add your payment details is if you are fortunate enough to turn your no deposit bonus in to winnings.
Although the value of a no deposit bonus is often relatively small, at the very least it does allow the player to test out the platform without risking their own funds. Understanding just how popular no deposit bonuses are, we at Slotbettors let you know as soon as one becomes available.
Another promotion that is has since become really popular is the offer of free slot machine spins. This promotion is quite often offed to both new and existing players. Regarding the former, an operator might offer the player a number of free spins on receipt of the player making their first deposit. For example, the casino might state that if you deposit a minimum of £50, they will provide you with 20 free spins to use at your will.
Some of the online casinos that we recommend also offer free spins without the need to make a deposit. This is very similar to the aforementioned no deposit bonus, however rather than offering gambling credit, the casino offers free spins.
It is also common practice for online casinos to offer existing players a weekly free spin promotion on a particular slot game. This could be a brand new game that the casino are looking to promote, so by offering free spins, it allows the customer to try it out without having to first risk their own money.
A reload bonus is a popular marketing strategy to entice existing players to make regular deposits. This is very similar to the first deposit bonus that we covered earlier, however it is exclusively for existing players. In most cases the casino offers a reload bonus on a fixed weekly basis. The way it works is the casino will top up your deposit by a certain percentage. For example, if a reload bonus offers a 25% top up, up to a maximum of £500, then by depositing £500 you will receive an additional £125 in bonus credit.
Reload bonuses are also sometimes inserted in to a welcome package promotion. Quite a few of the online casinos that we recommend offer multiple deposit bonuses. For example, whilst your first deposit might be matched by 100%, your subsequent three deposits might be matched by 50%. These would be classed as a reload bonus as you have already consumed your sign up promotion.
If you fall within the category of a high stakes player, then you should take full advantage of the various VIP programs available. To be eligible for such a program, players need to gamble a certain amount of money each month, with these amounts dependent on the casino in question.
The VIP system normally works on a ladder based approach, meaning that your benefits, perks and rewards increase as you stake more. At the lower end of the scale, this might include free merchandise or cash back on your losses. Towards the top of the food chain you could be in receipt of free bets, enhanced odds, a dedicated VIP manager and in some cases, free gifts such as tickets to sporting events or concerts!
The best thing about engaging with a VIP program is that rewards are never based on losses. On the contrary, they are based on the amount that you stake in a given month, regardless of whether you win or lose.
As you are no doubt aware, casinos are desperate to increase their customer base. To further amplify the effect of aggressive marketing and free bonuses, casinos also offer players the chance to earn additional funds by spreading the word. Known as a referral promotion, casinos will give the player free cash every time they recommend a new player to the platform.
All you need to do is share a unique code or link that is assigned to you with your friends and family and once they register an account, you’ll earn a bit of extra cash. Alternatively, if you have your own online blog or content platform, you can also share it there!
Social media promos
When you access an online casino’s homepage, the very first thing you are likely to see is the current bonuses on offer. It’s a very effective marketing ploy, as it entices players to deposit funds and gamble straight away. However, did you know that there are sometimes one-off bonuses that not all players are aware of?
These are most commonly offered via the casino’s social media platform. For example, some operators promote a special deal on Twitter that only their followers would see. This could be a £100 matched deposit bonus that is only valid by entering the promo code. This is why it is always useful to follow a casino’s social media platform, just in case you become privy to a new promotion.
Sports betting bonuses
One of the most popular types of online casino promotions are in the form of a sports betting promo. This could come in a number of different avenues, however they normally center on the outcome of a particular sporting event. These are offered by practically every reputable online casino that has a sportsbook as part of their platform.
One such example of a sports betting bonus is an accumulator multiplier. An accumulator is where you make multiple selections within the bet, with the bet only a winner if all the selections come in. This could be a football accumulator where you choose 5 different teams that you think will win. The casino might offer you are 20% bonus if all of your selections are successful. Alternatively, they might give you a refund if one selection lets you down.
Another popular sports betting bonus that is offered on almost a daily basis is a cash back condition if you place a certain bet. For example, the casino might state that if you place a bet on the first goal scorer of football match, you will get a full refund if there is a red card in the game.
