Once upon a time, the casino signup bonus was a lifeline to a new player but not any more. In
fact, it has been diseased and dying for quite some time...
When I first launched the A-Z of Online Casinos
back around 2010, I wrote a long
article on the pros and cons of a signup bonus
. Even back then,
the concept of a signup bonus had changed a lot since I first played online back in 2004 but
the points in that article are still largely relevant here in mid-2015.
Back then, it was quite simple. I started life playing at Ladbrokes
and I put in a whopping £20 and received £20 "free money"
with a 4x wagering requirement
(4x WR), meaning I only had to turn over the deposit and bonus 4 times
before I could cash out. Around the same time, I played at
who had a signup bonus that wasn't even credited until you had wagered 10x the initial deposit amount and
when that moment finally arrived, you could use it unrestricted.
For what it's worth, I didn't
make the wagering at Ladbrokes, even on the paltry 4x WR! But that was mostly my fault and partly down to a slot
machine called Thunderstruck
, which still repeatedly reminds me of that fact 11 years later!
Ah those were the days. I didn't even give it a second thought to be honest: it was pain and fun rolled
THE LAST RITES
As time has gone on and I have got a bit more savvy, it started to dawn on me that things were changing.
You could even quite legitimately debate the term "no such thing as a free lunch
" when it came to
a casino bonus back then. It wasn't too far off to be honest, as long as you knew what you were doing.
Not any more.
And here's the crux of the problem. When you dish up "something for nothing
", or more accurately
in this instance you create the perception
that you are
dishing up something for nothing, you are going find yourself with lots of friends. Very quickly. Superficial
friends obviously: they really just want what you've got. And of course the more people that want what you've
got, the faster you're not going to have it. But everyone needs friends, right? Or customers. Or better still,
friendly customers! So you still intimate that you can give them "something for nothing", only now they have to work for it.
And they do. So, you make them work a bit harder. And they do, because it's "free money" baby! No surprise then
that his cycle will repeat itself until the point at which either a
) you have nothing left or
) what you have isn't worth having. Ah...Bingo! Now we're getting warm.
This is where we are currently at with the casino signup bonus, in my opinion. In fact, we crossed that line
sometime around 2013 but, because the casinos lack an alternative, you will still see the bonus offered by virtually every
online casino you come across! Only it's not really a "bonus" at all anymore. Quite the opposite in fact. I prefer
the term, "bonus trap
" in fact.
We are now used to the 40x wagering, the ever-growing "excluded games
" list, the low max bet restrictions,
the free spin offers that are simply mutton dressed as lamb, the "spirit of the bonus
" excuse for not paying out bonus winnings and the latest one,
recently implemented by a large number of Microgaming download casinos
a low maximum cashout
of 6x the deposit used to claim the bonus. This is ON TOP OF
the 40x +/- wagering requirement
prior to a cashout request.
WE COME TOGETHER
Not to celebrate the bonus, nor to grieve, but to dwell on our reasons for being here.
The first reason is probably quite obvious: when you purport to offer something for nothing
comes to get it, it becomes unsustainable. Secondly, the "something for nothing
" philosphy is designed to prey on the human
trait of "greed" so is it not rather obvious also that exactly the type of
person that will get attracted by "free money
" is - *shock horror* - someone who wants something
for nothing! What do you expect?
So with this self-perpetuating act of naivity/ostrich behaviour, it is inevitable that bonus terms will continue to get
until the point at which they no longer attract the player who wants "something for nothing
At which point, well, it's pointless even offering it! And in my opinion, this is where we stand
But still, the casinos (and many affiliates too) continue to advertise the signup bonus as a good thing
. Some might
even still believe
So it seems that the casinos don't seem to want to drop the idea of a signup bonus just yet,
even though savvy
players know it is more often than not a disadvantage to take one. This is probably because the
casinos don't have an alternative and most are scared that the competition will have an edge. Which actually, is getting less
likely by the day as the signup bonus terms get worse and worse.
It is also probably because - for the casinos at least - it still works as an acquistion tool. I mean, how many new players read the terms,
know what they are getting into and get lulled into a false sense of security? Quite a few inexperienced players I suspect. And
they probably most likely always will - the first time.
What we need is either a) someone to innovate, take a risk, try
something different or b) start to attract customers by offering good service
and by focusing on
gaining and rewarding loyalty! They all think they do but they don't. Trust me. It is seriously
how many casinos sacrifice service for savings... but that story is for another day.
For players, the solution is simple: don't take a signup bonus
. Play with your own money and you are
free to cash out when you win instead of being tied into days of wagering with a 95%+ chance you will lose the lot
in the process. Including your deposit. Any site that tells you otherwise is not telling it to you straight!
So I put it to you that the bonus is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet it's maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life,
It rests in peace!
And Amen to that.
FOOTNOTE: THE BLAME GAME
We shouldn't just
blame the casinos and affiliates for this situation. Player fraud has played a very large role
in getting us to this point and the restrictions are largely designed to combat and protect against fraud.
However, as I stated earlier, if you offer something for free then you will get people trying to take advantage. This is a
shared responsibility but it's down to the casinos to find a suitable replacement, if indeed they feel it is necessary. They can
certainly hardly blame anyone but themselves for bonus issues arising from such blatantly materialistic offers.
I'd argue we are nearing a point where it could actually be deemed deceptive to offer a "bonus" but I doubt anyone will care or
do anything about it. Even the regulatory bodies are largely disinterested in things like that.