- Welcome bonuses are free money
- You must gamble to unlock them
- Bonuses come in different forms
Your Australian Online Casino Bonus Guide – Get The Best AU Gambling Bonuses
You make a decision when you sign up with an online casino and choose one over another. To help you pick, they like to reward you with a welcome bonus. Online casino sites recommended here will offer you a 100% match on your first deposit, and this can include deposits of well over $1000. That’s a lot of free money to be playing with.
What’s more, our team have tested out all of the shortlisted sites to make sure the playthrough requirements are reasonable, and will allow you to spend your bonus money on the games you like, at a reasonable gaming pace.
To get a bonus that suits you right away, our team has chosen Jackpot City as having the best ranked bonus in December 2016.
Read our full guide to find:
- Bonuses that don't force you to jump through hoops to get your money
- Online casino bonuses that are designed for Australian players
- Smart tips and tricks to get more out of each bonus
Best Online Casino Bonuses 2016
Online Casino Bonuses: What Every Aussie Gambler Needs to Know
Sign up today and receive AUD$3,000 FREE!
If those words above in big bold letters piqued your attention, that's the whole idea. While the amounts vary, virtually every online casino in business today offers new players a Welcome Bonus. In a nutshell, we're talking about free money. Some of these offers are potentially huge, but others come with a catch (or multiple catches).
But don't worry. We're here to sort it all out for you. Read on to discover:
- The different casino bonuses available to new players in Australia
- How to unlock different types of casino bonuses even after you've signed up
- Which sites offer the top bonuses for Aussie online gamblers
The Truth About Australia Casino Bonuses
We know what you're thinking. Free money? How could I turn that down? You may even think, if the casino is that foolish to let me have thousands of dollars just because I open up an account there, I will happily withdraw it before they know what hits them and they will never see me again.
No casino is that foolish. There are strict terms and conditions before you are allowed to keep any of this "free" money, if you are allowed to keep it. (At some casinos, players do not get to keep the bonuses because they are given for playing purposes only.) The simple truth is that the Welcome Bonus is not a dumb business move at all, but a very smart one whose primary purpose is not to benefit you, the player, but to benefit the casino. However, by choosing and using your bonuses wisely, they can be very advantageous to you.
By choosing and using your casino bonuses wisely, they can be very advantageous to you.
The Online Casino Welcome Bonus: What it is and why you get it
Usually, the bonus is in the form of pending funds that the casino is willing to put up to match your own deposited funds. In other words, the money is placed in your account, but is temporarily frozen, along with your associated deposit and any resulting winnings, until you have met the casino's designated wagering requirements for withdrawal, commonly referred to as "playthrough" requirements. The Welcome Bonus is a unique feature of online gambling. No land-based casino offers it, nor does it need to because players come not just to gamble, but to eat, drink, and be entertained, and enjoy the live casino experience. When you walk into a brick and mortar casino for the very first time and sign up for a player's card, consider yourself lucky if you get $10 in free slot play or $5 off on the buffet. On day 1, the casino doesn't know anything about you and what kind of a player you are. Only after you demonstrate by your actions that you are a valued player, will the casino respond accordingly, and if your level of play qualifies you for VIP status, free rooms, food, entertainment, and more will be lavished on you.
Obviously, when you play online on your computer or on your smartphone or tablet, these kinds of incentives would be useless, so the casino has to come up with something else to make you feel it is worth your while to play there. That something is a bonus, more often than not, a match of funds you put up yourself so you will be able to gamble with and win real money. These bonuses, even the biggest ones, always have a cap on them. In other words, you are free to deposit more money, if you wish, but you will not receive any more bonus money. In addition, the games that count 100% towards meeting the playthrough requirements are those with a higher house edge (like pokies) rather than those with the lowest house edge (like blackjack). Another stipulation might be that you have to wager with your own funds before you can use the bonus. All of these tactics are designed to minimise the casino's own risk while increasing yours. There are also so-called "no deposit" bonuses, but as you will learn later in this article, contrary to what you may think, they are not "absolutely free" either.
What Bonuses Can Do for You
Another reason why casinos can afford to be generous with their Welcome Bonuses is that in many instances, they go unclaimed. Very rarely does a player not get a bonus because of casino cheating. It is almost always because the player did not understand or failed to meet the casino's terms and conditions. However, if you take the time to read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting a bonus and then only accept bonuses in amounts and with terms that make sense for your style of play, a good bonus can prove very advantageous. The best online pokies have a return to player (RTP) of 96% or better, but even so, it may be a while before your own luck takes a positive turn. A good Welcome Bonus will boost your bankroll so you can weather the inevitable dry spells, especially early on. It will also give you more ammunition so you can take full advantage of your lucky streaks on all kinds of casino games like video poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat or slots (pokies).
How the Welcome Bonus Works
Aussie gamblers could probably play at a different online casino every day if they choose (not recommended) and still not come close to exhausting all of their options. And every single one would probably offer you, as a first time player, some sort of Welcome Bonus. However, that is where the similarity ends. Online casinos vary greatly in software quality, number of games, banking methods, customer service, and type of Welcome Bonus. One thing you can count on though is very clever wording to make each bonus sound as irresistible as possible.
