Online casino bonuses
to make your dreams come true
If you’re dreaming of online casino bonuses like Donald Trump dreamt of a second term, then you have come to the right place, accept I will do my best to help your dreams come true. I’ve been an online casino player for longer than I care to remember, and I’m here to share what I know about welcome bonuses, deposit bonuses, free spins, strategies, and a whole lot more. Every casino listed and reviewed on my site has my seal of approval and I’m still an active player in many of them.
What to look for when you choose your online casino
Today there are hundreds of online casinos to choose from and picking the right one for you is not a small task. So what should you look for and what should you avoid? Well, there are many schools of thoughts on these matters and I will go through the most important ones while offering my own, humble, opinions based on experience a bit further down.
How I review online casinos
Let’s face it, not all online casinos are “the best.” Some of them are downright awful and could make your life a living hell, but you’re only about to find that out when you try to make your first withdrawal. I’m not talking about sending in papers to verify your account. That’s just normal. I’m talking about the companies that will do whatever it takes to stop your withdrawal from going through, even if it means updating their terms and conditions.
When I’m reviewing casinos, I look for quite a few things to make sure that everything is up to scratch when it comes to:
- Welcome Bonus – This is the first offer you will ever get and if it’s not good enough, move on to another casino. A good offer should be possible to complete, i.e. the wagering requirement is reasonable and you have enough time to beat it.
- Payment Methods – This is very important! You need to have options available that are useful to you. Like bankcards and trusted e-Wallets. Then you’ll know that your money is in safe hands and is possible to withdraw.
- Gaming Licenses – I would never recommend a casino that isn’t regulated by a proper licensing authority. To hold a license, the casino has to be compliant and follow a whole bunch of stringent rules. This is good for you!
- Game Providers – These are the companies that create all the games in the casino and live casino. They too need to have a license and the more reputable game providers a casino has, the more trustworthy it is. Period.
- Jackpot Slots – Yes, this deserves its own bullet point. A casino not willing or able to offer slots with progressive jackpots should more or less be dismissed right off the bat. Even though the chance of hitting the jackpot is super small, you should at least have it.
- Transparent T&Cs – It’s crucial to read the general terms and conditions AND bonus terms BEFORE you sign up with any casino. Don’t believe me? Check out what happens to Kyle in South Park: Season 15, Episode 1, “HumancentiPad” and get back to me.
- Customer Support – Any casino should be possible to reach 24/7 via live chat, preferably in your own language. Waiting around for up to 48 hours on a response to an email is far from ideal and should not be accepted. Ever.
- Loyalty Program – We all want to be treated like royalty and stroll down an imaginary red carpet when we log in to our player account. Our inboxes should be flooded with exclusive offers others can only dream of.
- Responsible Gaming – Gambling should never be seen as a source of income. Casinos that allow players to set their own deposit limits, time spent on the site, and self-exclusion are definitely demonstrating a will to look out for its players.
As you can see, there are many things to think about before you register your online casino account. Luckily, the iGaming industry has matured a lot over the years, and most companies will tick all the boxes above.
Online casino welcome bonuses
For most players, including myself, the welcome bonus is the first offer we come across. And most likely, the reason why we registered our account in the first place. Every welcome bonus will require that you make at least one deposit, some offers could require several deposits to take full advantage of the welcome package.
Invariably, the casino will match your deposit(s) with a percentage as bonus money. For example, you deposit €50 and the casino matches 100% of your deposit with €50 as bonus money, bringing your account balance to €100.
Now you have €100 at your disposal to go and explore all the games in the casino. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the combined sum of your deposit and the bonus money will have to be wagered a specific amount of time, normally 40x to 60x.
In some cases you may encounter a really cool welcome bonus usually called risk free deposit. These are really cool. Basically, you deposit a fixed amount, and if you haven’t doubled your money within, like, 24 hours, your money will be returned to you, no strings attached.
Online casino bonuses
Since the beginning of online gambling in the 1990’s, casinos have been offering all sorts of bonuses to bring in and reload bonuses to keep players. These types of offers are constantly evolving as players demand bigger and better bonuses. In general, I divide offers from casinos into two categories: with/without wagering.
- With – Most bonuses come with wagering requirements. It means that you will have to turn over a specific amount of money before you can make a withdrawal. This doesn’t have to be a bad proposition as long as the amount you have to wager is reasonable, how much you can wager per spin with bonus money isn’t too low, and how much you are allowed to withdraw each time. I explain all of these in great detail on my online casino bonuses page.
- Without – Think of these as a godsend and you should take full advantage of everyone you can get your hands on. Prime examples of bonuses without wagering are Free spins and cashback. I never turn down free spins as long as I don’t have to wager any of the winnings and I always opt-in to cashback without wagering.
