Most online casinos offer sign-up bonuses in the form of credit to the player’s account in order to attract them and maintain their loyalty. These bonuses generally range from 10-50% of the initial deposit, but sometimes they can be as much as 100%.
Along with the bonus, comes some betting requirements; but, by only playing games with a low house edge the intelligent online casino gambler can realistically go from casino to casino and expect to make a profit frequently. At a land-based casino, a player may receive other perks such as complimentary hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows or events and even corporate jet transportation services for high rollers; however, the promotional chips and comp services do not compare monetarily to the bonuses offered by online casinos.
An online casino generally has a minimum betting requirement that states a player must bet at least 2-10 times their initial deposit plus the bonus, prior to cashing out. If a player makes an initial deposit of $200 and receives a $100 bonus he will be required to bet a minimum of $600-$3000 before cashing out.
Assuming that the player is playing Blackjack, using basic strategy under Atlantic City rules with a low house edge of 0.43%, his expected value (or EV) is to lose between $2.58 and $12.90 before he would be allowed cash out. Because of the $100 bonus offered by the online casino, he could walk away with a profit ranging between $87.10 and $97.42.
However, the casinos consider this type of behavior “bonus abuse”, and to avoid any trouble we recommend that you bet at least 2-3 times more than the stated minimum, before attempting to cash out with a win if you have taken advantage of any bonus offer from the casino. Even if the player in the example above played $9000 in total before cashing out, (thirty times his initial deposit and bonus), he would still be able to walk away with a minimum profit of $61.30.
Further, he would not be considered a “bonus abuser” and would be welcome back to the same casino.
The actual amount the player ends up cashing out will vary depending upon the standard deviation the player is willing to accept, which is determined by size of bets. If the player makes many small bets to reach his betting requirements he will be more certain to end up close to his expected EV, and if he makes larger bets he is more likely to lose money or make a larger profit.
However, in the long-run, the expected value (EV) remains the same assuming that the player is correctly using basic strategy and is playing at an honest casino. We recommend that you bet reasonably high, and are willing to accept a fairly high standard deviation in order to not make the casino your enemy. If you were to deposit $200 for a $100 bonus and then bet $1 per hand for 9000 hand of blackjack to reach your minimum you would certainly never be welcome back to that casino!
By accepting that at some casinos you will lose your initial deposit and at others you will win big, you are making sure to give the casino a “fair shot at your money”, and this is what they expect. Remember that you will still come out ahead once you have played many casinos.
This expected value of a bonus can be applied to any casino game, assuming that the house edge is known. With the same conditions, (a $200 initial deposit, a $100 bonus and a $600 betting requirement), playing single-zero roulette with a house edge of 2.7%, the EV is a loss of $16.20 resulting in a profit of $83.80 taking the $100 bonus into account. Once again, we strongly recommend that you play several times the minimum requirement before attempting to cash out.
These bonuses are what make online casino gambling a much better deal than land-based casinos.