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Exploring the Evolution of Casino Bonuses and How They’ve Only Improved for Players

Welcome bonuses are almost a tradition in the online casino market. Since the earliest regulated markets came to the fore in the 2000s, sites have hung their main advertising effort and marketing angle on a welcome bonus. As the markets became more competitive and players became more clued up, these welcome offers were forced to create more user-friendly terms and diversify the bonuses.

Now, the range of options is vast, increasing the accessibility and appeal of licensed online casinos. The evolution has been innovative, to say the least.

Matched deposit bonuses

The matched deposit bonus is the classic online casino bonus. You make a deposit and a set percentage of that deposit is matched in bonus funds. However, an issue with this bonus was that it used to tie the deposit money with the bonus money for the wagering requirements, which certainly isn’t ideal.

For the most part now, especially when you find bonuses at well-reviewed sites, not only are the wagering requirements much lower than what used to be a standard of around 80x, but the player’s real-money deposit is separate from the bonus funds. Often, these bonuses aren’t just reserved for new players.

For special promotions or events, matched deposit bonuses are often put up for existing players to get a bit more for their deposit. Best of all, these bonus funds can almost always be used on any of the games on the site, just with different wagering requirement contributions.

So, the matched deposit bonus, with some tweaks, has stood the test of time for its accessibility and usefulness as a bonus for newcomers.

Referral bonuses

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Referral bonuses aren’t quite as common as they used to be, but especially in the early days, they were commonplace. As a new player with an account and real money, you’d be able to give your code to another new player.

If they sign up and play through a stated amount of real money, both you and your friend would get some bonus funds. Sometimes, the size of the bonus would increase the more people you invite or the more that those friends bet in a set time window. With the popularity of online casinos now, referral bonuses have become less common.

Free spins bonuses

Online casino platforms quickly realized that online slots are the biggest draw of the entertainment medium. From the early core group of the likes of Scientific Games – now the award-winning Light & Wonder – IGT, Microgaming, and NetEnt, the scene exploded with a whole host of smaller studios from around the world pumping out even more slots.

With such competition between developers, more features, setups, and themes were created, and now, there’s essentially a weekly-renewed stream of slots on any casino that draws from several providers. So, platforms played into this by creating free spins bonuses. They began as additional bonuses to matched deposit bonuses, but soon it was realized that they can stand as their own bonuses.

Often, sites give away hundreds of free spins to play on one or a selection of slots. Some work the angle of appealing to those in the know. You’ll often see free spins tied to games like Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead or Big Bass Bonanza because they’re recognizable slots that are immensely popular. Others take the approach of offering a selection of themes to increase the broad appeal of the bonus – especially to complete newcomers.

No-deposit bonuses

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Perhaps the most accessible and user-friendly of all bonuses; the no-deposit bonus has made the welcome bonus incredibly appealing. Naturally, some people are apprehensive of putting real money into a platform or form of entertainment that they’re not overly familiar with. The no-deposit bonus is as good as a freebie that you can get in casino gaming. They usually have wagering requirements and bet limits, but they do offer completely free access to the games and the experience of the platform.

"Bet and get" bonuses

More common as a sports bonus, the "bet and get" bonus is slowly bleeding into the casino arm of iGaming. It’s a very generous offer and usually tied to 1x turnover, if any. You deposit a set amount and, usually, end up with three more bets of that value to play on games.

Casino bonuses have come a very long way over just a couple of decades. As the games diversify and competition increases, only better bonuses can be expected.