In short, bonuses can be great as long as they are fair and presented accurately without burying vital information deep in the terms and conditions.
Account registration bonus
Getting a bonus simply for registering an account is totally awesome! Especially when you take into consideration that the process normally only takes a couple of minutes. Sometimes you get free bonus money that you have to wager (not the best) and other times you get free spins.
If the winnings on the free spins is capped and/or you have to wager the winnings, then it’s not the best of offers, but why turn down a free chance to get started in the casino!? As long as you don’t have to part with any of your own money, I would say go ahead and sign up immediately!
Live dealer casino
A live casino is a separate section in an online casino where you can challenge real live dealers. It’s as close as you can get to going to a real-world casino without the hassle of organizing for a babysitter, donning your finest frock, stressing through traffic only to find out that you have to park five blocks from the casino. Yeah, I speak from personal experience here…
Anyway, rant over. Live casinos are awesome! I usually put on my lucky sweater (my wife hates it) before I take a seat at any live Blackjack table. If Blackjack is not your cup of tea, then you can always try your luck at Roulette, Baccarat, Craps, different formats of Poker, and even gameshows with professional hosts.
Evolution Gaming is the premium live casino provider, particularly after buying its biggest rival NetEnt for more than $2 billion, and sets the gold standard everyone else is trying to emulate. They have more tables and games, the best quality streaming, and provide the overall best player experience.
Mobile casino on the go
It’s funny how mobile casinos are often marketed towards busy people in urban dwellings, constantly on the go, when most of us, including myself, usually take my mobile with me when I need a little me-time in that special place. And I know I’m not alone.
One of the biggest online casinos in Europe conducted a survey of its players and asked when they are more likely to play. Believe it or not but the majority of respondents said they played when they were sitting on the toilet. This was back in 2015, before most games were upgraded to HTML5 which totally increased their performance on handheld devices.
All modern online casinos today are available on Android and iOS and all the main web browsers out there.
Progressive jackpot slots vs jackpot slots
My personal preference is that an online casino must have both progressive jackpot slots and regular jackpot slots for me to open an account. And if I’m going to be even more precise, the casino must have the Microgaming jackpots.
Having a ridiculously small chance of winning millions is better than having no chance at all. That’s how I see it.
In case you don’t know the difference between a progressive and fixed jackpot, here it goes:
- Progressive jackpot – These slots are part of a network and offered on hundreds of casinos. A fraction is taken from each bet by any player in any casino on the particular slot and added to the jackpot until someone eventually wins. Microgaming’s Mega Moolah holds the record of biggest online jackpot paid out: €18,915,873.33 in October 2019.
- Fixed jackpot – This is a set amount and it normally isn’t higher than €250,000, and there is a good reason for this massive difference.
If you win any of Microgaming’s progressive jackpots, it doesn’t matter which casino you play in; Microgaming is the one that pays the winning amount into your player account, not the casino. Fixed jackpots are paid out by the casino where you won. There’s not an online casino in the world that would want to have a multi-million-euro exposure.
Available game providers
Every time I see players complain in forums and accuse casinos of rigging their games, I can’t help but smile a little. Oh ye of little knowledge. Online casinos rarely offer exclusive games. Look around and you will see that most casinos offer the same titles. This is because they are created by dozens of different game providers.
Here’s an analogy to help you understand how it works. Let’s say that there are 10 movie theatres in your hometown. They all show Star Wars. Do you think it would be possible for any movie theatre to tamper with the film and change the ending of the movie?
Game providers are like the film studios that make movies while the casinos are the theatres showing the movie, while the person who sold you the ticket is customer support. Have you ever walked out on a movie and blamed the ticket seller because you didn’t like the ending of a movie? That person had nothing to do with it.
Just like yelling at customer support in a casino about games being rigged. They have nothing to do with it, and neither does the casino. The only thing a casino can affect is the Return to Player (RTP) on certain slots. But this is only possible if that option is available from the game provider’s side.
Like having the same game with three different RTPs. The casino picks one and that’s it. Just like a movie in Blu-ray with alternative endings.
So which game providers should you be looking for?
- Microgaming – This is where you will find the biggest progressive jackpots.
- NetEnt – Many great slots, including progressive jackpots and high volatility.
- Evolution Gaming – There is no better live casino provider at the moment.
- Big Time Gaming – Heard of Megaways? These guys invented it!
- Play’n GO – Book of Dead! Case closed.
- Pragmatic Play – Probably the best games for mobile play.
- Red Tiger – I really like Piggy Riches Megaways, so…
- Relax Gaming – They have been around since 2010 but still make fresh games.
