The online casino business is a cutthroat industry, with rival brands constantly jockeying to bring in more players than the competition. While this battle is fought on multiple fronts ranging from game selection to overall design, one of the most frequent areas of contention involves free money for the player.

These freebies are often known as “sign-up bonuses,” and they result in additional funds being added to the customer’s account. Some bonuses aren’t triggered until the player places some of their own money into a casino account, while other options are handed out as soon as the customer has chosen their username and password.

If you’re new to the world of online gambling, then it’s possible that you’ve yet to receive your first signup bonus from a casino. For those who want to know more before diving in, I’ve put together this article covering the types of bonuses and requirements for withdrawal.

Getting Your First Sign-Up Bonus from the Casino

If you’re tired of being a casino bonus virgin, you won’t have to try too hard to resolve the situation. Assuming you have a connection to the Internet, you should be able to get a bonus within just a few minutes.

The first step involves heading to a casino website. This is often the most important task in any journey involving online gaming, and I suggest taking some time and doing research before making a decision. Not all virtual casinos are created equal, and you want to make sure that a site is reputable before giving them access to your financial date or hard-earned cash.

Once you’ve found a site that you can live with, the next step involves creating an account with a username and password. This act alone might qualify you for free cash, although some sites require you to place money into your account before forking over any complimentary funds.  In either case, it’s a simple matter than can be achieved by gamblers of all skill levels.

Leading Types of Sign-Up Bonuses

Bonus amounts can be obtained in a variety of ways, although all of them are easy to come by. In most cases, all the player has to do is be willing to risk their own money. Here are some of the most common examples found at online casinos across the globe:

No Deposit Bonus – This form of bonus is highly coveted by online gamblers, although it’s rarely as great as it might initially sound. On the surface, this is a bonus that’s awarded to the player without requiring them to risk any of their own bankroll. As you’ll see in the next entry, however, this type of incentive has a major limitation.

Non-Cashable Bonus – This form of bonus is often combined with the no deposit bonus in order to offset their obvious advantage for players. As the name would indicate, this is a bonus amount that cannot be cashed out. The “sticky” version remains in the player’s account until it’s lost, while the “phantom” type disappears the first time a player requests a withdrawal.

Welcome Bonus – This bonus is given to players when they first fund an account, and it often matches 100% of the initial deposit. Some welcome bonuses are broken up into stages, with players also receiving money on their second or third deposits. This amount may also be attached to a specific type of casino game, awarding players who tend to gravitate to one form of gambling.

Referral Bonus – If you refer someone to a casino, you may both wind up with bonus cash. The new customer gets their free money when they make an initial deposit and mention the person who referred them. The referrer, meanwhile, often receives their bonus once the new player has wagered a specified sum of money (although some sites pay immediately for referrals).

So What’s the Catch with Free Money Offered by the Casino?

When the casino gives you money, you can’t just turn around and cash out. This happened quite often in the early days of Internet gambling, but gaming sites soon wised up and imposed restrictions.

Before you can withdraw the free money that’s been given to you by the casino, you have to meet a wagering requirement (also known as a “playthrough”). This amount is generally expressed as a multiple of the original bonus amount.

For example, let’s say that you received a $100 sign-up bonus, but the casino’s terms and conditions require a 30X playthrough before the bonus amount can be withdrawn. That means you would need to risk $3000 ($100 multiplied by 30) before you could have the initial $100 sent to you.

In some cases, a time limit may also be imposed. This requires the player to meet the wagering requirement within a certain length of time. If they fail to do so, then the bonus amount (and sometimes the winnings resulting from the amount) are lost forever.

Not all casino games count towards meeting the wagering requirements, as the casino’s ultimate goal is to give you “free money” and then make you lose it all (and more) while satisfying the playthrough requirements. Slots are always accepted, but 50/50 propositions like betting red or black on roulette may be prohibited.


Getting your first casino signup bonus is easy. If this weren’t the case, then it wouldn’t be especially useful for attracting new clients and serving as a marketing tool.

While the prospect of free money is always appealing, online gamblers should keep in mind that “free” carries a different definition for players and casinos. Complimentary funds placed into your account are likely to have a few strings attached, with some gaming sites being more demanding than others.

Despite the fine print, it makes sense to take advantage of every perk offered by the casino. This is especially true for players who are looking for a long-tern business relationship, as every penny placed into your account by the house is one less that’s coming out of your bank account.

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