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The best online casino experience usually starts with the right welcome bonus. And choosing the right casino bonuses means knowing who has the best offers, the lowest wagering requirements, and the most generous rules. After careful analysis of all the options, here are our recommendations!
How to choose the best casino bonuses
There are lots of factors to consider when choosing the best bonus, but three are especially important:
- Is there a non-deposit bonus at registration?
- Is the matching first deposit bonus 100% or over?
- What is the wagering requirement, and does it apply to the deposit, the bonus, or both?
All three factors are explained in more detail below. Please note: this website recommends casino bonuses for slots and video table games only. For recommendations for live casino bonuses please visit Live Casino Buzz.
1. Non-deposit casino bonuses at registration
Experienced UK players will know that registering an account with a new casino is not as easy as it used to be. Online casinos are now required to make “Know Your Customer” or KYC checks by the UK’s Gambling Commission.
Considering the extra hoops now involved, it is nice to be rewarded with a small non-deposit bonus once the registration is successful (especially as KYC checks are often delayed while a real person examines the new account applications).
Casumo get top marks for rewarding players for completing the process. 30 no deposit spins on Book of Dead sounds fantastic, but Casumo have no wagering requirement on these spins, which means this is an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING no deposit bonus.
bgo deserve credit also for their strong no deposit bonus, which likewise has no wagering requirement. It stops short of the Casumo offer with 10 free spins, but if one of those spins wins big it is nice to know players can withdraw their winnings with no further obligation.
Unibet also offer 10 no deposit free spins after a successful registration, although they do have a wagering requirement of 35x on all winnings.
2. How high is the matching deposit bonus?
This is one of the most important factor for ranking casino bonuses, but one that is often overlooked by players who get distracted by the more flashier elements of a promotion.
The reason the bonus match amount is so important is simple. Online casino bonuses are like free money (with conditions), and the percentage match is basically a statement of how much free money players will receive. A 100% first deposit match doubles a stake, but a 200% match triples it. More free money means more chances to win.
A 100% match has become a fairly standard offer from the better online casinos in recent years. Both bgo and Casumo provide this level of bonus to new players. Casumo, importantly, offer a cap of £300 in bonus funds for their 100% match, which is significantly higher than most online casinos offer to UK players.
On this factor, the Unibet offer comes up trumps. Its 200% bonus match up to £200 means that with only a £100 players can have a £300 stake to play with.
Where bonus amounts get tricky is when it comes to wagering requirements…
3. Know your wagering requirements
Perhaps the most important fact for judging the best casino bonuses is the wagering requirements. This rules require players to play through their bonus (or their deposit or both) a certain number of times before they can cash out their winnings.
The structure of various wagering requirement rules varies widely from casino to casino, so players need to be on their toes to spot the best deals!
a. How high is the wagering requirement?
The headline wagering requirement should always be the starting point for determining the best casino bonuses. The shorthand used by most casinos is a number followed by “x,” which indicates the number of times a bonus or deposit must be played through. As a rough guide, 40x is fairly standard and a wagering requirement below this can generally be considered low.
b. What does the wagering requirement apply to?
This is perhaps the most important factor to understand when considering casino bonuses. Roughly half of online casinos apply the wagering requirement to the bonus amount only, but LOTS of online casinos apply it to both the bonus and deposit combined. An example of this is the Casumo bonus, which lists a 30x wagering requirement to its 100% matching deposit bonus but applies it to both deposit and bonus, equating to a fairly high 60x if the requirement applied to the bonus amount only.
Applying a wagering requirement to a bonus only often results in a lower target, but many quality casinos do apply wagering to both bonus and deposit. There is no standard way for online casinos to structure this, so do not assume a casino who applies wagering to both is being sneaky.
c. What is the time limit?
Casino bonuses always come with time limits for players to meet the wagering requirements. As a good rule of thumb, a 30 day time limit is generous (a great example is the Unibet bonus). The shortest time limits are generally 7 days (as done by bgo).