- ELK Studios – Wild Toro won game of the year in 2017. It still holds up.
- Quickspin – If you don’t know about Eastern Emeralds, I can’t help you.
These are the 10 that I look for. They are all reliable and between them they have basically created all the best games. Mind you, it’s not a deal breaker for me if a casino doesn’t have Red Tiger slots, but I wouldn’t be too interested in registering an account in an online casino that doesn’t have Microgaming and Evolution Gaming because I like to chase big jackpots from time to time and, for me, the experience isn’t complete without being able to challenge live dealers every now and then.
Make no mistake, every online casino has a loyalty program of sorts. Even the casinos that don’t advertise it on their sites will give their big players VIP-treatment with exclusive and boosted offers, trips to exotic places, and tickets to sporting events and concerts.
Most loyalty programs are based on point systems which means that the more money you turn over, the more points you earn. Your points will indicate the level you’re on. It could be anything from bronze to platinum, diamond or black.
Each level comes with its own rewards, but you won’t get true red-carpet treatment until you reach the highest level. But that’s not enough. You have to stay on that level for continued exclusivity. Here’s normally how it works.
- You will either be enrolled automatically when you register your account or you could be invited on a later date.
- Every €5 – €10 wagered in the casino or live casino will earn you 1 point.
- Once you have enough points you will go up one level.
- The higher the level, the better the rewards: regular deposit bonuses with lowered wagering requirements, access to special promotions and tournaments, quicker withdrawal processing times, bigger withdrawal amounts, your own personal account manager, higher conversion rate of loyalty points to cashback.
- Points can normally be converted to a cashback with/without wagering. The conversion rate could be anything from 100 points to 500 points per €1.
- Points often expire each month, quarter, or six months, which means that you will have to be constantly betting big to benefit from being a loyal player.
Unless you’re a high roller with bottomless pockets, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to loyalty programs. What I care more about is transparency. If an online casino advertises a loyalty program, then I want to know how it works, not so much because I believe that I will benefit from it, but more because I’m curious about how much information the casino is willing to share.
It’s important to have viable options available when it comes to depositing and withdrawing money from online casinos, and I would never register an account with a casino that doesn’t offer a payment method that I’m already using.
The most important thing is that you make sure that you use the same method for both deposits and withdrawals. When I started playing in online casinos there were very few payment methods to choose from. Bankcards, bank transfer, and PayPal were the options back then.
Now there are plenty of eWallets and online payment methods to choose from: Bankcards, Bank Transfer, Trustly, Paysafe Card, Skrill, PayPal, MuchBetter, Flexepin, Neteller, Ecopayz, Payoneer, Interac, iDebit, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and many, many more.
You will notice that almost all payment methods will deposit your money instantly into your online casino account, but withdrawals have to be processed before they can be paid, and only then will the transfer start.
Most online casinos will process payments within 24 hours during working days. If you make a request for a withdrawal on a Saturday, it will only be processed on Monday, and if approved, the transfer may only start on Tuesday. AND depending on your payment method, you might not have your money in your private account until the following week.
That’s just reality. But don’t blame the casino for this. It’s not their fault. And don’t be offended if they ask you for documents to verify your private information, or source of wealth documents that shows that you can afford to gamble.
These are all safeguards in place to protect you! Yes! You! I would be a lot more concerned if I wasn’t asked to verify my identity. That would mean that the casino doesn’t care whether or not you’re the recipient of your money.
Also, companies that handle vast amount of online money transactions are under constant surveillance when it comes to detecting money laundering and other fraudulent transactions. Picture this: You have all your responsible gaming limits set, you never deposit more than €20 per week, and you always stick to playing the same games.
Then one day the casino receives a request to remove all limits, there’s a deposit of €10,000 into your account, and all of a sudden you’re going hog-wild on the high stakes Blackjack tables in the live casino.
If you’re the casino, should you:
- Ignore this unexpected change in behaviour, or
- Block the account and find out what’s going on
I would prefer if the casino took action, pending a short inquiry, to verify what’s going on with my player account. Identity theft is a serious problem these days and billions of dollars are lost every year because of it.
In short, all the things that annoy you when it comes to withdrawing your winnings from an online casino are there to protect your money from yourself and identity theft AND the casino from approving transactions that should be flagged as suspicious money laundering.
Reputable online casinos vs scam artists
With the right developers and designers, any online casino can be made to look reputable, even the scam artists. So how can you tell them apart? Well, you’re probably not going to like it. It involves a lot of reading. Still, that’s not enough unless you know what to look for. Over the years, I have developed a keen eye for BS and if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck… chances are that you could get “ducked.”
