Being branded a bonus abuser could be your worst nightmare, but we are here to explain exactly what this means and how you can avoid it. Did you know you could be flagged as a bonus abuser without even knowing you're doing anything wrong? Sucks, right?
Unfortunately, the term 'bonus abuse' can be misconstrued in so many different ways. You could be accused of bonus bagging/bonus hunting and innocently have your well-deserved winnings confiscated through no fault of your own, but the purpose of this blog is to make sure that does not happen.
Since the dawn of time, players have taken advantage of the system and abuse casino bonuses to their advantage. Years ago, there weren't any strict guidelines on bonuses, and players found loopholes to gain an advantage over the house. Now online casinos are much more tuned in, and terms and conditions can become much more complicated. We hope by the time you're finished reading this blog that you'll have all the facts you need to enjoy your next bonus without worrying about being labelled an abuser.
What is Bonus Bagging (Hunting)?
You may not be familiar with this term as it is used more by a casino to explain a type of player. Bonus Bagging (also known as Bonus Hunting or Bonus Whoring) is where players manage to obtain an advantage over the casino by accepting and playing with their bonuses.
Casino bonus bagging means that a player can mathematically gain an edge over the house, which will help them turn the bonus into a profit. This type of bonus bagging is often associated with Poker and Sportsbook games. Bonus bagging arbitrage is when a player bets on all possible outcomes, also known as matched betting. This is a way of making a guaranteed profit but could result in a complete ban across the casino's entire network.
In reality, this isn't exactly illegal or fraudulent, but it will most definitely go against any casino’s terms and conditions. Any breach of their terms could result in anything from a declined withdrawal to an outright ban, so naturally, you're going to want to avoid this happening. It's one of the reasons why understanding this complicated term is essential.
Nearly every casino bonus will have wagering requirements, and this is what every player needs to fulfil before they can cash out. Bonus bagging will give players an advantage of completing these requirements resulting in a guaranteed profit. The type of players who purposely do this will play aggressively and may target highly volatile games. They will find games with good odds and may try other games like Blackjack, Pai Gow or Casino Hold 'em to mix up their strategy and avoid being detected by the casino.
They will then quickly hunt down another bonus straight after completing one. Over a long period of time at the same casino, these become factors that could trigger a casino to flag someone as a bonus abuser. Those who travel from casino to casino quickly claiming single bonuses may go undetected for a long time, but not forever.
Players who use this kind of strategy may accept a large bonus, such as a 100% match that will instantly double their deposit and give them more funds to play with. They will then play games where the chances of losing are as slim as possible. Once a player completes the wagering requirements, their main purpose is to withdraw straight away if they are in profit. A bonus bagger has no intention of playing after the wagering requirements have been met if they've already made a profit.
What is Casino Whoring
It's not a very nice term, but you're going to need to get used to it. It is another term that refers to players who chase bonuses to use on poker, blackjack and sports. However, online casino bonus whoring works with a slightly different strategy to a bonus bagger. A bonus whore will hunt down the free bonuses and never play to deposit any real cash.
However, the two terms do share some similarities. The main purpose is to make a profit. A bonus whore will aim to complete the free bonus's wagering requirements and then cash out any profit at the first possible opportunity.
Like a bonus bagger, this will usually result in an outright breach of the bonus terms and conditions and could result in the same consequences, including a refused withdrawal or suspension of the account. But we hope that by the end of our casino bonus whoring guide, it will prevent this from ever happening to you or stop you in your tracks if you're considering it.
What is Bonus Abuse?
In short, this is using a strategy to gain an advantage over the casino to make a profit and then repeat the same process multiple times.
Years ago, players could easily get away with this due to the lack of restrictions surrounding bonuses, but now casinos have systems in place that can detect players who abuse their bonuses.
Unfortunately, some innocent players get caught in the trap, too. Usually, these players are inexperienced or those who have not bothered to check the casino's terms and conditions. However, ignorance is often clouded, and casinos have really started cracking down on this rule. If you get accused of being a bonus abuser, and your only argument is that you didn't read the terms and conditions, you're going to lose the battle.
The fine print is there for a reason. Taking a moment of your time to read it could be the key to your future success!
