Casino Bonuses: Is Biggest the Best?

Using online casinos offers many advantages over visiting a land based casino. Of all these advantages, perhaps the most appealing to players is all the extra money available in the way of bonuses. Virtually every single online casino gives a sign up bonus to new customers, and most of them offer additional bonuses to regular players too.

These bonuses are very popular with a significant percentage of casino players. You can't really class them as "free" money, as you usually have to deposit some of your own funds and then meet certain terms and conditions, but they can still add a lot of extra value.

If you spend a bit of time hunting around for the best bonuses, you can greatly increase your overall chances of making some money at online casinos. It is logical to assume that you should go after the biggest ones you can get, but this is not necessarily the case. Size is not everything, and there are a few factors you need to consider when determining how much value a casino bonus really offers.

We discuss these factors below, and attempt to see whether the biggest is indeed the best.

Wagering Requirements

Wagering requirements are one of the single most important indicators of the value of a bonus. Casino bonuses almost always come with wagering requirements, and this means you have to stake a certain amount on playing games before you can make any kind of withdrawal.

These requirements are typically expressed as a multiple of the bonus. For example, if a $200 bonus comes with 30 times wagering requirements then you would have to stake a total of $6,000 before you would be able to withdraw any funds.

The house edge of casino games means that the more you play, the more you are likely to lose. This is not always the case of course, as you might get lucky, but the laws of probability mean you are always more likely to lose than win. As such, bonuses with high wagering requirements are not as valuable as those with low wagering requirements.

Play Bonuses vs Cash Bonuses

There is a significant difference between play bonuses and cash bonuses. A play bonus is for wagering purposes, and can never be withdrawn. You will be able to cash out your original deposit and any winnings you make from playing with the additional funds, after you have met the wagering requirements, but you will not be able to withdraw the actual bonus funds.

Cash bonuses, on the other hand, can be withdrawn. Again you will need to meet the wagering requirements, but once you have done this you will be able to withdraw any funds you have in your account. This obviously makes cash bonuses much more valuable than play bonuses.

Game Eligibility & Game Weightings

Casino bonuses cannot always be used to play every single game available. For example, some bonuses can only be used to play slots games. Others can be used for most games, but not for those with a very low house edge such as blackjack or baccarat. Casinos put these rules in place because, in theory at least, a player is more likely to meet the wagering requirements when playing games with a low house edge. By excluding such games, players are more likely to lose the bonus funds.

Some casinos don't exclude the low house edge games, but rather they apply game weightings to the wagering requirements. This means that a reduced percentage of your stakes will count towards the requirements when playing some games. For example, a casino may apply the following game weightings.

All Slot Games 100%
Table Games (excluding below) 50%
Roulette 20%
Craps 10%
Blackjack & Baccarat 5%

Based on these weightings, if you were to claim a $100 bonus with 20 times wagering requirements, you would have to wager $2,000 if playing slots. However, if you were playing roulette you would have to wager $10,000. If you were playing blackjack or baccarat, you would have to wager $40,000.

You can see from this that game weightings can make a big difference to how much wagering you might have to do. As a result, they also make a big difference to the overall value of a bonus.


It's pretty clear that the factors we have discussed above all affect just how appealing a bonus is. A massive bonus might seem really attractive, but if it is only a play bonus and comes with very high wagering requirements then it might not actually be that great.

Size is always going to be relevant when determining the value of a bonus, of course, but not in isolation of the other relevant factors. It is fair to say, therefore, that biggest is not necessarily best when it comes to online casino bonuses.