Whether you get an extra candy bar from the vending machine or more points in a video game, everyone loves a bonus. Bonuses can be thought of as extra rewards for things that we’re already doing. In the world of online casinos, which bonuses or promotions there are to claim can be just as important as what games there are to play. Casino bonuses can help players extend their bankrolls, find new games to play, and even earn back some of the money they’ve lost playing.

What types of bonuses are there, and what do you need to know about claiming them at Australian casinos?

Best Bonus Casino Sites in Australia 2020

Ozwin Casino

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What is a Casino Bonus?

A casino bonus is any kind of extra money or feature that is given to a punter in exchange for their support. This usually takes the form of signing up or adding money to their account, though some casinos might grant offer exclusive bonuses for using certain payment methods, or because a player reaches out to their support staff.

Casinos started offering bonuses in the late 90s as a way to compete with other casinos for punters, and to make players more comfortable with the idea of online gambling. It sounds silly in 2020, but there was a time where many people didn’t understand what the internet was, and there was a natural distrust of it. That said, as more and more punters flocked online and started claiming bonuses, casinos found that they were losing money. At the time, bonuses weren’t regulated like they are today, so players could easily game the system and walk away with huge profits.

To protect their investments while still rewarding players, casinos imposed stricter terms and requirements on when bonuses could be withdrawn. Wagering amounts and requirements were put into place so that punters couldn’t just take out any bonuses they claimed without first playing at a casino. This system isn’t perfect, but it does encourage players to continue to play at a casino. The extra deposits made by punters to try to meet a bonus’s wagering requirements also stops the casino from losing too much money.

Types of Casino Bonuses

There are heaps of different types of casino bonuses, with most granting punters extra money to play with. While the specifics are different at every online casino, and some may not offer certain kinds of bonuses, punters will almost always see at least one of the following types of bonuses.

Welcome Bonuses

Welcome bonuses are the most common type of casino bonus, since they are offered by every online casino. They act as an incentive for punters to sign up and play at that casino, so they’re usually pretty big. Welcome bonuses usually take the form of a match bonus, where the casino matches a punter’s first deposit by a certain percentage. Some casinos also include free spins as a way to give players more value without it necessarily needing to cost them.

Because of the way online casinos structure how to claim welcome bonuses, it’s not unusual for them to be worth up to thousands of dollars. Larger welcome bonuses might need punters to make heaps of deposits to fully claim them, and some welcome bonuses even have a time limit.

If there’s something a bit crook about welcome bonuses, it’s that they encourage punters to invest heavily in a casino right from the start. Since the wagering requirements for welcome bonuses are usually between 30 and 60 times the value of the bonus, it can take heaps of time before, or even if, you’re able to cashout.

This is all to say that welcome bonuses, while flashy and exciting, are usually not as worth claiming as they appear to be. Our expert reviews of the top casinos for Australians cover their welcome bonuses and if we think they’re worth giving a fair go.

While not technically a welcome bonus, some online casinos do offer punters an exclusive casino bonus for downloading their mobile app. This is a bit rare and the amount is usually pretty small, but a bonus is still a bonus.

Free Spins

It’s a matter of personal preference if you think they’re more important than bonuses or not, but online gaming is one of the biggest reasons to play at an online casino. With pokies making up most of a casino’s game selection, giving out free spins as a bonus seems an obvious choice.

Since they only apply to specific games, free spins bonuses encourage punters to check out titles they might not have otherwise. Because of the random nature of pokies, there’s a chance that they might be worth a lot more than what the punter deposited to claim them. At online casinos, pokies almost always have a 100% wagering amount, so all bets count towards the wagering requirement.

While free spins are a great source of bonus winnings, they’re a lot less flexible than other types of casino bonus. Because welcome and deposit bonuses add money to your casino account, you can use them on anything.

Free spins from a casino bonus are also not the same as earning free spins by playing a pokie. When punters use a free spins bonus on a pokie, it doesn’t cost anything to play. That said, many pokies reward players with free spins for spinning certain symbols, and they usually come with game bonuses like multipliers. Even though these are both free spins, players can’t use a casino bonus to automatically activate a pokie’s bonus features. That said, if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to activate them yourself.

Even if punters can’t use free spins anywhere, online casinos always offer them for high-quality games. Not only might you win heaps, you could find your new favourite game.

Deposit Bonuses

At the top of this page, we wrote that bonuses are extra rewards for what you’re already doing. That’s exactly what deposit bonuses are. Almost all casino bonuses are deposit bonuses, since you need to add money to your casino account to claim them. While punters only need to deposit the minimum amount to claim a deposit bonus, there will sometimes be better versions for bigger deposits.

