First Deposit Bonuses
First deposit bonuses are a way for casinos to attract and welcome new players, offering big bonuses for the first time players make a deposit.
Online Casino Gems has compiled a list of top-rated online casinos that offer first deposit bonuses, so you can start winning today. Don’t know how to claim a first deposit bonus? No problem. We'll walk you through the entire process and give you ideas on how to use it.
Everything you need to know about First Deposit Bonuses
Everyone knows--from all those crazy, relentless but oddly alluring ads on TV--that competition among online casinos is fierce. And despite the many gambling enthusiasts there are, all those new online casinos seem to manage to keep pace--constantly opening up, some under the umbrella of reputed and venerable casino companies, others that seem … well, just a little bit questionable, shall we say?
Regardless, many of them sport popular games by top-of-the-line gaming software providers, and they all vie aggressively for customers to place bets on their site and not the next one--and certainly not on the big rival brands!
How to go about this, then, if you’re an upstart online casino with a massive dream to really stand out and corner a juicy segment of the world’s increasingly lucrative online gambling market?
Here’s one thing every casino is sure to try out.
One of the most powerful tools in any casino’s armory is a “first-deposit bonus,” something you’ll hear about frequently when you browse the casino sites. The first deposit bonus is especially powerful because it enables online casinos to dangle large quantities of free cash to lure new players in. Like a spider with its beady little eyes on the tempting, tasty fly, those first-deposit bonuses just reel you in… and then you’re captive. Or--at least--captivated.
By understanding the benefits and pitfalls of first-deposit bonuses, players can take advantage of these enticing sums for hours of gameplay … possibly even winning big jackpots if they don’t just fall for all the old mistakes people make--especially when playing those good old slots!
So, What Exactly is a First-Deposit Bonus?
First-deposit bonuses typically get mixed up with “welcome bonuses” in people’s minds.
Actually, first-deposit bonuses are often a part of a welcome bonus package offered by any online casino. The welcome bonus is available to new members who have never held an account with that casino before. Some sort of background check is usually required to confirm that the user is a first-time player there, and if they are, then the new member’s welcome bonus deal is activated for that player.
This bonus deal is made up of several smaller ones, normally, and the first deposit bonus is usually just one important element of this.
Before we go any further, just keep in mind that all bonuses can be forfeited if any returning user tries to claim another welcome bonus. The casinos all consider this “Bonus Abuse.” So, if you may have been a member before--even years and years ago, in the distant past--it’s best not to claim another bonus. If you’re unsure, drop the casino’s customer support a line; they should be all too happy to confirm your eligibility status--and if they’re a bit abrupt or dismissive, either you played there before or they are just plain rude. So take your business elsewhere…
Okay, so now that’s out of the way, let’s move on.
Now you already know that a welcome bonus package commonly includes a first deposit bonus. Other components of the bonus package may include free spins no-deposit bonuses, and other no-deposit bonus variants.
The “first-deposit bonus” portion of the welcome package usually means you’ll need to make a deposit of cash into your bankroll for the casino to match all or some of that deposit with cash of its own, available for you to bet with immediately.
As such, you might also see this described as a deposit-match bonus. It’s really not as confusing as it sounds--these are just multiple ways of referring to the same thing, just as you might go to a bar and order a ‘half chicken and chips’ in one place, while down the road in a different bar, it’s called a ‘flamin’ cockadoodle with fries’!
The casino may even sweeten the deal by throwing in extra free spins along with the deposit match. Some casinos offer free spins for a small first deposit and a cash deposit match for larger deposits.
How much of your cash will they match? It depends. Usually, there’s a percentage match and a maximum match. For example, Yeti Casino offers a 100% deposit match for the first deposit of up to £333. That means that if you deposit £333, the casino deposits its own £333 for a total of £666 in your bankroll--the money you have available for gambling.
If you deposit £100, the casino only matches 100% of that quantity, leaving you with a bankroll of just £200. Since the bonus is only applicable to the first deposit, you can’t get another £233 on your next deposit, even if you make it immediately afterward. So be decisive about what amount you’re prepared to play (and potentially lose--or, most likely lose).
If you were to deposit more than the matching amount, the match would be capped according to the terms. In the above example, if you deposited £1,000 on your first deposit, the casino would still only match up to £333, leaving you with a starting bankroll of £1,333. Mind you, that still sounds like a hefty sum to us--especially if you’re a newcomer.