As great as the promise of a casino bonus is, there are a number of things that you need to first consider. All of the casinos that we review have gone through our stringent review process, however that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the stated terms and conditions of the free bet. Whilst every casino has their own policy regarding this, there is a standard set of rules that are consistent across the industry. Take some time to consider the following specificities, prior to engaging on your bonus hunting journey.
Sign up bonus: New customer really means new customer
One of the most fundamental objectives of offering new customers a free bonus welcome package is that they hope the player will remain on the platform long-term. This means that when the player gets the urge to play online slots, blackjack, roulette or whichever game they feel like playing at the time, then they will use the operator in question.
In this respect, the casino is happy to take a loss from the initial free bet, on the proviso that the player returns.
However, what the casino won’t stand for is something called ‘Bonus Abuse’. This is the process of attempting to take advantage of a new customer bonus more than once. No matter who the casino is, they clearly state that the offered sign up promotion is a one time and one time only bonus. There are reports of players attempting to manipulate these terms by opening a new account with slightly different details. This could be an alternation of a customer’s home address or alternatively, registering with a new payment method. Either way, the casino will always find out and when they do, the bonus funds will be revoked and more than likely, the account will be suspended.
On the other hand, it is always worth checking the casino’s terms and conditions to see if they allow other household members to take advantage of the promotion. For example, some casinos make it clear that when you have consumed a welcome package, nobody from the same address can (for example family members). However, there are still a number of online casinos that do allow this, meaning that you can repeat the bonus bagging exercise more than once!
The minimum turnover, also known as a wagering requirement, refers to the minimum amounts of times a player must wager their free bonus balance. In reality, virtually every casino will impose this policy, however the key question is – by how much?
The required turnover amount is defined as a multiplier of the deposit and/or free bet amount. To help you understand this process in its entirety, we have provided you with an example below.
- Let’s say for example you are offered a 100% matched deposit bonus up to a maximum of £50. Therefore, you deposit £50 in to your newly created account and as a result, your balance is now £100.
- Within the terms and conditions of the free bet promotion, the casino states that you must rollover the deposit and bonus amount 3 times prior to the player having the ability to withdraw their winnings.
- This is where we must calculate the required play-through. The terms state ‘3 times the deposit amount AND the bonus amount
- Deposit amount = £50
Bonus amount = £50
Deposit + bonus amount = £100
£100 multiplied by 3 = £300
As you can see from the above example, the player would be required to wager a total of £300 prior to having the capacity to withdraw any winnings.
To clarify, when casinos discuss turnover, it refers to each and every bet that the player makes. Continuing on from the above example, let’s say you played £50 on slots, followed by £100 on blackjack. Regardless of whether you won or lost, you would have contributed £150 towards your turnover requirement. As soon as you reach £300, then you are eligible to make a withdrawal request. At this point, your bonus balance will most commonly be exchanged in to your real-money balance, allowing you to take out your winnings without issue.
Extra conditions within a turnover requirement
When taking full advantage of a free casino bonus, it is also important to consider the specific terms and conditions within the turnover requirements. This is because depending on the game, only a certain percentage of your stake will go towards the turnover. In almost all cases, slots always contribute 100% to the turnover requirement. For example if you spend £75 on an online slot, then £75 will go towards the turnover. However, there might be times when other games contribute less.
For example, when playing blackjack or roulette, the casino might only contribute 10% of your stake towards the turnover. This would mean that for every £75 that you gamble, only £7.50 would be counted. The reason for this is that certain games offer specific bets that allow a player to cover their losses.
Think about how a European roulette table works. You have 16 red numbers, 16 black numbers and 1 green zero. This would make it very easy for a player to cover all outcomes of their bet, with the view of chipping away at their bonus’s turnover requirements. Interestingly, back in the early days of online gambling, risk departments weren’t as savvy as they are now. This meant that turnover wagering would be included in their entirety across all game types, however they have since learnt that it would offer the player too much of an advantage! Nevertheless, don’t let the turnover requirement scare you off, as it is still highly feasible to walk away a winner.
Things to consider
What is bonus bagging?
So now that you have a firm understanding of the best casino bonuses on offer, we at Slotbettors felt it would be highly relevant to discuss the business of bonus bagging. Remember how we said you are accustomed to a welcome package every time you register an account with an online casino for the first time? Well, these promotions can sometimes run in to the hundreds of pounds! Even better, there are now well over a thousand different casinos operating within the UK gambling space, meaning that you can repeat this process over and over again.