The casinos know that gamblers want their bonus ASAP, and that means, more likely than not, at least part of your bonus, if not all of it, will be offered to you on day 1, as soon as you make your first deposit. Many casinos offer a 100% match of your first deposit, up to a specified maximum. What this maximum is can vary considerably from one casino to another. For example, at one casino the bonus might be capped at $500, at another only $200.
Some casinos might make the bonus even more enticing by giving you a deposit match greater than 100%, such as 150%, 200%, or 300% (for example, a 200% match of your first deposit up to $600). Alternatively, some casinos spread out the bonus over several deposits (usually 2, 3, or 4, but it could be more), in which case the deposit match might be only 25% or 50% rather than 100%. For example, a casino might offer a 100% match of the first deposit up to $200, followed by a 50% match of the second deposit up to $300, followed by a 25% match of the third deposit up to $500. Note that as the bonus gets bigger, the percentage of your deposit gets smaller. This is intentional to get you to deposit more of your own funds. If you do the math (which you always should before accepting any bonus), you will see that all together, this hypothetical casino is offering a bonus of up to $1,000. But in order to get that amount, you would have to deposit a total of $2,800 of your own money.
Can You Afford the Welcome Bonus?
Depositing the requisite funds into your account is the first thing you need to do in order to receive your Welcome Bonus, but it is not the only thing you need to do. Your bonus, the deposit that enabled you to get it, and any winnings based on these funds all remain in pending (i.e., unavailable to you) status until you satisfy the casino's playthrough requirements for withdrawal. Each casino sets its own specific requirements, which can range from reasonable to ridiculous. But in every instance, the minimum playthrough is a certain multiple of your bonus (and in many casinos, your deposit, too). Therefore, at any given casino, the bigger your bonus, the higher the playthrough. Most casinos give you a reasonable amount of time, but not forever, to meet these minimum wagering requirements. That means you don't necessarily have to play every day (although casinos would love it if you do). But you'll probably have to play more often and for larger amounts than you are accustomed.
Are pokies your favourite game? You are in luck because they count 100% towards meeting the Welcome Bonus wagering requirements. Keno, parlour games, and scratch cards also usually count 100%, but what about blackjack, roulette, video poker, and other popular casino games. Read the casino's fine print and you will see, they count only a tiny percentage or not at all. Let's say you want to mix in a little roulette with your pokies play, and at this casino, the playthrough requirement for pokies is 25x the bonus + deposit. However, roulette only counts 10%. That means the wagering requirements for roulette soar to 250x the bonus + deposit (Some casinos offer a special Table Games bonus, but invariably, these games contribute only partially towards meeting the playthrough requirements, so you are no better off.
Or suppose roulette doesn't count at all, but you play it anyway. What happens depends on the casino. In the best case scenario, you just won't get any credit for your roulette play as far as clearing your bonus is concerned. In the worst case scenario, you forfeit your entire bonus and all of your winnings associated with it!
Can you afford the Welcome Bonus? Unless you are a high roller, you might not be able to afford the maximum bonus. If you are a small player, you almost certainly cannot afford the maximum bonus. However, at any casino, you are free to deposit less than the maximum. Then, as long as it is at least the minimum deposit allowed, you will still receive a bonus, only less, which means a smaller playthrough requirement and less strain on your bankroll. Or, if you prefer, you can decline the bonus altogether, and bet as you please on any game you please. The minimum deposit is usually very small, like $10 or $20. If you cannot afford the wagering requirements for a bonus of that size, you probably should not be betting.
Types of Bonuses
Each individual casino may have its own particular twist on the size and structure of its Welcome Bonus, and some may add to the confusion by asking you to pick from a choice of several bonuses. Basically there are three different types of Welcome Bonuses. We describe them below, from best to worst. Another variation, which some casinos also offer, is the so-called No Deposit Required Bonus. Since that one, if offered, is given to you on day 1, the minute you sign up, let's begin by telling you a little about the No Deposit Required Bonus and how it works.
No Deposit Bonus
Who can resist the offer to try before you buy? True to their word, many casinos invite new would-be customers to take advantage of what they call a "No Deposit Required" bonus. This small bonus (typically $10 or $20) allows you to try out any games you wish just for signing up, with no obligation to deposit anything. This is a great opportunity for you to get the feel of a casino before committing yourself. If you don't like the place, no harm done; you can take your action elsewhere. But if you do like the casino, they already have your information, so you can convert to real money player status and, of course, get your Welcome Bonus, too in practically no time at all.
The catch to the "No Deposit Bonus" is that before you can withdraw any money you win with it, the casino imposes a playthrough requirement. This is large enough (i.e., 50x the bonus) that there is no way a $10 or $20 bonus can cover it. In other words, if you want to collect your winnings, you do need to make a deposit. There is also a very low cap on the amount you can win, typically $100. But the casino is banking on it being more than enough to convince you to take the Welcome Bonus and try for bigger wins.