Before you dive into reading terms and conditions in complicated gobbledygook, the most important information can be easily found if you use this simple, but effective, method, following these steps:
- Open the terms and conditions page
- Hold down the ctrl button and then press f
- Use the search bar that pops up to find…
You want to search for withdrawal and winnings separately. You may have to click next a few times until you find the information you’re looking for. Basically, you want to find out what/if there are any limits to how much you can withdraw/win per week/month.
This is really important to know. Here are two scenarios where this could have an impact on you:
Jackpot! Let’s say you win a non-progressive jackpot of €250,000. Congratulations! But the casino has a withdrawal limit of €20,000 per month. It will now take you a full year until you have all your winnings in your account. Great…
Cap on winnings. Yes! There are casinos out there that will cap the amount you are allowed to win during a specific time period. This is definitely BS in my book since they most certainly will not cap the amount you’re allowed to deposit.
So back to your theoretical jackpot win of €250,000. Congratulations! But the casino will only allow you to win €100,000 each month. Wow, you just lost 60% of your winnings. Good news, though! You only have to wait five months until the money is at your disposal…
I mean, it’s pretty easy to calculate how much you will have to gamble in order to benefit at all. And if the casino is transparent, then get the old and dusty abacus out. Here’s a loyalty program I found online. Is it worth it? You decide.
Here’s how it works:
- Every €1 bet on slots will earn you 1 point
- 1,000 points can be redeemed for a €1 bonus, up to €1,000 max
- Minimum 10,000 points must be converted for bonus money
- Bonus money must be wagered 10x
In other words, you have to bet a total of €10,000 to get a €10 bonus which you must wager 10 times. On the surface, this might not look even remotely close to a fair system. But the pudding is in the wording, as I often say.
Note that it doesn’t say that you have to lose €10,000 to qualify, it says bet. Not all bets will lose and just because it says “every €1 bet,” doesn’t mean that every bet has to be €1. A €10 bet is 10 points. Five €0.20 bets is 1 point.
The real challenge with these programs is that your accumulated points are often wiped clean and reset to 0 at midnight on the last day of the month.
Gambling should be fun but above all, safe. We all know that some players aren’t capable of gaming responsibly and that’s sad. People shouldn’t end up in financial ruin because of online casinos. Period. Which is why I’m glad to see that licensing authorities together with gaming companies take more action to prevent this from happening.
Virtually all casinos licensed in Malta, the UK, Sweden, and Germany and more and more Curacao-licensed casinos have implemented safeguards to help players control themselves. And casinos are obliged to request supporting source of wealth documents to ensure that players aren’t gambling above their means.
I know that a lot of players see this as an invasion of privacy, but this is quite silly when you take into account that all European-licensed online casinos have to follow the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented on May 25, 2018.
Be a responsible player
Even if you have a surplus in your private budget and can afford to lose €1,000 every week, it doesn’t mean that you have to let it ride. I’m not a rich guy, not by a longshot, but the first thing I do when I register with a casino is to set limits for myself in my account:
- Deposit Limit – €100 per week. This is my budget and it works for me. It’s not that excessive and I definitely don’t deposit €100 every week. Far from it, because…
- Loss Limit – My daily loss limit is €20, which means that I have to be quite conservative with how and what I play. Because…
- Wagering Limit – I set my limit to a maximum of €0.50, which means that I can’t go nuts and start chasing losses by increasing my bets. But…
- Session Length Limit – I leave without any limits. Casinos usually offer a reality check every hour or so with an update of how long I’ve been playing and won/lost during that time.
Still, to each their own. These limits work for me. The most efficient one is the daily loss limit. No matter who you are, Average Joe or a Rockefeller, limiting your losses is King. It keeps you from placing big bets and you won’t be playing for hours on end.
If you have been paying attention, there’s even a theoretical cooldown period built into my gambling limits. Let’s say I lose €20 five days in a row, then I have to wait two more days until I can make another deposit. Honestly, it has happened. And those 48 hours to cool down gave me a lot of time to think.
I’m not going to ignore real problem gamblers. They are out there. In my opinion, the best protection is to set limits for yourself, and if you decide to contact customer support to raise those limits rather than self-exclude for a while, THAT’S when you should start thinking that you might have a gambling problem.
Which online casinos do I recommend?
Obviously, I would never recommend any online casino that breaks any of my personal rules for what constitutes a reputable site to gamble. In the end, however, it’s all up to you. All I can do is give you my personal preferences based on my experience.
It’s taken me years to learn what I know about the iGaming industry and how online casinos operate. I can only hope that you take my advice to heart and don’t make some of the mistakes I made in my early days of gambling online.
I will never forget when I calculated the wagering requirements on a welcome bonus wrong and got in touch with customer support, only to be told that I was halfway done.