At the dawn of interactive gambling in the mid-1990s, the rules for bonus participation were considerably less strict than they are today. Savvy gamblers quickly learned how to exploit promotional incentives to their advantage and improve their profitability through free play.
Online casinos noticed these practices affected their bottom line just as quickly and took all the necessary precautions to thwart such customers, labeling them bonus abusers. Today, you will find the term ‘bonus abuse’ in the user agreements of all online casinos. Various restrictions are now imposed on bonus participants to hinder potential abusers and we cover them all in the following article.
Practices That Qualify as Bonus Abuse
1What "Bonus Abuse" Means
The term ‘bonus abuse’ comprises a broad range of practices rather than being related to one specific action. There are slight nuances to the definition across different online casinos but the term most typically refers to the practice of intentionally violating the bonus terms to gain an unfair advantage over the house during free play. Below, we describe some of the most common forms of bonus abuse that all online casinos frown upon.
Multi-accounting is the most widespread type of bonus abuse where the player creates multiple accounts at an online casino to claim the same promotional offers several times. By a rule of thumb, online gambling operators limit each customer to no more than one real-money account per household and IP address.
The practice is common among shrewd players who seek to exploit welcome or no-deposit offers that are typically restricted to one bonus per customer. Some gamblers attempt to circumvent these restrictions by signing up with different email addresses or using virtual private networks (VPNs) to mask their location and IP.
3Clearing Bonus Playthrough with Large Bets
Nearly all online casinos impose wagering requirements on their bonuses, a condition also known as bonus playthrough. The rule requires customers to earn their bonuses rather than being able to withdraw them instantly after redemption. Players must wager a specific amount before the bonus becomes available for withdrawal in their cash balance. This is an example of how the wagering requirements work:
- John and James both qualify for a $150 first-deposit bonus
- The wagering requirements for the offer are set at 30x the bonus value.
- Both players must place 30 x 150 = $4,500 in bets to withdraw their bonuses.
- John clears his playthrough after placing 450 bets of $10 each (4,500 / 10 = 450)
- James meets his wagering requirements after only 9 bets of $500 each (4,500 / 500 = 9)
Savvy players attempt to clear the playthrough quickly by dramatically raising their bets per round and immediately decreasing them after the wagering requirements have been met. The approach spares them the grind against the house edge just to release a bonus. Online casinos detect potential bonus abusers like James precisely by these irregular betting patterns.
Most gambling operators impose restrictions on maximum bets with active bonuses, limiting them to $10 or even $5 per round. Customers like James who try to play it smart and violate the maximum bet restrictions have their free credits confiscated in favor of the casino.
4Combining High RTP Games with Low-Playthrough Bonuses
Bonus abusers sometimes try to outsmart online casinos by intentionally playing only games with a high theoretical return to player (RTP). Such customers further improve their chances of turning a profit during free play by combining high-return games with promotional incentives that have very low wagering requirements. Let’s use an example with James again to show you how the logic behind this practice works:
- James opts in for a $100 bonus.
- The promotion in question has 20x wagering requirements.
- James decides to clear the playthrough on single-zero roulette with an RTP of 97.30%.
- James must bet 20 x 100 = $2,000 to clear the wagering.
- His potential winnings are equal to 2,000 x 0.973 = $1,946 and his losses will amount to $54.
- James’ theoretical profits from this bonus will be $100 – $54 = $46.
James has not cheated or done anything particularly nefarious by choosing a roulette variation with a higher theoretical return while wagering his bonus. What is more, his $46 in profits are also theoretical, i.e. he may win less or more than this amount.
Despite this, many online casinos frown at this practice and label it bonus abuse. Some gambling operators take precautions by disqualifying the games with high theoretical returns from the bonus playthrough or dramatically reducing their wagering contribution. Others completely prohibit customers from playing such games while having active bonuses in their accounts.
5Having More Than One Active Bonus
On rare occasions, glitches and errors in an online casino’s system could enable players to redeem the same promotion twice or have several active bonuses at the same time. As tempting as it is to take advantage of such errors, we advise you not to press your luck. Sooner or later they will catch you and revoke your bonuses. Some operators may go as far as closing down your entire account for this violation.
6Low-Risk Betting and Hedging with Active Bonuses
The approach is mainly used by online sports bettors, although it is also applicable to casino games like roulette. It enables gamblers to reduce their risk exposure and potentially secure some winnings. When using this method, one is practically placing bets on two opposite sides of the same sports market.
In the context of casino games, low-risk betting usually means wagering on both black and red in roulette or simultaneously backing the Player and Banker side in baccarat. Some casinos altogether prohibit bonus users from placing even-money roulette bets like black-red, even-odd, and high-low until they clear the playthrough. Others disallow using the double-up feature in online slots and video poker to increase winnings while wagering a bonus.
How Online Casinos Combat Bonus Abusers
Online casinos have adopted various measures to combat bonus abusers and protect their bottom line. The rules are clearly stated in the terms and conditions of each individual promotional offer, allowing players to avoid violations ahead of time. Other common measures include IP tracking as well as country and payment method restrictions on bonus redemption.
Rules to Follow to Avoid Bonus Abuse
Having your bonus rescinded is never a pleasant experience but you can easily avoid it if you steer clear of the above-mentioned practices. Players can also get past this issue by registering at different online casinos and reading their bonus terms meticulously.
2Opt in for Bonuses at Different Online Casinos
There is no shortage of lucrative deals at online casinos as nearly all gambling sites on the internet offer bonuses to customers. These come in all shapes and sizes, from no deposit and welcome bonuses to cashbacks, free spins, and loyalty points.
Setting up multiple accounts at the same gambling site makes no sense considering this variety. Instead, you can register at several casinos, take advantage of their offers, and go back when they put up new promotions you find appealing.
3Ensure You Understand the Bonus Terms and Conditions
Some players violate the bonus rules unintentionally because they are too lazy to thoroughly read the conditions attached to the offers. You can easily prevent bonus confiscation by reading the terms carefully so that you know what you should and should not do.
If you struggle to understand a clause, you can always ask the customer support team for clarification. Some of the most common terms bonus users must satisfy include:
- Minimum deposit – Most bonuses require a minimum deposit to trigger. If you deposit less, the casino will not credit the free funds to your bonus balance.
- Valid promo code – Players must sometimes enter valid promo codes to activate their bonuses. Make sure you type in yours correctly as the codes are case-sensitive in most instances.
- Wagering requirements – After you activate your bonus, you typically must wager it a given number of times before you can earn it.
- Eligible games – Many casinos exclude specific releases from the bonus wagering. Check the excluded titles and play only eligible games until you clear the playthrough.
- Maximum bets – Check how much you can bet per round with an active bonus and adhere to the limit while meeting the wagering requirements.
- Country restrictions – Be sure to check whether your country is eligible for bonus redemption. If not, move on to another gambling site where you will be able to opt in for promotions.