What is the Best Online Casino Bonus?

Online casinos often entice players with large sized bonuses, luring them to the gaming tables with promises of extravagant payouts. Some of these bonuses come without any strings attached, while others are a little trickier—or as they say in the industry, “sticky.” A sticky bonus isn’t necessarily an illegitimate or false promise, but it does come with fine print and strings attached, and isn’t generally something that can be cashed out. Understanding the differences between non-sticky (or traditional) and sticky bonuses at online casinos is an important element of being an informed online gamer. Protect yourself and your investments by understanding precisely what you’re signing on for, and the exact nature of the bonuses you can expect in the venues of your choice.

Sometimes called a phantom bonus, the sticky bonus is essentially a bonus awarded to a player, but which the player is unable to cash out. In contrast to a traditional bonus, which is an amount added to a player’s account, and which can be cashed out along with the rest of the player’s balance, a sticky bonus will seem to disappear from the balance if the player tries to withdraw that balance. The terminology comes from the idea that a sticky bonus does indeed “stick” to the player’s online account, even if the player moves to withdraw the other funds from that account.

The bonus itself is often proffered as an incentive for a new player to sign up as a gaming member of a casino, with the bonus being deposited in the new player’s account upfront. For a player who intends to stay and play, there’s not necessarily a disadvantage to the sticky bonus. The additional funds give the gamer more wagering money to initiate their play, and if there are initial losses, those losses aren’t so hard on the player when they didn’t all come from the player’s personal pocket. In addition, the sticky bonus is often given in a much larger amount than a traditional cashable bonus—which makes sense if you consider that the casino doesn’t have much to lose in offering money-for-play which is guaranteed to stay within that casino’s gaming system.

The sticky bonus is one that looks great as part of a player’s account balance, but may not be accessible to a player in all the ways that a traditional bonus would be. The sticky bonus itself cannot be withdrawn from the casino account, although the player can cash out any winnings earned with the use of the sticky bonus as wagering money. The bonus may have been offered as an incentive to draw a gamer to play at that casino, promising an upfront deposit of the bonus when the player establishes the account. If the player only places a few wagers and decides to back out and cash out, however, that bonus will disappear.

In some cases it’s a simple matter of self-protection for the casinos, which wanted to forestall the ability of players to take advantage of the proffered bonuses by signing up (without the intention of actually playing or staying) and then turning around and leaving with the extra money provided by the bonus. In other cases, the sticky bonus might be a little more shady in its application, if the online casino uses the promised bonus as a lure without informing players of its parameters, or if the casino makes it virtually impossible for the players to claim and use the promised bonus.

Some sticky bonuses have an “expiration date,” meaning that they will remain in your playing account until the designated date, at which point the bonus funds will be erased from your balance. If the bonus also includes terms which allow a player eventually to cash out the bonus after reaching a minimum number of wagers, the expiration date is designed to encourage gamers to engage in that amount of play before the expiration date wipes out the possibility of cashing out the bonus.

As you consider the bonus offerings of various online casinos, some further variables to consider (in addition to the question of sticky vs. traditional bonuses) are the requirements or restrictions which some online casinos place on their bonuses. The maximum advantage to the player is found with bonuses which don’t come with extensive restrictions on their use. A player enjoys the most benefit from a bonus when it can be used in any game of the player’s choice, and isn’t hampered by high wagering requirements. Keep a wary eye out for casinos which “funnel” players toward particular games and drive them to wager high stakes in order to use the bonuses being offered.