THE SLOT BUZZ GUIDE TO UK SLOT BONUSES
What is a Casino or Slot Bonus?
Let’s start with the basics. An online casino slot bonus is a sum of money credited to a casino player’s account that can be used to play slot games. Sometimes it will be offered ‘for free’ on registration or after completing a specified action like wagering on a specific game, but usually it will be credited when a player makes a deposit into their casino account. The bonus is never ‘free’, withdrawable cash. It can only be used to play slot games. Its purpose is to give customers better value through more playing time.
Slot bonuses are a valuable marketing tool used by casino operators to entice new customers through their doors and to keep existing ones happy. The online gambling industry is extremely competitive, with hundreds of slot sites all vying for attention whilst offering the same licensed software and the same games. There is little to choose between them. The slot site bonus is a way to shout louder than the competition.
These offers come in many shapes and sizes, and there are always conditions. Bonus money can never be withdrawn initially, and sometimes not at all, and there will always be restrictions on how it can be spent, and what you can do with the winnings.
This guide is to help you to identify the different types of bonuses and to untangle some of those tricky terms and conditions. We hope this will allow you to get the most enjoyment and value from playing slots online.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ONLINE SLOTS BONUS
Deposit Slots Bonus
The deposit bonus is the most common type. It is there to entice you to make a deposit, either when you sign up, or when your account balance is low, or when it has reached zero. Operators like these bonuses because they can accurately predict their bonus budget against a guaranteed deposit income. The ratio of the bonus value to the deposit value will vary depending on the offer. Welcome bonuses are usually more generous than re-load bonuses for example, and some casinos are more generous than others.
Deposit Bonus Example – On condition of depositing X a player will receive Y (usually a percentage of X). A slot site might offer a 200% match bonus up to £100. This means that if you deposit £50, you’ll receive £100 in bonus funds (200% x £50).
HINT – When accepting a deposit bonus always look out for the minimum deposit required to receive the bonus, and the maximum bonus paid out. In the previous example, if the maximum bonus is £100, if you deposit more than £50 you will still receive only £100 bonus. And if the minimum deposit required to receive the bonus is £10, don’t expect anything if you only put in a fiver!
No Deposit Slot Bonus
Sometimes a casino will offer players a bonus without the condition of making a deposit first. This is a common incentive to entice new customers to sign up, but a No Deposit offer may also used to entice players back when they haven’t played for a while, or to reward players for their loyalty, or as good will gesture after a bad run of luck.
No Deposit Bonus Example – Some casinos are currently offering £10 free – no deposit needed – for new customers. To qualify for this bonus all you need to do is register with the site. £10 will automatically be credited to you.
HINT – Usually when you register you will also need to verify your identity by entering your credit or debit card details. Don’t be put off by this. You are not making a deposit. Some casinos use debit or credit card as a method of account verification and they want to make sure the address details you register your account under match those of your payment method.
You can check our list of Free £10 No Deposit Offers to find out where you can play for free without a deposit.
Free Spins Offers
Free Spins are free plays on a specified slot game at a nominated stake value. When you have free spins just log into your account and choose the correct game, then start playing. Free Spins are a bonus offer commonly used as part of a welcome package or as a promotional tool for existing players. They can be credited when a variety of triggers are met. These include registering at a site, making a deposit, or wagering a specified amount on a game.
Free Spins Example – A casino may offer 20 free spins on Starburst slot for all new customers when they register an account. This is a ‘no deposit’ offer so remember in this instance you would have to enter your credit or debit card details with the same address as your casino account first.
HINT – There are typically some important conditions to be aware of when accepting free spins:
- Free Spins are often game-specific. That means they are only eligible to be played on the games specified by your casino. The most common game for Free Spins is Starburst by NetEnt.
- Winnings from Free Spins are often credited as bonus funds. This means that they cannot be withdrawn until the wagering requirements have been met. You can read more about this here.
- Winnings from Free Spins are also regularly capped at a specified amount in the terms and conditions of the offer.
Whilst these are common restrictions for Free Spins offers the market is changing. More on this further down the page.
Slot Site Welcome Bonus Package
Every single operator in the UK will be offering a slot welcome bonus for its new customers. That is a given. The bonus is an essential part of the casino’s message to slot players – ‘join our site and you will be generously rewarded’.
