The last fifteen years have seen an astonishing rise in online gaming and the number of casinos online. From small beginnings, the industry has rocketed to an estimated yearly value of €26.1 billion in 2013. That's a lot of hands of blackjack!
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Whether you're a newcomer thinking of taking the plunge and getting in on the action, or an experienced gambler looking to switch casinos, you're in a great position to take advantage of special offers for players opening new accounts. One of the most popular incentives out there to drive new sign-ups is the no deposit bonus and that's what this article will be focusing on: what they are, the pros and cons and what you need to know about them as a player. Let's get started!
Online Casinos No Deposit Bonus: Too Good To Be True?
So, what exactly are no deposit bonuses? The simplest way of thinking of it from a player's point of view is that it's a risk-free way of staking your initial bets at a casino. The casino will pre-fund your account with a specific amount that you are then free to gamble without being obliged to actually deposit any money yourself. All that's required is that you provide your basic details and register with a new account.
The amounts of money involved are usually relatively small but it's not unusual to see upwards of $150 on offer - more than enough to get started, no matter what your casino game of choice is.
There are two traditional types of no deposit bonuses that casinos offer: cashable and non-cashable. Cashable bonuses mean you can actually take the money out (on top of any winnings) when you make a withdrawal - assuming you've met any attached conditions that is. Don't worry, we'll go over some typical conditions in just a minute.
The second type of non deposit bonuses are non-cashable bonuses. These cannot be withdrawn, only wagered. Should you win, the non-cashable no deposit bonus will be deducted from your eventual withdrawal.
Depending on the range of games your online casino offers, you might also see alternative variations such as free spins on slot machines or free entry to tournaments on poker sites being promoted - essentially the same idea but in a slightly different form.
The shrewder gamblers amongst you may well be wondering at this point, "where's the catch?" It's an excellent question. There's no real catch here per se but no deposit bonuses do come with strings attached, terms and conditions that you'll also hear referred to as "wagering requirements".
One common condition is that the range of games on offer for use with the bonus will be restricted, along with the maximum bet amounts. You'll also usually be required to maintain an active account and complete a certain amount of wagers (you'll see this listed as the playthrough or rollover requirements) to qualify your bonus. It's worth pointing out here, rollover amounts refer to the amount being wagered not anything to do with winnings or losses.
Remember, casinos are obliged to list the wagering requirements for any type of bonus bet in detail but it's up to you as a responsible gambler to review them in depth in order to make sure you really understand what you're signing up to before you start playing.
Online Casinos No Deposit Bonus: What's In It For Them?
By now you may be wondering, why would online casinos be giving away free money? Casino operators are, after all, famously no dummies. The first reason is that, while there's huge profits to be made running an online casino, the industry is incredibly competitive. At the last count, there were at least 3000 online casinos out there and that number is growing every week. They're all chasing after the same potential pool of players so anything they can do to make their offering more enticing is very much in their interests.
The second point to bear in mind is that online casinos are data-driven organisations. They've run the numbers and know exactly how much money they stand to make on average from each player over their lifetime. They do this by closely tracking a metric known as Customer Lifetime Value. Naturally, as a savvy player, you'll be looking to beat those averages and come out ahead over your gambling year. But the casinos still know, down to the nearest cent, how much they can afford to potentially give away while still coming out the other side with a tidy profit.
Other Types Of Bonuses Besides No Deposit Bonuses
No deposit bonuses are far from the only enticements on offer from online casinos. If you keep your ear to the ground, there's also usually a range of further special offers and promotions to be taken advantage of. Always remember to check in with your online casino's blog and social media pages for the latest promos. Here's a few of the more common types of casino bonuses to look out for:
- Sign-up bonuses: In addition to offering no deposit sign-up bonuses, many casinos also offer to match your initial deposit, either in total or as a defined percentage.
- Reload bonuses: Stick around with one particular casino and you stand to benefit from reload bonuses that kick in when you deposit further funds to your account.
- Loyalty bonuses: Casinos are always looking to encourage long-term customer loyalty. The longer you stay with one provider, the more likely you are to get offered special one-off loyalty bonuses or, in some cases, exclusive access to site reward programs.
- High-roller bonuses:Start racking up the wins and generating some serious action and you'll find yourself in with the big fish who get offered tempting high-roller bonuses. Who knows, get on a really hot streak and you might be on your way to becoming a whale as seen in the Youtube clip below!
- Refer a friend: Casinos are keenly aware that the best marketing is always word of mouth. Most will offer some type of bonus for referring a friend to their site.
What Other Things Beside No Deposit Bonuses Should I Look For When Choosing An Online Casino?
The type of bonuses and special offers available certainly play a role when it comes to choosing an online casino but it shouldn't be the main one. Don't simply type "online casinos no deposit bonus" into the search engine and then pick one at random. You're looking for a decent bonus but also the right mix of three other factors: a positive gaming environment, a lack of obvious red flags and a range of games that suits your outlook and preferences.
Let's start with the positives. Ideally, you're looking for an established casino with a solid reputation and easily verifiable favourable reviews from current users. Check around on gambling forums and review sites for background on the casino and avoid anything with consistently bad feedback. You also want to see a full range of account funding options and customer support channels clearly listed.
On the negative side of things, items that should ring a large warning bell are spurious "admin" fees for basic account functionality, a generally fly-by-night feel and bonus offers that seem too good to be true.
The last item - the variety of games on offer - is really a matter of personal preference. Some players will be looking for a range of table games to move between and possibly looking to get a little sportsbook action in on the side. Others will be looking for a specialist site that deals exclusively in, for example, online poker.
Other Gambling Activities With No Deposit Bonus
It's not just casino sites that provide no deposit bonuses of course. You'll find the same offer being made across the online gaming industry. Let's quickly review some of the other options:
- No deposit bonus in Sports Betting: No deposit bonuses are a common bonus option offered here and a great way of kicking the tires of the site in question with some risk-free punts on your sport of choice.
- No deposit bonus in Online Poker: Poker sites routinely offer this as a bonus and it's a useful way to get some free table time in on a site and check out the overall level of the player pool.
- No deposit bonus in Online Bingo: Many of the larger bingo operators have also started to provide no deposit bonuses on their boards.
That about wraps things up for our overview on no deposit bonuses in online casinos. Long term, you're looking to find an online casino that covers your gaming needs across the board. They may not offer quite the levels of insane excitement, glamour and intrigue that their offline counterparts have traditionally offered (check out the fascinating video below for a glimpse into that world) but they're getting close these days.
If you're a fan of table games then registering with an online casino is the way forward. Bonuses are just one part of the overall gaming picture but those little free extras add up over time so you should look to maximise your opportunity from the outset and no deposit bonuses are a great way of getting off to a flying start. A final quick tip: make sure you're up to speed on your casino math before you plunge in and check out our tips page for more helpful info. Good luck out there!
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