Practices That May Be Considered a Bonus Abuse
Creating Multiple Accounts
This is one of the most common mistakes bonus abusers make, and if you're thinking of doing it too, don't bother. A considerable portion of bonuses can only be claimed once and restricted to one per household or IP.
Someone who is intentionally trying to bag bonuses will consider creating multiple accounts, using different email addresses to claim the same bonus several times. However, this is an instant breach of most casinos’ terms and conditions and for more than one reason.
You could innocently create multiple accounts if you've forgotten you've already signed up at a casino. Still, this naive move will probably mean you're never going to be able to cash out at the casino. Innocent or blatant this behaviour will not be tolerated.
If it's an intentional move, it may seem like you've gotten away with it for a while. You could successfully create an account, make a deposit and even claim that bonus again, but you will most definitely be flagged as soon as you hit the cashout button. This would result in your withdrawal being declined, and you could receive a suspension of your account or even an outright ban.
These players who have blatantly broken the rules will also be flagged as a bonus abuser but, if you're completely innocent, don't worry because you will be given the opportunity to explain yourself. If you are innocent and you find yourselves in deep water at a casino, don't forget you can use the AskGamblers Casino Complaints Service to help fight your case. If you're unsure if you already have an account somewhere, our top tip is to contact the casino's customer support team before opening another account.
Not Meeting Wagering Requirements
Wagering requirements are there for a reason. They must be fulfilled before you can cashout, and most players are fully aware of this before they take the bonus. Those who aren't either have not checked the terms and conditions or are blatantly abusing them.
Players who dare to try and withdraw at a casino before meeting these requirements could be labelled a bonus abuser. The casino may lose your trust in you, and you're about to go on a very rocky path if this happens.
Remember you are depositing your hard-earned cash! You're there to win money through honest gameplay; it's not worth losing everything because you couldn't be bothered to use five minutes of your time checking the small print.
Claiming the Same Bonus Multiple Times
As we mentioned just now, most online casino bonuses can only be used once. A welcome bonus or package is the perfect example of this. Most casinos will also have the technology in place to detect that you have claimed a bonus, but there may be times when players are able to claim a bonus multiple times and go undetected.
But it won't last. There is a very good chance that when you try to withdraw, your account will be flagged to say that you have already claimed that bonus once. You may be classed as a bonus abuser and have your winnings confiscated; you could instantly be banned from claiming all future bonuses at the casino or have your account permanently blocked.
However, sometimes we all make mistakes! This could innocently happen if you've forgotten that you've already claimed the bonus, so we must reiterate the fact that you should always check with the casino's customer service team if you're unsure about anything. In addition to this, there's just no need to keep claiming the same bonuses, there are so many good ones out there, and we've got a complete guide on casino bonuses and how to claim them, which will definitely help you.
Making Large Bets with Bonus Money
True or False: Making large bets means big bucks? False.
Okay, so on some occasions, you will naturally win more if you're betting more, but it also means when you lose, you'll fall that much harder. Some players will take a bonus and be under the illusion that they should make huge bets to try and beat the system and win as much money as they can.
In reality, these players fail miserably. A casino offers bonuses for you to try their casino and enjoy your favourite games with a bit of extra funds. Going back years ago, regulations on how much you can stake when playing with bonus funds were scarce, but that has changed massively in recent times.
Players who take advantage of bonuses and only make huge amounts of bets could now be flagged as bonus abusers, and this is why most casinos will now impose a maximum bet. This maximum bet rule will apply when you are playing with bonus funds only. If you're playing with your own cash, there probably won't be any restrictions.
One of the most common errors made by players is that they fail to read the casino's terms and conditions. These players then go on to claim a bonus and make insane bets only to withdraw and receive the message that they have broken the max bet rule. If you're a low roller, chances are you're never going to have to worry about the max bet rule, but you still need to educate yourself on it, just in case.
If you don't want to be tagged as a bonus abuser or get your winnings forfeited, it is absolutely vital that you check the maximum bet every single time you accept a bonus. Some casinos have what is called Maximum Bet Protection which will prompt you if you're about to make a bet that breaches the bonus terms and conditions. However, it is your responsibility to know this info before you play.