In the past decade hundreds, if not thousands, of slot sites have launched in the UK. There are far fewer casino software suppliers than there are sites, so it stands to reason that many operators share the same game catalogues. This makes it very hard to stand out. In this crowded market place alongside the brand name the welcome bonus is what sets one site apart from the others. Just take a look at the slot bonus list on this page to see for yourself!
Some welcome bonuses will be a one deposit deal, with an X for Y condition. Other slot welcome bonuses are delivered as packages, with a collection of deposit bonuses often accompanied by free spins. Usually the package will consist of up to three deposit bonuses, each with different percentage matches, and minimum and maximum bonus values.
Slot Site Welcome Bonus Package Example – Slots Million are currently offering new customers a combined welcome offer of 100% up to £100 and 100 Free Spins on various games on the first deposit made. You can read more in our Slots Million review.
HINT – Casino operators will often total up the maximum value of each deposit bonus in the package and display this on the site and in advertisements to entice you in. If you do choose a slot site with one of these packages remember that the advertised value is the maximum you can receive and is conditional on depositing the top amount on each of your first eligible deposits.
Cashback Slots Bonuses
A cashback bonus is a common way for a casino to reward players for their loyalty. It can also be used to pay back players when they have a bad run of luck.
Here’s how it works. After a player has wagered on the required games and during a specified time period, the cashback value is calculated as a percentage of wagers – wins. The net result is the player’s overall loss.
Cashback Bonus Example – During a 25% cashback promotion, if a player wagers £1,000 and wins £500, then their losses are £500 and they get £125 cashback (25%x £500).
HINT – Cashback is sometimes credited as bonus money too, in which case it will have its own wagering requirements. Check the promotion terms and conditions to be clear.
Other Slots Promotions and Bonuses
There are plenty of other opportunities to earn slots bonuses and other prizes when you play at online casinos. Here are some of them:
- Prize Draws – casino operators will often run prize draws as an alternative to regular bonuses. The conditions for entry will vary but usually require a player to deposit, wager, log-in, and play different games during the competition period in order to earn entries into the draw. Prizes may be anything from Free Spins and Bonus Money to iPads, Mobile Phones, or even cars or Holidays.
- Tournaments – slot tournaments, or battles as they are sometimes known, are popular amongst slot players. They can be quick-fire – maybe just 30 minutes – and work like poker tournaments, or last longer – sometimes up to a week. Typically you can win bonuses, free spins and non-cash prizes. Find out more in our guide to online slot tournaments.
UNDERSTANDING SLOT BONUS TERMS AND CONDITIONS
An online slot site bonus will always come with terms and conditions that include restrictions on how, when and where it can be spent. Here are the important ones to look out for.
1. Wagering Requirements (WR)
The first thing to remember is that your bonus is not free, withdrawable cash. It is given to you by the casino to give you more playing time, to explore the games and get better value for your deposit. And it’s not just withdrawals of bonus money that are restricted, it’s also withdrawals of any winnings generated by the bonus money too.
This is to protect the casino. Most slot games have a Return to Player (RTP) of around 95%. That means for every £100 wagered, on average £95 will be paid out to the player as winnings. If players could keep 95% of every bonus paid out to them by an online casino, the industry wouldn’t last very long! So, wagering requirements make the player wager their bonus funds over and over to reduce the risk of that player walking away with cash in their pocket.
Wagering Requirements are relative to either the value of the bonus, or the bonus AND the deposit. A typical wagering requirement might be 30x bonus. Remember, If the WR is 30x bonus AND deposit, the total WR is much more than it would be if it was just related to the bonus.
Wagering Requirements Example – If a casino gives a bonus of 100% match on a deposit of £50 and the WR is 30x the bonus, then the player must wager £1,500 (30x £50) before they can make a withdrawal.
Bonus Balance And Real Money Balance – Once you have made your deposit your account will display two balances: a bonus balance, and a real money balance. You will always play with your real money balance first before you play with your bonus balance.
Your bonus balance includes the bonus funds AND any winnings generated by those bonus funds. When you have met the wagering requirements, then your bonus funds will be transferred into your real money balance and you can make a withdrawal.
HINT – some bonuses are non-withdrawable (‘sticky’ or ‘non-redeemable’). These can never be transferred to your real money balance, although of course any winnings from them can. Always check your terms and conditions to find out if your bonus is redeemable.