Online bookmakers are fully aware of bonus baggers, however there is little they can do to prevent it. It would be highly counter-intuitive if online casinos invested vast amounts of resources marketing their free bet promotions, only to turn new customers away! As we mentioned earlier, bookmakers understand that they may well make an initial loss when new customers are in receipt of a free bet, however they hope that the player choses the platform for their long-term gambling requirements.
Therefore, we would recommend that you take full advantage of every single welcome package that is on offer. Moreover, once the sign up bonus has been consumed, there is also an opportunity to make regular profits by utilizing the regular promos that are offered to existing customers.
Real funds vs Bonus funds
When casinos award their players with a free bet, the funds are quite often split in to two different categories – a real-money balance and a bonus-funds balance. The former refers to the amount that the player actually deposited and the latter refers to the bonus amount that was provided by the casino.
Players often make the mistake of failing to differentiate between the two, so we thought we would quickly clear up how things work. Let’s say for example you take advantage of a 50% reload bonus with a minimum turnover of 2 times. You decide to deposit £200, meaning that you now have £200 in your real-money balance and £100 in your bonus-funds balance.
The key question here is “When I start gambling, which balance will the casino take it from?” In almost all cases, the casino will take your funds from your real-money balance first. Continuing on from the above example, let’s say you stake £50 on a slot machine.
- Balances before:
Real-world balance: £200
Bonus balance: £100
- Loses £50 on a slot machine
- Balances now:
Real-world balance: £150
Bonus balance: £100
As you can see from the above example, when the customer lost £50, the casino took it directly from their real-world balance. This means that the bonus balance would only be reduced if the customer lost their entire real-world balance or alternatively, they were able to meet the minimum turnover before the real-world balance was consumed.
Ultimately, this prevents the customer from attempting to withdraw their bonus balance without actually gambling. Nevertheless, these conditions do not restrict your chances of profiting from a free bet, we just thought we would be upfront on how casinos normally operate.
Some bonuses only permit you to play certain games within the casino’s platform. For example, if you register a new account and are offered a range of free spins, the terms and conditions might state that you can only use them on a select number of games. It is always worth checking this, just to make sure you are within the operator’s terms.
In reality, if the bonus in question is a free slot machine spin promotion, then you will probably not be able to use the bonus on a slot game that isn’t eligible anyway. Just make sure because if it isn’t eligible then the platform will take the funds form your real-world money balance.
Country of residence
A particular area of casino bonus terms and conditions that our competitors often fail to discuss is the importance of the player’s location. If you are looking to access the best UK slot casinos, then it is more than likely that you will only be eligible to receive the bonus if you are a UK resident. In some circumstances the casino will allow residents from other nations, especially if they hold multiple gaming licenses. However, just make sure that you check the terms before depositing funds, as the casino might restrict you from withdrawing your bonus.
Online casinos can also be specific on the payment methods that are accepted to be eligible for the free bet promotion. Although operators now offer a wide range of methods, not all of them are allowed to be used when accepting a bonus.
In most cases, a debit card or credit card is preferred, along with a bank account transfer. Interestingly, some casinos also allow PayPal and Skrill, however other methods such as Neteller are usually excluded.
Just make sure that you check with the operator in question if you are unsure.
Don’t forget, when you register an account with a UK bookmaker, you will eventually need to verify your identity. When you initially go through the account opening process, this will begin with your full name, address, country of residence, date of birth and email address.
Under the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations 2017, which in turn was installed in response to the European Union’s Fourth Money Laundering Directive, each and every customer must go through a KYC (Know Your Customer) process. This means that within 72 hours of opening your account, or at the time you request a withdrawal for the first time (whichever comes first), the bookmaker has a legal obligation to request certain documents from you.
At an absolute minimum, this will include a government issued ID (such as a passport or driving license), along with a proof of address (such as a bank statement or utility bill). Regarding the latter, this will need to have been issued no longer than three months previous.
In response to the digitalization of banking, whereby the vast majority of the UK’s population no longer receive paper bank statements, some online bookmakers now accept a PDF statement. This can be downloaded directly from your online bank account.