In the spirit of responsible gambling, please do make sure you can still pay your monthly outgoings, as splashing this sort of cash just in order to get ‘free money’ that you’ll probably lose anyway is not the best idea. Of course, you can play the odds and even win--but it’s rare.
When shopping around, note that some casinos offer bonuses on the first and second deposits, occasionally even on the third deposit or more if they’re really determined to hook you.
Fun Casino, for example, offers a 50% deposit match on the first two deposits, up to £499 each. That means that if you make two deposits of £998 each, the casino will match both of them at 50%, resulting in a total bankroll of £2,994—almost £1,000 of that coming from the casino!
The size of these bonuses tends to be eye-catching compared to other types of bonuses. Free-play bonuses, for example, tend to cap out at about £20. And cashback bonuses, as tempting as they sound--as we are all a bit conditioned to love the word ‘cashback’--may cap out in the neighborhood of £100-£200. Even 100 free spins may only be worth about £10 when you consider that the coin size on a game like Starburst is only £0.10.
How can online casinos afford to do this? Won’t they go far into the red by just giving away free money for players to bet with?
Don’t worry—your favorite online casino will not go into bankruptcy, or at least, not over first-deposit bonuses. Remember, “the house always wins”—or at least, they win over the course of many, many bets. Every casino game has a built-in “house edge,” a percentage of the bets that the game is designed to produce a profit. Whereas the players enjoy the exciting thrill of chance with each spin, deal, or shoot, the casinos’ profit margins are relatively boring and predictable.
Casinos can afford to give away a few hundred quid to each new player. After all, they only have to shell it out if you shell a few hundred quid into their coffers as well. As we discuss further down, the casino also erects a variety of roadblocks to players who want to just withdraw the bonus cash immediately. Their endgame is for you to become a loyal, or at least a repeat, bettor on their site, and they have a number of ways to make that happen. The more bets you place, the more likely your bankroll is to resemble the RTP (return to player) percentage, the inverse of the house edge—in other words, a profit for them. For the prospect of that, it’s worth giving away a few hundred quid. It’s a marketing expense, nothing more, nothing less.
The most likely outcome is that you will still come out behind, but not as behind over the same time period as if you didn’t accept the first deposit bonus. If you love online casino games and want a long, exciting gambling session, perfect. It’s a match made in heaven. If you’re looking to “take” the casino and make money in the process, first-deposit bonuses are an unlikely way to go about it. So we wouldn’t recommend you bother in that case.
How to Claim the First-Deposit Bonus
Once you have identified an online casino that has a first-deposit bonus you want, make sure to follow the instructions of the casino in order to claim it. The process varies from casino to casino, but usually looks something like this:
- Sign up for your first account with the online casino. Remember, a first-deposit bonus is only available to first-time players creating their first account! You will usually have to enter identifying information to verify that you are a new user.
- Enter any applicable promo code or bonus code. Some first-deposit bonuses don’t require a special code to be entered at sign-up, but some do. Make sure to check ahead of time what code, if any, you need to enter. It must usually be entered at the time of sign-up.
- Link a payment method to your account. Depending on the casino, accepted methods of payment might include ACH, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard, and Bitcoin.
- Make your first deposit. Double-check that you know the minimum deposit and maximum bonus and that the numbers work for you. The bonus should post in your bankroll immediately or shortly after your deposit funds.
The Fine Print: First-Deposit Bonus Rules
Online casinos give away a lot of free money in the form of these first-deposit bonuses. As you might expect of the casino industry, they don’t give that money away without some substantial strings attached. Like all online casino bonuses, first-deposit bonuses are governed by Terms & Conditions (T&Cs). It is important to read those T&Cs before accepting a bonus, or else there’s a chance it could lose some or all of its value.
Few restrictions make it harder to claim a cash windfall from a first-deposit bonus than the wagering requirement. This bit of fine print is sometimes referred to as the “playthrough requirement because it literally requires you to “play through” the bonus value a certain number of times before you can withdraw a cent of the bonus cash.
The wagering requirement will usually be expressed as a multiplier of the bonus amount (x). If you’re lucky, you might find a bonus with a wagering requirement of 1x or 5x, but it’s more common to see 20x, 40x, 99x, even 150x.
