How to Estimate the True Value of Online Casino Bonuses

Online, Bonuses, Casino, Gems, Jewels

 Online casino bonuses are everywhere, but how do you estimate their true value? Most people find the task challenging, so I’m here to help.

Years of playing at online casinos and taking every kind of bonus imaginable has taught me exactly how to calculate their value. Some of this is down to the intuition that comes with experience, but there are also objective factors, and that’s what this post is about.

Let’s dive right in and start figuring out how to evaluate casino bonuses online. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be better equipped to understand what each bonus brings to the table.

Proportion and Size

Let’s start simple. Every online casino has a unique offer that’s different from what its competitors are offering. Bonuses differ greatly in size, going from $100 to $10,000+ at different casinos.

However, size isn’t only one factor. The bonus proportion also matters. They go from 100% deposit matches to 500% matches, and that makes a huge difference to the total amount you get and other factors like wagering requirements which I’ll cover later.

For example, depositing $100 with a 100% match would bring you $100, but the same amount with a 500% match would result in $500 bonus cash.

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Objectively, bigger is better. I’d rather have a $1,000 bonus compared to a $500 one, all else being equal. However, as I explain below, all else is rarely equal when we dig into the small print. There’s much more to consider than casino bonus size alone.

Before we get to other factors, it’s important to understand that casino welcome bonuses can consist of different parts, too. For example, some might offer a pure cash deposit match, while others might offer a mixture of bonus cash and free spins. Also, bonuses can come in stages; e.g., a $5,000 bonus might really be 5x $1,000 deposit matches.

You can always find out exactly how the bonus is structured, what you’ll be given for making a qualifying deposit, and the size + proportion in the bonus terms and conditions.

They also contain info about the wagering requirements, arguably the most important factor when evaluating casino bonuses.

Wagering Requirements

While there are some casino bonuses with no wagering requirements, the majority of them still have them. Wagering requirements are sometimes called rollover or playthrough requirements, and you absolutely need to be aware of them when evaluating casino bonuses.

They tell you how many times you’ll need to wager a bonus before you can withdraw it. Let’s look at a real example to see how this works.

At Cafe Casino, new players can claim a welcome bonus of 250% up to $1,500. The wagering requirements on this are 40x. Assuming you deposit the full amount, that gives you $3,750 of bonus money for a total of $5,250 to play with.

If you have to wager the bonus alone, these numbers mean you’ll need to make $150,000 of bets. If you have to wager the deposit and the bonus, that becomes $210,000. See how big a difference that simple clause makes?

The numbers above sound impossible, but are they? No, but clearing such a big bonus will take some time and effort. You’re likely to win, lose, win again, and wagering $210k can happen relatively quickly.

It’s not easy to wager the bonus, and you might lose everything, but that’s why the casino is able to offer it. If it was easy, they’d go bankrupt (as many did in the 1990s!).

Play low-volatility slots to make it more likely that you’ll successfully wager casino bonuses. The smaller, steadier stream of wins and smaller losses will help you achieve your goal. There are also some other tips for clearing casino bonuses you should know about before you bet.

Wagering requirements apply to almost all casino bonuses, whether they be deposit matches, free spins, reloads, or even loyalty bonuses. A rule of thumb is this: the lower the wagering requirements, the better your chances of beating them.

Calculating Your Casino Bonus Expected Value

Calculating the Expected Value (EV) of a casino bonus is one objective way of determining whether or not it’s worth taking. It helps you mathematically determine the amount you would expect to win or lose by taking a bonus offer.

The formula for calculating EV on a casino bonus is as follows: EV = bonus money – (amount you need to wager * average house edge of the games played).

Simply put, how much you make from the bonus minus how much you are expected to lose from the house edge until you clear it.

If you are still confused, let’s look at a simple example. Say you have received a $100 bonus with wagering requirements of 30x. That means you’ll need to wager $3,000 to be able to withdraw it.

In this example, you’re playing slots with an average house edge of 3%. Usually, you’d expect to lose $3 for every $100 wagered. Wagering $3,000 means you’d expect to lose $90 at these odds, so on the $100 bonus in our example, the EV would be $10.

That might sound low, but most casino bonuses even have a negative expectation, especially if you don’t really spend time picking the best games available to you.

That might sound bad, but casino games are not meant to make you rich; they are for fun. If you want to enjoy them anyway, grabbing a bonus significantly improves your returns as long as you can comfortably meet the wagering requirements.

To further complicate matters, bonus terms like game weighting and restrictions and bonus maximum win limits can change the equation. This leads me nicely to the next section – other factors to consider when you evaluate online casino bonuses.

Other Important Factors

I recommend that you always read the small print of the casino bonuses you’re interested in. In most cases, you’ll find the following information, which is important when evaluating online casino bonuses.

Payment Methods – Some bonuses have restrictions on the payment methods you can use. For example, in UK online casinos, it’s not uncommon to find Neteller, Skill, and PayPal excluded in the bonus terms. Make sure you use a payment method that counts to activate your bonus.

Game Restrictions – Most casino bonuses have specific games restricted when using bonus funds. For example, you usually can’t play progressive jackpot slots with bonus funds. Games by certain software providers like Microgaming might be restricted – always check this.

Minimum Deposit – Every casino bonus I’ve ever encountered requires a minimum deposit of a certain value. This could be as low as $20, but if you deposit less, you won’t activate the bonus. Don’t blow your shot at a generous bonus by depositing under the minimum.

Country Restrictions – I often encounter ‘excluded countries’ in casino bonus small print. This could be for a number of reasons, such as the laws and regulations in certain countries. Whatever the reason, make sure to check this before making a deposit.

Maximum Cashout – Some casino bonuses have fixed maximum cashouts. In these cases, you’ll only be able to withdraw x amount, e.g., $2,500, even if you win much more. This isn’t all that common, but I’ve seen a few bonuses like this, so be sure to check it out.

Maximum Bets – Some casinos have a max bet clause, often set around $10-20 per game round until you clear the bonus.

Where to Find the Best Casino Bonuses?

You now know how to evaluate online casino bonuses better than most players. However, nothing can replace expert experience, so we put together a page dedicated to the best online casino bonuses.

All of our approved casino bonuses are generous, have fair terms and conditions, and offer fair value to you as a player. Start your journey to finding the bonuses you’re looking for by checking them out!