Wagering Requirements and Game Weightings – When you are fulfilling your wagering requirements you should also be aware that not all games are equal! Some will count more towards your wagering requirements than others.
As a rule, slot games generally count 100%, whilst table games count much less – sometimes 10%, sometimes not at all. This is due to the varying RTP of casino games. You will have to wager 10x as much on a game with a 10% game weighting than on a game with a 100% game weighting.
You should always check your casino terms and conditions to understand the game weightings rules.
HINT – Bonus money is rarely eligible to use to play for Progressive Jackpots. This should be specified in the terms of the bonus. You may also be able to play the Progressive Jackpot game, but not be eligible for the top prize itself.
Your Deposit Is Locked In – It is also true that in most cases once you have deposited and received a bonus you cannot make a withdrawal of your deposit money until you have met all the wagering conditions of the bonus. If you do decide to withdraw before this time you will forefeit your bonus and any associated winnings.
Withdrawal or Winning Limits – Many online slot bonuses have withdrawal limits associated with them which basically define how much you can win with your bonus. This is almost always the case with no deposit bonuses. The limits are usually set at anything from £100 and upwards. Always check the terms and conditions to find out what the withdrawal restrictions are.
2. Slot Bonus Expiry
There are two types of expiry related to a new slot bonus.
Firstly, casino operators will often make a bonus available for a limited time, like 30 days from registration. This is because your casino will want you to deposit as soon after sign up as possible.
Secondly, once your bonus has been credited to your account it will normally have an expiry date – usually somewhere between 7 days and 30 days. This means that you must meet the wagering requirements for your bonus in the expiry time or you will forefeit your bonus.
These restrictions are implemented by a casino to push you to spend your bonus and to help them to keep their business clean. Operators do not like hundreds of accounts with unused bonus money in them.
Whilst this is fair play, always consider how much you want to spend and how much time you are happy spending that money in. Don’t be forced into depositing more than you can afford, or be pushed into wagering your funds aggressively. 14 days or more is a reasonable expiry limit. 3 to 5 days is not!
3. Maximum Bets With Bonus Money
It is now common for casino operators to apply a maximum bet limit to bonus funds. This is usually around £5. This means you cannot wager more than £5 a spin with your bonus funds. Beware, you can forefeit your bonus if you wager over the limit! Always check the terms and conditions first if you’re thinking of wagering big.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD SLOT BONUS? HERE IS A 5 POINT CHECKLIST
Now you know all about slot bonuses, here’s a quick 5 point checklist to help you choose the right one for you.
- What Is The Minimum Deposit? Don’t deposit more than you would normally would or had planned to unless you are completely comfortable. Slot bonuses have a range of values to suit a range of players. Pick the one the best suits your spend habits.
- What Is The Percentage Match? Most welcome bonuses start with at least 100%, but you can pick up a lot more. If you can get more than 200% with a high maximum bonus (e.g. 200% up to £200) then the offer is looking good.
- What Are the Wagering Requirements? Higher bonuses will often have higher WR to give the casino more protection. If you can get a 35x WR on a 200% bonus of £200 it is worth taking. The magic combination is a high % with a low WR.
- What Games Can You Play? Always make sure the bonus is available on the games you like playing. Free spins will often be restricted to one game whereas bonus money will be available to play across many more games.
- When Does the Bonus Expire? How long do I get to play my bonus? Don’t be pushed into spending more than you normally would in a short period of time. Only ever spend what you are comfortable with.
RECENT CHANGES IN ONLINE SLOT PROMOTIONS
Finally, a word on changes in the casino industry.
In 2017 online casino operators came under increasing pressure from the UK Gambling Commission to be more transparent when promoting bonus offers for new and regular customers on their sites. This followed a series of high profile cases in which customers complained of misleading promotions.
As a result, some operators have simplified their promotions, even removing wagering requirements and maximum wins entirely. You will now often see the term Free Spins replaced with Extra Spins or Fair Spins, and promotions including the words, ‘no wagering requirements’ and ‘no winning restrictions’.
This is good news for the customer as operators are removing some of the more knotty and opaque terms and conditions to make things easier to understand.
Above all, remember that you are never forced to take an online slot site bonus. You can always choose not to opt in, or even contact the casino and say that you don’t wish to receive a bonus when you make a deposit. They always want your custom and will comply with your request.
And above all, have fun!