Making large bets and winning massive amounts of money may sound good, but if you've done it by breaking the rules, you're going to come across some hurdles, which include withdrawal limits. You're going to want to cash out fast, but chances are you can't because of these limits. So, not only will these limits hold up your withdrawal, but it's also giving the casino another reason to look into your gaming activity where they'll probably discover your bonus abuse. You can learn a lot more about withdrawal limits and how they affect you cashing out when you check out our blog.
Not Choosing the Eligible Games
Casino bonuses are usually targeted at slot players, and their terms and conditions will either restrict table games and poker or at least reduce wagering to a very low percentage. This is because these kinds of games have a very low house edge which is one of the reasons bonus baggers target them.
A casino is much more likely to make a profit off you when you play slots rather than tables. Casinos will have some kind of software that will detect whether or not you are playing restricted games; however, in certain instances, players simply get away with it. Once discovered, though, these players risk getting flagged as a bonus abuser unless they can provide evidence that it was a mistake.
Mistakes do happen, but more often than not, they result from someone not checking the bonuses terms and conditions first. Every bonus will have this kind of information which is why we keep telling you to check them. It should tell you how much the wagering contribution is for each game and which games are restricted.
If you're blatantly playing games that are restricted, you may think you're getting away with it for a while. But trust us, you won't. Once you hit that cash out button, you will be detected. Casinos are so much smarter now it's just not worth the risk.
How Not to Be a Bonus Abuser
All the points we raised above are some of the most common ways a player will choose to abuse a bonus, you should avoid them at all costs. Here are some other tips to help you stay out of trouble:
Read and Respect Casino's Terms and Policies
We could not be more clearer. You must read the terms and conditions of every casino and every single bonus. Sounds like a huge task or waste of time? It's not!
Believe it or not, but they are there to help you. A casino is not about to make it easy for any player to win, which is why they have the house edge, but you should be using their terms and conditions to your advantage. You're betting on hard-earned cash; why wouldn't you want to know what you can and can't do with it! Remember to:
Have you checked the casino's terms and conditions, and are you confident that you are not about to breach any of their rules?
When you register at a casino, they respect you. Do the decent thing and respect them back. Gain a good relationship with the site you're handing your money over, too, and you'll benefit from it in the long run. No good will ever come out of disrespecting a casino's policy; you're never going to win that battle, so what's the point in even trying? Once you've checked the terms and conditions and agree that you understand them, you can make a deposit and then it's time to have some fun. Deposit and withdrawal methods explained in more detail may also be useful to you.
Understand Wagering Requirements
Another critical aspect you need to understand is how wagering requirements work. There's no point taking a bonus if you're completely clueless on how to wager it. First of all, you should accept that almost every bonus you claim will carry these wagering requirements, but the amount of times you have to wager them can differ greatly depending on the casino.
Wagering requirements are simply the amount of times you need to wager your bonus before you can request a withdrawal.
For example, let's say you deposited $20 and accepted a $20 bonus with a 30x wagering requirement attached to the bonus; this means you would need to play through the $20 bonus, 30 times. Meaning, you need to accumulate bets of at least $600 before you can successfully request a withdrawal (20 x 30 = $600).
One thing you should look out for, though, is whether or not the wagering requirement is for the bonus only or the bonus and deposit. The most appealing kind of bonus are those that ask you only to wager the bonus; when you're being asked to wager both the bonus and deposit, you're effectively being asked to complete double the requirement.
Let's use the same example to show you how - You deposit $20 and receive a $20 bonus, but this time the wagering is 30x bonus plus deposit. This now means you have to wager $1200 in bets (40 x 30 = $1200). Don't worry though, this is still achievable, so don't be too disheartened if the bonus you fancy has these requirements. If you're still a bit confused, wagering requirements explained more thoroughly might be the right read for you.
Playing Pattern Review
If, after reading this, you think you've been doing a lot of things we've mentioned, like claiming multiple bonuses and cashing out as soon as wagering requirements have been met, you could be branded as a bonus abuser.
Casinos will pick up your play pattern; they have technology in place to do this. Just be sure you know the rules before you accept the bonus, and if you're abiding by them, you won't find yourself in deep water.
