When the online gambling industry started taking baby steps – years before it became the mammoth beast it is today – just a few Internet casinos existed and there was hardly any competition. However, once it became apparent that online gambling was about to explode, many casinos joined the fray and they had to come up with innovative ways to attract new customers. Enter the casino bonus – also known as the welcome bonus or sign-up bonus – a promotion built to bring in new users in the hope that once they sign up and play, they’ll stay.

The Casino Bonus: Nothing Stays the Same

In the early days, around the time we were welcoming the 21st century, the bonuses were bigger and better, to help newbies overcome whatever initial fears they had. But although the terms and conditions of welcome bonuses may have changed over the years, the basics are still the same: A new customer who signs up for a specific site and makes a first deposit, is eligible to receive a bonus, which is usually equal to or greater than the sum of the deposit.

With time, although the principle has stayed more or less the same, the bonuses have generally become smaller, and the terms and condition have become more complicated. This added complexity means that as potential new customers compare one casino to the many others on the Internet – in terms of game selection, reliability, convenience, banking methods, etc. –  they also have to carefully peruse the bonus wagering requirements before opening an account. Bonuses are far from identical; in fact, different venues will offer you a no deposit casino bonus to spin the roulette or hit the tables, which is much more attractive.

On some sites, the fine print may stipulate that players are obligated to place a certain number of bets before they can cash out any winnings won while using the bonus money. In other cases, although the casino will match your deposit – known as a 100% match bonus – they might require you to wager, say, five times (5X) the bonus and deposit amount before you can cash out your money. This means that with an initial deposit of, say, $200, and a bonus of another $200, you’d have to bet $2,000 (5X $400) before you’re able to cash out! You also have to make sure that your favorite game – the one you’re planning to play the most –  has wagering requirements you can live with, since some games may not count toward the bonus or may count less than other games.

No-Deposit Bonuses: Free Money for the Savvy Online Gambler

Obviously a no-deposit casino bonus is a particularly attractive offer and it pays to look around for that deal. In addition, online casinos are starting to seriously promote Loyalty programs and VIP clubs, in order to hold on to veteran players (and not woo the new ones). Nowadays, the casinos are fighting for every single customer and you’re the big beneficiary. So before jumping in, read the rules – from there it’s just a small step to having a great time.