Withdrawable Welcome Bonus with playthrough requirements based on bonus only
All of the Microgaming casinos offer this type of bonus, and of the three types of Welcome Bonuses described here, it is clearly the best of the bunch. However, many casinos now require wagering the bonus 50x, which is a lot, but still superior to many other bonuses out there. If you find a casino that has a 30x or 40x wagering requirement, grab it because those are among the best terms you can hope for anywhere. As soon the wagering requirements have been fully met, whatever is left in your account, bonus, deposit, and winnings, is yours to keep.
Withdrawable Welcome Bonus with playthrough requirements based on bonus + deposit
The demands on your bankroll are greater with this bonus because the playthrough requirements are based not just on the bonus, but also your own deposited funds. The multiple that is used is lower than when only the bonus amount is considered, but even so, because both the bonus and deposit enter into the equation, the overall wagering requirement may be higher. You will have to do the math and see. A playthrough requirement of 20x the bonus + deposit is not bad; a playthrough requirement of 30x the bonus + deposit may be tough on your bankroll.
Keep in mind, too, that the casino will probably require you to use your own deposited money for wagering purposes first before allowing you to use the bonus for your betting. The good news is that with this bonus, also, as soon as the playthrough requirements have been fully satisfied, your bonus, deposit, and winnings (or whatever is left of them) become available for withdrawal.
Sticky Welcome Bonus with playthrough requirements based on bonus + deposit
This bonus works the same way as the preceding one except for one important difference. It is a "sticky" bonus, meaning that you do not get to keep it under any circumstances, even after satisfying the wagering requirements. After all of that play (or earlier if you make the mistake of playing an excluded game), the casino takes the bonus back. These bonuses can be quite large (depending on the size of your deposit), so removing the bonus from your account will cause your account balance to drop dramatically. (But you guessed it, if your account balance falls to almost nothing, you can always make another deposit and build it back up again!). Sticky bonuses give you a false sense of comfort and make it very easy to bet over your head. They are very hazardous to your bankroll, so bettor beware!
A good Welcome Bonus will get you in the door, but even the best of them won't last forever, and sooner or later, your account will need replenishing. Many casinos encourage you to do just that by offering reload bonuses. Reload bonuses, just like the Welcome Bonus, may be either withdrawable or sticky, but either way, there are again designated playthrough requirements before you can withdraw your winnings. The frequency with which these reload bonuses are offered varies. Some casinos only offer them to high rollers; others make them available weekly to everyone. Some go so far as to offer them on a daily basis. Reload bonuses are good, to a point. You should not become overly dependent on them.
Some online gambling bonuses (especially those for poker play) rather than being released all at once, are released incrementally based on your play. The website will inform you if the bonus is structured in such a manner and also indicate the length of time you have. Any part of the bonus that remains unreleased by the expiration date is forfeited. This format is a good one because if, for any reason, you cannot manage to unlock the bonus in its entirety, at least you get part of it.
Another way you can earn bonuses at many casinos is through the casino's tiered loyalty programme. As you move up in level, based on play, each successive loyalty tier brings with it increased rewards, one of which is bigger and better bonuses. Qualifying players may be eligible for special weekly and monthly bonuses, along with a birthday bonus. These bonuses, like all of the others we have described, are generally not completely free, but come with playthrough requirements for withdrawal.
Keeping Track of Your Bonus Balance
Practice smart money management by knowing your bonus balance each time you play. Make it a habit to check with the cashier what your cash balance is and what your pending bonus balance is, and how much additional play is necessary in order for the pending funds to become available.
Summary and Conclusion
The quality of a casino's bonuses speaks volumes about the quality of the casino in general. Aussies have a choice of hundreds of casinos, so you can afford to be selective. Some bonuses are excellent, while others are downright bad, so do your homework and don't let anyone talk you into a bonus that sounds too good to be true and probably is. Bigger does not necessarily mean better, particularly if the playthrough requirements border on the impossible.
Steer clear of casinos that are not forthcoming beforehand about what is required of you The better casinos do disclose all of the terms and conditions on the website, but frequently the information is shown in very small print in a long-winded extremely detailed presentation that is far from reader-friendly. It is no surprise that many players do not bother read this material. Don't make that mistake. Read it, and if there is anything you do not understand, contact Customer Support via live chat, phone or email and ask.
If your past experiences accessing Welcome Bonuses have not always been good ones, try following these simple guidelines so that the bonuses you receive in the future can work for you, not against you. Use your bonuses to boost your bankroll and increase your winning potential, but do not use them as an excuse to play at a higher level than you can afford to play without the bonus. Choose and use your bonuses wisely to be a winner in the casino.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bonuses are a huge online casino perk. Both established and new casinos are constantly trying to out do each other with the biggest bonuses combined with the least requirements. We're stoked to point you to the to hottest bonuses and keep you well informed as to the kinds you might encounter, including how to cash in on them.
How do bonuses work?
Such bonuses are specified as a percentage match up to a maximum benefit like "50% match bonus up to AU$200" or "100% match bonus up to AU$200". The latter is more lucrative because you only have to wager AU$200 instead of AU$400 in order to earn the AU$200 maximum bonus.