For these and other tips and tricks on casino bonuses, give our podcast on how casino bonuses work a listen on Spotify, where we laid out a bunch of useful information about how bonuses work and what to pay attention to when activating them.
Bonus Bagging in Different Casino Games
You probably have a set of your favourite games, and it's natural to want to play them all time, but when you're taking a bonus, you need to know which games you can play and which ones you can't.
Online poker bonus bagging happens, and you don't want to be labelled as one, so make sure you have the facts before you play. In recent years, online casinos have increased their promotions which made poker bonus hunting even more popular. Besides the usual no-deposit, first deposit and reload bonuses, casinos offer freeroll tournaments and rakeback bonuses for poker players.
Other common forms of bonus abuse is bonus bagging blackjack, bonus bagging sports betting, and bingo bonus hunting. These games have better odds, and bonus baggers will target these games more than slots. Make sure you're not at risk of becoming one of these rule-breakers, and if you're ever unsure, just take a look at our guide through different games in online casinos.
Different Tactics of Casino Bonus Bagging
Over the years, players have come up with numerous strategies to try and conquer bonus bagging. Thanks to intelligent casino technology, a lot of these will be detected now, but here are some of the main tactics players will use to gain their so-called advantage:
- Placing small bets until they meet the wagering requirements and then cashing out any profit immediately without the intention of playing any more
- Hitting high variance slots and hoping for big wins and quick a wagering turnaround
- Playing games with minimal odds or high payout percentages
- Claiming multiple bonuses repeatedly with a single intention - to cashout out as soon as the profit is made, regardless of the casino's terms and conditions
Consequences of Bonus Abuse
With all that being said, we come down to the ultimate consequence of being a bonus bagger, casino whorer or bonus abuser—declined withdrawals. If you're going to break the rules, you better get used to seeing these two words!
You will not beat the system; breaking the rules is never going to end well. Yes, you may get away with it once or twice, but you need to face the fact that the consequences are going to come crashing down on you hard sooner or later.
The most popular punishment for bonus abuse is a held withdrawal, but more severe consequences can follow, which include:
- Being banned from ever taking a bonus at the casino
- Suspension of your account
- An outright ban at the casino including sister and parent brands
You may as well kiss goodbye to your love for casino games because sooner or later, no casino will allow you to play.
Is Bonus Bagging Worth It?
Are you seriously still thinking about it? Honestly, think again. There are much better ways to win; bonus abusing is not one of them.
Yes, you may be able to make a quick buck or two, but in the long run we guarantee it is going to do more harm than good. Technology has advanced tremendously, and it will always outsmart you in the end.
There are some incredible bonuses out there, ones with very favourable terms and conditions. You don't need to think about breaking the rules to win some cash; these bonuses can be profitable to you without you disrespecting the casino to get there. Did you know that you can even withdraw the actual bonus once you've met the wagering requirements? That's how good some bonuses get now! Check out our blog to know the difference between sticky and non-sticky bonuses.
To reflect on everything we've covered today, be smart. Use your head. Use the casino's terms and conditions and turn them into a positive. Once you start betting within the rules, your withdrawals are going to run so much smoother. A bonus abuser will have constantly declined withdrawals, blocked accounts and bans. Where's the fun in that! Just sounds like a headache to us!
A player who reads the terms and conditions and respects the rules will enjoy successful withdrawals and will reap the rewards. A casino will look after you if you look after them.
We know which player we'd rather be.
What is bonus bagging (bonus hunting)?
A player who claims multiple bonuses with complete disregard to the casino's terms and conditions. The only intention of a bonus bagger (hunter) is to make a profit in spite of the bonus rules.
What is bonus abuse?
A player who disrespects any terms and conditions of a bonus in order to gain the edge over a casino and make a profit.
What are the consequences of bonus abuse?
If casino suspects that you're abusing bonuses, they can deny or withhold your withdrawal until they complete their investigation. They could ban you from taking the bonuses, suspend your account, or even ban you from any parent or sister brands.
What are the casinos' countermeasures against bonus hunting?
Casinos do many different things to prevent and minimize bonus bagging, but most of them focus on creating more complicated bonus rules and KYC procedures. Additionally, they have lower bonus payouts, and some even block bonuses from players in specific countries which are known for bonus hunting.