Online casino bonuses to avoid at all costs

As an online casino player, you’re always on the lookout for ways to boost your bankroll and make the most of your gambling experience. One way casinos try to attract new players is by offering a wide range of bonuses and promotions – from sign-up bonuses and deposit matches to free spins and cashback offers.

While these perks can certainly be tempting, not all online casino bonuses are created equal. In fact, some of them should be avoided like the plague. Why? Because they come with strings attached that can end up costing you more money in the long run than they’re worth.

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In this post, we’ll take a closer look at five types of online casino bonuses that you should steer clear of if you want to keep your wallet (and your sanity) intact. So buckle up, because it’s time to dive into the world of casino bonuses – and separate the good guys from the bad boys.

Wager Requirements That Are Through the Roof

When it comes to online casino bonuses, one of the biggest gotchas to watch out for are wagering requirements that are through the roof. These are those pesky rules that dictate how many times you have to play through your bonus before you can actually withdraw any winnings. And let me tell you, sometimes those requirements can be downright outrageous.

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For example, let’s say you sign up for a casino that offers you a generous $500 bonus – but there’s a catch. The fine print reveals that you have to wage that bonus 70 times before you can cash out. What does that even mean? Well, let’s do the math. If you deposit $100 of your own money, the casino will match it with another $100 (for a total of $200), meaning your bonus is $100. So, you would have to place bets totaling $100 x 70, which adds up to a whopping $7,000.

Suddenly that bonus doesn’t seem so great, right? In fact, it’s practically impossible to actually clear the requirement without spending a lot of your own money or walking away with very little to show for it.

The key here is to look for bonuses with reasonable wagering requirements – generally, anything under 35x is considered manageable. Any higher than that, and you’re setting yourself up for a losing proposition. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

Time Restrictions That Are Too Short

Another trick that online casinos like to pull is imposing time restrictions on their bonuses that are just too short. On the surface, these offers might sound great – “Claim your bonus now and have 24 hours to use it!” or “Limited time only! Act fast before it’s too late.” But if you read the fine print, you’ll often find that those 24 hours (or whatever the timeframe may be) start ticking as soon as you claim the bonus. Not as enticing now, huh?

Let’s say you’re a busy person (who isn’t?) and you don’t have several hours free each day to devote to gambling. If you attempt to clear a time-sensitive bonus during your lunch break or after putting the kids to bed, you risk wasting a lot of your precious time and energy without actually making a dent in that deadline. Plus, if you fail to meet the requirement within the allotted time, poof! Your bonus disappears into thin air, along with any winnings you may have accumulated.

My advice? Don’t fall for the FOMO (fear of missing out) tactics that casinos use to pressure you into claiming a bonus in a hurry. Instead, seek out offers that give you a more realistic time frame – anywhere from a week to a month should be sufficient to clear the requirement without feeling like you’re running a marathon.

Trust me, there will always be another bonus waiting for you around the corner. You don’t want to miss out on good opportunities, but you also don’t want to rush into something that could cost you more than it’s worth.

Games That Don’t Contribute Much (Or Anything) to the Bonus

This one caught me off guard when I first started out in the world of online gambling. You see, not all games are created equal when it comes to clearing a bonus. In fact, some casinos will only count a fraction of your wagers on certain games toward meeting the wagering requirement. Or, horror of horrors, they might exclude certain games altogether.

What kind of sick joke is that, you ask? It’s their way of encouraging you to play slots, which tend to have higher house edges and faster payouts for the casino. Table game players need not apply (or at least, not with our money).

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If you’re a blackjack aficionado like me, you’ll want to pay close attention to this factor. There’s nothing more disheartening than pounding out hour after hour of blackjack, only to realize that a mere 5% or 10% of your bets are contributing to your bonus. It’s like trying to fill a bucket with holes in it – no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to reach your goal.

My recommendation? Always check the weight or contribution percentage for the games you want to play before accepting a bonus. A good rule of thumb is to look for offers that give blackjack and other table games weight close to 20%, which is closer to their true theoretical contribution. Any lower than that, and you’re leaving money on the table (literally).

Don’t settle for bonuses that treat you like a second-class citizen – demand the respect you deserve as a discerning gambler. Your wallet (and your sanity) will thank you.

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Strict and Vague Rules about What Constitutes Prohibited “Prime Play”

Another sneaky tactic that online casinos use to trip you up is imposing strict and vague rules about prohibited “prime play.” Basically, this term refers to the period immediately after you claim a bonus when you’re supposed to focus on clearing that requirement rather than placing random or risky bets. Makes sense, right?

The problem is, some casinos define prime play in overly broad terms or fail to provide clear guidelines about what constitutes a violation. For instance, they might accuse you of prime play if you win a jackpot shortly after claiming a bonus, even if you genuinely thought your luck was due for a change. Or, they could slap you with a prohibition against playing certain betting systems or strategies, despite the fact that these approaches are perfectly legitimate (and quite popular among savvy gamblers).

The danger here is that if the casino determines you have engaged in prime play (whatever that means), they can confiscate your bonus, your winnings, or both. Talk about a buzzkill.

To avoid falling into this trap, I recommend choosing bonuses from reputable and transparent casinos that spell out their prime play policies in detail and are willing to engage in open communication with their players. It’s not rocket science, people – treat your customers with respect and fairness, and they’re more likely to stick around.

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My Secret Weapon: Research, Research, Research!

Ok, maybe research isn’t exactly a secret weapon, but it’s bloody important when it comes to avoiding shady casino bonuses. Before you claim any offer, no matter how tantalizing it looks, take the time to read the reviews, the forums, the T&Cs…anything and everything you can get your hands on. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to fall for scammy tactics or bonuses with hidden pitfalls.

Personally, I rely on a few trusted resources to help me navigate the sometimes murky waters of online casino bonuses. Sites like Casinogorounds, Pokerlistings and AskGamblers are my go-to places for unbiased reviews, expert analysis, and user feedback. I also join online communities of casino players where I can exchange tips, strategies, and war stories with like-minded individuals. Knowledge is power, folks – embrace it.

Of course, even with all my research and expertise, I’ve had my fair share of boneheaded moves when it comes to bonuses. I once fell for a time restriction that was way too short (let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep that night), and another time I ignored the weight system and ended up playing a slot machine that gave me stomach cramps (true story). But that’s the beauty of making mistakes – you learn from them and become a wiser, more seasoned gambler as a result.

So, my fellow bonuses hunters and chasers, I implore you: educate yourselves, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to walk away from an offer that smells funky. There’s a whole wide world of bonuses out there – why waste your time on the losers?

Until next time, happy spinning (but not too happily if the RNG gods are against you)!


  • All bonus amounts and wagering requirements mentioned in this post are entirely fabricated and serve purely as examples. The author makes no claims of accuracy or relevance to actual bonuses offered by online casinos.
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