Moreover, you might also be required to upload a copy of your debit or credit card. The bookmaker will ask that you cover sensitive information (such as your CVV and the middle 6 numbers of your card), to protect your financial data.
Ultimately, when it comes to withdrawing your casino bonus winnings, make sure that you are able to supply this on demand. If you are looking to take full advantage of the bonus bagging strategy, then we would suggest that you keep these documents on file. This will then allow you to forward them on straight away, ensuring that your withdrawal requests are not delayed.
Maximum withdrawal of bonus funds
We at Slotbettors have analysed close to 1,000 individual casino bonus terms and conditions and something that pops up from time to time is a cap on maximum winnings. Although this is quite rare, it is important to recognise that to cover themselves from significant winnings, casinos sometimes limit the amount that you can withdraw.
In our experience, this is normally only an issue when the bonus is linked to a no deposit bonus. Moreover, the amounts that are specified are quite often reasonable. This is why operators sometimes restrict players from using their no deposit bonus on a jackpot slot, because it wouldn’t be fair on players who have actually made a deposit.
Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be anything to put you off, but we like to cover each and every possibility.
In case there is anything we haven’t quite covered in the above guide, we have listed some of the most asked question that we receive. If there is anything we haven’t included, please let us know in the contact form provided below.
Where is the best place to look for the most up to date list of casino bonuses?
Here, of course! We are an independent online casino review platform that does all the hard work for you. We provide impartial reviews on the best casino bonuses available and update this list on a weekly basis. We also add new casinos to our platform, once they have passed our stringent due diligence process.
Which bonuses should I start with first?
This depends on a number of factors, notably – what are you looking to achieve? If you are thinking about bonus bagging (which takes advantage of all welcome bonuses), we think you should start with the smaller bonuses to build your bank roll, and then go from there. As you scrape more and more profit from your bonuses, your bank roll will subsequently grow in an organic manner.
Will I still get a bonus if I am using a tablet or mobile phone?
Of course! Online casinos do not discriminate against your preferred device type. In most cases, all of the games available on your web browser are also available in mobile format. Some bookmakers even have their official mobile app that you can download from either Google Play or the Apple Store. One thing to also mention is that some online casinos also give you an additional bonus when you play on your mobile. The reason for this is that they hope to entice you in when you are on the go!
What is the best casino game to use my free bonus funds?
There is no objective answer to this question and it all depends on the type of bonus. Ultimately, if you are looking to use a bonus that has a minimum turnover requirement, then the best game to go for is slots. This is because slots are generally the only game that contributes 100% towards the turnover amount.
Do I need a promo code to be eligible for online casino bonuses?
In most cases, no. If you visit the long list of casino bonuses we provide throughout our site, in most cases you only need to click on our link and it will automatically apply the bonus. If you do need to enter a specific promo code we make this crystal clear!
If I am based in the UK, but not actually a UK citizen – am I still eligible for a bonus?
Each individual casino has their own policy on this, however in our experience the following applies. When casinos state that you must be from the UK, they are asking that you are a UK resident, not a citizen. As a result, if you have a UK bank account and a UK proof of address, then you shouldn’t have any issues regarding free bet eligibility. Just make sure that you have the required KYC documents to provide the online casino, as you will always be asked for this prior making a withdrawal.
What is a wagering requiring?
A wagering requirement refers to the amount of times you have to gamble your free bonus before you are allowed to withdraw your winnings. It wouldn’t make sense for a casino to award you with a bonus, only to then allow you to instantly withdraw it out as profit! As a result, casinos ask you to play through the bonus a certain amount of times. Each casino has their own policies on this, so always check the terms and conditions first.
What payment method should I use when claiming a sign up bonus?
Online casinos now offer a full range of payment methods that allow you to easily deposit and withdraw funds. However, according to the terms and conditions of the bonus in question, certain payment methods are prohibited. In most cases, a debit card or credit card is the most preferred method, however some casinos also allow you to use an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill. If the latter is possible, it is always worth using an e-wallet because this is by far the fastest way to withdraw your winnings.
How do I ask Slotbettors a question if I can’t find the answer?
If you scroll down to the bottom of any of our pages, you will find an easily accessible contact form. Please feel free to let us know what your question is and we will endeavor to respond as quickly as we can. It is also worth getting in touch with us if you find a new UK casino bonus that we are yet to list!