The most popular kind of deposit bonus is the match bonus, which adds a percentage of however much a player deposits to their casino account. If someone deposits $20 and claims a 100% match bonus, their deposit is doubled, giving them $40 to play with.

Deposit bonuses are so popular at online casinos because they’re balanced. Since they require a deposit, casinos don’t risk losing money, and they can give punters bigger bankrolls to play with. They’re very flexible, and it’s not unusual for casinos to have heaps of them to claim at once. Punters might even be able to claim the same bonus more than once a day!

When trying to decide on an online casino, new players should take a squizz at which deposit bonuses are available. This is because these are the promotions that will be available to punters in the long term. Ask yourself if these bonuses still be exciting in six months, or if there’s enough variety to keep you playing.

No Deposit Bonuses

As the name says, no deposit bonuses don’t require deposits to claim. All a punter needs to do is go to the cashier and claim the bonus. Like the casino bonuses of the late 90s, no deposit bonuses give players free money to play with. That said, online casinos don’t usually just give money away, so no deposit bonuses are both incredibly rare and not worth very much. They’re also subject to wagering requirements like every other kind of bonus, and this amount is typically much higher than other kinds of bonuses. Lastly, punters can only play with a certain amount at a time.

As exciting as no deposit bonuses sound (and really, who would say no to free money?), the extra restrictions and how rare they are kind of put them outside the normal casino bonus experience. There are other, better bonuses to claim that will let you cashout much faster.

Cashback Bonuses

Cashback bonuses are pretty new to the world of casino bonuses, but they are quickly becoming popular. Traditionally part of an online casino’s VIP or loyalty program, cashback bonuses let punters win back a small percentage of the money they’ve lost playing casino games. They offer a different way to look at bonuses, since they don’t provide money to punters up front, and they can only be activated by reaching out to customer support.

Even though the percentage of the bonus is only around 10%, people who play a lot probably lose a lot. They may not be very exciting for casual players, but cashback bonuses are heaps helpful to frequent punters or high-rollers.

Claiming Bonuses

Casino bonuses are there to encourage punters to invest in a casino, and so they’re very simple to claim. That said, different online casinos have different ways of letting players claim bonuses.

At most online casinos, you’ll be able to claim a bonus directly from the cashier when you make a deposit. The bonuses that are available usually appear as part of a dropdown menu or list. All you need to do is select the bonus you want, deposit enough to claim the bonus, and make the payment. The bonus will instantly be added to your account, and you can start using it however you’d like.

Other casinos use bonus codes, which are just as easy to use. When you go to the cashier, there will be a text field for you to enter the code of your chosen bonus. Deposit enough to activate the bonus and put the payment through.

While there will be exceptions for certain types of promotions, like cashback bonuses, punters will always add money to their accounts and claim bonuses in the same place.

We do recommend that before you claim a casino bonus, you read through the casino’s terms and conditions. This might seem like a pain, but it’s better to know what you’re agreeing to, especially when heaps of money is involved. You don’t want to come a gutser and find that the maximum withdrawal amount is only so much money, or even that your bonus expired a few weeks after you claimed it.

Understanding Wagering Amounts and Requirements

One of the most confusing aspects of casino bonuses are the wagering amounts and requirements that they are subject to.

Wagering requirements are just how many times the amount of the bonus you must bet in order to withdraw it, or usually whatever’s left of it. Online casinos usually have wagering requirements of between 30 and 60 times the value of a bonus. The higher the number of times, the harder it is, and the longer it will take.

Wagering amounts are more complex, since they are set by individual casinos. Wagering amounts dictate how much a bet on a certain game contributes towards the wagering requirement. As we mentioned above, almost all online casinos give pokies a wagering amount of 100%, meaning every bet is worth the full amount.

That said, most table games and other casino software is worth much less. For example, it’s not unusual to see blackjack have a wagering amount of 10% or less. This means that for every dollar bet on blackjack, only ten cents is added to reaching the wagering requirement.

Wagering amounts and requirements can both be found in an online casino’s terms and conditions.

Do I Need to Use Casino Bonuses?

Casino bonuses are a useful tool for punters who want their bankrolls to go a little further, but you don’t need to use any of them to enjoy playing at an online casino. If you decide you want to play with real money, you can deposit and withdraw without needing to worry about wagering amounts or requirements. Many online casinos allow punters to play for free, so don’t feel like you even need to play for real money.