Generally speaking, there are two kinds of bonuses – deposit bonuses and no deposit bonuses. Whilst we will go into more detail later on, a deposit bonus – as the name implies - requires that you make a deposit into your account before you receive your bonus and a no deposit bonus is (obviously) one that is given without the need for a deposit. As you can imagine, deposit bonuses tend to be much larger and more generous than their no deposit counterparts. So, in summary, a bonus is basically free money that the operator gives you.
However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. All sports and casino bonuses will come with restrictions attached – click here to learn more about wagering restrictions
So now I've got my bonus what's next?
It’s important to remember that most online casinos and sports books put a bonus system in place where you always play with your own money first when you have an active bonus. It ensures that your deposited money always stays your money and there’s no confusion between your funds and any bonus funds.
If you win whilst playing with your own deposited money - and the bonus is not locked - you are always free to withdraw the win, regardless of whether you have a bonus active. BUT, remember if you do request a withdrawal, in most cases the bonus will be forfeited.
But when you lose your own deposited money, the bonus cash will activate - a sort of 2nd chance - and you can continue to try your luck playing with bonus money but you will always have a wagering requirement tied to the bonus. Simply put, there is no wagering requirement tied to your own deposit, only to the bonus.
Make sure the games you play are eligible
Before we move on we should also point out that because casino games have different house advantages, some casinos will restrict the games you can play with their bonuses.
This stems from a time in the early days of online casino bonuses, where it was common practice to be able to grind out the bonus playing €1 bets on blackjack and walk away with 90% of the bonus intact (known as bonus hunting) – but the casinos eventually got wise to this and many stopped allowing you to play BJ with a welcome bonus. Again, read the T&C’s to see which games are eligible and what rate they contribute to bonus usage.
Despite these restrictions, it is entirely possible to walk away from a good casino bonus as a winner – although sometimes you will lose. So make sure you never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. And if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
At first glance, it would seem that there are many different types of these bonuses that are offered but essentially, they all fall into two distinct categories – Deposit and No Deposit bonuses. But they go by different names and in order to help getting your head around them all, we have listed some of the more common types of bonus below with a short description or explanation.