The "no deposit" bonus has become increasingly popular and common at United Kingdom online casinos over the last few years. It's a type of welcome bonus for new accounts, but as the name indicates, you don't have to make a deposit to take advantage of it.
Sounds too good to be true? Didn't online casinos nearly go out of business back in the early 2000s by giving away too much easy money to new customers? Well, this time out the casinos have structured these bonuses so that they are protected. They can still be very useful to the player, of course, but it's important to know how they work before you begin accepting and using them.
The Basics of No Deposit Online Casino Bonuses
The no deposit bonus is usually granted when you create and verify your new account. You may be allowed to use it and place real money wagers prior to all of your identity documents being verified, but you probably won't be allowed to make withdrawals until the account is fully approved.
The no deposit bonus will usually consist of one or more of the following:
- Free spins at a slot game
- Free chips at specific table games
- Free play that can be used at a wider variety of games
- Free entries to various types of tournaments (slot, poker, video poker or blackjack)
- Free bingo games
How Can Online Casinos Afford No Deposit Bonuses?
If you were around during the early period of online casinos, you might remember the days of bonus hunting. There was a time when welcome bonuses were extremely generous and easy to claim without much wagering of real money. This created a culture of bonus hunters (or in the common parlance of the time, "bonus vultures" or "bonus whores") who would simply flit from casino to casino taking advantage of these bonuses and then abandoning the account. With these sharp players extracting up to thousands of pounds from each casino before moving on, the industry soon tightened up its welcome bonus terms.
The modern no deposit bonuses are protected from abuse by any and all of the following:
They are usually offered in small amounts
Bet amounts using the bonus funds are limited (usually to somewhere under £5 per hand or spin)
Winnings are often subject to wagering requirements
There may also be a cash-out maximum regardless of how much you win with the bonus funds (often somewhere between £10-50)
More About No Deposit Bonus Wagering Requirements
Wagering requirements are the main method by which online casinos protect themselves from bonus abuse. A wagering requirement for a no deposit bonus means that you have to wager either the bonus amount or the amount of your winnings a certain amount of times before you are allowed to withdraw them. For example, if your bonus amount is £10 and the wagering requirement is 10x, you would need to wager £100 before being allowed to withdraw bonus winnings.
If you get free play or chips, you will probably have to wager some multiple of the bonus amount. If you get free spins, you will probably be asked to wager a multiple of whatever you win.
While there is usually some sort of wagering requirement in place, some online casinos do have a "keep what you win" policy. If there is no wagering requirement, it is very likely there will be a cap on what you are allowed to withdraw from your winnings. For example, let's say you get 10 free spins on a slot game and win £80 in total. If there is a £20 withdrawal cap, you'll only get to take home £20 of that, with the other £60 simply being forfeited.
No Deposit or Deposit Bonus?
Some online casinos allow you to make use of both a no deposit and a deposit bonus. Some others will ask you to choose one or the other.
If they ask you to choose, the way that is usually done is to assign some sort of bonus code to each deposit option. You then enter the code of the bonus you prefer at some point when prompted while setting up your account.
Be sure to check out the different available bonuses and get any codes before you start setting up your new account, as you may hit a point in the registration process where it's too late to enter the codes and get the bonuses.
When No Deposit Bonuses Require A Deposit
A legitimate no deposit bonus will not require you to deposit any funds to receive it and put it into play. You may be required to make a deposit before you can withdraw winnings from the bonus, however.
This isn't a trick or scam on the part of the casino so much as it is a legal requirement in the United Kingdom. UK "Know Your Customer" financial transaction laws are such that most online casinos require you to make some sort of a deposit with your preferred withdrawal method before you can receive funds with it. This is primarily meant to protect against criminals using online casinos as an outlet for money laundering.
You shouldn't need to actually play the deposit to withdraw your no deposit bonus winnings provided you've already met the required terms. So you're free to just deposit a small amount, then immediately withdraw that same amount along with your winnings.
Taking Advantage of Online No Deposit Bonuses
Though they are usually small and subject to somewhat restrictive terms, no deposit bonuses can often be quite useful. At the very least, you can take your shot with them and if it doesn't work out simply forfeit the bonus and continue on with your normal play. Just be sure to check the casino terms and conditions carefully to make sure that accepting a no deposit bonus doesn't disqualify you from a more lucrative welcome bonus type!