Casino Bonuses 101: What Online Casino Operators Should Know

Marketing is an essential part of running a successful online casino – it is an axiom. Experienced casino operators strive to excel at 2 kinds of marketing: we can call them “acquisition” and “retention” marketing. The former is all about gaining traffic and player acquisition, while the latter is more concerned with internal casino policies, bonuses, loyalty programs, tournaments and other activities.

Online casino bonuses and their peculiarities are in our sights this time.

What Are Bonuses and Why Do They Exist?

To answer the question let us have a quick look around. Google “online casino” and you will instantly be overrun by tons of search results for actual casinos and affiliate resources. Every casino relies on SEO, affiliate marketing and other nuances to crawl its way to the top of the search engine results page and dominate the player’s attention. But when the players finally discover your casino, what do you do to make them stay?

Great design, visualisation and content delivery methods are fine, but let’s face the truth: growing popularity of online gambling attracts many experienced professionals into this business. The overall level of gambling sites has made a huge leap forward as compared to earlier stages of the industry.

Most reputable casinos have relatively the same set of game providers available for players. This is in part due to a certain conservativeness of the gamblers who prefer a specific line-up.

Problem: there are many casinos with a +/- similar gaming content and scoring at affiliate resources. Now it’s time to take some serious actions to turn a visitor into a player.

The best way to win the loyalty of those who come to try their luck at your casino is to start giving them what they want ASAP.

Bonus is a method of granting a player free money / gambling options (eg. free spins) redeemable at the specific online casino. 

Everyone loves free stuff, so operators do not shy away from this method of promotion.

The Main Types of Casino Bonuses

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 a)     “Sign up” bonus (and free spins) is a frontline method to welcome players, encourage them to sign up and, most importantly, accept your casino policy and share their personal details. Now you have 2 things: a registered potential player and a way to reach out with follow-up marketing. From this stage all further relations with the registered player are either your own success or failure. In exchange for the valuable data, casinos credit money and/or free spins to player accounts to allow them to get a taste for the game right away with minimum losses.

Example: Welcome bonus! Get €500 and 180 free spins on registration!

 b)     Deposit bonus – the name clearly describes the designation. A bonus issued to encourage players to make deposits with their own money. Most aggressively promoted by casino operators, since it is what the whole fuss is about. Usually issued as + % from the deposit amount and/or certain number of free spins.

Example: 100% up to €100 at first deposit and 180 free spins

 c)       Reload bonus is a targeted player retention method to re-engage with those, who haven’t been playing / depositing for a certain period of time (week, month etc.). It is a nice way to remind the player of the casino or invite a long-gone player back for an extra bonus. This type of bonus can have various forms: from extra free spins to percentage from deposit or match bonus (when the amount of the bonus matches the deposited sum). To drive players to make faster comeback decisions, reload bonuses are usually limited in time and have a fixed expiration period. Besides, Reloads can also be dedicated to a specific event or made to promote new games. 

Example: Grab deposit bonus 50% and 50 free spins for Casanova slot game! Use promo code: CASANOVA

 d)     Cashbacks/free spins on losses. This is something to be considered if you are planning to build long-term relationship with your players. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose – this is the nature of the game. Naturally, players tend to take loss to heart and the last thing you want is to let the most valuable player leave the casino in a negative mood. Granting fixed or % cashbacks for the played money will definitely cushion the blow. Another best practice is issuing individual free spins to players who weren’t lucky enough that day.

The Value SOFTSWISS Platform Adds to Your Marketing

The above are a few of the most widespread bonus types usually engaged by casinos. However, diversity and flexibility of internal marketing is the key to dominating the iGaming arena and the SOFTSWISS platform is ready to provide our customers with some serious firepower: SOFTSWISS DSL-based bonus creation system.

In short, this extremely flexible tool lets operators “tailor” bonuses that target narrow segments of players at a perfect time. The platform uses an internal Domain-Specific Language (DSL) created for describing the bonusing logic. This makes nearly anything possible: stand-alone and complex bonuses triggered by various attributes applicable to specific conditions and time ranges, aimed at specific groups or even individual players.

The structure of each bonus, crafted in DSL has the following structure:

  Mandatory parameters (define the type of bonus and its general conditions)

Optional parameters (widest variety of attributes from timelines to affiliate-bound segmentation for exclusive bonuses)

Free spin parameters (configurable games, amounts, terms, wager requirements and more)

As is evident from the above, the SOFTSWISS custom bonus creation system is a must-have solution for smart player rewarding and retention policy at an online casino. Though it may seem like a bit of work in figuring out the whole bonus logic, quick guidance from a SOFTSWISS dedicated account manager will quickly make things clear.

    Ok, so far it has been all about the free stuff that can bring real-world money to players. Does that mean the casino is giving away cash literally for free? Does that not put an operator alongside charity organisations?

        Well, no.

It’s time to talk about duties and responsibilities, also known as Bonus Conditions

Casino Bonus Conditions

Online Casino is a high-risk yet profitable business, and like any good business, it is built on mathematics. To prevent abuse of bonuses and marketing extravaganza, operators put an additional layer of requirements to be met before any cashouts are allowed. These requirements are called Wager or Bonus Playthrough. The trick with wagering requirements is to make issuing bonuses beneficial for the casino. This is why wager requirements usually state the number of times the deposited money amount should be played through, before cashing out is possible.

Sounds a bit weird in text, so let us view an example:

We’ll take something fairly standard, say, a deposit bonus. So, Player A is thinking of depositing €100 and Casino B offers +100% to it, which adds €200 in total to the player account. Wager requirement is x30 (means the amount of €200 should be played through 30 times).

Now mathematics takes the floor: €200 (deposit + bonus) x 30 (wager requirement) = €6 000 (the total amount Player A must play through to clear the wager), the average RTP (Return to Player in slots makes about 97%), so €6 000 – 97% = €180 (3% that stays with the casino). It is obvious that €180 that rests down in the casino is higher than the initial €100 bonus offered to Player A.

*Please, note that these calculations are based on averages and the actual results may vary.

Along with that, bonuses can be cashable / not cashable, tied to the specific games, have limitations for max. bet amounts etc.

To eliminate possible misunderstandings and make everyone happy, all wagering requirements must be clearly outlined in the corresponding Terms and Conditions and available for players before they accept the bonus.

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How Much Does the Casino Give Out in Bonuses?

–  The short answer is: a lot!

Especially when the casino is young, hungry for players and needs to shout out loud. At this stage bonuses may form the bigger share of the GGR! Further on, when the casino gets good traction, bonuses make up about 20-30% of the GGR to keep the marketing running.

Congratulations if you made it here! 

Let’s summarise everything above with some serious conclusions.

First of all:

Bonuses are an important constituent part of your daily operations and should be approached seriously.


It is extremely important to understand that all mass bonus programs should be double-checked for flaws both mathematically and logically to avoid abuse by bonus hunters and misunderstandings by loyal players.

And last but not least:

Wager requirements must be viewed from both sides: casino and player to make sure the conditions are attractive to both.

 Stay up-to-date, innovate and be flexible with your internal marketing and the players will do the rest!


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