To make matters worse, a wagering requirement on a first-deposit bonus usually applies to the bonus cash and the deposit cash. That means that if you deposit £100 with a 100% bonus and a 20x wagering requirement, you will need to bet £4,000, not £2,000 before you are eligible to withdraw the bonus cash because it’s 20x of £200, not £100.
You can see now why players tend to end up behind and the house ahead, even with a fairly sizable first-deposit bonus. The more you bet, the more your bankroll will approach the RTP percentage, putting the casino ahead.
Let’s say you bet all £4,000 in the above example on a game with an okay RTP—say, 97%. The most likely outcome—assuming you play perfectly with a maximized betting strategy—is that you end up £120 behind. Since you only got £100 in bonus cash, that puts the casino at a profit of £20. The house always wins.
Some first-deposit bonuses require a minimum deposit—say, £50-£100—before a matching deposit bonus kicks in. They might offer free spins or other incentives for the first deposit of any size, but if you are counting on that matching cash, make sure your deposit is big enough.
Some online casinos limit the amount of cash you can withdraw at any one time, over the course of a day, a week, even a month. This means that even though your bankroll, winnings, and bonus cash may be rightfully yours, you may have no recourse to withdraw it if your withdrawal exceeds the cash-out limit.
In some cases, first-deposit bonuses are restricted to certain games. This is more common for free-play cash or free spins—one of the appeals of cashback or deposit bonuses is that they are flexible, available for bets on any game within the online casino. Make sure to check the T&Cs to see if the casino has slipped any game restrictions into the first-deposit bonus rules. If they did, don’t be surprised if those games have a rather high house edge.
If the wagering requirements don’t get you, expiration dates might. Many first-deposit bonuses have a timeline by which you have to bet the bonus cash, or it disappears. Make sure you intend to place enough bets soon enough after sign-up, so the bonus does not just evaporate.
Most online casinos are accessible from many different countries, but some casinos offer less bonus cash or even no bonus cash in certain countries. For example, Energy Casino only offers bonuses as large as €100 to residents of Greece, Croatia, and Portugal.
Get the Most from Your First-Deposit Bonus
If you have gone to the trouble of identifying the perfect first-deposit bonus for you, make sure you get the most out of it. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Time Your Bonus Right
Some players make the mistake of signing up for a deposit match bonus, then waiting until it’s too late to make a deposit. Make sure you are ready to make a deposit right away when you sign up for a new casino with a first deposit bonus.
Maximize the Deposit Match
Some players get confused by the deposit-match math and choose a bonus that is the wrong size for you. In general, it is best to pick a bonus that maxes out at a deposit amount you are comfortable with. For example, it isn’t maximizing value to follow the 100% bonus to Yeti Casino and only deposit £100 when you could match as much as £333.
It goes the other way, too. Say you want to deposit £1,000. Should you take the 100% Yeti Casino bonus, or the 50% Fun Casino bonus? Yeti caps its bonus at £333, Fun at £499. That means that even though Fun Casino offers a smaller percentage, the higher cap means that you would end up with a bankroll of £1,499, whereas at Yeti, your bankroll would settle out at £1,333 despite the 100% match.
Watch the RTP
If possible, funnel your bonus cash into online casino games with a high RTP percentage. This maximizes the chance that you’ll come out ahead, or at least minimize your losses. There are few sure bets in online gambling as the trends are volatile--but watching the RTP is one way toward preventing major losses you didn’t intend.
Don’t Max out Your Bets
It may be tempting to bet the maximum in hopes of a good payout, but placing fewer big bets weights the odds in favor of the casino coming out far ahead. Consider making smaller bets … but vary the bet size, lest the casino should peg you as a “bonus abuser” with an “irregular gambling pattern.” The house just hates to lose.
Take a Break
If you have placed many bets without a win, consider taking a break and coming back later. You could be playing a highly volatile game that pays out erratically. Giving it a rest or switching to a less volatile game may help you discover a winning streak.
First-deposit bonuses are an easy way to get a lot of gambling under your belt with a lot less of your own money on the line. Of course, the online casino will attach many reservations to the use of their cash.
It’s essentially a “head start” on a rigged race. Still, if you love online casino games, few bonuses will get you more mileage than a hefty first-deposit bonus.
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