Time limits are especially important with high wagering requirements, as can take a significant amount of time to cycle through hundreds of pounds of bonus funds dozens of time. Before signing up for casino bonuses, make sure there is enough time to enjoy playing it through. If a wagering requirement is not met within a time limit, casinos will void any remaining bonus amount.
d. Is there a maximum bet limit?
Hand in hand with the time limit is the maximum bet limit. This is typically £5 per spin/wager, but it can be as low as £1 or even 50p (£0.50).
The maximum bet for the Casumo bonus is a very generous £10. For bgo it is £2.50 or 10% of the remaining bonus (whichever is lower).
A maximum bet limit means it will take more time to meet a wagering requirement, so it is very important to consider the time limit with the maximum bet well understood in advance.
e. What are the game weightings?
The last factor to consider when evaluating the wagering requirement for casino bonuses is the game weighting. This is not a reference to how “heavy” games are, but how much each game counts towards the wagering requirement. This is where players can unwittingly get themselves in a bind if they are not careful!
The good news is that slot players generally do not have to worry here. Most slots on for most bonuses count 100%. This means a £10 wager counts as a £10 wager towards meeting the requirement.
Do be aware that certain slots might be excluded from a bonus offer, and can even have a 0% weighting (in other words, they do not count at all). This can happen with some Progressive Jackpot slots, or slots from a certain provider. Again, this sort of exclusion is generally uncommon, but not exactly rare either. Heavy players of one particular slot or slots from one particular provider should check before playing that the slots they hope to play count.
Things come unstuck when players switch away from slots to video table games, live casino games, or anything other than slots. Typically a live casino game will count somewhere between 0-10% towards a wagering requirement. This could mean a live casino player could find himself unable to meet a wagering requirement at all, or trying to reach a target that is in effect ten times as large as originally thought.
There is good news, however. Certain casinos have specialist live casino bonuses that have distinct wagering requirement rules just for live casino players. bgo are a good example, and a review of their live casino bonus is available on our companion site Live Casino Buzz.
Video table games can have reduced game weightings, and are sometimes excluded completely.
There is good news for players, however. Play Bingo at Unibet and wagers count 200% towards any requirement!
Choosing the best online casino
Great casino bonuses are an important factor for choosing the right casino, but not the only factor.
Players also need to consider:
- What games are available?
- What deposit methods are available?
- How fast are withdrawals?
All three factors need to be discussed in detail to have a better understanding.
1. How big is the game selection?
New slots are being launched by dozens of top-level game designers every day. Most casinos will have access to slots from the two biggest providers, but the breakout slots are not always produced by the biggest companies anymore.
Of the three casinos recommended on this page, Casumo and Unibet both have a particularly large selection of slots available. Both casinos are also great at putting up new slots within hours of their release. If you like playing the hottest slots on offer just as they come online, Casumo and Unibet are hard to beat.
bgo have a particularly strong relationship with PlayTech, a well-known provider of both slots and live casino games. The release of PlayTech hits like Divine Fortune and Kingdoms Rise are often accompanied by special casino bonuses from bgo, so having an account open with this casino is a smart play.
Exclusive slots are a relatively rare commodity for most online casinos, but Unibet does have long-term exclusives with boutique slot designer Electric Elephant. Wild Society was created specifically for Unibet players, and was launched with a six month exclusive run. Other Electric Elephant exclusives are in the pipeline we are told.
Like casinos themselves, game providers need to have a license from particular countries to be played in that country. For UK players, that means having a license from the Gaming Commission, and to do this designers have to meet stringent requirements. Many providers do not have a UK license, so this means that no matter how big the game selection is at any given casino, they will not provide slots without a UK license to UK players.
2. Casino bonuses may require specific deposit methods
Finding the perfect online casino is no good if it is impossible to make a deposit.
Both bgo and Unibet both accept deposits using PayPal, which is perhaps the most convenient deposit method for UK players.